Saturday, 18 May 2013

Opinion: Lord Macauley did not address the British Parliament in 1835

Comments are open again
I have decided not to allow the irritation of one person to spoil the open forum for interaction on my blog. I have removed all trace of his views and blacklisted him.
We are strangers here and the least that we can expect of each other regardless of our views, is respect, courtesy and dignified expression. You fall short; you fall out.
Closing Comments Update - 1st November 2013: In view of certain recent developments in the comments section of this blog, I have decided to close this blog to any new comments.
A more comprehensive note appears below the text of the blog.
Update – 26th July 2013: Having had so much traffic to this blog, it has become necessary to add more information and references about the quote, the context, the person and the somewhat ulterior motives that seem to govern the release of what I might refer to as "Internet Apocrypha".
I will advise anyone who is thinking of commenting on this opinion piece to first exhaustively go through the links provided within and below the article and appreciate the import of each submission, and then, if there is any desire to debunk any of the claims, please provide reference, attribution and accessible sources to support your views.
Akin Akintayo – 26th July 2013
Shared on Facebook
A few hours ago, I came upon a picture taken of a supposed speech made to the British Parliament on Facebook and the healthy sceptic that I am had to review the content to determine if this was true or not.
A quick search, though inconclusive proved my doubts and though I left a comment on the feature, soon afterwards the posting was removed in its entirety along with all the opinions expressed about it.
My control
That is probably what I fear the most about participating in the many forums on the Internet outside my control, the sudden disappearance of an opinion, a view or a comment so succinctly made at a moment in time representing my contemporaneous thinking which I may never be able to reproduce if it is lost.
This informs the reason why I mainly stick to writing on my blog where my views cannot be tampered with by editors or syndicators – my cubicle serves its purpose well.
The speech

I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in the country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.” [Wikipedia]
Intent unexpressed
Now, with regards to the picture above and the words transcribed there is probable cause to believe that there was intent by the British Empire as it spread its tentacles in the 19th Century; I had my doubts that they were expressed as such, especially in Parliament.
Sensational and inflammatory as it definitely is, it can be used to whip up nationalist fervour and jingoism for the ways in which colonialism and imperialism raped the colonies but if we are historically incorrect in attempting to harness a sentiment for polemics and so political gain, eventually the truth of such manipulation will be revealed, but long after the mob has been excited to wreak havoc on our peace.
Quite improbable
Now, this speech was said to have been made by Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay on the 2nd of February 1835 to the British Parliament. This would have been difficult, if he left for India in 1834 and returned in 1838 serving on the Supreme Council of India.
The fastest ships of that time managed 5 to 6 knots and this was before the time of the Clippers, Suez Canal did not open until 1869, so with a basic calculation of London to Bombay via Cape Town, a distance of 10,721 nautical miles with no days spent at port, an average one-way trip to India will take just over 74 days. [Using Sea Distances – Voyage Calculator]
This was not a journey to be taken lightly if you were based in India in the 19th Century; it is quite unlikely that T. B. Macaulay made a speech to the British Parliament in 1935.
Then one might ask how this got attributed to him. He did take minutes on the 2nd of February 1835 on the issue of Indian Education but those minutes do not contain the said words, it is suggested that the words might well have been an embellished paraphrase of a number of opinions that the man might have expressed in different documents and letters.
Apparently, the East India Company had been given the monopoly to trade with India and was instructed by the British Parliament to spend 100,000 Rupees on promoting the education of Indian natives. [Source - Doc]
The Company officials were divided on the kind of education to be promoted – will it be the indigenous system of education, or a new education system patterned along the British system of education.” The context of T. B. Macaulay’s minutes a subject of the English Education Act of 1835 were implemented in India in 1854 was advocating the promotion of European style education over the indigenous system.
The reprehensible thinking of those times
There are other words that are apparently attributed to Lord Macaulay and this follows the thinking of colonialists of that time; on page 325 in Essays, Critical and Miscellaneous, by Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron Macaulay, we find the paragraph below as also corroborated in Callaloo Nation, by Aisha Khan.
There never, perhaps, existed a people so thoroughly fitted by nature and by habit for a foreign yoke.
This reads no different in context and understanding that Lord Lugard proffered of Africans in his book, The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa in 1922, where he said, “In character and temperament, the typical African of this race-type is a happy, thriftless, excitable person; lacking in self control, discipline, and foresight ...” I covered this in my Apes Obey Series.
Debunk the fallacies, always
I expect the picture to go viral as it gets shared and commented on by readers on Facebook, Twitter and other Social Media forums, it might even catch the eye of some newspapers on its way to becoming a meme, many not bothering to verify the information and ascertain its provenance, veracity and correctness with historical fact.
As to the exact words spoken or written by Baron Macaulay, many of which might be in dispute, one can only end on the damning excoriation of taking things at face value exemplified in these words authored by someone who did not sign their contributions to this debate. “Available in the archives to genuine researchers. Not for followers of the ‘If it cannot be Googled it did not happen’ doctrine.” I hear you.
Other notes added 26th July 2013
In response to a comment that was posted recently, this piece was attributed to Lord Macaulay in 1835, well, in 1835, he was Mr Thomas Macaulay, he did not become Lord Macaulay until August 1857, which would suggest this was an attribution as a reported event rather than diary event, else, the postscript would say Mr Thomas Macaulay who became Lord Macaulay.
There is no reference in the Hansard of any speech, address, opinion, bill or comment by Mr Thomas Macaulay in the years from 1834 to 1838 inclusive.
Mr Thomas Macaulay apparently took up an appointment on the Supreme Council of India between 1834 and 1838 for which he was paid £50,000 to help pay off debts his father had accrued. [Spartacus Educational Biography]
There is another view that the real documented quote made by Mr Thomas Macaulay, though again unproven is below - the research continues:
I accept catholic beyond the across and across of India and I accept not apparent one getting who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such abundance I accept apparent in this country, such top moral values, humans of such caliber, that I do not anticipate we would anytime beat this country, unless we breach the actual courage of this nation, which is her airy and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I adduce that we alter her old and age-old apprenticeship system, her culture, for if the Indians anticipate that all that is adopted and English is acceptable and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their built-in self-culture and they will become what we ambition them, a absolutely bedeviled nation.” [WikiQuote]
Pertinent References
(These must be reviewed before posting a comment challenging the opinions stated here.)
Talk:Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay – The WikiQuote analysis of this purported speech.
Biography of Thomas Babington Macaulay – From Spartacus Educational, here, it noted that he was ennobled in August 1857, that is when he became Lord Macaulay.
Minute by the Hon'ble T. B. Macaulay, dated the 2nd February 1835. – From Bureau of Education. Selections from Educational Records, Part I (1781-1839). Edited by H. Sharp.  Calcutta: Superintendent, Government Printing, 1920. Reprint. Delhi: National Archives of India, 1965, 107-117.
A dubious quotation, a controversial reputation: the merits of Lord Macaulay – An exhaustive study of Lord Macaulay by Koenraad Elst – This must be read.
Macaulay's Minute revisited - Ramachandra Guha – The Hindu
Lord MacAulay’s Speech to British Parliament 1835 – Robert Lindsay on whipping up nationalist sentiment with contrived and false quotes.

Finally to put this all in context - The Curse of the Internet: Fake Historical Quotes

Dear Reader,
After almost 6 months of having written this blog with over 6,000 reads and all together 39 comments, I have decided to close this blog to new comments.
I appreciate everyone who has found time to read what I have written and have left comments either in support of or against the views expressed here.
Many, times, I have reiterated that the purpose of this blog is to dispute the letter of quote attributed to Lord Macaulay; at no time, I have suggested that colonialists have not practiced the spirit of the forgery attributed to the man.
My basic premise has been, if we are to be beacons of truth and justice, our activism and agitation must be based on the truth and the facts, never on fabricated quotes to suit our sentiments and subjective views. See - The Curse of the Internet: Fake Historical Quotes
Recently, the comments have digressed from the purpose and context of this blog; they have become unhelpful and do nothing to further the debate. I did not write this blog to entertain idle retired trolls.
I have suffered his views for long enough that I have decided to close this blog to new comments.
Everyone has a forum in the greater, bigger world of the Internet to publish their concurrence or disagreement and link back to this blog, if they so wish.
Thank you for reading and visiting my blog, I am honoured if providence has led you here whether you have gain anything or not from reading my blog.
With the kindest regards,
Akin Akintayo - 1st November 2013