Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/88

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73
1874.—Sir P. E. Wodehouse.

from what has taken place, I may be spared from making any comment upon it.

I trust, however, that I may be permitted to depart a little—or perhaps Local Disturbances. to a great extent—from the ordinary traditions of these Convocations, and to address myself to what I believe is at present the prominent and absorbing topic of interest in this community. I allude to the disturbed state of the city of Bombay. I am anxious that it should be known that Government is in no way indifferent to the character of the city, is in no way indifferent to the sufferings and losses of life and property which some of the community have sustained. But I confess that I needed some experience of the actual course of these events in order to arrive at a clear understanding as to the position of Government, and as to what were the powers immediately within its reach in dealing with these disturbances. And I say that it finds there is no simple and efficient and practical punishment which can be instantly applied to those creating riots in this city. I say further that there is no power in the Legislature of this Government to provide, off-hand, full legal powers to do what is necessary on the spot for keeping down such disturbances. I believe prompt punishments to be the essence of dealing with disturbances of this nature. I find also that there is apparently a general disinclination to take an active part in the operations of the established police of the city; that there is a disposition to leave them to cope as they best can with all the disturbances—disturbances breaking out first in one

quarter and then in another! Yet, wherever they may be, the police are expected to do all the work! Such being the case, and when they have been harassed from morning till night, so that they have no rest whatever, yet they find themselves subjected to bitter and ungenerous criticisms for what they cannot possibly help. And, moreover, they feel their labours prolonged and increased by exaggerated statements of what has occurred, and which only tend to keep up the sensation in the town. I believe that the events of the past few days have proved that such is the case. Then turn to the aid which Government can give the police under such circumstances—I mean the legal aid. What does it appear to be? It appears to be that Government must have recourse to what in England, and, so far as I have seen, to what in other countries governed on English principles, is always approached with the greater caution—with the fullest possible consideration for what may be the result, that is, the interposition of the military aid to support the police! No step