Sir Michael O’Dwyer has crowned a fairly long list of indiscrete utterances by a speech as extraordinarily unwise and unstatesman-like as any speech could well be. Salient extracts from this speech will be found on another page, and they will show that it was on a line and had all the characteristics of the famous Simla speech, with the difference that while that speech was made in a Council in which ‘plain-speaking’ could be, as it naturally was, met by ‘plain-speaking’ , in in the present case, both because Sir Michael was the president of the Council and also because of the composition of the Council itself, no such thing was possible.
There is another difference. At the time when the Simla speech was made, Sir Michael had a part of his administration still before him. When he spoke on Monday last, he was, on the other hand, on the very eve of his retirement. The threats and warnings in which he so freely indulged were, therefore, very much in the nature of an unpleasant legacy left to his successor and this legacy would only be rendered worse if His Honour were to utilise the remaining few days of his term of office for translating the threats and the warnings into action. It is one thing for a man to live consistently up to his reputation as a strong ruler when he faces all the consequences of his measures himself; it is quite another for him to sow the wind and then leave it to someone else to reap the whirlwind. The position in this case is not different because the feeling which must be the inevitable outcome of unwise and unsympathetic measures will never seek or find any but legitimate, peaceful and absolutely constitutional outlet and will never be directed against the Government as such, but solely against the measures themselves. Let us examine in the cool light of reason some of the characteristic passages in his Honour’s speech. “I must make it clear,” he said, after referring to the action taken by his Government by way of relaxing restrictions imposed during the war, “that if conditions should recur threatening the public peace, the Government will not delay to use all the means at its disposal to repress disorder.” Again: “The Government of this province is, and will remain, determined that public order which was maintained so successfully during the time of war shall not be disturbed in time of peace.”
Sir Michael O’Dwyer confounds merely alleged intemperate language as such with criminal activity, with the promotion of disorder.
As to the language of threat repeatedly used by Sir Michael, we have just a word to say. His Honour could not have been at the helm of affairs in this Province for six long years without making the political agitators realise what they have to expect from him. The warning, therefore, was absolutely superfluous.