Lord Curzon

George Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, KG, GCSI, GCIE, PC (11 January 1859 – 20 March 1925), known as The Lord Curzon of Kedleston between 1898 and 1911 and as The Earl Curzon of Kedleston between 1911 and 1921, was a British Conservative statesman who wasViceroy of India and Foreign Secretary. The Curzon Line was named after him. ————————————————- Early life

Curzon was the eldest son and second of 11 children of Alfred Curzon, the 4th Baron Scarsdale (1831–1916), Rector of Kedleston in Derbyshire, and his wife Blanche (1837–1875), daughter of Joseph Pocklington Senhouse of Netherhall in Cumberland. He was born at Kedleston Hall, built on the site where his family, who were of Norman ancestry, had lived since the 12th century. His mother, worn out by childbirth, died when George was 16; her husband survived her by 41 years. Neither parent exerted a major influence on Curzon’s life.

The Baron was an austere and unindulgent father who believed in the long-held family tradition that landowners should stay on their land and not go “roaming about all over the world”. He thus had little sympathy for those travels across Asia between 1887 and 1895 which made his son one of the most traveled men who ever sat in a British cabinet. A more decisive presence in Curzon’s childhood was that of his brutal governess, Ellen Mary Paraman, whose tyranny in the nursery stimulated his combative qualities and encouraged the obsessional side of his nature.

Paraman periodically forced him to parade through the village wearing a conical hat bearing the words liar,sneak, and coward. Curzon later noted, “No children well born and well-placed ever cried so much and so justly. “[1] He was educated at Eton College[2] and Balliol College, Oxford. At Eton he was a favorite of Oscar Browning, an over-intimate relationship that led to his tutor’s dismissal. [3][4] While at Eton, he was a controversial figure who was liked and disliked with equal intensity by large numbers of masters and other boys.

This strange talent for both attraction and repulsion stayed with him all his life: few people ever felt neutral about him. At Oxford he was President of the Union and Secretary of the Oxford Canning Club. Although he failed to achieve a first class degree in Greats, he won the Lothian and Arnold Prizes, the latter for an essay on Sir Thomas More (about whom he confessed to having known almost nothing before commencing study, literally delivered as the clocks were chiming midnight on the day of the deadline). He was elected a prize fellow of All Souls College in 1883.

A teenage spinal injury, incurred while riding, left Curzon in lifelong pain, often resulting in insomnia, and required him to wear a metal corset, contributing to an unfortunate impression of stiffness and arrogance. While at Oxford, Curzon was the inspiration for the following Balliol rhyme, a piece of doggerel which stuck with him in later life: My name is George Nathaniel Curzon, I am a most superior person. My cheeks are pink, my hair is sleek, I dine at Blenheim twice a week. ————————————————- ————————————————-

Early career and Parliament Curzon became Assistant Private Secretary to Lord Salisbury in 1885, and in 1886 entered Parliament as Member for Southport in south-west Lancashire. His maiden speech, which was chiefly an attack on home rule and Irish nationalism, was regarded in much the same way as his oratory at the Oxford Union: brilliant and eloquent but also presumptuous and rather too self-assured. Subsequent performances in the Commons, often dealing with Ireland or reform of the House of Lords (which he supported), received similar verdicts.

He was Under-Secretary of State for India in 1891-1892 and Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in 1895–1898. [citation needed] In the meantime he had travelled around the world: Russia and Central Asia (1888-9), a long tour of Persia (1889–90), Siam, French Indochina and Korea(1892), and a daring foray into Afghanistan and the Pamirs (1894), and published several books describing central and eastern Asia and related policy issues. A bold and compulsive traveller, fascinated by oriental life and geography, he was warded the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society for his exploration of the source of the Amu Darya (Oxus). Yet the main purpose of his journeys was political: they formed part of a vast and comprehensive project to study the problems of Asia and their implications for British India. At the same time they reinforced his pride in his nation and her imperial mission. Viceroy of India (1898–1905) Lord Curzon-Procession to Sanchi Tope, 28 Nov 1899 In January 1899 he was appointed Viceroy of India. He was created a Peer of Ireland as Baron Curzon of Kedleston, in the County of Derby,[6] on his appointment.

This peerage was created in the Peerage of Ireland (the last so created) so that he would be free, until his father’s death, to re-enter theHouse of Commons on his return to Britain. Reaching India shortly after the suppression of the frontier risings of 1897–1898, he paid special attention to the independent tribes of the north-west frontier, inaugurated a new province called the North West Frontier Province, and pursued a policy of forceful control mingled with conciliation. The only major armed outbreak on this frontier during the period of his administration was the Mahsud-Waziri campaign of 1901.

In the context of the Great Game between the British and Russian Empires for control of Central Asia, he held deep mistrust of Russian intentions. This led him to encourage British trade in Persia, and he paid a visit to the Persian Gulf in 1903. At the end of that year, he sent a British expedition to Tibetunder Francis Younghusband, ostensibly to forestall a Russian advance. After bloody conflicts with Tibet’s poorly-armed defenders, the mission penetrated to Lhasa, where a treaty was signed in September 1904. No Russian presence was found in Lhasa.

Lord Curzon and Lady Curzonarriving at the Delhi Durbar, 1903. Within India, Curzon appointed a number of commissions to inquire into education, irrigation, police and other branches of administration, on whose reports legislation was based during his second term of office as viceroy. Reappointed Governor-General in August 1904, he presided over the 1905 partition of Bengal, which roused such bitter opposition among the people of the province that it was later revoked (1911). He also took an active interest in military matters. In 1901, he founded the Imperial Cadet Corps, or ICC.

The ICC was a corps d’elite, designed to give Indian princes and aristocrats military training, after which a few would be given officer commissions in the Indian Army. But these commissions were “special commissions” which did not empower their holders to command any troops. Predictably, this was a major stumbling block to the ICC’s success, as it caused much resentment among former cadets. Though the ICC closed in 1914, it was a crucial stage in the drive to Indianise the Indian Army’s officer Corps, which was haltingly begun in 1917.

Military organisation proved to be the final issue faced by Curzon in India. A difference of opinion with the British military Commander-in-Chief in India, Lord Kitchener, regarding the status of the military member of the council in India, led to a controversy in which Curzon failed to obtain the support of the home government. He resigned in August 1905 and returned to England. During his tenure, Curzon undertook the restoration of the Taj Mahal, and expressed satisfaction that he had done so. Lord and Lady Curzon on the elephant Lakshman Prasad, 29 December 1902

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *