To the many statues of Governors-General which adorn the spacious Calcutta Maidan or Esplanade two additions have been made this spring- one of the late Marquis of Ripon, whose viceroyalty closed more than thirty years ago, and the other of Lord Minto. The unveiling ceremony was performed by Lord Hardinge, the late ex-Viceroy’s successor, only a day or two after the first anniversary of his death. Lord Minto was a typical English sportsman, and the sculptor, Sir W. Goscombe John, has happily represented him as mounted upon his Arab charger, New Minister. The bronze group which encircles the marble pedestal represents the princes and peoples of India assembled to join in or watch the farewell procession on his leaving Calcutta, and it contains some 150 figures representative of various Indian types, besides elephants, horses, and camels. This bronze procession is about 38 feet long and from four feet to six feet deep. The equestrian statue is 10 ½ feet high, and the total height of the monument is 25 feet.
When Lord Minto was going out to India in the autumn of 1905, the present writer heard him say at a private farewell banquet, with characteristic modesty, that he could not hope to emulate the abilities and the talents of his predecessor, Lord Curzon; but his turf experiences had taught him that many a race had been won by giving the horse a rest in his gallops.
The expectation of quiet times was not fulfilled; The plain-spoken Scotsman reckoned without the new forces stirring Indian life, and his tenure was more anxious and troubled and more fraught with internal change than that of any Governor-General since the Mutiny. Always careful to distinguish between what he termed “loyal unrest” and revolutionary sedition, Lord Minto, while ready to adopt all needful measures for the preservation of internal order, refused to allow the wave of political outrage to deflect him from the path which ultimately led to the great political reforms associated with his name and that of Lord Morley- the dominating mind and will behind them.
As Lord Hardringe well said at the unveiling ceremony, Lord Minto showed that he possessed, in addition to that personal courage which had already won him distinction in many different fields, the much rarer courage which enabled him to pursue his policy undeterred by the fear of being considered weak.
A solider and sportsman of the best type of the British aristocracy, he won the affectionate regard of the great rolling princes to an exceptional degree. His brief speeches reflected his unpretentiousness, and he scorned suggestions from those about him of attempts to put himself right with misinformed critics. The many honors conferred upon him when he returned to this country surprised their modest recipient.
What had he done, he asked privately, to be given the freedom of London and to become Lord Rector of Edinburgh University? His reputation, he said, was in the hands of the King and his Majesty’s advisers, and he was content to leave it there. A man of considerable literary tastes, he was a warm admirer of Trollope, but as became a son of the Border, he gave the Wizard of the North undisputed premiership in his attatchments.