Speeches by Lord Curzon of Kedleston


George Nathaniel Curzon (1859‒1925) served as viceroy and governor-general of India from 1899 to 1905. As the head of the British administration in India, he instituted sweeping reforms in the colonial bureaucracy, organized relief in the famine of 1899‒1900, and enacted agricultural reforms aimed at increasing food production. He also modernized the police, railways, educational system and universities, established the North-West Frontier Province (in present-day Pakistan) near the border with Afghanistan, created a directorate-general for archaeology, and launched an expanded program to restore important cultural and historical monuments in India, including, for example, the Taj Mahal. While widely praised for reforms that greatly benefited the people of India, Curzon has been criticized by historians for his fundamentally paternalistic attitude toward the country and his failure to recognize the emergence of the new nationalist elite associated with the Indian National Congress. Presented here is a four-volume compilation of the speeches given by Curzon during his tenure in India, published by the Indian government in Calcutta. Included are both statements to formal sessions of the Viceroy’s Legislative Council and addresses at conferences, meetings, and on ceremonial occasions. The speeches cover a vast array of topics, including the economy, budget and finance, civil and military administration, culture, art, and ancient monuments. A high point of Curzon’s time in India was the great durbar held in Delhi in January 1903 to celebrate the accession of King Edward VII. Curzon’s speeches at the events that were part of the durbar are contained in volume three. Also noteworthy is the last speech in volume four, Curzon’s farewell speech given at the Byculla Club in Bombay on November 16, 1905, in which he proclaimed that he had always striven for the good of India, and concluded: “I have worked for no other aim. Let India be my judge.” Curzon went on to serve in the House of Lords and as British foreign secretary from 1919 to 1924.

Last updated: August 25, 2016