When they discuss questions of political power and political authority, most political scientists are able to refer to a substantial corpus of literature. There is no such corpus of literature about imperial authority.l There is plenty of writing about the doctrine of indirect rule. Most of this skirts, however, the central issues of imperial authority. Among historians there is now a growing literature about 'resistance' and 'revolt? But what of the long intervals when there was next to none such? One vital problem concerning imperial authority has of course received attention (a tremendous amount of attention indeed) from both political scientists and historians alike, namely the question why and how it has now been so largely overthrown. By and large we think we know the answer to this. We explain it by the rise of nationalism. But the truth probably is that we have not really gone nearly as far as we think we have in fathoming it adequately. For we have still to learn a great deal more about that other question, namely, not why imperial rule has been overthrown, but why it was in the first place (and let us for the moment beg the question here) accepted.