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when we remember that its divine founder declared that He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Persuasion, and that not of temporal things, but of spiritual, must of course be the only weapon of the Christian's warfare, whilst striving to extend his Master's kingdom; and all else should be carefully excluded from the jail. But this, we think, would in time yield golden harvests, if wielded by men whose hearts were in their work. If Government servants are unwilling or unable to undertake the task; yet a little encouragement would win the Missionary's labor; and we would fling wide open the gates of comprehensive charity, especially whilst striving to Christianize a people.
With an earnest hope that this great truth will soon become a principle of action, we must now draw our few desultory remarks on Prison Discipline to a close. They have many short-comings; but one object at least we hope is apparent through them all. We have striven not to delineate a comparatively perfect system, but rather to urge what it seems may be effected easily and at once; for we believe that slow, tottering, and needing every support, must be each several step along the Grand Trunk Road to improvement.*
* When we commenced this article, we intended to refer to all the official documents from which we quoted, or to which we alluded. But, as we advanced, we found our notes getting so numerous, that we changed our purpose, considering that numbers and dates would be of little use to those of our readers, who do not possess the authorities, and that those who do, would probably be so familiar with them, as to need no references. When the documents, however, have not been of comparatively recent date, we have not omitted to guide the reader.
Art. VI.—Directions to Revenue Officers. By James Thomason, Lieut.-Governor. November 1, 1849.
What is the meaning of the word "Collector?" What are the duties of the Indian Official who bears that name? If we are to trust the eloquent historian of England, the Collector is a little Satrap, on whose personal qualities the happiness or misery of a district depends. Miserable, indeed, would be the situation of our subjects, if their social position depended on so slight a security! Another class of writers treat our district officers merely as Collectors of taxes, a race of Publicans, and, by the courtesy of the public, Sinners also: the little Azazel of Macaulay dwindles into the hated form of the man with the pencil and book, who periodically impounds the cattle, or cuts oft' the water, of the defaulting house-holder. People wonder then at the sudden transfer of men of this stamp from the money table of Matthew to the bema of Pontius Pilate, and rave at the East India Company, who pay so well their Collectors, and yet stint their Judges.
There is more than is supposed in a name, and, if the stumbling block of the word "Collector" were removed, and in its place were written the "Executive District Authority, and Revenue Judge of first instance;" if some attention were paid to form a just appreciation of the duties of this office, no parallel to which exists in European countries, much misunderstanding would be removed; and it is with a view of contributing a mite to the already existing means of information, that these pages are written. It must be borne in mind, that the duties of the office are very distinct and separate in the four Presidencies of India, and that these remarks apply to those great Provinces which lie betwixt the Caramnassa and the Indus, which are known as the North Western Provinces, and the Punjab ;— and, if we can trust report, and official documents, are not the worst managed portion of our Indian dominions.
In these provinces the Office of Magistrate is joined with that of Collector; and public opinion seems now to be fixed, that the union is not only desirable, but necessary. In the volume named at the head of this article, we have to thank that wise Statesman to whom we are so much indebted, that all scattered laws and rules of practice have been collected, and condensed in a most luminous treatise, embodying every thing that can be required by a Collector; and the new system of examination of all aspirants for office secures to Government and the people the certainty of having efficient officers. To the general reader the contents may seem dry, but they are of the highest importance, and we look in vain, amidst masses of scattered correspondence, for any such " resume" of the Financial System of the other Presidencies.
Though the office of Magistrate is held by the same person, the machinery and routine are quite distinct, and for his official acts, the Magistrate has to answer to the higher Judicial Courts: any notice of them is foreign to our subject, but the benefit of the union of the two offices can only be fully appreciated by those who are acquainted with the state of affairs in the rural provinces, where the powers of the Magistrate strengthen the hands of the Collector, and the intimate local knowledge of the Collector gives double vigour and effect to the orders of the Magistrate. No indecent clashing of authority can occur, where the reins are held in one hand, and any possible abuse is prevented by the fact, that the District Officer has to explain his proceedings in the two departments to two entirely independent authorities: the police are never allowed to interfere in the collection of the revenue, but the revenue establishments are available, in extreme cases of riot and disturbance, to assist the police : the boundary of the two jurisdictions is well understood, and no practical difficulty ever has arisen, or is likely to arise.
The Collector is vested by law with certain powers in five distinct capacities.
I. Collector of Government Revenue.
II. Registrar of landed property in the district.
III. Revenue Judge between landlord and tenant.
IV. Ministerial Officer of Courts of Justice.
V. Treasurer and Accountant of the district.
The slightest consideration of these few words will convince a candid inquirer, how poor an idea has been formed of the office, by those who have painted an Indian Collector as a man with a bag, a hard heart, and a ruthless countenance. The district, over which these powers have to be exercised, contains several thousand villages, several hundred thousand inhabitants, and several hundred square miles, and the amount of revenue to be annually collected, varies in different districts from ten lakhs to twenty lakhs, i. e. from £100,000 sterling per annum to £200,000. How small, when compared with these princely agencies, is the management of an English estate, for which the agent, or lawyer, is so highly paid! How insignificant the few parishes, which, scattered here and there, form a ducal estate, and pay a rent of thousands after months of arrears, when compared with the vast expanse of in-field and vil
Iage, of out-field and waste, which has paid, and will continue to pay, its tens of thousands, with only the slightest coercion, and scarcely a particle of balance. There must be some merit in a system, which, apparently, answers so well the requirements, both of the rulers and the people; some praise is due to a machinery which enables the sons and nephews of East India Directors, who, by the courtesy of the press, are allowed to be highly educated, and by insinuation, are represented as the greatest fools of their contemporaries, thus easily to furnish the sinews of war, and the means of moral and material improvement of the country.
Under the Collector-Magistrate is a most ample establishment. He himself is always of the Covenanted Service, and under him are generally two Covenanted Officers, exerting powers in both departments, and one or more Uncovenanted Officers. The extent of the powers of those officers varies according to their capacity, or standing. At the central station are the English and Native offices, amply furnished with clerks, writers, and record-keepers, and the whole district is sub-divided into compact portions, containing from one to two hundred villages each, and placed under the revenue management of a responsible native officer, who again has under him subordinate establishments to keep his accounts, and conduct the details of the office. Responsible and subordinate to this Officer, in every village, is the native accountant, and the hereditary, or elective, head of the township. So complete, and so well adapted to the customs of the country, is the system of centralization, that measures of the greatest detail can be effected without an effort: from the Lieut.-Governor, down to the village Putwary, is an unbroken chain, rendering communication from the seat of Government, to the extremest corner of the provinces, merely a work of time: the most accurate statistics can be furnished without expense and without trouble, as evidenced by the late Census of the North West Provinces, which was conductedentirely by the Revenue Officers, without the necessity of entertaining any extra hands; and, from the mode in which the details of the Census were conducted, there is reason to place confidence in its trust-worthiness. It is true, that in a free country, such a degree of centralization is not desirable, and the evil effects of such a system are shewn in France, where liberties are periodically lost by the over-weening power of the Executive Government; but no such objection can be made in India, where the Government is allowed to be absolute, and the grand object is not to govern the people constitutionally, but to govern them well. It is a melancholy fact, which it may he as well to admit, that a really efficient, and responsible form of absolute government, is the best system for the rule of an Asiatic country.
Let us follow the Collector in his first capacity, whence he derives his name,—the collection of the Government Revenue: which consists of three items only, viz:—
1. Land revenue.
2. Excise on spirituous liquors and drugs.
3. Sale of Stamps.
The latter two items are inconsiderable in amount, and perhaps objectionable in character, and require no further notice, as they occupy but a small portion of the thoughts of the revenue authorities. Not so the first item, the great land tax, which in India, and in all Asiatic countries, is the mainstay and support of the Government.
It is of little use questioning, or impugning, the policy of this tax. Immemorial custom, and the ancient constitution of India, has sanctioned its maintenance: its place could be supplied by no other possible cess, and its withdrawal would lead to the break up of the Government, which might be foolish enough to abandon it; nor is it in the abstract an unjust tax, when urged in moderation. It is the excess, not the principle of the demand, that is to be denounced. Land is in all countries, and has been in all ages, the most prized possession of man: in the early history of a nation, it is the only possession, and at all stages, it is the most valued. The reasons are obvious: it is a tangible and possessible good: when newly acquired, it has charms which no other new acquirement can give: when inherited from a long line of ancestors, it suggests feelings, second only in intensity, to the love of blood relations. There is an attachment to the soil, which has mantained an ancient lineage, and a reverence for the magnificent trees, which were planted by his fore-fathers, and are a link to connect him and his children in a remote generation. Parting with land, whether voluntarily, or compulsorily, cannot be done without some pangs: the feeling is natural,and any legislation tampering with possession and title deeds, is charged, and not unjustly, with spoliation.
As a necessary consequence, land naturally is the earliest object of regular taxation, and unquestionably the most legitimate one. To be mantained in possession against the assaults of violence, and to reap where you have sowed, is a benefit so palpable, that some compensation is the fair claim of a Government strong enough to insure the enjoyment of such a blessing: the question is, how far should such a demand of