« AnteriorContinuar »
ment, no nation would be preferable had its origin in the religious scruples to them, or prove worthier of com. of the latter, or in any decided avermand; but such is their little regard sion on their part to a closer interto the people of these kingdoms, and course with the strangers to whom such their apathy and indifference for Providence has assigned the mastery their welfare, that the people under over their land. their dominion groan everywhere, and This view is confirmed, in as far as are reduced to poverty and distress.” the Mahommedans are concerned, by
Though this censure is in so far what Mrs Colin Mackenzie tells us of unfair, that all is, in Oriental fashion, the comments of the Afghan chiefs on imputed to the ruling power, without the reluctance of their co-religionists allowance for the circumstances of a in Hindostan to share a repast with period of troublous transition, it is their Christian rulers, and the absence evidently penned in an honest and of any fellowship between the two friendly spirit; and evinces no repug- classes is traced by that lady to the nance whatever to the domination of very cause to which it is in our opithe English, provided they would nion also mainly to be ascribed; acquire some better knowledge of namely, to our peculiar and some"the art of government.” In another what repulsive bearing towards all passage he recounts how gallantly a who differ from ourselves in tone of Hindoo of high rank, Rajah Shitab thought, in taste, or in manners.Roy, co-operated with Captain Knox With a scrupulous respect for the in attacking an immensely superior persons and property of those among force, and how heartily, on returning whom we are thrown by the accidents to Patna, the English captain expressed of war, or trade, or travel, we too his admiration of his Hindoo ally, often manifest a great disregard for exclaiming repeatedly, “This is a real the feelings; and as insults raukle in Nawab; I never saw such a Nawab in the memory long after injuries are my life.''
forgotten, we find that liberal expenSoon afterwards the French officer diture and strict justice in our dealings with the force opposed to the English, cannot make us as popular as our the Chevalier Law, having been de- rivals the French, even in countries serted by his men, remained by him- where we paid for all, and they for self on the field of battle, when, be- nothing, that was supplied or taken. striding one of his guns, “he awaited Now, it is well remarked_by Mr the moment of his death.” His sur- Marshman, at p. 63 of his Reply to render and courteous reception are Mr Cobden, that “everything in and dwelt on with evident delight; and, about our Eastern Empire is English, after stating how a rude question ad
to our imperfections ;" and dressed to the Chevalier by a native among them we need not be surchief was checked and rebuked by the prised to find an undue scorn of all English officer, he makes the followthat is foreign, heightened by the ing observation :-" This reprimand arrogance of conquest and the Anglodid much honour to the English; and Saxon antipathy to a dark comit must be acknowledged, to the ho- plexion. This last is a more potent nour of these strangers, that as their principle than in our present humour conduct in war and in battle is worthy of theoretical philanthropy we may of admiration, so, on the other hand, be disposed to admit; but it seems to nothing is more modest and more be- be born with us, for it may be seen coming than their behaviour to an sometimes in English children at an enemy, whether in the heat of action age too young for prejudice, or even a or in the pride of success and victory." perception of social distinctions.
These extracts, borrowed from the It was said by “the Duke," that notes to the third volume of Mill's there is no aristocracy like the aristoHistory, might be supported by many cracy of colour; and all experience in other passages of a similar tendency lands where the races are brought into in the native work itself; and all tend contact, proves the correctness of the to prove that the social estrangement aphorism. since prevailing between our conutry- During the first thirty years of our men and the native gentry has not ascendancy in India, this most for
bidding of our national characteristics did not know where to turn for a meal, was kept in check by the exigencies of that they had no shade to shelter them, our position; and the consequence was,
no tank to bathe in, no employment for that, notwithstanding all the corrup
their active limbs? That villages are tion of the time, we were then indivi.
not neatly laid out like a model village dually more popular than we have in an English county; that things seem to ever been since. There was so little go on, year by year, in the same slovenly of what could be called European ments, and no advances in civilisation, is
fashion; that there are no local improvesociety then to be met with through- all very true. But considering the wretchout the country, that Englishmen were ed condition of some of the Irish peadrawn into some degree of intimacy santry, or even the Scotch, and the with natives, in order to escape from misery experienced by hundreds in the the painful sense of total isolation and purlieus of our great cities at home, comsolitude. That this intercourse was pared with the condition of the Ryots favourable to morality in the highest who know neither cold nor hunger, it is sense of the term, is more than we high time that the outcry about the excan venture to affirm; each party too
treme unhappiness of the Bengal Ryot often acquired more of the faults than
should cease."--(P. 194.) of the virtues of the other. But still, It is cheering to read in the chapter bad as the public and private life of of Mr Kaye's work, from which the Anglo-Indians was at that period, above extract is taken, the proofs that and however great the corruption that the labours of Cornwallis and his able prevailed, these defects in those who coadjutors have not been fruitless, and ruled were perhaps more tolerable to that the peasantry of the part of India the governed than the ill-mannered more immediately under their care, integrity of a succeeding generation. are not, as some have asserted, to
The abuses had probably gone on this hour suffering from their blunderincreasing, and the palliating cour. ing humanity. tesy most likely diminishing, when a It would indeed be most mortifying new era was ushered in by the arrival to think that regulations, pronounced of the first Governor-General of su- at the time of their promulgation by perior rank, in the person of the Mar- Sir Wm. Jones and the best English quis Cornwallis.
lawyers in India (though, in the true We must refer our readers to Mr spirit of professional pedantry, they Kaye's pages for a clear descrip- would not allow them to be called tion of the state of the Bengal Presi- laws), to be such as would do credit dency at the commencement of this
to any legislator of ancient or modern the second of the three periods into times, should really in operation have which we have assumed that its his- proved productive of little or no good. tory may be distributed. Our space The preambles to some of the first will not allow of our entering into the of these regulations are worthy of controversy about the merits of the notice, even on the score of literary system then introduced by Lord Corn- merit; and it is impossible to peruse wallis and his coadjutors, but we them without feeling that they must gladly make room for the following have proceeded from highly cultivated picture of the state of the peasantry minds, deeply impressed with the imin Bengal, sketched as we are assur- portance of the duty on which they ed by an eyewitness, in the course of were engaged. the year 1853.
It was the recorded opinion of the
late Mr Courtenay Smith, of the Ben“What strikes the eye most in any gal Civil Service (a brother of the village, or set of villages, in a Bengal celebrated Sidney Smith, and, like district, is the exuberant fertility of the him, a man of great wit and general soil, the sluttish plenty surrounding the talent, though unfortunately his good Grihasta's (cultivator's) abode, the rich foliage, the fruit and timber trees, and the things were mostly expressed in Perpalpable evidence against anything like
sian or Hindostanee, and are thus penury. Did any man ever go through a
lost to the European world), that Bengalee village and find himself assailed succeeding governments have always by the cry of want or famine? Was he erred as they have departed from the ever told that the Ryot and his family principles of the Cornwallis code; and that it would have been well if they There are, as we have remarked at had contined their legislation to such the outset of this article, questions of few modifications of the regulations difficult solution inseparable from of 1793 as the slowly progressive conquest; among which, that of the changes of Oriental life might have degree of trust to be reposed in the really repdered necessary.
conquered is perhaps the greatest. For very nearly thirty years the Where attachment can hardly be government of Bengal resisted the presumed to exist, some reserve in tempting facility of legislation inci- the allotment of power appears to be dent to its position of entire and ab- dictated by prudence; and to fix the solute power, and was content to rule amount of influence annexed to an upon the principles, and in general office to be filled by one of the subjuadherence to the forms, prescribed by gated, so as to render its importance those early enactments.
and respectability compatible with The benefits resulting from this the supremacy of the ruling race, is system were to be seen in a yearly far from being so easy as those imaextending cultivation, a growing re- gine who, in their reliance on cerspect for rights of property, and the tain general principles of supposed gradual rise in the minds of the people universal application, leave national of an habitual reference to certain feelings and prejudices out of account known laws, instead of to the caprice in making up their own little nostrums of a ruler, for their guidance in the for the improvement of mankind. more serious affairs of life.
Under the Cornwallis system, there The counterbalancing evils alleged was an office wbich, though then always against it were, the monopoly of all filled by a member of the Civil Service, high offices by the covenanted ser- seemed, in the limitation as well as the vants of the East India Company; importance of its duties, to be exactly the accumulation of suits in the courts suited for natives to hold. When the of civil justice—a result partly of that civil file of a district became overloadmonopoly, and partly of the checked with arrears, the government used imposed by our police on all simpler to appoint an officer to be assistant or and ruder modes of arbitrement; deputy judge. To him the regular and its tendency, by humouring the judge of the district was empowered Asiatic aversion to change, to keep to refer any cases that he thought fit, things stationary, and discountenance though there his power ceased, as the that progress without which there appeal lay direct to the provincial ought, in the opinion of many of our court from the award of the deputy. countrymen, to be no content on earth. The deputy being made merely a Indeed, the very fact of the natives of referee without original jurisdiction, Bengal being satisfied with such a was a wise provision for keeping the system, would, we apprehend, be ad- primary judicial power in the hands vanced as a reason for its abolition of the officer charged with the presera contented frame of mind, under their vation of the peace of the district, circumstances, being held to indicate while importance and weight were a moral abasement, only to be cor- given to the office of the deputy, by rected by the excitement of a little making the appeals from his decisions discontent. But, in truth, there was lie to the Provincial Court, and not nothing in the Cornwallis system to to his local superior. A single little preclude the introduction of necessary law of three lines, declaring natives of amendments.
India to be eligible to the office of The great reproach attaching to it Deputy Judge, would, by throwing a was the insufficient employment of number of respectable situations open natives, and the exclusive occupation to their aspirations, have provided by the Civil Service of the higher judi. for their advancement, without any cial posts. Now, we hope to make it disturbance of institutions to which clear, by a brief explanation, that the the people of the country had become correction of both of these evils might accustomed and reconciled. Again, more easily have been effected under as to the monopoly of higher judicial the Cornwallis system, than under office by members of the Civil Service, that by which it has been superseded. the Cornwallis system, perhaps, provided a readier means of abating even was effected in our system of internal this grievance than will be found in administration, which has since given that by which it has been supplanted. & colour and a bent to our whole
Nothing can be more extravagant policy in the East. In the course of than the scheme of sending out bar. those two years the magisterial power risters from Westminster Hall, to was detached from the office of the undertake, without any intermediate judge, and annexed to that of the training, the management of districts collector; the Provincial Courts were in Bengal and Hindostan. Sir Wil- abolished, their judicial duties being liam Jones himself, unintelligible as transferred to the district judges, and he was, on bis first arrival, to the their ministerial functions of superinnatives of India, would have failed tendence and control to commissionif he had undertaken such a task. ers, each with the police and revenue This visionary proposal has happily of about half a dozen districts under received its coup de grace from Sir his charge. Edward Ryan, the late Chief Justice Two Sudder, or courts of ultimate in Bengal, in his evidence before the resort, were established, one at CalCommons'Committee; but it does not, cutta, the other at Allahabad in upin our opinion, follow that the aid of per India; but all real executive power lawyers trained in England is there centred in the magisterial revenue fore to be altogether discarded in pro- department, presided over by two viding for the administration of justice Boards, located, like the Sudder in India. Although the man fresh from Courts, at Calcutta and Allahabad. England would be sadly bewildered if One of the new provisions then inleft by himself in a separate district, troduced abolished the office of Reit does not follow that he should not, gister, or subordinate Judge, held by after some preparatory training, be young civilians conjointly with that able to co-operate vigorously with of Assistant to the Magistrate. This others. The horse will go well in was a most serious change, for it double-harness, or in a team, who abolished the very situation in which would upset a gig, and kick it to young civilians received their judicial pieces.
training, and fitted themselves for the If barristers chose to repair to better eventual discharge of the higher Bengal, and, while there practising at duties of the judicature. the bar of the Supreme Court, would The Registers used to have the study the native languages, it appears trial of civil suits for property, if not to us that, on their proficiency being more than five hundred rupees (£50) proved by an examination, they might in value. The abolitionists urged the have been advantageously admitted, injustice of letting raw youths experiunder certain limitations as to num- mentalise upon small suits, to the supber, into the now abolished Provincial posed detriment of poor suitors. There Courts.
was a show of reason in this mode of Had these experimental provisions arguing; but those who used it did not in favour of natives of India, and give due weight to the consideration barristers from England, been found that these youths were to become the to succeed, their eligibility to every dispensers of justice to all classes, and grade in the judicial branch of the that it was better for the country to service might have been proclaimed, suffer a little from their blunders at and the most plausible of all the com- the outset, than to have them at last plaints against our system of Indian advanced to the highest posts on the government would thus have been judgment- seat without any judicial removed. But improvement without training whatsoever. But, in fact, the change was not to the taste of those whole argument was based upon a by whom the last of our three admi- mere assumption. The young Renistrative periods was ushered in; and gisters certainly committed occasional in further confirmation of Mr Marsh- blunders, as old Justices and Alderman's remark, already cited, on the men, if we are to believe the daily parallelism of movement in England papers, constantly commit them in and in India, it was in the changeful England; but, on the whole, their years 1830 and 1831 that a revolution courts were generally popular and in good repute among the natives. The empting the grantee and his heirs young civilian bad often a pride in his from all payment on the score of reown little court of record, liked to venue, though sometimes, as in our know that it was well thought of, and own feudal tenures, imposing upon was sometimes pleased to find parties him obligations of suit and service in shaping their plaints so as to bring some form or other. them within the limits of his cogni- When the framers of the Cornsance.
wallis code, in 1793, determined on They thus often acquired a per- recognising the validity of every such sonal regard for the people, whom it tenure as was held under an authentic was their pride, as well as their duty, and sufficient grant, a provision was to protect-a feeling which has since, at the same time made for their we fear, been too much weakened. being carefully recorded and regisThe young civilians of the present day, tered. though excellent men of business, and This duty of registration was, howaccomplished linguists, have seldom ever, either totally neglected or very any individual feeling for the natives, imperfectly performed, and the conwhom they regard in a light for which sequence was, that by collusive exno word occurs to us so happily ex- tensions of their limits, and other pressive as the French term, " les means, such as it would be tedious to administrés." Thus it happened that explain, the rent-free tenures were the abolition of Registerships proved gradually eating into the rent-paying almost the death-blow to the Corn- lands forming the main source of the wallis system, and shook, not merely revenues of the state. Careful revithe framework, but the very princi- sion, therefore, became necessary, and ples of judicial administration through- was in fact commenced so far back as out the country. It was followed up the year 1819. The inquiry was inby a series of measures, all calculated trusted to the officers of the revenue to lower the judicial department of the department; but for some time perservice, and to prove to the natives mission was left to those discontented that the protection of the law, pro- with their award, to bring the quesmised in the still unrepealed regula- tion at issue between them and the tions, was thenceforward to prove Government before the regular courts illusory, wherever it was required to of justice for final decision. This prosbield them from the encroachments cess proving too tardy, in about ten of any new scheme or theory finding years afterwards a sort of exchequer favour for the moment with an exe- court, called a Special Commission, cutive government ruling avowedly was erected for the trial of appeals upon principles of expediency, and from the decisions of the revenue seeking every occasion to shake off authorities on the validity of rent-freo the trammels imposed upon its free- grants. This commission was filled dom of action by the cautious provi- by officers of the judicial branch of the sions of the Cornwallis code.
service, and their proceedings, carried The people soon found in their on in strict conformity with the pracruler3 under the new system a scrupu
tice of the courts of civil justice, gave lous discharge of all positive duties, no offence, and created no alarm, notcombined with a diminished considera- withstanding that extensive tracts tion for native prejudices, a neglect of were brought by their decisions under many punctilios of etiquette, and a the liability of paying revenue to the stern hostility to every exceptional state. But not long after the country privilege exempting an individual in had entered into the third period of any degree from the operation of the its administration, the revenue authorules of general administration. This rities got impatient of all restraint, last-mentioned tendency showed it and sought to break through the imself particularly in the case of the pediments of judicial procedure and rent-free tenures, wbich had for some rules. The primary proceedings, beten years previously been undergoing ing intrusted to young deputy-collecrevision.
tors, were carried on with a rapidity These landed tenores were held which rendered due investigation under grants from former rulers, ex- utterly impossible, and all real in