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A path of glory opening in the west,
Oh, when will day reveal a world unknown !'
* Long on the wave the morning mists repose ;
Sweep with their sable skirts the shadowy floods.'
' -Oh say, when all, to holy transport given,
Embrac'd and wept as at the gates of beav'n;
their ear seraphic harmonies ?
And to the shepherds sung a Saviour born!'-
they are in themselves) ought never to be brought into contact with the awful history of the true religion.
The poem languishes till the twelfth Canto, when it revives again in the Vision. The idea is happy. In fact it affords the only means by which the interest could be protracted beyond the discovery. It exhibits a rapid, spirited, poetical view of the future fate of Columbus himself, and of the world he had discovered. We could with pleasure make some extracts, but we have not room; and the specimens already given will probably have convinced our readers, that notwithstanding its defects, the poem has beauties of no ordinary kind.
Art. XII. The Erpediency maintained of continuing the Sys
tem by which the Trade and Government of India are now regulated. By Robert Grant, Esq. Blacks and Parry. London. 1813.
THE • Espediency maintained was not intended by Mr. Grant,
nor will it be considered by his readers, as one of the mass of ephemeral productions which the approaching expiration of the East India Company's charter has called forth. It aspires to a more lasting celebrity, and will probably be thought to deserve it, even in its incomplete state-incomplete as to the subjects intended to be discussed—but finished, as far as it goes, with laboured precision. The work is undoubtedly a work of very considerable ability, abounding in passages of uncommon force, and eloquence, thickly sown with metaphors at once brilliant and correct, and may be supposed to contain all the information that a free access to Leadenhallstreet could supply. Its faults are a redundancy of words, and something of a studied phraseology, occasionally bordering on affectation; faults which are not, perhaps, rendered less conspicuous by the consideration that the work was not written on the spur
of the moment, although it has suffered a premature delivery for the sake of answering a particular purpose. But retrenchment and correction are learnt by practice, and of the original power and fertility of Mr. Grant's inind, the volume affords the most favourable indications. To excite alarm at the danger, by any change of system,' of losing India by colonization, and our excellent constitution? by the transfer of Indian patronage to the crown, has been, for the last thirty years, the favourite and most effective policy of those who'maintain the 'expediency of preserving for themselves an exclusive monopoly and an individed patronage; and such is avowedly the object of Mr. Grant's publication.
To understand what India is, under the British government, it is necessary to know what it was under that of the Mahomedans. Mr. Grant has accordingly judged it necessary to open bis work with a summary account of the nature and effects of the Mahomedan government established in Hindostan, particularly as it was exemplified in the provinces of Bengal,' as a contrast to the political system of the East India Company, established in British India, under the sanction, and with the aid of the British legislature. The exhibition of this contrast occupies very nearly one half of the book. Our sketch of it must be brief, our conclusions somewhat different from those of Mr. Grant.
The Mogul government was a complete despotism- of that absolute kind which tolerates no nobility but the nobility of office.' The political theorists who support the doctrine of absolute despotism, and maintain that the want of an hereditary aristocracy, by depriving faction of a head, secures the intestive tranquillity of the state, may find their theory true, as applied to the despotism of China, and its two hundred millions of subjects; but perfectly false in regard to the empire of Delhi, where, in the absence of a hereditary nobility, rebellion always sought, and always found a leader in the bosom of the imperial house itself.' In Hindostan, whether under native or foreign governments, ' malcontent chiefs associating with malcontent connections of the throne,' have produced those relative discords and fraternal furies, which have cursed and disgraced the palaces of the Achæmenides, the Othmans, and the Timurs of all ages. Here the personal character of the sovereign was every thing, the law nothing. The reign of Aurengzebe was a flourishing period of the Mogul empire; it began to decline in that of his less vigorous son Behadur Shah, and may be said to have finally expired on the capture and plunder of Delhi by Nadir Shah, in 1739, twenty years before the British acquired territorial dominion in Bengal. It is admitted by Mr. Grant that, at this crisis, the want of an established patrician order did not prevent Hindostan from being rent in pieces by rebellious Omrahs; but that of those pretenders, who either usurped the vizierut at Delhi, or the viceroyalties of the provinces, none could urge any claius of ancestry over wbich the period of one or two generations did not completely cast a veil,
• None, therefore, could build his usurpation, even obliquely, as it were, on a basis of opinion: but a general and an equal scramble took place; each pretending an appointment from the Court at Delhi, where, indeed, the instrument of investiture could generally be procured for a trifing present, and, if it could not be procured, it was invariably fabricated. Wherever, mean time, one of these untitled adventurers
succeeded in establishing himself, there a government grew up, which, like that from the ashes of which it had arisen, was a despotism without an aristocracy, and which was attended by the evils usually incident to that form of polity:'-(p. 8.)
A very summary view of the Mogul system of government will be sufficient to shew the deplorable conditiou of the people within the sphere of its influence. According to this system each province had its viceroy, known under the name of Nazim or Nawaub, and its Dewan, both of which were appointed by the imperial court. The former was invested with the command of the troops; the military administration of the province; the supreme jurisdiction in criminal matters, and the exclusive superintendance of the police. To the latter were entrusted the management of the public revenues, and the distribution of civil justice. The balance of power between those two functionaries, always ill adjusted and fluctuating, was decided in favour of the sword, when the supremacy of the imperial court at Delhi became altogether titular. Then the Dewan sank into dependance, and was generally some Hindoo of subtilly and intrigue, the mere creature of the viceroy, and probably the convenient instrument of his avarice and tyranny.'
It is almost superfluous to add, that these provincial governments under the nabobs, bad in principle, were at all times adıninistered in an arbitrary manner; but in the weak, inefficient and nominal supremacy of the court of Delhi, became the worst of all tyrannies. Little or no respect was paid to the singular attachment of the Hindoo people to their customs and civil institutions ; no forbearance towards their timid, submissive and unresisting natures. They were assessed at a higher rate than the professors of the Mahomedan faith: from the prince to the peasant all were oppressed or degraded; the only consolation left to them was, that they did not suffer alone ; every rank in the state tyrannised with impunity over the next, and the durbar of the Nabob exhibited, for the most part, an offensive scene of intrigue, favouritism and venality.'
Mr. Grant observes that, by an evident solecism in policy, the financial and judicial departments were so blended as frequently to be entrusted to the same hands. The Dewan was both the chief judge in civil causes, and the principal minister of finance. The zemindars, farmers, and collectors of revenue were invested with judicial powers. The financial policy of the moguls was almost wholly directed to the collection of a territorial revenue. The crop was divided into certain fixed proportions. The ryot, or actual cultivator, had two-tifths; part of the remainder was partitioned out
acong the land-holders, intermediate renters, agents, &c. and the radue belonged to the state. In Bengal the practice was for the Dewan annually to summon the zemindars, or land-holders, and to settle with them a fixed sum to be paid into the treasury. According to the amount of this sum the zemindars formed their settiement with the renters, and these, with their subordinates, down to the cultivator or ryot. These annual leases, subject to an antual variation of the rent reserved, to say nothing of the manifold subdivision of interests in the land, could not fail to be highly prejudicial to cultivation. But besides the regular fixed rent, there were certain imposts levied at will, for which the government called on the zemindar, the zemindar on his renters, and the burthe increased as it travelled downwards. Where no demand was made od the part of government, the zemindar took care to call for compensation. Under the colour of exactions from superiors, contributions were imposed on subordinates, which, however, when detected by the superiors, were extorted from the robbers with interest.' If a ryot died or fled the country, the brother ryots of the district were called upon to make good his deficiency. Whenever the calamity of famine occurred, the wretched survivors of a wasted population were tased with a severity inversely proportional to their numbers.'
These vexatious exactions were enforced by the ordinary usage, in all the despotic governments of the east, of dealing blows and Scourges to inferiors, a practice which neither violates any municipal law, nor outrages public feeling ; and, if necessary, by the seizure and detention of the persons of the defaulters. The exercise of the zemindary jurisdiction was at all times sufficient to enforce the payment of his own extortions. But the most efficient Instrument, employed in the collection of the imposts, was the up or scourge. The land-holders experienced the same treatment from the government. The blessings which flowed from the administration of Jaffier Khan, the Nabob of Bengal, in the reign of Aurengzebe, Mr. Grant observes, have been extolled by bis countrymen with all the exaggeration of the east. " The wolf and the lamb lived in harmony together; the hawk and the partridge dwelt in one nest.' --Yet the executive officer of his orders used to suspend the zemindars by the lieels, and, after rubbing the soles of their feet with a hard brick, bastinado them with a switch. In the winter he would order them to be stripped naked, and then sprinkled with water; and he used to have them fogged till they paid money,' &c.
A system, so vicious in principle, and so infamous in practice, led, as might be expected, to the extreme depression of cultivafion. Of the exuberant province of Bengal, when Lord Corn