Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Directors to the Ministers of the Crown, has hitherto contributed more than all other considerations to the preservation of the Company.He admits that “it would not be difficult to arrange, without much increase of the influence of the Crown, for the disposal of the appointments of writers and cadets; nor is it of much consequence by whom or how these are selected, provided means are taken to insure their possessing the requisite qualifications ;" so that the question is reduced to the quantity of patronage which ministers would acquire by the preferment of public servants in India, and to the practicability of increasing it by the infringement of regulations and Acts of Parliament. These he exaggerates beyond what is warranted by any record of the profligacy of ministers, or the endurance of the public, in the worst of times, insisting that, " though the departments abroad were defended by regulations and Acts of Parliament, numerous inroads, nevertheless, might and would be made upon them.” Upon this I would observe, first, supposing arrangements made for placing in other hands than those of ministers the greater part of the patronage of appointment, and that the attainment of the requisite qualifications was made a condition precedent to the grant of the appointment, civil and military officers would continue to be, as they are now, wholly unconnected with the political parties which prevail in England, and preferment would continue to be directed, as it is at present, by the mixed considerations of sincerity, merit, and interest. The balancing of these claims, and the adjudication on each case, would rest with the Governor-General, whose interest as well as duty it would be, first, to insure the success and popularity of his administration; next, to attend to the solicitations of friends and connexions, as far as might be compatible with a due regard to those higher objects. In holding this course the Governor General would be seasonably encouraged or checked by the voice and demeanour of the community, on whose welfare, satisfaction, and applause, he would acutely feel that, after the testimony of a good conscience, his present comfort and future fame chiefly depended. The distance of the scene, too, instead of being favourable to the enterprises of ministerial rapacity, would further protect him against pressing interference from England, and afford him various grounds of resistance to improper applications. Secondly, all the means of defence against mal-administration, possessed by our West Indian colonies, in a free press, representative assen blies, and absentee proprietors, having seats in the House of Commons, may be enjoyed in India, the first immediately, the rest when the fruits of colonisation shall be sufficiently mature. The local press would be abundantly able to cope with such abuses as the multiplication of useless places, sinecures, and pensions; and, as to thrusting strangers over the heads of those who belonged to the service, against the plain provisions of an Act of Parliament, and against the obvious interest of the whole Service, though Sir John Malcolm has gone so far as to insinuate that such unjust and illegal acts would be committed and tolerated, I am far from thinking so injuriously either of Ministers, or of those whose duty it would be to resist such proceedings. Thirdly, in every department of Government, civil, military, judicial, and ecclesiastical, the purity of administration has long been, and still is, progressively increasing. The candidates for office, high and low, possess superior qualifications; the claims of merit and approved service are more respected ; the restraints on the abuse of patronage better defined and more effectual. These improvements may be traced to the working of our free institutions, and to that publicity which is the animating principle of all responsibility; and one immediate source of them has been the reports of commissioners, who have been from time to time appointed, at home and abroad, to inquire into the modes of transacting business, and to suggest remedies for whatever ev were found to exist. It is amidst accumulating evidence of the most earnest, active, and effectual exertions to promote virtue and discountenance vice, to abate monopolies, and facilitate competition, that Sir John Malcolm advocates the prolonged existence of an institution which is itself the most enormous abuse which has been suffered to remain. He has more faith in the wisdom, public spirit, and efficiency of an institution which he confesses it would be insanity to propose to establish, and which taxes the people of England at discretion, wbile it excludes them from the vast field of Indian agriculture, than in the majesty and vigilance of Parliament, the integrity of courts of justice, and the ceaseless energy of public opinion.

On the Permanence of our Dominion in India, • There is no material difference of opinion as to the nature and the magnitude of the dangers which threaten the subversion of our power in India. All agree that it has no root in the affection of the people, that it subsists by their distrust of each other, and dread of our superiority in the field, while the progress of our system, in producing universality of depression is continually supplying motives of union against the common enemy; but there is a wide difference between the modes of treatment recommended under these alarming and critical circumstances,—the advocates of colonisation contending that the observance of that policy would gradually afford all the elements of national greatness, industry, knowledge, assimilation, and a combination of efforts towards the promotion of the public welfare; the opponents of that policy avowing, more or less directly, that they consider it preferable to forego its benefits, and to incur the daily risk of rebellion, rather than to enter on a course of measures which might ultimately lead to a discontinuance of the political connexion between India and England.

A handful of foreigners sweep into the Exchequer, and divide among themselves, nearly the entire net produce of the land and labour of a country containing six times the population of Great Britain. The Natives are considered incapable and unworthy to hold any but the lowest offices, civil and military, and by exclusion are rendered more incapable and untrustworthy; while every precaution is used to prevent a springing up of a community of interest and feeling between them and the foreigners, for which purpose the latter are prohibited from employing their skill, or investing their capital, as farmers or proprietors of land, and encouraged or constrained to transfer their accumulated savings to their own country. In this manner is India debarred from the acquisition of wealth, and subjected to a continual drain of its scanty store, in the payment of an annual public and private tribute of about three millions.

• The profits of the cultivator out of his half of the produce are barely sufficient for his subsistence, the other half of the produce being paid directly, or through the hands of a Zemindar, to Government. The share of Government, therefore, coincides with the landlord's rent, as was acknowledged by the Madras Board of Revenue, in their letter of the 28th of January, 1813.

Such being the proportion in which the produce is divided between the cultivator and the Government, we may judge of the generosity which has assigned to the Natives the exclusive privilege of ploughing, irrigating, harrowing, sowing, and reaping ; of being hewers of wood and drawers of water. But the intermediate profits incident to the realisation of the Government share have also been relinquished to them, because it was found that to permit Englishmen (servants of the Company) to be concerned, directly or indirectly, in the management of land, was to place their interest at variance with their duty, in exacting the uttermost farthing for the benefit of the state.

• The effect of colonisation in facilitating to the Natives access to the offices of honour and profit, results from its tendency to communicate to them the requisite moral and intellectual qualifications, and to impart to Government a consciousness of stability and power : for, until the Natives are duly qualified for high office, they ought not to be employed, and until Government feels confidence in its own strength, they will not be employed. The idea of compensation for such proscription, though often mentioned, cannot be entertained without involving a contradiction : in considerable offices power and wealth are indispensable, and Government will never give the latter to those whom they deem unworthy of the former.

• The only person who proposes the immediate advancement of the Natives to all but the very highest offices, is Colonel Walker. “ The admission of the Natives to offices of honour and profit,” he observes, “ is the only mode by which they can be effectually conciliated. It is vain to expect that men will ever be satisfied with Oriental Herald, Vol. 18.

C

merely having their property secured, while all the paths of honourable ambition are shut against them. This mortifying exclusion stifles talents, humbles family pride, and depresses all but the weak and worthless."-" The Romans, whose business was conquest, and who extended their yoke over the greatest part of the civilised world, may be safely taken as guides in the art of holding nations in subjection. That wise people always left a great share of the administration of the countries they subdued in the hands of the natives.” But the questions obviously occur, did not that wise people invariably colonise? Did they think it wisdom to prevent the natives from benefiting by the example of Roman industry and intelligence, and to mock them with

“ the exclusive possession and enjoyment of the land," while they gathered its net produce into their own granaries? Did not one of their wisest men say, Quid hodiè esset imperium nisi sulubris providentia victos permiscuisset victoribus ? We may, indeed, not only follow them as guides, but cannot safely refuse to do so ; but to abolish the restrictions on the employment of Natives, while they are continued on colonisation, would not be to follow the example of the Romans, nor of any other people, ancient or modern.

Colonisation being the foundation of all improvement, its importance is greatly undervalued, if it be stated as an alternation of other expedients, as in the following passages from Sir Henry Strachey's Reply to Queries :-“ Considering the (judicial) system prospectively, it does appear to me to have a tendency, though slowly, to enlighten the Natives, to introduce European science and literature among them. When these come to be diffused, which, unless we either colonise, or adopt some plan of national education in India, must take a long time, then I conceive that true English spirit, and the assertion of individual independence, will at the same time appear ; and in such a state of things it cannot be supposed that the present form of government, or any other in which the people have no share, can be perfectly secure.”—“ It is a radical evil in the constitution of our Government that we are a distinct race from the people : so far removed from them in habits, in taste, in sentiment, that with difficulty we maintain any useful intercourse with them. For this evil palliatives only can be applied. I can suggest no means of curing it, except our colonising or employing the Natives in high offices." In all Sir Henry Strachey's writings, we find principles which harmonise with and conduct to the observance of colonial policy; but here, and here only, we find an express recommendation to it.

On the Landed Tenures and Land Tax of India. The superiority of Europe over Asia in wealth and knowledge, in arts and arms, has been justly attributed to the difference in their landed tenures, and in the sources of their public revenue. In Europe, land is the property of individuals, cultivated by themselves, or by tenants, holding for a certain number of years, and paying a fixed annual rent; and all taxes, direct and indirect, are so well defined as to leave to every man, after such deductions, the clear fruits of his own labour. Individuality and security of property being the greatest spurs to industry, wealth accumulates, invention is excited, theoretical and practical knowledge widely diffused, and every effort of genius well appreciated and rewarded. The public revenue, being thus derived from the contributions of individuals, must, in some degree, be regulated in its annount, whatever be the form of government, by a regard to their interests and feelings. In influencing the financial proceedings of Government, the richest individuals, and especially those whose wealth is most visible and permanent, the proprietors of land, have the greatest weight, and, in protecting their own rents from encroachinent, throw the taxes on articles of consumption and transfers of property, where moderation is soon taught by its palpable effect in augmenting the aggregate contribution. This influence of wealth re-acts as the greatest incitement to its acquisition ; the largest fortunes are considered the standard by which the magnitude of all beneath them should be estimated,—the scale by which they should regulate their ambition,—the goal to which they should direct their efforts.

'In Asia all these circumstances are reversed. The rent of all land being the property of the sovereign, his subjects have neither interest nor influence in fixing the amount or directing the appropriation of his revenue. It is always maintained at the highest possible amount, subject to no changes but what it may undergo from being more or less incumbered by anticipations. But, while his subjects see him, with indifference, do what he will with his own, while they pay, without murmuring, the accustomed assessments and transit duties, and look upon a certain degree of fraud and extortion in every such transaction as part of the immutable order of nature, they will sometimes resist an unusual direct tax, though light in its amount and applied to useful purposes on the spot, such as a house-tax, for the maintenance of a Chowkedaree, or police establishment, as they would an attack on their religion. The only road to eminence is through the favour of the Prince; and, wealth being without influence or security, there is neither inducement to exert skill and industry in acquiring it, nor to display judgment, taste, and liberality in its expenditure. If it is not hoarded, it is laid out in the maintenance of idle retainers, in bribes and superstitious oblations. In the cultivation of the soil no man can say, that, after satisfying certain demands, the rest of the produce shall be his own : for not only are the demands variable but the interests in the produce are so complicated, that each has but an ill-defined share in the general result. The redundance of rural population is common to every country in which agricultural and manufacturing

« AnteriorContinuar »