The Slave Trade
Henry Charles Carey
How Slavery Grows In India.
In no part of the world has there existed the same tendency to voluntary association, the distinguishing mark of freedom, as in India. In none have the smaller communities been to the same extent permitted the exercise of self-government. Each Hindoo village had its distinct organization, and under its simple and almost patriarchal arrangements, says Mr. Greig,
The natives of Hindoostan seem to have lived from the earliest, down, comparatively speaking, to late times if not free from the troubles and annoyances to which men in all conditions of society are more or less subject, still in the full enjoyment, each individual, of his property, and of a very considerable share of personal liberty. *** Leave him in possession of the farm which his forefathers owned, and preserve entire the institutions to which he had from infancy been accustomed, and the simple Hindoo would give himself no concern whatever as to the intrigues and cabals which took place at the capital. Dynasties might displace one another; revolutions might recur; and the persons of his sovereigns might change every day; but so long as his own little society remained undisturbed, all other contingencies were to him subjects scarcely of speculation. To this, indeed, more than to any other cause, is to be ascribed the facility with which one conqueror after another has overrun different parts of India; which submitted, not so much because its inhabitants were wanting in courage, as because to the great majority among them it signified nothing by whom the reins of the supreme government were held. A third consequence of the village system has been one which men will naturally regard as advantageous or the reverse, according to the opinions which they hold, touching certain abstract points into which it is not necessary to enter here. Perhaps there are not to be found on the face of the earth, a race of human beings whose attachment to their native place will bear a comparison with that of the Hindoos. There are no privations which the Hindoo will hesitate to bear, rather than voluntarily abandon the spot where he was born; and if continued oppression drive him forth, he will return to it again after long years of exile with fresh fondness.
The Mohammedan conquest left these simple and beautiful institutions untouched. Each Hindoo village, says Col. Briggs, in his work on the land tax
Had its distinct municipality, and over a certain number of villages, or district, was an hereditary chief and accountant, both possessing great local influence and authority, and certain territorial domains or estates. The Mohammedans early saw the policy of not disturbing an institution so complete, and they availed themselves of the local influence of these officers to reconcile their subjects to their rule. *** From the existence of these local Hindoo chiefs at the end of six centuries in all countries conquered by the Mohammedans, it is fair to conclude that they were cherished and maintained with great attention as the key-stone of their civil government. While the administration of the police, and the collection of the revenues, were left in the hands of these local chiefs, every part of the new territory was retained under military occupation by an officer of rank; and a considerable body of Mohammedan soldiers. *** In examining the details of Mohammedan history, which has been minute in recording the rise and progress of all these kingdoms, we nowhere discover any attempt to alter the system originally adopted. The ministers, the nobles, and the military chiefs, all bear Mohammedan names and titles, but no account is given of the Hindoo institutions, being subverted, or Mohammedan officers, being employed in the minor, details, of the civil administration.
It would appear from this that the Moslems, so far from imposing their own laws upon their subjects, treated the customs of the latter with the utmost respect; and that they did so because experience taught them that their own interests were advanced by a line of policy so prudent.
Local action and local combination are everywhere conspicuous in the history of this country. With numerous rulers, some of whom to a greater or less extent acknowledged the superiority of the Sovereign of Delhi, the taxes required for their support were heavy, but they were locally expended, and if the cultivator contributed too large a portion of his grain, it was at least consumed in a neighbouring market, and nothing went from off the land. Manufactures, too, were widely spread, and thus was made a demand for the labour not required in agriculture. On the coast of Coromandel, says Orme, and in the province of Bengal, when at some distance from a high road or principal town, it is difficult to find a village in which every man, woman, and child is not employed in making a piece of cloth. At present, he continues, much the greatest part of whole provinces are employed in this single manufacture. Its progress, as he says, includes no less than a description of the lives of half the inhabitants of Indostan. While employment was thus locally subdivided, tending to enable neighbour to exchange with neighbour, the exchanges between the producers of food, or of salt, in one part of the country and the producers of cotton and manufacturers of cloth in another, tended to the production of commerce with more distant men, and this tendency was much increased by the subdivision of the cotton manufacture itself. Bengal was celebrated for the finest muslins, the consumption of which at Delhi, and in Northern India generally, was large, while the Coromandel coast was equally celebrated for the best chintzes and calicoes, leaving to Western India the manufacture of strong and inferior goods of every kind. Under these circumstances it is no matter of surprise that the country was rich, and that its people, although often overtaxed, and sometimes plundered by invading armies, were prosperous in a high degree.
Nearly a century has now elapsed since, by the battle of Plassey, British power was established in India, and from that day local action has tended to disappear, and centralization to take its place. From its date to the close of the century there was a rapidly increasing tendency toward having all the affairs of the princes and the people settled by the representatives of the Company established in Calcutta, and as usual in such cases, the country was filled with adventurers, very many of whom were wholly without principle, men whose sole object was that of the accumulation of fortune by any means, however foul, as is well known by all who are familiar with the indignant denunciations of Burke.
England was thus enriched as India was impoverished, and as centralization was more and more established.
Step by step the power of the Company was extended, and everywhere was adopted the Hindoo principle that the sovereign was proprietor of the soil, and sole landlord, and as such the government claimed to be entitled to one-half of the gross produce of the land. Wherever, says Mr. Rickards, long an eminent servant of the Company,
The British power supplanted that of the Mohammedans in Bengal, we did not, it is true, adopt the sanguinary part of their creed; but from the impure fountain of their financial system, did we, to our shame, claim the inheritance to a right to seize upon half the gross produce of the land as a tax; and wherever our arms have triumphed, we have invariably proclaimed this savage right: coupling it at the same time with the senseless doctrine of the proprietary right to these lands being also vested in the sovereign, in virtue of the right of conquest. Rickardss India, vol. i, 275.
Under the earlier Mohammedan sovereigns, this land-tax, now designated as rent, had been limited to a thirteenth, and from that to a sixth of the produce of the land; but in the reign of Akber (16th century) it was fixed at one-third, numerous other taxes being at the same time abolished. With the decline and gradual dissolution of the empire, the local sovereigns not only increased it, but revived the taxes that had been discontinued, and instituted others of a most oppressive kind; all of which were continued by the Company, while the land-tax was maintained at its largest amount. While thus imposing taxes at discretion, the Company had also a monopoly of trade, and it could dictate the prices of all it had to sell, as well as of all that it needed to buy; and here was a further and most oppressive tax, all of which was for the benefit of absentee landlords.
With the further extension of power, the demands on the Companys treasury increased without an increase of the power to meet them; for exhaustion is a natural consequence of absenteeism, or centralization, as has so well been proved in Ireland. The people became less able to pay the taxes, and as the government could not be carried on without revenue, a permanent settlement was made by Lord Cornwallis, by means of which all the rights of village proprietors, over a large portion of Bengal, were sacrificed in favour of the Zemindars, who were thus at once constituted great landed proprietors and absolute masters of a host of poor tenants, with power to punish at discretion those who were so unfortunate as not to be able to pay a rent the amount of which had no limit but that of the power to extort it. It was the middleman system of Ireland transplanted to India; but the results were at first unfavourable to the Zemindars, as the rents, for which they themselves were responsible to the government, were so enormous that all the rack-renting and all the flogging inflicted upon the poor cultivators could not enable them to pay; and but few years elapsed before the Zemindars themselves were sold out to make way for another set as keen and as hard-hearted as themselves. That system having failed to answer the purpose, it was next determined to arrest the extension of the permanent settlement, and to settle with each little ryot, or cultivator, to the entire exclusion of the village authorities, by whom, under the native governments, the taxes had uniformly been so equitably and satisfactorily distributed. The Ryotwar system was thus established, and how it has operated may be judged from the following sketch, presented by Mr. Fullerton, a member of the Council at Madras:
Imagine the revenue leviable through the agency of one hundred thousand revenue officers, collected or remitted at their discretion, according to the occupants means of paying, whether from the produce of his land or his separate property; and in order to encourage every man to act as a spy on his neighbour, and report his means of paying, that he may eventually save himself from extra demand, imagine all the cultivators of a village liable at all times to a separate demand in order to make up for the failure of one or more individuals of the parish. Imagine collectors to every county, acting under the orders of a board, on the avowed principle of destroying all competition for labour by a general equalization of assessment, seizing and sending back runaways to each other. And, lastly, imagine the collector the sole magistrate or justice of the peace of the county, through the medium and instrumentality of whom alone any criminal complaint of personal grievance suffered by the subject can reach the superior courts. Imagine, at the same time, every subordinate officer employed in the collection of the land revenue to be a police officer, vested with the power to fine, confine, put in the stocks, and flog any inhabitant within his range, on any charge, without oath of the accuser, or sworn recorded evidence of the case.
Any improvement in cultivation produced an immediate increase of taxation, so that any exertion on the part of the cultivator would benefit the Company, and not himself. One-half of the gross produce may be assumed to have been the average annual rent, although, in many cases it greatly exceeded that proportion. The Madras Revenue Board, May 17th, 1817, stated that the conversion of the government share of the produce (of lands) is in some districts, as high as 60 or 70 percent of the whole.
It might be supposed that, having taken so large a share of the gross produce, the cultivator would be permitted to exist on the remainder, but such is not the case. Mr. Rickards gives a list of sixty other taxes, invented by the sovereigns, or their agents, many of which he states to exist at the present day. Those who have any other mode of employing either capital or labour, in addition to the cultivation of their patches of land, as is very frequently the case, are subject to the following taxes, the principle of which is described as excellent by one of the collectors, December 1st, 1812:
The Veesabuddy, or tax on merchants, traders, and shopkeepers; Mohturfa, or tax on weavers, cotton cleaners, shepherds, goldsmiths, braziers, ironsmiths, carpenters, stone-cutters, &c.; and Bazeebab, consisting of smaller taxes annually rented out to the highest-bidder. The renter was thus constituted a petty chieftain, with power to exact fees at marriages, religious ceremonies; to inquire into and fine the misconduct of females in families, and other misdemeanours; and in the exercise of their privileges would often urge the plea of engagements to the Cirkar (government) to justify extortion. The details of these taxes are too long to be given in this place. The reader, however, may judge of the operation and character of all by the following selection of one, as described in the collectors report: The mode of settling the Mohturfa on looms hitherto has been very minute; every circumstance of the weavers family is considered, the number of days which he devotes to his loom, the number of his children, the assistance which he receives from them, and the number and quality of the pieces which he can turn out in a month or year; so that, let him exert himself as he will, his industry will always be taxed to the highest degree. This mode always leads to such details that the government servants cannot enter into it, and the assessment of the tax is, in consequence, left a great deal too much to the Curnums of the villages. No weaver can possibly know what he is to pay to the Cirkar, till the demand come to be made for his having exerted himself through the year; and having turned out one or two pieces of cloth more than he did the year before, though his family and looms have been the same, is made the ground for his being charged a higher Mohturfa, and at last, instead of a professional, it becomes a real income tax.
The following will show that no mode of employing capital is allowed to escape the notice of the tax-gatherer:
The reader will, perhaps, better judge of the inquisitorial nature of one of these surveys, or pymashees, as they are termed in Malabar, by knowing that upward of seventy different kinds of buildings the houses, shops, or warehouses of different castes and professions were ordered to be entered in the survey accounts; besides the following implements of professions which were usually assessed to the public revenue, viz.:
Oil-mills, iron manufactory, toddy-drawers stills, potters kiln, washermans stone, goldsmiths tools, sawyers saw, toddy-drawers knives, fishing-nets, barbers hones, blacksmiths anvils, pack bullocks, cocoa-nut safe, small fishing-boats, cotton-beaters bow, carpenters tools, large fishing-boats, looms, salt storehouse.
If the landlord objected to the assessment on trees as old and past bearing, they were, one and all, ordered to be cut down, nothing being allowed to stand that did not pay revenue to the state. To judge of this order, it should be mentioned that the trees are valuable, and commonly used for building, in Malabar. To fell all the timber on a mans estate when no demand existed for it in the market, and merely because its stream of revenue had been drained, is an odd way of conferring benefits and protecting property.
Having myself, says Mr. Rickards, been principal collector of Malabar, and made, during my residence in the province, minute inquiries into the produce and assessments of lands, I was enabled to ascertain beyond all doubt, and to satisfy the revenue board at Madras, that in the former survey of the province, which led to the rebellion, lands and produce were inserted in the pretended survey account which absolutely did not exist, while other lands were assessed to the revenue at more than their actual produce.
Fifty percent on the assessment is allowed, says Mr. Campbell, as a reward to any informer of concealed cultivation, &c.; and it is stated that there are, in almost every village, dismissed accountants desirous of being re-employed, and unemployed servants who wish to bring themselves to notice, whose services as informers can be relied on.
A system like this, involving the most prying supervision of the affairs of each individual, and in which, in settling the tax to be paid, "the collector takes into consideration the number of children to be supported, makes the poor ryot a mere slave to the collector, and with the disadvantage that the latter has no pecuniary interest in the preservation of his life, whereas the death of a slave, who constitutes a part of the capital of his owner, is a severe loss.
The tendency thus far has been, as we see, to sweep away the rights not only of kings and princes, but of all the native authorities, and to centralize in the hands of foreigners in Calcutta the power to determine for the cultivator, the artisan, or the labourer, what work he should do, and how much of its products he might retain, thus placing the latter in precisely the position of a mere slave to people who could feel no interest in him but simply as a tax-payer, and, who were represented by strangers in the country, whose authority was everywhere used by the native officers in their employ, to enable them to accumulate fortunes for themselves.
The poor manufacturer, as heavily taxed as the cultivator of the earth, found himself compelled to obtain advances from his employers, who, in their turn, claimed, as interest, a large proportion of the little profit that was made. The Companys agents, like the native merchants, advanced the funds necessary to produce the goods required for Europe, and the poor workmen are described as having been in a state of dependence almost amounting to servitude, enabling the resident to obtain his labour at his own price.
In addition to the taxes already described, a further one was collected at local custom-houses, on all exchanges between the several parts of the country; and to these were again added others imposed by means of monopolies of tobacco and opium, and of salt, one of the most important necessaries of life. The manufacture of coarse salt from the earth was strictly prohibited. The salt lakes of the upper country furnish a supply so great that it is of little value on the spot; but these lakes being even yet in the possession of native princes, the monopoly could then, and can now, be maintained only by aid of strong bands of revenue officers, whose presence renders that which is almost worthless on one side of an imaginary line so valuable on the other side of it that it requires the produce of the sixth part of the labour of the year to enable the poor Hindoo to purchase salt for his family. Along the seashore salt is abundantly furnished by nature, the solar heat causing a constant deposition of it; but the mere fact of collecting it was constituted an offence punishable by fine and imprisonment, and the quantity collected by the Companys officers was limited to that required for meeting the demand at a monopoly price, all the remainder being regularly destroyed, lest the poor ryot should succeed in obtaining for himself, at cost, such a supply as was needed to render palatable the rice which constituted almost his only food. The system has since been rendered less oppressive, but even now the duty is ten times greater than it was under enlightened Mohammedan sovereigns.
Such being the mode of collecting the revenue, we may now look to its distribution. Under the native princes it was, to a great extent, locally-expended, whereas, under the new system, all the collections by government or by individuals tended to Calcutta, to be there disposed of. Thence no inconsiderable portion of it passed to England, and thus was established a perpetual drain that certainly could not be estimated at less than four millions of pounds sterling per annum, and cannot be placed, in the last century, at less than four hundred millions of pounds, or two thousand millions of dollars.
The difference between an absentee landlord expending at a distance all his rents, and a resident one distributing it again among his tenants in exchange for services, and the difference in the value of the products of the land resulting from proximity to market, are so well exhibited in the following passage from a recent work on India, that the reader cannot fail to profit by its perusal:
The great part of the wheat, grain, and other exportable land produce which the people consume, as far as we have yet come, is drawn from our Nerbudda districts, and those of Malwa which border upon them; and par consequent, the price has been rapidly increasing as we recede from them in our advance northward. Were the soil of those Nerbudda districts, situated as they are at such a distance from any great market for their agricultural products, as bad as it is in the parts of Bundelcund that I came over, no net surplus revenue could possibly be drawn from them in the present state of arts and industry. The high prices paid here for land produce, arising from the necessity of drawing a great part of what is consumed from such distant lands, enables the Rajahs of these Bundelcund states to draw the large revenue they do. These chiefs expend the whole of their revenue in the maintenance of public establishments of one kind or other; and as the essential articles of subsistence, wheat and grain, &c., which are produced in their own districts, or those immediately around them, are not sufficient for the supply of these establishments, they must draw them from distant territories. All this produce is brought on the backs of bullocks, because there is no road from the districts whence they obtain it, over which a wheeled carriage can be drawn with safety; and as this mode of transit is very expensive, the price of the produce, when it reaches the capitals, around which these local establishments are concentrated, becomes very high. They must pay a price equal to the collective cost of purchasing and bringing this substance from the most distant districts, to which they are at any time obliged to have recourse for a supply, or they will not be supplied; and as there cannot be two prices for the same thing in the same market, the wheat and grain produced in the neighbourhood of one of these Bundelcund capitals, fetch as high a price there as that brought from the most remote districts on the banks of the Nerbudda river; while it costs comparatively nothing to bring it from the former lands to the markets. Such lands, in consequence, yield a rate of rent much greater compared with their natural powers of fertility than those of the remotest districts whence produce is drawn for these markets or capitals; and as all the lands are the property of the Rajahs, they draw all these rents as revenue.
Were we to take this revenue, which the Rajahs now enjoy, in tribute for the maintenance of public establishments concentrated at distant seats, all these local establishments would of course be at once disbanded; and all the effectual demand which they afford for the raw agricultural produce of distant districts would cease. The price of the produce would diminish in proportion; and with it the value of the lands of the districts around such capitals. Hence the folly of conquerors and paramount powers, from the days of the Greeks and Romans down to those of Lord Hastings and Sir John Malcolm, who were all bad political economists, supposing that conquered and ceded territories could always be made to yield to a foreign state the same amount of gross revenue they had paid to their domestic government, whatever their situation with reference to the markets for their produce whatever the state of their arts and their industry and whatever the character and extent of the local establishments maintained out of it. The settlements of the land revenue in all the territories acquired in central India during the Mahratta war, which ended, in 1817, were made upon the supposition, that the lands would continue to pay the same rate of rent under the new, as they had paid under the old government, uninfluenced by the diminution of all local establishments, civil and military, to one-tenth of what they had been; that, under the new order of things, all the waste lands must be brought into tillage; and be able to pay as high a rate of rent as before tillage; and, consequently, that the aggregate available net revenue must greatly and rapidly increase! Those who had the making of the settlements, and the governing of these new territories, did not consider that the diminution of every establishment was the removal of a market of an effectual demand for land produce; and that when all the waste lands should be brought into tillage, the whole would deteriorate in fertility, from the want of fallows, under the prevailing system of agriculture, which afforded the lands no other means of renovation from over cropping. The settlements of the land revenue which were made throughout our new acquisitions upon these fallacious assumptions, of course failed. During a series of quinquennial settlements, the assessment has been everywhere gradually reduced to about two-thirds of what it was when our rule began; and to less than one-half of what Sir John Malcolm, and all the other local authorities, and even the worthy Marquis of Hastings himself, under the influence of their opinions, expected it would be. The land revenues of the native princes of central India, who reduced their public establishments, which the new order of things seemed to render useless, and thereby diminished their only markets for the raw produce of their lands, have been everywhere falling off in the same proportion; and scarcely one of them now draws two-thirds of the income he drew from the same lands in 1817.
There are in the valley of the Nerbudda, districts that yield a great deal more produce every year than either Orcha, Jansee, or Duteea; and yet, from the want of the same domestic markets, they do not yield one-fourth of the amount of land revenue. The lands are, however, rated equally high to the assessment, in proportion to their value to the farmers and cultivators. To enable them to yield a larger revenue to government, they require to have larger establishments as markets for land produce. These establishments may be either public, and paid by government, or they may be private, as manufactories, by which the land produce of these districts would be consumed by people employed in investing the value of their labour in commodities suited to the demand of distant markets, and more valuable than land produce in proportion to their weight and bulk. These are the establishments which government should exert itself to introduce and foster, since the valley of the Nerbudda, in addition to a soil exceedingly fertile, has in its whole line, from its source to its embouchure, rich beds of coal reposing for the use of future generations, under the sandstone of the Sathpore and Vindhya ranges; and beds no less rich of very fine iron. These advantages have not yet been justly appreciated; but they will be so by and by.
From the concluding lines of this extract the reader will see that India is abundantly supplied with fuel and iron ore, and that if she has not good machinery, the deficiency is not chargeable to nature. At the close of the last century cotton abounded, and to so great an extent was the labour of men, women, and children applied to its conversion into cloth, that, even with their imperfect machinery, they not only supplied the home demand for the beautiful tissues of Dacca and the coarse products of Western India, but they exported to other parts of the world no less than 200,000,000 of pieces per annum. Exchanges with every part of the world were so greatly in their favour that a rupee which would now sell for but 1s. 10d. or 44 cents, was then worth 2s. 8d. or 64 cents. The Company had a monopoly of collecting taxes in India, but in return it preserved to the people the control of their domestic market, by aid of which they were enabled to convert their rice, their salt, and their cotton, into cloth that could be cheaply carried to the most remote parts of the world. Such protection was needed, because while England prohibited the export of even a single collier who might instruct the people of India in the mode of mining coal of a steam engine to pump water or raise coal, or a mechanic who could make one of a worker in iron who might smelt the ore of a spinning-jenny or power-loom, or of an artisan who could give instruction in the use of such machines and thus systematically prevented them from keeping pace with improvement in the rest of the world, she at the same time imposed very heavy duties on the produce of Indian looms received in England. The day was at hand, however, when that protection was to disappear. The Company did not, it was said, export sufficiently largely of the produce of British industry, and in 1813 the trade to India was thrown open but the restriction on the export of machinery and artisans was maintained in full force; and thus were the poor and ignorant people of that country exposed to unlimited competition, with a people possessed of machinery ten times more effective than their own, while not only by law deprived of the power to purchase machinery, but also of the power of competing in the British market with the produce of British looms. Further than this, every loom in India, and every machine calculated to aid the labourer, was subject to a tax that increased with every increase in the industry of its owner, and in many cases absorbed the whole profit derived from its use. Such were the circumstances under which the poor Hindoo was called upon to encounter, unprotected, the unlimited competition of foreigners in his own market. It was freedom of trade all on one side. Four years after, the export of cottons from Bengal still amounted to £1,659,994, but ten years later it had declined to £285,121; and at the end of twenty years we find a whole year pass by without the export of a single piece of cotton cloth from Calcutta, the whole of the immense trade that existed but half a century since having disappeared. What were the measures used for the accomplishment of the work of destroying a manufacture that gave employment and food to so many millions of the poor people of the country, will be seen on a perusal of the following memorial, which shows that while India was denied machinery, and also denied access to the British market, she was forced to receive British cottons free of all duty:
Petition of Natives of Bengal, relative to Duties on Cotton and Silk.
Calcutta, 1st Sept. 1831.To the Right Honourable the Lords of His Majestys Privy Council for Trade, &c.
The humble Petition of the undersigned Manufacturers and Dealers in Cotton and Silk Piece Goods, the fabrics of Bengal;
SHOWETH That of late years your Petitioners have found their business nearly superseded by the introduction of the fabrics of Great Britain into Bengal, the importation of which augments every year, to the great prejudice of the native manufacturers.
That the fabrics of Great Britain are consumed in Bengal, without any duties being levied thereon to protect the native fabrics.
That the fabrics of Bengal are charged with the following duties when they are used in Great Britain
On manufactured cottons, 10 per cent.
On manufactured silks, 24 per cent.
Your Petitioners most humbly implore your Lordships consideration of these circumstances, and they feel confident that no disposition exists in England to shut the door against the industry of any part of the inhabitants of this great empire.
They therefore pray to be admitted to the privilege of British subjects, and humbly entreat your Lordships to allow the cotton and silk fabrics of Bengal to be used in Great Britain free of duty, or at the same rate which may be charged on British fabrics consumed in Bengal.
Your Lordships must be aware of the immense advantages the British manufacturers derive from their skill in constructing and using machinery, which enables them to undersell the unscientific manufacturers of Bengal in their own country: and, although your Petitioners are not sanguine in expecting to derive any great advantage from having their prayer granted, their minds would feel gratified by such a manifestation of your Lordships good-will toward them; and such an instance of justice to the natives of India would not fail to endear the British government to them.
They therefore confidently trust that your Lordships righteous consideration will be extended to them as British subjects, without exception of sect, country, or colour.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
[Signed by 117 natives of high respectability.]
The object sought to be accomplished would not have, however, been attained by granting the prayer of this most reasonable and humble petition. When the export of cotton, woollen, and steam machinery was prohibited, it was done with a view of compelling all the wool of the world to come to England to be spun and woven, thence to be returned to be worn by those who raised it thus depriving the people of the world of all power to apply their labour otherwise than in taking from the earth cotton, sugar, indigo, and other commodities for the supply of the great workshop of the world. How effectually that object has been accomplished in India, will be seen from the following facts. From the date of the opening of the trade in 1813, the domestic manufacture and the export of cloth have gradually declined until the latter has finally ceased, and the export of raw cotton to England has gradually risen until it has attained a height of about sixty millions of pounds, while the import of twist from England has risen to twenty-five millions of pounds, and of cloth, to two hundred and sixty millions of yards; weighing probably fifty millions of pounds, which, added to the twist, make seventy-five millions, requiring for their production somewhat more than eighty millions of raw cotton. We see thus that every pound of the raw material sent to England is returned. The cultivator receives for it one penny, and when it returns to him in the form of cloth, he pays for it from one to two shillings, the whole difference being absorbed in the payment of the numerous brokers, transporters, manufacturers, and operatives, men, women, and children, that have thus been interposed between the producer and the consumer. The necessary consequence of this has been that everywhere manufactures have disappeared. Dacca, one of the principal seats of the cotton manufacture, contained 90,000 houses, but its trade had already greatly fallen off even at the date of the memorial above given, and its splendid buildings, factories, and churches are now a mass of ruins and overgrown with jungle. The cotton of the district found itself compelled to go to England that it might there be twisted and sent back again, thus performing a voyage of 20,000 miles in search of the little spindle, because it was a part of the British policy not to permit the spindle anywhere to take its place by the side of the cultivator of cotton.
The change thus effected has been stated in a recent official report to have been attended with ruin and distress, to which no parallel can be found in the annals of commerce. What were the means by which it was effected is shown in the fact that at this period Sir Robert Peel stated that in Lancashire, children were employed fifteen and seventeen hours per day during the week, and on Sunday morning, from six until twelve, cleaning the machinery. In Coventry, ninety-six hours in the week was the time usually required; and of those employed, many obtained but 2s. 9d. 66 cents for a weeks wages. The object to be accomplished was that of underworking the poor Hindoo, and driving him from the market of the world, after which he was to be driven from his own. The mode of accomplishment was that of cheapening labour and enslaving the labourer at home and abroad.
With the decline of manufactures there has ceased to be a demand for the services of women or children in the work of conversion, and they are forced either to remain idle, or to seek employment in the field; and here we have one of the distinguishing marks of a state of slavery. The men, too, who were accustomed to fill up the intervals of other employments in pursuits connected with the cotton manufacture, were also driven to the field and all demand for labour, physical or intellectual, was at an end, except so far as was needed for raising rice, indigo, sugar, or cotton. The rice itself they were not permitted to clean, being debarred therefrom by a duty double that which was paid on paddy, or rough rice, on its import into England. The poor grower of cotton, after paying to the government seventy-eight percent of the product of his labour, found himself deprived of the power to trade directly with the man of the loom, and forced into unlimited competition with the better machinery and almost untaxed labour of our Southern States; and thereby subjected to the mysterious variations of foreign markets in which the fever of speculation was followed by the chill of revulsion with a rapidity and frequency that set at naught all calculation. If our crops were small, his English customers would take his cotton; but when he sent over more next year, there had, perhaps, been a good season here, and the Indian article became an absolute drug in the market. It was stated some time since, in the House of Commons, that one gentleman, Mr. Turner, had thrown £7,000 worth of Indian cotton upon a dunghill, because he could find no market for it.
It will now readily be seen that the direct effect of thus compelling the export of cotton from India was to increase the quantity pressing on the market of England, and thus to lower the price of all the cotton of the world, including that required for domestic consumption. The price of the whole Indian crop being thus rendered dependent on that which could be realized for a small surplus that would have no existence but for the fact that the domestic manufacture had been destroyed, it will readily be seen how enormous has been the extent of injury inflicted upon the poor cultivator by the forcible separation of the plough and the loom, and the destruction of the power of association. Again, while the price of cotton is fixed in England, there, too, is fixed the price of cloth, and such is the case with the sugar and the indigo to the production of which these poor people are forced to devote themselves; and thus are they rendered the mere slaves of distant men, who determine what they shall receive for all they have to sell, and what they shall pay for all they require to purchase. Centralization and slavery go thus always hand in hand with each other.
The ryots are, as we see, obliged to pay sixteen or eighteen pence for the pound of cotton that has yielded them but one penny; and all this difference is paid for the labour of other people while idle themselves.
A great part of the time of the labouring population in India is, says Mr. Chapman, spent in idleness. I dont say this to blame them in the smallest degree. Without the means of exporting heavy and crude surplus agricultural produce, and with scanty means, whether of capital, science, or manual skill, for elaborating on the spot articles fitted to induce a higher state of enjoyment and of industry in the mass of the people, they have really no inducement to exertion beyond that which is necessary to gratify their present and very limited wishes; those wishes are unnaturally low, inasmuch as they do not afford the needful stimulus to the exercise requisite to intellectual and moral improvement; and it is obvious that there is no remedy for this but extended intercourse. Meanwhile, probably the half of the human time and energy of India runs to mere waste. Surely we need not wonder at the poverty of the country.
Assuredly we need not. They are idle perforce. With indifferent means of communication, their cotton and their food could readily travel in the form of cloth, and they could consume liberally of food and clothing; but they find themselves now forced to export every thing in its rudest form, and this they are to do in a country that is almost without roads. The manner in which these raw products now travel may be seen on a perusal of the following passage from the London Economist:
The cotton is brought on oxen, carrying 160 pounds each, at the extreme rate, in fair weather, of seven miles a day for a continuance, and at a price of about 5s. for each hundred miles. If we take the average distance to Mirzapore at 500 miles, each pound of cotton costs in transit alone above 2-½ d. It has thence to be borne by water-carriage nearly 800 miles farther on to Calcutta. *** The great cotton-growing districts are in the northern portion of the Peninsula, embracing Guzerat, and a vast tract called the Deccan, lying between the Satpoora range of hills and the course of the Kishna River. General Briggs says The cotton from the interior of the country to the coast at Bombay occupies a continuous journey of from one to two months, according to the season of the year; while in the rains the route is wholly impassable, and the traffic of the country is at a stand.
In the absence of a defined road, even the carriers, with their pack-cattle, are compelled to travel by daylight, to prevent the loss of their bullocks in the jungles they have to pass through, and this under a burning sun of from 100 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The droves of oxen are never so few as one hundred, and sometimes exceed a thousand. Every morning after daylight each animal has to be saddled, and the load lifted on him by two men, one on each side; and before they are all ready to move the sun has attained a height which renders the heat to an European oppressive. The whole now proceeds at the rate of about two miles an hour, and seldom performs a journey of more than eight miles; but, as the horde rests every fourth day, the average distance is but six miles a day. If the horde is overtaken by rain, the cotton, saturated by moisture, becomes heavy, and the black clayey soil, through which the whole line of road lies, sinks under the feet of a man above the ankle, and under that of a laden ox to the knees.
In this predicament the cargo of cotton lies sometimes for weeks on the ground, and the merchant is ruined.
So miserably bad, says another writer, are the existing means of communication with the interior, that many of the most valuable articles of produce are, for want of carriage and a market, often allowed to perish on the farm, while the cost of that which found its way to the port was enormously enhanced; but the quantity did not amount to above 20 percent of the whole of the produce, the remainder of the articles always being greatly deteriorated.
It will scarcely be difficult now to understand why it is that cotton yields the cultivator but a penny per pound. Neither will it be difficult, seeing that the local manufacturers have every where been ruined, to understand why the producer of the more bulky food is in a condition that is even worse, now that the consumer has disappeared from his side. If the crop is large, grain is a drug for which scarcely any price can be obtained; and if it is small, the people perish, by thousands and ten of thousands, of famine, because, in the existing state of the roads, there can be little or no exchange of raw products. In the first case the cultivator is ruined, because it requires almost the whole crop to pay the taxes. In the other he is starved; and all this is a necessary consequence of a system that excludes the great middle class of mechanics and other working-men, and resolves a great nation into a mass of wretched cultivators, slaves to a few grasping money lenders. Under such circumstances, the accumulation of any thing like capital is impossible. None, says Colonel Sleeman, have stock equal to half their rent. They are dependent everywhere, on the produce of the year, and however small may be its amount, the taxes must be paid, and of all that thus goes abroad nothing is returned. The soil gets nothing. It is not manured, nor can it be under a system of absenteeism like this, and its fertility everywhere declines, as is shown by the following extracts:
Formerly, the governments kept no faith with their land-holders and cultivators, exacting ten rupees where they had bargained for five, whenever they found the crops good; but, in spite of all this zolm, (oppression,) there was then more burkut (blessings from above) than now. The lands yielded more returns to the cultivator, and he could maintain his little family better upon five acres than he can now upon ten.
The land requires rest from labour, as well as men and bullocks; and if you go on sowing wheat and other exhausting crops, it will go on yielding less and less returns, and at last will not be worth the tilling.
There has been a manifest falling off in the returns.
The soil is being exhausted, and every thing necessarily goes backward. Trees are cut down, but none are planted; and the former sites of vast groves are becoming arid wastes, a consequence of which is, that droughts become from year to year more frequent.
The clouds, says Colonel Sleeman, brought up from the southern ocean by the south-east trade-wind are attracted, as they pass over the island, by the forests in the interior, and made to drop their stores in daily refreshing showers. In many other parts of the world, governments have now become aware of this mysterious provision of nature, and have adopted measures to take advantage of it for the benefit of the people; and the dreadful sufferings to which the people of those of our districts, which have been the most denuded of their trees, have been of late years exposed from the want of rain in due season, may, perhaps, induce our Indian government, to turn its thoughts to the subject.
In former times extensive works were constructed for irrigating the land, but they are everywhere going to ruin thus proving that agriculture cannot flourish in the absence of the mechanic arts:
In Candeish, very many bunds [river-banks formed for purposes of irrigation] which were kept in repair under former governments, have, under ours, fallen to decay; nevertheless, not only has the population increased considerably under our rule, but in 1846 or 1847, the collector was obliged to grant remission of land tax, because the abundance of former years lay stagnating in the province, and the low prices of grain from that cause prevented the ryots from being able to pay their fixed land assessment."
We have here land abandoned and the cultivator ruined for want of a market for food, and wages falling for want of a market for labour; and yet these poor people are paying for English food and English labour employed in converting into cloth the cotton produced alongside of the food and they are ruined because they have so many middlemen to pay that the producer of cotton can obtain little food, and the producer of food can scarcely pay his taxes, and has nothing to give for cloth. Every thing tends, therefore, toward barbarism, and, as in the olden time of England and of Europe generally, famines become steadily more numerous and more severe, as is here shown:
Some of the finest tracts of land have been forsaken, and given up to the untamed beasts of the jungle. The motives to industry have been destroyed. The soil seems to lie under a curse. Instead of yielding abundance for the wants of its own population, and the inhabitants of other regions, it does not keep in existence its own children. It becomes the burying-place of millions, who die upon its bosom crying for bread. In proof of this, turn your eyes backward upon the scenes of the past year. Go with me into the north-western provinces of the Bengal presidency, and I will show you the bleaching skeletons of five hundred thousand human beings, who perished of hunger in the space of a few short months. Yes, died of hunger in what has been justly called the granary of the world. Bear with me, if I speak of the scenes which were exhibited during the prevalence of this famine. The air for miles was poisoned by the effluvia emitted from the putrefying bodies of the dead. The rivers were choked with the corpses thrown into their channels. Mothers cast their little ones beneath the rolling waves, because they would not see them draw their last gasp and feel them stiffen in their arms. The English in the city were prevented from taking their customary evening drives. Jackalls and vultures approached, and fastened upon the bodies of men, women, and children, before life was extinct. Madness, disease, despair stalked abroad, and no human power present to arrest their progress. It was the carnival of death! And this occurred in British India in the reign of Victoria the First! Nor was the event extraordinary and unforeseen. Far from it: 1835-36 witnessed a famine in the northern provinces: 1833 beheld one to the eastward: 1822-23 saw one in the Deccan. They have continued to increase in frequency and extent under our sway for more than half a century.
The famine of 1838 is thus described by Mr. George Thompson, late M.P., on the testimony of a gentleman of high respectability:
The poorer houses were entirely unroofed, the thatches having been given to feed the cattle, which had nevertheless died; so that cattle had disappeared altogether from the land. He says that a few attenuated beings, more like skeletons than human creatures, were seen hovering about among the graves of those who had been snatched away by the famine; that desertion was everywhere visible, and that the silence of death reigned. In one of the villages, he says, an old man from whom they had bought a goat during their former visit, in 1833, was the only survivor of the whole community except his brothers son, whom he was cherishing and endeavouring to keep alive, and these two had subsisted altogether upon the eleemosynary bounty of travellers. The courier of Lord Auckland had informed this gentleman that when the governor-general passed through that part of the country the roads were lined on either side with heaps of dead bodies, and that they had not unfrequently to remove those masses of unburied human beings, ere the governor-general could proceed onward with his suite; and that every day from 2000 to 3000 famishing wretches surrounded and followed the carriages, to whom he dealt out a scanty meal; and on one occasion the horse of the courier took fright, and on the cause being ascertained what was it? It was found to be the lifeless body of a man who had died with his hand in his mouth, from which he had already devoured the fingers.
The more severe the pressure on the poor ryot, the greater is the power of the few who are always ready to profit by the losses of their neighbours. These poor people are obliged to borrow money on their growing crops, the prices of which are regulated by the will of the lender rather than by the standard of the market, and the rate of interest which the cultivators pay for these loans is often not less than 40 or 50 percent.
A recent traveller says of the unfortunate cultivator
Always oppressed, ever in poverty, the ryot is compelled to seek the aid of the mahajun, or native money-lender. This will frequently be the talukdhar, or sub-renter, who exacts from the needy borrower whatever interest he thinks the unfortunate may he able to pay him, often at the rate of one percent per week. The accounts of these loans are kept by the mahajuns, who, aware of the deep ignorance of their clients, falsify their books, without fear of detection. In this way, no matter how favourable the season, how large the crop, the grasping mahajun is sure to make it appear that the whole is due to him; for he takes it at his own value. So far from Mr. Burke having overstated the case of the oppression of the ryots, on the trial of Warren Hastings, when he said that the tax-gatherer took from them eighteen shillings in every pound, he was really within the mark. At the conclusion of each crop-time, the grower of rice or cotton is made to appear a debtor to his superior, who thereupon provided the ryot appears able to toil on for another season advances more seed for sowing, and a little more rice to keep the labourer and his family from absolute starvation. But should there be any doubt as to the health and strength of the tenant-labourer, he is mercilessly turned from his land and his mud hut, and left to die on the highway.
This is slavery, and under such a system how could the wretched people be other than slaves? The men have no market for their labour, and the women and children must remain idle or work in the field, as did, and do, the women of Jamaica; and all because they are compelled everywhere to exhaust the soil in raising crops to be sent to a distance to be consumed, and finally to abandon the land, even where they do not perish of famine. Mr. Chapman informs us that
Even in the valley of the Ganges, where the population is in some districts from 600 to 800 to the square mile, one-third of the cultivable lands are not cultivated; and in the Deecan, from which we must chiefly look for increased supplies of cotton, the population, amounting to about 100 to the square mile, is maintained by light crops, grown on little more than half the cultivable land.
Elsewhere he tells us that of the cultivable surface of all India one-half is waste. Bishop Heber informs us of the impenetrable jungle that now surrounds the once great manufacturing city of Dacca; and the Bombay Times reminds its English readers of the hundreds of thousands of acres of rich land that are lying waste, and that might be made to produce cotton.
When population and wealth diminish it is always the rich soils that are first abandoned, as is shown in the Campagna of Rome, in the valley of Mexico, and in the deltas of the Ganges and the Nile. Without association they could never have been brought into cultivation, and with the disappearance of the power to associate they are of necessity allowed to relapse into their original condition. Driven back to the poor soils and forced to send abroad the product, their wretched cultivator becomes poorer from day to day, and the less he obtains the more he becomes a slave to the caprices of his landlord, and the more is he thrown upon the mercy of the money-lender, who lends on good security at three percent per month, but from him must have fifty or a hundred percent for a loan until harvest. That under such circumstances the wages of labour should be very low, even where the wretched people are employed, must be a matter of course. In some places the labourer has two and in others three rupees, or less than a dollar and a half, per month. The officers employed on the great zemindary estates have from three to four rupees, and that this is a high salary, is proved by the fact that the police receive but 48 rupees ($23) per annum, out of which they feed and clothe themselves! Such are the rewards of labour in a country possessing every conceivable means of amassing wealth, and they become less from year to year. It could not be too universally known, said Mr. Bright in the House of Commons, two years since,
That the cultivators of the soil were in a very unsatisfactory condition; that they were, in truth, in a condition of extreme and almost universal poverty. All testimony concurred upon that point. He would call the attention of the house to the statement of a celebrated native of India, the Rajah Rammohun Roy, who about twenty years ago published a pamphlet in London, in which he pointed out the ruinous effects of the zemindary system, and the oppression experienced by the ryots in the presidencies both of Bombay and Madras. After describing the state of matters generally, he added, Such was the melancholy condition of the agricultural labourers, that it always gave him the greatest pain to allude to it. Three years afterward, Mr. Shore, who was a judge in India, published a work which was considered as a standard work till now, and he stated that the British Government was not regarded in a favourable light by the native population of India, that a system of taxation and extortion was carried on unparalleled in the annals of any country. Then they had the authority of an American planter, Mr. Finnie, who was in India in 1840, and who spoke of the deplorable condition of the cultivators of the soil, and stated that if the Americans were similarly treated, they would become as little progressive as the native Indians. He might next quote the accounts given by Mr. Marriott in 1838, a gentleman who was for thirty years engaged in the collection of the revenue in India, and who stated that the condition of the cultivators was greatly depressed, and that he believed it was still declining. There was the evidence of a native of India to which he might refer on this subject. It was that of a gentleman, a native of Delhi, who was in England in the year 1849, and he could appeal to the right hon. baronet the member for Tamworth in favour of the credibility of that gentleman. He never met with a man of a more dignified character, or one apparently of greater intelligence, and there were few who spoke the English language with greater purity and perfection. That gentleman had written a pamphlet, in which he stated that throughout his whole line of march from Bombay he found the Nizams territories better cultivated, and the ryots in a better state of circumstances, than were the Companys territories, of the people residing within them, who were plunged in a state of the greatest poverty; and he concluded his short, but comparatively full, notice of the present deplorable state of India, by observing that he feared this was but the prelude of many more such descriptions of the different portions of the Companys dominions which would be put forth before the subject would attract the notice of those whose duty it was to remove the evils that existed.
We have here confirmation of the correctness of the views of Colonel Sleeman, that the condition of the people under the local governments is better than under the great central government. Heavily as they are taxed, a small part only of the proceeds of taxes goes, in these cases, to Calcutta on its way to England, whereas, of the enormous salaries paid to English governors and judges, nearly the whole must go abroad, as no one consents to serve for a few years in India, except on such terms as will enable him to accumulate a fortune and return home to spend it. In further confirmation of this we have the facts so fully given in Mr. Campbells recent work, (Modern India, chap, xi.,) and proving that security of person and property increases as we pass from the old possessions of the Company, and toward the newly acquired ones. Crime of every kind, gang robbery, perjury, and forgery, abound in Bengal and Madras, and the poverty of the cultivator is so great that the revenue is there the least, and is collected with the greatest difficulty and there, too, it is that the power of association has been most effectually destroyed. Passing thence to the Northwestern provinces more recently acquired, person and property become more secure and the revenue increases; but when we reach the Punjab, which until now has been subject to the rule of Runjeet Singh and his successors, we find that, tyrants as he and they have been represented, the people have there been left in the exercise of self-government. The village communities and the beautiful system of association, destroyed in Bengal, there remain untouched. Officers of all kinds are there more responsible for the performance of their duties than are their fellows in the older provinces, and property and person are more secure than elsewhere in India. Gang robbery is rare, perjury is unfrequent, and Mr. Campbell informs us that a solemn oath is astonishingly binding. The longer we possess a province, he continues, the more common and general does perjury become; and we need no better evidence than is thus furnished of the slavish tendency of the system. The hill tribes, on the contrary, are remarkable for their strict veracity, and Colonel Sleeman expresses the belief that there is as little falsehood spoken in the village communities, as in any part of the world with an equal area and population. In the new provinces the people read and write with facility, and they are men of physical and moral energy, good cultivators, and understand well both their rights and their duties; whereas from the older ones education has disappeared, and with it all power to associate together for any good purpose. In the new provinces, commerce is large, as is shown by the following facts representing the population and post-office revenue of Bengal, the N.W. Provinces, and the Punjab, placed in the order of their acquisition by the Company:
Population. Post-office Revenue. Bengal....... 41,000,000 480,500 rupees. N.W. Provinces 24,000,000 978,000 " Punjab...... 8,000,000 178,000 "
We have here exhibited the remarkable fact that in the country of the Sikhs, so long represented as a scene of grasping tyranny, eight millions of people pay as much postage as is paid by fifteen millions in Bengal, although in the latter is Calcutta, the seat of all the operations of a great centralized government. That such should be the case is not extraordinary, for the power advantageously to employ labour diminishes with the approach to the centre of British power, and increases as we recede from it. Idleness and drunkenness go hand in hand with each other, and therefore it is that Mr. Campbell finds himself obliged to state that intemperance increases where our rule and system have been long established. We see thus that the observations of both Mr. Campbell and Colonel Sleeman, authors of the most recent works on India, confirm to the letter the earlier statements of Captain Westmacott, an extract from which is here given:
It is greatly to be deplored, that in places the longest under our rule, there is the largest amount of depravity and crime. My travels in India have fallen little short of 8000 miles, and extended to nearly all the cities of importance in Northern, Western, and Central India. I have no hesitation in affirming, that in the Hindoo and Mussulman cities, removed from European intercourse, there is much less depravity than either in Calcutta, Madras, or Bombay, where Europeans chiefly congregate.
Calcutta grows, the city of palaces, but poverty and wretchedness grow as the people of India find themselves more and more compelled to resort to that city to make their exchanges. Under the native rule, the people of each little district could exchange with each other food for cotton or cotton cloth, paying nobody for the privilege. Now, every man must send his cotton to Calcutta, thence to go to England with the rice and the indigo of his neighbours, before he and they can exchange food for cloth or cotton and the larger the quantity they send the greater is the tendency to decline in price. With every extension of the system there is increasing inability to pay the taxes, and increasing necessity for seeking new markets in which to sell cloth and collect what are called rents and the more wide the extension of the system the greater is the difficulty of collecting revenue sufficient for keeping the machine of government in motion. This difficulty it was that drove the representatives of British power and civilization into becoming traders in that pernicious drug, opium.
The very best parts of India, as we are told, were selected for the cultivation of the poppy. The people were told that they must either cultivate this plant, make opium, or give up their land. If they refused, they were peremptorily told they must yield or quit. The same Company that forced them to grow opium said, You must sell the opium to us; and to them it was sold, and they gave the price they pleased to put upon the opium thus manufactured; and they then sold it to trading speculators at Calcutta, who caused it to be smuggled up the Canton River to an island called Lintin, and tea was received in exchange. At last, however, the emperor of China, after repeated threats, proceeded to execute summary justice; he seized every particle of opium; put under bond every European engaged in the merchandise of it; and the papers of today (1839) inform us that he has cut off the China trade, root and branch.
Unhappily, however, the British nation deemed it expedient to make war upon the poor Chinese, and compel them to pay for the opium that had been destroyed; and now the profits of the Indian government from poisoning a whole people have risen from £1,500,000, at the date of the above extract, to the enormous sum of £3,500,000, or $16,800,000, and the market is, as we are informed, still extending itself.
That the reader may see, and understand how directly the government is concerned in this effort at demoralizing and enslaving the Chinese, the following extract is given:
For the supply and manufacture of government opium there is a separate establishment. There are two great opium agencies at Ghazeepore and Patna, for the Benares and Bahar provinces. Each opium agent has several deputies in different districts, and a native establishment. They enter into contracts with the cultivators for the supply of opium at a rate fixed to meet the market. The land revenue authorities do not interfere, except to prevent cultivation without permission. Government merely bargains with the cultivators as cultivators, in the same way as a private merchant would, and makes advances to them for the cultivation. The only difficulty found is to prevent, their cultivating too much, as the rates are favourable, government a sure purchaser, and the cultivation liked. The land cultivated is measured, and precaution is taken that the produce is all sold to government. The raw opium thus received is sent to the head agency, where it is manufactured, packed in chests, and sealed with the Companys seal.
It would seem to the author of this paragraph almost a matter of rejoicing that the Chinese are bound to continue large consumers of the drug. The failure of one attempt to exclude it has shown, as he thinks
That they are not likely to effect that object; and if we do not supply them, some one else will; but the worst of it is, according to some people, that if the Chinese only legalized the cultivation in their own country, they could produce it much cheaper, and our market would be ruined. Both for their sakes and ours we must hope that it is not so, or that they will not find it out.
Need we wonder, when gentlemen find pleasure in the idea of an increasing revenue from forcing this trade in despite of all the efforts of the more civilized Chinese government, that intemperance increases where the British rule and system has been long established? Assuredly not. Poor governments are, as we everywhere see, driven to encourage gambling, drunkenness, and other immoralities, as a means of extracting revenue from their unfortunate taxpayers; and the greater the revenue thus obtained, the poorer become the people and the weaker the government. Need we be surprised that that of India should be reduced to become manufacturer and smuggler of opium, when the people are forced to exhaust the land by sending away its raw products, and when the restraints upon the mere collection of domestic salt are so great that English salt now finds a market in India? The following passage on this subject is worthy of the perusal of those who desire fully to understand how it is that the people of that country are restrained in the application of their labour, and why it is that labour is so badly paid:
But those who cry out in England against the monopoly, and their unjust exclusion from the salt trade, are egregiously mistaken. As concerns them there is positively no monopoly, but the most absolute free trade. And, more than this, the only effect of the present mode of manufacture in Bengal is to give them a market which they would never otherwise have. A government manufacture of salt is doubtless more expensive than a private manufacture; but the result of this, and of the equality of duty on bad and good salt, is, that fine English salt now more or less finds a market in India; whereas, were the salt duty and all government interference discontinued tomorrow, the cheap Bengal salt would be sold at such a rate that not a pound of English or any other foreign salt could be brought into the market.
Nevertheless, the system is regarded as one of perfect free trade!
Notwithstanding all these efforts at maintaining the revenue, the debt has increased the last twelve years no less than £15,000,000, or seventy-two millions of dollars; and yet the government is absolute proprietor of all the land of India, and enjoys so large a portion of the beneficial interest in it, that private property therein is reduced to a sum absolutely insignificant, as will now be shown.
The gross land revenue obtained from a country with an area of 491,448 square miles, or above three hundred millions of acres, is 151,786,743 rupees, equal to fifteen millions of pounds sterling, or seventy-two millions of dollars. What is the value of private rights of property, subject to the payment of this tax, or rent, may be judged from the following facts: In 1848-9 there were sold for taxes, in that portion of the country subject to the permanent settlement, 1169 estates, at something less than four years purchase of the tax. Further south, in the Madras government, where the ryotwar settlement is in full operation, the land would be sold for balances of rent, but generally it is not, as we are told, and for a very good reason, viz. that nobody will buy it. Private rights in land being there of no value whatsoever, the collector of Salem, as Mr. Campbell informs us
NaÔvely mentions various unauthorized modes of stimulating the tardy, rarely resorted to by heads of villages; such as placing him in the sun, obliging him to stand on one leg, or to sit with his head confined between his knees."
In the north-west provinces, the settlement, as our author states, has certainly been successful in giving a good market value to landed property; that is, it sells at about four years purchase on the revenue. Still further north, in the newly acquired provinces, we find great industry, every thing turned to account, the assessment, to which the Company succeeded on the deposition of the successors of Runjeet Singh, more easy, and land more valuable. The value of land, like that of labour, therefore increases as we pass from the old to the new settlements, being precisely the reverse of what would be the case if the system tended to the enfranchisement and elevation of the people, and precisely what should be looked for in a country whose inhabitants were passing from freedom toward slavery.
With the data thus obtained we may now ascertain, with perhaps some approach to accuracy, the value of all the private rights in the land of India. In no case does that subject to tax appear to be worth more than four years purchase, while in a very large portion of the country it would seem to be worth absolutely nothing. There are, however, some tax-free lands that may be set off against those held under the ryotwar settlement; and it is therefore possible that the whole are worth four years purchase, which would give 288 millions of dollars, or 60 millions of pounds sterling, as the value of all the rights in land acquired by the people of India by all the labour of their predecessors and themselves in the many thousands of years it has been cultivated. The few people that have occupied the little and sandy State of New Jersey, with its area of 6900 square miles, have acquired rights in and on the land that are valued, subject to the claims of government, at 150 millions of dollars; and the few that have occupied the little island on which stands the city of New York have acquired rights that would sell in the market for at least one-half more than could be obtained for all the proprietary rights to land in India, with 300 millions of acres and 96 millions of inhabitants!
Under the native princes, says Mr. Campbell, India was a paying country. Under British rule, it has ceased to be so, because under that rule all power of combined action has been annihilated, or is in train to be, and will be so, by aid of the system that looks to compelling the whole people, men, women, and children, to work in the field, producing commodities to be exported in their raw state. Every act of association is an act of trade, and whatever tends to destroy association must destroy trade. The internal commerce of India declines steadily, and the external amounts to but about half a dollar per head, and no effort can make it grow to any extent. The returns of last year, of English trade, show a diminution as compared with those of the previous one, whereas with almost all other countries there is a large increase. Cuba exports to the large amount of twenty-five dollars per head, or almost fifty times as much as India; and she takes of cotton goods from England four times as much per head; and this she does because it is a part of the policy of Spain to bring about combination of action, and to enable the planter and the artisan to work together, whereas the policy of England is to destroy everywhere the power of association, and thus to destroy the domestic trade, upon which the foreign one must be built. Centralization is adverse to trade, and to the freedom of man. Spain does not seek to establish centralization. Provided she receives a given amount of revenue, she is content to permit her subjects to employ themselves at raising sugar or making cloth, as they please, and thus to advance in civilization; and by this very course it is that she is enabled to obtain revenue. How centralization operates on the people and the revenue, and how far it tends to promote the civilization or the freedom of man, may be seen, on a perusal of the following extract from a recent speech of Mr. Anstey, in the British House of Commons:
Such was the financial condition of India, which the right honourable gentleman believed to be so excellent. The intelligent natives of India, however, who visited this country, were not of that opinion. They told us that the complaints sent from India to this country were disregarded here, and that they always would be disregarded as long as inquiry into them was imperial, not local. They stated that their condition was one of hopeless misery, and that it had been so ever since they came under our rule. The result was, that cholera had become the normal order of things in that country, and in India it never died out. It appeared from the reports of medical officers in the army that it did not attack the rich and well-fed so frequently as it attacked the poor, and that among them it had made the most fearful ravages. The first authentic account they had of the appearance of the cholera in India was coincident with the imposition of the salt monopoly by Warren Hastings; and by a just retribution it had visited their own shores, showing them with what a scourge they had so long afflicted the natives of India. It might be said of the other taxes that, in one form or another, they affected every branch of industry and every necessary of life. They affected even the tools of trade, and were sometimes equal in amount to the sum for which the tool itself could be purchased in the market.
When on a former occasion he had mentioned those facts before a member of the court of directors, he was told that if he had seen the papers in the archives, he would perceive that an alteration had taken place; but he found, on an inspection of the papers, that the result to the purchaser of salt is almost equal to what it had been. It was a well known fact that the natives dare not complain. When they asked for protection from the laws, they were treated as Juttee Persaud had been treated last year cases were fabricated against them, and they were prosecuted for their lives. With the examples before them of Nuncomar and Juttee Persaud, it was not surprising that the natives were so backward in bringing to justice the persons whose oppressions had been so great.
It was in the face of facts like those here presented, and other similar ones presented to us in the history of Jamaica, that in a recent despatch Lord Palmerston thus instructed his minister at Madrid:
I have to instruct your lordship to observe to M. de Miraflores that the slaves of Cuba form a large portion, and by no means an unimportant one, of the population of Cuba; and that any steps taken to provide for their emancipation would, therefore, as far as the black population is concerned, be quite in unison with the recommendation made by her Majestys government, that measures should be adopted for contenting the people of Cuba, with a view to secure the connection between that island and the Spanish crown; and it must be evident that if the negro population of Cuba were rendered free, that fact would create a most powerful element of resistance to any scheme for annexing Cuba to the United States, where slavery still exists.
With regard to the bearing which negro emancipation would have on the interests of the white proprietors, it may safely be affirmed that free labour costs less than slave labour, and it is indisputable that a free and contented peasantry are safer neighbours for the wealthy classes above them than ill-treated and resentful slaves; and that slaves must, from the nature of things, be more or less ill-treated, is a truth which belongs to the inherent principles of human nature, and is quite as inevitable as the resentment, however suppressed it may be, which is the consequence of ill-treatment.
The negroes of Jamaica have never been permitted to apply their spare labour even to the refining of their own sugar, nor are they so at this day. They must export it raw, and the more they send the lower is the price and the larger the proportion taken by the government but the poor negro is ruined. Spain, on the contrary, permits the Cubans to engage in any pursuits they may deem most likely to afford them a return to labour and capital; and, as a necessary consequence of this, towns and cities grow up, capital is attracted to the land, which becomes from day to day more valuable, labour is in demand, and there is a gradual, though slow, improvement of condition. The power to resort to other modes of employment diminishes the necessity for exporting sugar, and when exported to Spain, the producer is enabled to take for himself nearly the whole price paid by the consumer, the government claiming only a duty of fifteen percent.
The Hindoo, like the negro, is shut out from the workshop. If he attempts to convert his cotton into yarn, his spindle is taxed in nearly all of the profit it can yield him. If he attempts to make cloth, his loom is subjected to a heavy tax, from which that of his wealthy English competitor is exempt. His iron ore and his coal must remain in the ground, and if he dares to apply his labour even to the collection of the salt which crystallizes before his door, he is punished by fine and imprisonment. He must raise sugar to be transported to England, there to be exchanged, perhaps, for English salt. For the sugar, arrived in that country, the workman pays at the rate perhaps of forty shillings a hundred, of which the government claims one-third, the ship owner, the merchant, and others, another third, and the remaining third is to be fought for by the agents of the Company, anxious for revenue, and the poor ryot, anxious to obtain a little salt to eat with his rice, and as much of his neighbours cotton, in the form of English cloth, as will suffice to cover his loins.
Under the Spanish system capital increases, and labour is so valuable that slaves still continue to be imported. Under the English one, labour is valueless, and men sell themselves for long years of slavery at the sugar culture in the Mauritius, in Jamaica, and in Guiana. In all countries to which men are attracted, civilization tends upward; but in all those from which men fly, it tends downward.
At the moment this despatch was being written by Lord Palmerston, Mr. Campbell was writing his book, in which it is everywhere shown that the tendency of India toward centralization and absenteeism, and therefore toward exhaustion and slavery, is rapidly on the increase. The communication with India, as he says
Is every day so much increased and facilitated that we become more and more entirely free from native influence, and the disposition to Hindooize, which at first certainly showed itself, has altogether disappeared. The English in India have now become as English as in England.
While this state of things has great advantages, it has also some disadvantage in the want of local knowledge, and of permanency in the tenure of appointments which results. As there has been a constant succession of total strangers in every appointment, it follows that the government must be entirely carried on upon general principles, with little aid from local knowledge and experience. P. 202.
The tendency toward the transfer of English capital to India, as he informs us, retrogrades instead of advancing, and this is precisely what we might expect to find to be the case. Capital never seeks a country from which men are flying as they now fly from India. The English houses bring none, but being in general mere speculators, they borrow largely and enter into large operations, and when the bubble bursts, the poor Hindoo suffers in the prostration of trade and decline in the prices of cotton and sugar. The consequence is, as Mr. Campbell says
That European speculation has retrograded. Far up the country, where the agents of the old houses were formerly numerous and well supplied with money, the planters are now few and needy, and generally earn but a precarious subsistence as in fact the servants of native capitalists.P. 204.
Iron, by aid of which the people might improve their processes of cultivation and manufacture, has little tendency toward India. The average export of it to that country in 1845 and 46 was but 13,000 tons, value £160,000, or about two-pence worth for every five of the population. Efforts are now being made for the construction of railroads, but their object is that of carrying out the system of centralization, and thus still further destroying the power of association, because they look to the annihilation of what still remains of domestic manufacture, and thus cheapening cotton. With all the improvements in the transportation of that commodity, its poor cultivator obtains less for it than he did thirty years since, and the effect of further improvement can be none other than that of producing a still further reduction, and still further deterioration of the condition of the men who raise food and cotton. As yet the power of association continues in the Punjab, but it is proposed now to hold there great fairs for the sale of English manufactures, and the day cannot be far distant when the condition of the people of the new provinces will be similar to that of those of the old ones, as no effort will be spared to carry out the system which looks to driving the whole people to agriculture, and thus compelling them to exhaust their land. It is needed, says Mr. Chapman, the great advocate of railways in India, that the connection between the Indian grower and English spinner become more intimate, and the more the English is made to outweigh the native home demand, the more strongly will the native agriculturist feel that his personal success depends on securing and improving his British connection that is, the more the natives can be prevented from combining, their labours, the greater, as Mr. Chapman thinks, will be the prosperity of India. Centralization has impoverished, and to a considerable extent depopulated, that country, but its work is not yet done. It remains yet to reduce the people of the Punjab, of Affghanistan and Burmah, to the condition of the Bengalese.
The Burmese war is, as we are informed, connected with at least certain hopes of getting across to China through the Burmese territories, and, of course of extending the trade in opium throughout the whole of interior China; and the revenue from that source will pay the cost of annexation. It is by aid of this powerful narcotic, probably, that civilization is about, as we are told, to plant her standard on the ruins of kingdoms which for thousands of years have been smouldering into dust.
We are often told of the dim moral perceptions of the people of India, and as many of those who will read this volume may be disposed to think that the cause of poverty lies in some deficiencies in the character of the Hindoo, it may not be improper, with a view to the correction of that opinion, to offer a few passages from the very interesting work of Colonel Sleeman, who furnishes more information on that head than any other recent traveller or resident; and his remarks are the more valuable because of being the fruit of many years of observation:
Sir Thomas Munro has justly observed, I do not exactly know what is meant by civilizing the people of India. In the theory and practice of good government they may be deficient; but if a good system of agriculture if unrivalled manufactures if a capacity to produce what convenience or luxury demands if the establishment of schools for reading and writing if the general practice of kindness and hospitality and above all, if a scrupulous respect and delicacy toward the female sex are amongst the points that denote a civilized people; then the Hindoos are not inferior in civilization to the people of Europe. Rambles, vol. i. 4.
Our tents were pitched upon a green sward on one bank of a small stream running into the Nerbudda close by, while the multitude occupied the other bank. At night all the tents and booths are illuminated, and the scene is hardly less animating by night than by day; but what strikes an European most is the entire absence of all tumult and disorder at such places. He not only sees no disturbance, but feels assured that there will be none; and leaves his wife and children in the midst of a crowd of a hundred thousand persons all strangers to them, and all speaking a language and following a religion different from theirs, while he goes off the whole day, hunting and shooting in the distant jungles, without the slightest feeling of apprehension for their safety or comfort. Ibid. 2.
I am much attached to the agricultural classes of India generally, and I have found among them some of the best men I have ever known. The peasantry in India have generally very good manners, and are exceedingly intelligent, from having so much more leisure, and unreserved and easy intercourse with those above them. Ibid. 76.
I must say, that I have never either seen or read of a nobler spirit than seems to animate all classes of these communities in India on such distressing occasions. Ibid. 197.
There is no part of the world, I believe, where parents are so much reverenced by their sons as they are in India in all classes of society. Ibid. 330.
An instance of deliberate fraud or falsehood among native merchants of respectable stations in society, is extremely rare. Among the many hundreds of bills I have had to take from them for private remittances, I have never had one dishonoured, or the payment upon one delayed beyond the day specified; nor do I recollect ever hearing of one who had. They are so careful not to speculate beyond their means, that an instance of failure is extremely rare among them. No one ever in India hears of families reduced to ruin or distress by the failure of merchants and bankers; though here, as in all other countries advanced in the arts, a vast number of families subsist upon the interest of money employed by them.
There is no class of men more interested in the stability of our rule in India than this of the respectable merchants; nor is there any upon whom the welfare of our government, and that of the people, more depend. Frugal, first, upon principle, that they may not in their expenditure encroach upon their capitals, they become so by habit; and when they advance in life they lay out their accumulated wealth in the formation of those works which shall secure for them, from generation to generation, the blessings of the people of the towns in which they have resided, and those of the country around. It would not be too much to say, that one-half the great works which embellish and enrich the face of India, in tanks, groves, wells, temples, &c., have been formed by this class of the people solely with the view of securing the blessings of mankind by contributing to their happiness in solid and permanent works. Ibid. vol. ii. 142.
In the year 1829, while I held the civil charge of the district of Jubbulpore, in this valley of the Nerbudda, I caused an estimate to be made of the public works of ornament and utility it contained. The population of the district at that time amounted to five hundred thousand souls, distributed among four thousand and fifty-three occupied towns, villages, and hamlets. There were one thousand villages more which had formerly been occupied, but were then deserted. There were two thousand two hundred and eighty-eight tanks, two hundred and nine bowlies, or large wells, with flights of steps extending from the top down to the water when in its lowest stage; fifteen hundred and sixty wells lined with brick and stone, cemented with lime, but without stairs; three hundred and sixty Hindoo temples, and twenty-two Mohammedan mosques. The estimated cost of these works in grain at the present price, that is the quantity that would have been consumed, had the labour been paid in kind at the present ordinary rate, was eighty-six lacks, sixty-six thousand and forty-three rupees (86,66,043,) £866,604 sterling.
The labourer was estimated to be paid at the rate of about two-thirds the quantity of corn he would get in England if paid in kind, and corn sells here at about one-third the price it fetches in average seasons in England. In Europe, therefore, these works, supposing the labour equally efficient, would have cost at least four times the sum here estimated; and such works formed by private individuals for the public good, without any view whatever to return in profits, indicates a very high degree of public spirit.
The whole annual rent of the lands of this district amounts to about six hundred and fifty thousand rupees a year, (£65,000 sterling,) that is, five hundred thousand demandable by the government, and one hundred and fifty thousand by those who hold the lands at lease immediately under government, over and above what may be considered as the profits of their stock as farmers. These works must, therefore, have cost about thirteen times the amount of the annual rent of the whole of the lands of the districts or the whole annual rent for above thirteen years! Ibid, vol. ii. 194.
We have here private rights in land amounting to 150,000 rupees, in a country abounding in coal and iron ore, and with a population of half a million of people. Estimating the private interest at ten years purchase, it is exactly three years purchase of the land-tax; and it follows of course, that the government takes every year one-fourth of the whole value of the property, at which rate the little State of New Jersey, with its half-million of inhabitants, would pay annually above thirty millions of dollars for the support of those who were charged with the administration of its affairs! Need we wonder at the poverty of India when thus taxed, while deprived of all power even to manure its land?
Three-fourths of the recruits for our Bengal native infantry are drawn from the Rajpoot peasantry of the kingdom of Oude, on the left bank of the Ganges, where their affections have been linked to the soil for a long series of generations. The good feelings of the families from which they are drawn, continue, through the whole period of their service, to exercise a salutary influence over their conduct as men and as soldiers. Though they never take their families with them, they visit them on furlough every two or three years, and always return to them when the surgeon considers a change of air necessary to their recovery from sickness. Their family circles are always present to their imaginations; and the recollections of their last visit, the hopes of the next, and the assurance that their conduct as men and as soldiers in the interval will be reported to those circles by their many comrades, who are annually returning on furlough to the same parts of the country, tend to produce a general and uniform propriety of conduct, that is hardly to be found among the soldiers of any other army in the world, and which seems incomprehensible to those who are unacquainted with its source, veneration for parents cherished through life and a never impaired love of home, and of all the dear objects by which it is constituted. Ibid. vol. ii. 415.
Such are the people that we see now forced to abandon a land of which not more than half the cultivable part is in cultivation a land that abounds in every description of mineral wealth and to sell themselves for long years of service, apart from wives, children, and friends, to be employed in the most unhealthful of all pursuits, the cultivation of sugar in the Mauritius, and the Sandwich Islands, and among the swamps of British Guiana, and Jamaica, and for a reward of four or five rupees ($2 to $2.50) per month. What was their condition in the Mauritius is thus shown by an intelligent and honest visitor of the island in 1838:
After the passage of the act abolishing slavery, an arrangement was sanctioned by the Colonial Government, for the introduction of a great number of Indian labourers into the colony. They were engaged at five rupees, equal to ten shillings, a month, for five years, with also one pound of rice, a quarter of a pound of dhall, or grain, a kind of pulse, and one ounce of butter, of ghee, daily. But for every day they were absent from their work they were to return two days to their masters, who retained one rupee per month, to pay an advance made of six months wages, and to defray the expense of their passage. If these men came into Port Louis to complain of their masters, they were lodged in the Bagne prison, till their masters were summoned. The masters had a great advantage before the magistrates over their servants: the latter being foreigners, but few of them could speak French, and they had no one to assist them in pleading their cause. They universally represented themselves as having been deceived with respect to the kind of labour to be exacted from them. But perhaps the greatest evil attendant on their introduction into the Mauritius was the small proportion of females imported with them, only about two hundred being brought with upward of ten thousand men. It was evident that unless the system of employing them were closely watched, there was a danger that it might ultimately grow into another species of slavery.
We see thus that while the females of India are deprived of all power to employ themselves in the lighter labour of manufacture, the men are forced to emigrate, leaving behind their wives and daughters, to support themselves as best they may. The same author furnishes an account of the Indian convicts that had been transported to the island, as follows:
Among the Indian convicts working on the road, we noticed one wearing chains; several had a slight single ring round the ankle. They are lodged in huts with flat roofs, or in other inferior dwellings, near the road. There are about seven hundred of them in the island. What renders them peculiarly objects of sympathy is, that they were sent here for life, and no hope of any remission of sentence is held out to them for good conduct. Theirs is a hopeless bondage; and though it is said by some that they are not hard worked, yet they are generally, perhaps constantly, breaking stones and mending the road, and in a tropical sun. There are among them persons who were so young when transported that, in their offences, they could only be looked on as the dupes of those that were older; and many of them bear good characters.
At the date to which these passages refer there was a dreadful famine in India; but, during the prevalence of this famine, as we are told,
Rice was going every hour out of the country. 230,371 bags of 164 pounds each making 37,780,844 lbs. were exported from Calcutta. Where? To the Mauritius, to feed the kidnapped Coolies. Yes: to feed the men who had been stolen from the banks of the Ganges and the hills adjacent, and dragged from their native shore, under pretence of going to one of the Companys villages, to grow in the island of Mauritius what they might have grown in abundance upon their own fertile, but over-taxed land. The total amount of rice exported from Calcutta, during the famine in 1838, was 151,923,696 lbs., besides 13,722,408 lbs. of other edible grains, which would have fed and kept alive all those who perished that year. Wives might have been saved to their husbands, babes to their mothers, friends to their friends; villages might still have been peopled; a sterile land might have been restored to verdure. Freshness and joy and the voices of gladness, might have been there. Now, all is stillness, and desolation, and death. Yet we are told we have nothing to do with India.
The nation that exports raw produce must exhaust its land, and then it must export its men, who fly from famine, leaving the women and children to perish behind them.
By aid of continued Coolie immigration the export of sugar from the Mauritius has been doubled in the last sixteen years, having risen from 70 to 140 millions of pounds. Sugar is therefore very cheap, and the foreign competition is thereby driven from the British market. Such conquests, however, says, very truly, the London Spectator
Dont always bring profit to the conqueror; nor does production itself prove prosperity. Competition for the possession of a field may be carried so far as to reduce prices below prime cost; and it is clear from the notorious facts of the West Indies from the change of property, from the total unproductiveness of much property still that the West India production of sugar has been carried on, not only without replacing capital, but with a constant sinking of capital.
The free Coolie and the free negro of Jamaica, have been urged to competition for the sale of sugar, and they seem likely to perish together; but compensation for this is found in the fact that
Free-trade has, in reducing the prices of commodities for home consumption, enabled the labourer to devote a greater share of his income toward purchasing clothing and luxuries, and has increased the home trade to an enormous extent.
What effect this reduction of the prices of commodities for home consumption has had upon the poor Coolie, may be judged from the following passage:
I here beheld, for the first time, a class of beings of whom we have heard much, and for whom I have felt considerable interest. I refer to the Coolies imported by the British government to take the place of the faineant negroes, when the apprenticeship system was abolished. Those that I saw were wandering about the streets, dressed rather tastefully, but always meanly, and usually carrying over their shoulder a sort of chiffoniers sack, in which they threw whatever refuse stuff they found in the streets or received as charity. Their figures are generally superb; and their Eastern costume, to which they adhere as far as their poverty will permit of any clothing, sets off their lithe and graceful forms to great advantage. Their faces are almost uniformly of the finest classic mould, and illuminated by pairs of those dark swimming and propitiatory eyes, which exhaust the language of tenderness and passion at a glance.
But they are the most inveterate mendicants on the island. It is said that those brought from the interior of India are faithful and efficient workmen, while those from Calcutta and its vicinity are good for nothing. Those that were prowling about the streets of Spanish-town and Kingston, I presume, were of the latter class, for there is not a planter on the island, it is said, from whom it would be more difficult to get any work than from one of these. They subsist by begging altogether: they are not vicious, nor intemperate, nor troublesome particularly, except as beggars. In that calling they have a pertinacity before which a Northern mendicant would grow pale. They will not be denied. They will stand perfectly still and look through a window from the street for a quarter of an hour, if not driven away, with their imploring eyes fixed upon you, like a stricken deer, without saying a word or moving a muscle. They act as if it were no disgrace for them to beg, as if the least indemnification which they are entitled to expect, for the outrage perpetrated upon them in bringing them from their distant homes to this strange island, is a daily supply of their few and cheap necessities, as they call for them.
I confess that their begging did not leave upon my mind the impression produced by ordinary mendicancy. They do not look as if they ought to work. I never saw one smile, and though they showed no positive suffering, I never saw one look happy. Each face seemed to be constantly telling the unhappy story of their woes, and like fragments of a broken mirror, each reflecting in all its hateful proportions the national outrage of which they are the victims.
If we had any great establishment of this sort in which Christians could find employment, and the means of religious and secular instruction, thousands of converts would soon flock to them; and they would become vast sources of future improvement in industry, social comfort, municipal institutions, and religion. What chiefly prevents the spread of Christianity in India is the dread of exclusion from caste and all its privileges; and the utter hopelessness of their ever finding any respectable circle of society of the adopted religion, which converts, or would be converts to Christianity, now everywhere feel. Form such circles for them make the members of these circles happy in the exertion of honest and independent industry let those who rise to eminence in them feel that they are considered as respectable and as important in the social system as the servants of government, and converts will flock around you from all parts, and from all classes of the Hindoo community. *** I am persuaded that a dozen such establishments as that of Mr. Thomas Ashton, of Hyde, as described by a physician of Manchester, and noticed in Mr. Bainess admirable work on the Cotton Manufactures of Great Britain, (page 447,) would do more in the way of conversion among the people of India than has ever yet been done by all the religious establishments, or ever will be done by them without some such aid.Vol. ii. 164.
That there is a steady increase in the tendency toward personal servitude, or slavery, in India, no one can doubt who will study carefully the books on that country; and it may not be amiss to inquire on whom rests the responsibility for this state of things. By several of the persons that have been quoted, Messrs. Thompson, Bright, and others, it is charged upon the Company; but none that read the works of Messrs. Campbell and Sleeman can hesitate to believe that the direction is now animated by a serious desire to improve the condition of its poor subjects. Unfortunately, however, the Company is nearly in the condition of the land-holders of Jamaica, and is itself tending toward ruin, because its subjects are limited to agriculture, and because they receive so small a portion of the value of their very small quantity of products. Now, as in the days of Joshua Gee, the largest portion of that value remains in England, whose people eat cheap sugar while its producer starves in India. Cheap sugar and cheap cotton are obtained by the sacrifice of the interests of a great nation; and while the policy of England shall continue to look to driving the women and children of India to the labours of the field, and the men to the raising of sugar in the Mauritius, the soil must continue to grow poorer, the people must become more and more enslaved, and the government must find itself more and more dependent for revenue on the power to poison the people of China; and therefore will it be seen that however good may be the intentions of the gentlemen charged with the duties of government, they must find themselves more and more compelled to grind the poor ryot in the hope of obtaining revenue.
1 History of British India, vol. i. 46.
2 Historical Fragments, 402.
3 The country was laid waste with fire and sword, and that land distinguished above most others by the cheerful face of fraternal government and protected labour, the chosen seat of cultivation and plenty, is now almost throughout a dreary desert covered with rushes and briers, and jungles full of wild beasts. *** That universal, systematic breach of treaties, which had made the British faith proverbial in the East! These intended rebellions are one of the Companys standing resources. When money has been thought to be hoarded up anywhere, its owners are universally accused of rebellion, until they are acquitted of their money and their treasons at once! The money once taken, all accusation, trial, and punishment ends. Speech on Foxs East India Bill.
4 Quoted in Thompsons Lectures on India, 61.
5 Colonel Sykes states the proportion collected in the Deccan as much less than is above given.
6 Rickards, vol. i. 288.
7 Vol. ii. 218.
8 Rickards, vol i. 500.
9 Ibid. 559.
10 Ibid. 558.
11 Ibid. 558.
12 Campbells Modern India, London, 1852, 356.
13 Campbells Modern India, 357.
14 Bainess History of the Cotton Manufacture.
15 Campbells Modern India, 332.
16 Ibid. 381.
17 Campbells Modern India, 105.
18 Rambles in India, by Col. Sleeman, vol. i. p. 296.
19 Speech of Mr. G. Thompson in the House of Commons.
20 See page 133 ante.
21 Chapmans Commerce and Cotton of India, 74.
22 Chapman, Cotton and Commerce of India, 28.
23 Taking the last six of the thirteen years, the price of cotton was 2d. a pound, and if the produce of a beegah was 6s. 6d., of this the government took sixty-eight percent of the gross produce; and taking the two years 1841 and 1842, cotton was 1-¾ d. a pound, and the produce of a beegah was 5s. 8d. On this the assessment was actually equal to seventy-eight percent on the gross produce of the land. Speech of Mr. Bright in the House of Commons.
24 Chapmans Commerce and Cotton of India, 110.
25 Chapman, 167.
26 Rambles, vol. i. 205.
27 Ibid. 268.
28 Ibid. vol. ii. 147.
29 Ibid. 153.
30 Ibid. 185.
31 Ibid. 199.
32 Chapman, 97.
33 Thompsons Lectures on India, 57.
34 Ibid. 185.
35 Chapman, 22.
36 Ibid, 25.
37 Rambles in India, vol. ii. 109.
38 Modern India, 394.
39 Thompson, Lectures on India, 25.
The destruction of life in China from this extension of the market for the produce of India is stated at no less than 400,000 per annum. How this trade is regarded in India itself, by Christian men, may be seen from the following extract from a review, recently published in the Bombay Telegraph, of papers in regard to it published in Hunts Merchants Magazine, in which the review is now republished:
That a professedly Christian government should, by its sole authority and on its sole responsibility, produce a drug which is not only contraband, but essentially detrimental to the best interests of humanity; that it should annually receive into its treasury crores of rupees, which, if they cannot, save by a too licentious figure, be termed the price of blood, yet are demonstrably the price of the physical waste, the social wretchedness, and moral destruction of the Chinese; and yet that no sustained remonstrances from the press, secular or spiritual, nor from society, should issue forth against the unrighteous system, is surely an astonishing fact in the history of our Christian ethics.
An American, accustomed to receive from us impassioned arguments against his own nation on account of slavery, might well be pardoned were he to say to us, with somewhat of intemperate feeling, Physician, heal thyself, and to expose with bitterness the awful inconsistency of Britains vehement denunciation of American slavery, while, by most deadly measures, furthering Chinese demoralization. The review, in referring to the waste of human life, closes as follows:
What unparalleled destruction! The immolations of an Indian Juggernauth dwindle into insignificance before it! We again repeat, nothing but slavery is worthy to be compared for its horrors with this monstrous system of iniquity. As we write, we are amazed at the enormity of its unprincipledness, and the large extent of its destructiveness. Its very enormity seems in some measure to protect it. Were it a minor evil, it seems as though one might grapple with it. As it is, it is beyond the compass of our grasp. No words are adequate to expose its evil, no fires of indignant feeling are fierce enough to blast it.
The enormous wealth it brings into our coffers is its only justification, the cheers of vice-enslaved wretches its only welcome; the curses of all that is moral and virtuous in an empire of three hundred and sixty millions attend its introduction; the prayers of enlightened Christians deprecate its course; the indignation of all righteous minds is its only God-speed.
It takes with it fire and sword, slaughter and death; it leaves behind it bankrupt fortunes, idiotized minds, broken hearts, and ruined souls. Foe to all the interests of humanity, hostile to the scanty virtues of earth; and warring against the overflowing benevolence of heaven, may we soon have to rejoice over its abolition!
41 Campbell, 390.
42 Ibid. 393.
43 Campbell, 384.
44 Ibid. 377.
45 Campbell, 359.
46 Ibid. 332.
47 Ibid. 345
48 Chapman on the Commerce of India, 88.
49 Lawsons Merchants Magazine, January, 1853, 58.
50 Ibid. 51.
51 See page 140, ante.
52 Backhouses Visit to the Mauritius, 35.
The danger of interference, even with the best intentions, when unaccompanied by knowledge, is thus shown by the same author, in speaking of Madagascar:
Dreadful wars are waged by the queen against other parts of the island, in which all the male prisoners above a certain stature are put to death, and the rest made slaves. This she is enabled to effect, by means of the standing army which her predecessor Radama was recommended to keep by the British. *** How lamentable is the reflection that the British nation, with the good intention of abolishing the slave trade, should have strengthened despotic authority and made way for all its oppressive and depopulating results, by encouraging the arts of war instead of those of peace! P. 24.
54 Thompsons Lectures on British India, 187.
55 Lawsons Merchants Magazine, January, 1853, 14.
56 Bigelows Jamaica in 1850, 17.