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LIBRARY

W*»VFRS4TY OF
CALlFOmiA



^x



CONSIDERATIONS

ON THE

PRESENT POLITICAL STATE

OF

INDIA ;

EMBRACING

OBSERVATIONS ON THE CHARACTER OF THE NATIVES, ON THE

CIVIL AND CRIMINAL COURTS, THE ADMINISTRATION

OF JUSTICE, THE STATE OF THE LAND-TENURE,

THE CONDITION OF THE PEASANTRY,

AND THE

INTERNAL POLICE OF OUR EASTERN DOMINIONS ;

INTENDED CHIEFLY AS

A MANUAL OF INSTRUCTION IN THEIR DUTIES,

FOR THE

YOUNGER SERVANTS OF THE COMPANY.



BY

ALEXANDER FRASER TYTLER,

LATE ASSISTANT-JUDGE IN THE 24 PERGUNNAHS, BENGAL ESTABLISHMENT.

Omnium autera reruin, nee oplius est quidquam ad opes tuendas, quam

diligi, nee alienius qukra timeri.
Non jam sunt medioeres hominum libidines, non paucse insidise ac toleran-

dae : nihil agitant nisi caedem, nisi incendia, nisi rapinast. Cic.

SECOND EDITION.



VOL. I.

■» —



LONDON :

PRINTED FOR BLACK, PARBURY, & ALLtN,
BOOKSELLERS TO THE HONOURABLE EAST-INDIA COMPANY,



LEADENHALL STREET.



1816,



s y



(vimj ^untw^



GRANTHALOKA.

ANTIQUARIAN B0^< .ELLEftS.
Sfl. Ambica Mnnkherjee Roadg
Belgharia. Weet



Printed by Cos and Baylit,
Great Queen Street, Lincoln's-Inn-Fielda.



\j\JGQ



TO / / b



CHARLES GRANT, Esq. M. P.



CHAIRMAN



OF THE



HONOURABLE THE EAST INDIA COMPANY:

AS

THE ONLY TESTIMONY HE CAN OFFER
OF HIS GRATITUDE,

THIS WORK

IS, WITH SENTIMENTS OF SINCERE ESTEEM,
DEDICATED BY

HIS OBEDIENT SERVANT,

ALEXANDER FRASER TYTLER.

June 23, 1815.

^ 2*70



^;sr



li-i v'Jli



:i.yaA






ADVERTISEMENT.

It was the intention of the Author not to have pub-
lished a second impression, until, by the addition of
much new matter after his return to India, and by
altering in many places the faulty arrangement of his
materials he might be able to render his Work more
worthy of the public support — But the state of his
health demands that he should leave England imme-
diately and he has only time to make those many
corrections, which his absence abroad, at the time of
printing the first Edition, have unfortunately rendered
necessary. He is sorry that he cannot make a better
return to the Public for the very flattering reception
which they have given his work.

London, Nov, 28thy 1815.



'•:i c*ai5:



'i>H^''>d



^' ':i~'>



PREFACE



It is in the contemplation of the Govern-
ment of Great Britain, most materially to
abridge the privileges of the East-India
Company, by admitting private speculators
to a participation in their trade. It is only
within these few years, that, after a series of
arduous and protracted exertions, the con-
cerns of the Company have begun to assume
a more promising appearance; and it is,
therefore, perhaps, more than unfortunate,
that this period should have been chosen by
Government for the agitation of those mea-
sures which are likely to prove hurtful, not

A 4 only



Vlll PREFACE.

oxA^ to the general Mercantile Interests of
the Company, but still more in weakening
that singular Tenure by which we have i^j
long held our Indian possessions, jhhi^io

^, _.. _»

The existence of this Company as '^8
Commercial Body, is dependent upon theii^'
trade, as well as on the internal administra-
tion of their dominions, and the easy col-
lection of their revenues ; and as an attack
is now meditated against the former of these,
it becomes them, more than ever, to dedi-
cate their attention to the improvement of
the latter. To the Land, as the chief source
of their revenue, their efforts must be first
directed ; to the increasing the security of its
tenure, to the amelioration of the condition
of its labourers, proaioting by this means its
only certain and effectual improvement.^^^

As to the Revenue itself, they must en-
deavour, by every means,' to' increase the

facility



PREFA:CB. ff^

facility of its collection ; whilst, byasedu^,
lous attention to the system of their Police^j
they impart tranquillity to the industrious^^
overawe the idle and the vicious, and by
conferring security on the property of the
lower orders, encourage them in honour-
able exertion.

j^These are great and noble objects:-:?-
When we consider the extent of our Indian
dominions, and that immense population,^
for the welfare of which this country is
BOW responsible, their importance is almost
incalculable ; and the Author of this Work
would certainly never have ventured to
submit it to the Public, did he not consider,
tli^t those pages which attempt, even in
thppjfieeblest manner, to promote these ingi-
portant ends, will not, probably, be exa-
mined with that critical precision, which is
more properly applied to the productions of
taste and imagination^ , ^^^^^.^^^ ^^^^

It



X PREFACE.

It is a fact which, however singular and
unfortunate, is yet founded in truth, that
those persons from whom correct informa-
tion on these subjects might justly be ex-*
pected, are generally the least able, from
the peculiar circumstances of their situa*
tion, to supply it: I mean the Company's
Servants. tj0

During the early period of their resi-
dence in the East, every hour must be em-^
ployed in the acquisition of the languages,
in the study of the laws of the country and
the manners of the natives ; whilst the lat-
ter years of their service are still more un-
remittingly engrossed in the discharge of
the irksome and arduous duties of their
professsion.

To the younger Servants of the Company
another remark is applicable. In every
other service, a young man has to go
through all the preparatory steps of what

may



PREFACE. Xi

may be termed a practical education, for
that profession which he is to follow ; nor
is he employed in any office of responsibiUty
until he is in some measure fitted for a dis-
charge of its duties. He is not entrusted
with money and power until his judgment
and discretion are matured, and until ha-
bits of business and application are become
familiar to him. But the Company^s Ser-
vants are sent to the enjoyment of wealth
and power while they are yet boys. On
their arrival they are, indeed, sent to a
College ; but let it be remembered, that the
one half, or more than the one half, con-
sider this college as a second school, revolt
against it, and learn nothing; the other
half learn only the native languages, — a
very necessary requisite to the due discharge
of their duty, — but still only one out of
many requisites. Relieved from the tram-
mels of college, no inconsiderable portion
of the young men lead a life of comparative
indolence and extravagance, as assistants to

Collectors



Xll PRErACE/

Collectors and Commercial Residents, lli^
rest, entering the judicial line, are bur-
dened witn tne cares, and invested with the
power attending the office of a Judge,
while, as yet, they have scarcely one quali-
fication for the situation excepting a know^-
ledge of the languages. The duties they
have to perform will not admit of study.
Their leisure hours, ("which are few in num-
ber now-a-days) they must employ in exer-
cise, or within a few years their constitu-
tion is ruined. -^^ -i^a

But, even allowing that some few of them
find opportunity to study, and wish to di-
rect their attention to the histd%' 4f^fle
country, the manners of the natives, their
habits, religion, revenue, and land-tenures,
which are the most interesting objects 6f
inquiry ; still, one great means of informa-
tion, namely, an actual intercourse with the
natives, is denied them, from the false idea,
that it is inconsistent with the dignity of their

station^



PKEPACE.^ XUl

station, and attainable only by a private in-
dividual residing among the natives, and
I familiarly conversing with them, and not by
a public servant.

■"Hi-.-'

~ .^J'rom these causes it arises, that we are

»ot possessed of a single work of a nature
to instruct, or even to point out the means
of instruction to the young Civilian. In the
following Essay, one of their own number,
who has laboured under all the disadvanta-
ges above stated, has attempted to supply
this defect. He has endeavoured to furnish
them with a few rules for their conduct at
Jheir first outset in the Indian world. He
has, in the next place, turned his attention
^to the actual state of the country and cha-
racter of the natives, under which subject
the landed tenures of India, and the condi-
tion of the Ryots^ or labourers of the soil,
are more particularly considered. ,^ :*rjKO



^Af



CONTENTS



io!> - ?f'



OF



VOLUME FIRST.



if*^



Page

Introduction, - - - 1

CHAP. I.

The Situation of the Young Writers. — Their pre-
vious Education. — Their Debts contracted at
College.— Their Studies there.—Of the Colleges
of Hertford and Fort William. — Choice of their
Line in the Service, &c. - - 27

CHAP. II.

Description of the Country, and its Population,
with some account of the different Races of its
Inhabitants. — Of the Government. — Of the
Courts of Justice.— The European and Native

Servants



XVI CONTENTS.

♦ .

Page
Servants of the Company. — The Progressive
Improvements in the Judicial System. — In Po-:K^
lice. — The Regulations enacted on these Sub-

CHAP. III. C|C|Bll

On the Causes of Delinquency in India.— Divi-
sion of the Causes. — First Cause : the General ^\
Depravity of the Brahmins, and of the Lower
Orders, and the total want of Religious and ^ ,
Moral Principle. — Observations on the Prin-
ciples of Indian, compared with English Juris-
prudence, - - . 203

CHAP. lY.

Second Cause of Delinquency, viz. Poverty of.
the Lower Orders from the Oppression of the
Zemindari/ System, and more particularly from
the Sub-division of Landed Property under the
IjaradarSy Kotkinadars, and Dur-Kotkinadars. 313



INTRODUC-



■■j?









INTRODUCTION



Xhe leading object of this Work is to fur-
nish to the younger Servants of the East-In-
dia Company, some instructions for their
conduct, both on their arrival, and during
their subsequent employment as judicial
servants in India. But there were other ob-
jects for which it was written. It was in-
tended, by introducing the young Civilian
to some acquaintance with the nature and
principles of our Indian Government, to
prove that there exists in the Civil Consti-
tutions, — in the Religion, — the Laws, — the
VOL. I. B peculiar



11 INTRODUCTION.

peculiar habits and prejudices of the People
of India, — compared with those of Europe,
— differences so radical and decided, that
they have hitherto defeated those beneficial
effects which were anticipated from the in-
troduction of our own government and our
own laws; and that, unless some modifica-
tions take place, these happy consequences
never can result. If this truth has been
established, the main object of the Essay
has been gained.

Let it not, however, be imagined, thatki
the changes which are proposed, the grand
principles of our present Eastern Governr
ment, the Constitution of our Courts, or
the Perpetual Settleinent of the land-reye-
nue, are in any degree to be attacked, Th^
general principles on which India is govern-
ed, are in every vyay calculated for Jts s^^-
curity and welfare. The Constitution pf its
Courts, (Courts of Equity an^ Conscjeftce,

not



INTRODUCTION. ill

not Courts of Law,) is most happily con-
structed for the speedy redress of grievances,
and even the Perpetual Settlement , with all
its errors, (and these are not few in num-
ber,) is yet, perhaps, in its general prin-
ciples, the best that has hitherto been pro-
posed, and, with a few changes, may still
be highly conducive to the prosperity of our
Indian dominions.

The present favourable appearance which
the affairs of the Company have assumed,
ought not to induce them to shut their eyes
against future and more gloomy prospects.
It is not impossible, that their revenue may
now be realized with facility, and yet that
the country may become daily less capable
of producing that revenue. The existence
of a number of abuses, which some may
esteem trifling, because they may be easily
removed, but which are serious, because
they chiefly affect the labouring classes of
B 2 our



IV INTRODUCTION.

our Indian population, render such a result
much too probable. Yet these evils may
be remedied by a few changes, which shall
in no way shake the general principles gf
Qur Eastern Government. ? ^o noit

This unfavourable picture is not general-
ly believed to be a true one ; and so great
is the weight attached at present to the opi-
nions of those who contend on the opposite
side of the question, that few have been
found daring enough to judge for them-
selves, or to credit what they themselves
might daily witness, because all was found
at variance with the doctrine of great au-
thorities. It is, therefore, no small degree
of presumption in a young man to dispute
the propriety of arrangements which time
ought to have matured, and experience
sanctioned as the best. What I am about
to state will, perhaps, plead my excuse. I
entered on the duties of my profession as a

judicial



introduction; v

judicial servant of the Company, possessed
of few of the many qualities necessary for
their discharge. All that I had attained,
was a knowledge of the languages, a convic-
tion of my ignorance, and a desire for im-
provement. The regulations of the Com-
pany informed me, that the land belonged
to the Zemindars^ and that the peasants
had no property in it. 1 did not enter a
single village where this was not contradicted
by all that I saw. The Regulations prescri-
bed many rules of action, both in Civil and
Criminal matters, but particularly in Police,
which I found inconsistent with the charac-
ter and habits of the natives, and totally in-
adequate to the end proposed. It was evi-
dent that something was materially wrong ;
yet a young man, especially when conscious
of his own inexperience, will dread to ques-
tion the authority of his superiors. It was,
however, impossible not to attend to the ac-
tual condition of the lower orders ; and I
' B 3 began



VI INTRODUCTION.

began to take notes of what I remarked, re-
solving at a future period, when leisure
should permit, to make myself master of the
opinions of others, and to compare them
with the results of my own observations.
The notes thus collected form the grounds-
work oi the present Essay ; and, although
deeply sensible of the many imperfections
in its execution, yet, with regard to the facts
it contains, I feel somewhat more confident.
I allude here more particularly to that strik-
ing incongruity which will be observed to
subsist between that picture of India pre-
sented by the Reports of Government, and
the existing state of the country as it is de-
scribed from actual observation. It is im-
possible to believe, that the natives in the
different Zillahs of Bengal, where these ob-
servations were made, misrepresented en-
tirely their real conditions ; that they were
playing a part ; or that their habits, manners
and condition, were the very reverse of what

I be-



INTRODUCTION. VU

I beheld. To secure more effectually
agairiiSt any thing like ai coloured or preme-
ditated story, I have been accustomed td
associate araoilgst the natives, where my
name and person were unknown ; and it
will be allowed, that the information which
can be collected from these classes in this
liiahner, where ignorance of your condition
encotirages them to be communicative, and
familiarity removes suspicion, bids fair to
be correct.

In the discharge of my duty, in a trouble-
some Zf/ZaA, (the Twenty-four Pergunnahs),
in July 1812, I had the misfortune to b6
taken ill of a complaint in the lungs ; and
after having, in vain, tried the air of th^
uppef stations, I was reduced to the unplea-
sant necessity of taking a voyage to St.
Helena. The arrangement of these Note^
into their priesent form, constituted my prin-
cipal amusement at sea, and the perusal of

B 4 • \ those



via INTRODUCTION.

those works which I could procure in Cal-
cutta, and which, either principally or in-
cidentally, treat of some of the subjects
embraced by this Essay. The chief of these
were. Grant '^ on the J^emmd«ry Tenures
of India," Law *^ on the Resources of
'* Bengal," Paton ^' on Asiatic Monar-
'* chies," CoLEBROOKE " on the Husban-
*^ dry of Bengal," the Supplementary Vo-
lume to the Digest of the Regulations
by the Elder Mr. Colebrooke, and Mr.
Ward's work " on the Hindoos."

It was a matter of considerable satis-
faction to me, that, after the perusal of
these works, I did not find it necessary to
alter any of the opinions I had already
formed, either on the subject of the Native
Character, the grand question of the Ze-
mindary Tenure, or the defects of the Sys-
tem of Police. On the contrary, their

perusal



INTRODUCTION. IX

perusal has added confirmation to these
opinions.*

It may naturally be asked, how it should
happen, that men of the most distinguish-
ed talents, and who, from their long resi-
dence in the country, ought to be capable
of forming a correct judgment, have hither-
to misled the public opinion upon these sub-
jects ? To this* it can only be answered,
That, however eminent the talents of these
great men, their high and dignified station

prevented



* Since mj arrival at St. Helena, I have been favour-
ed with the perusal of the work of the present Gover-
nor of the island. Colonel Wilks, on the History of the
South of India, and also of the First Report of the House
of Commons on Indian Affairs ; and it is most flatter-
ing to me to find, in both of these works, but particu-
larly in the Appendix to the History of the South of
India, some of those opinions I had ventured to give,
supported and elucidated with great ability, and a tho-
rough knowledge of the native character.



» IKTRODUCTION.

prevented the possibility of their mixing
familiarly, and entering into conversation
with the peasantry of the country, and that
every other source of information was partial
and interested. Those Servants of the Corfi-
pany, to whose exertions we owe the Per-
petual Settlement, having once committed
aii error in too precipitately yielding to
the anxious desire of the English Govern-
ment for this unfortunate settlement of
the land, had shut their ears to all cool
argument on the subject, and closed their
eyes on the real situation of the country.
From them nothing, therefore, could be ex-
pected.

The higher ranks of the natives, whose
families were to be enriched and ennobled
by their becoming the proprietors of the
land, and the officers of our Courts, who
well knew they should come in for a share,
both of these were naturally eager for the
new system. The peasantry, the Ryots

alone



INTRODUCTION. XI

alone would have told a very different tale,
but they were awed into silence. How
should it have been otherwise ? Against the
Supreme and Ruling Authority, against the
Oflicers of Government, against the great
landed proprietors, against the powerful
body of the native officers of our Courts,
what could the Ryots effect ?

**' One Chapter is purposely devoted to a des-
cription of the effects of the arrangement of
Government respecting the Land Settlement,
and the picture there given of the present si-
tuation of Bengal is not exaggerated. Froitt
whatever causes it may have proceeded, such
is at present the actual situation of things.
And yet such is the strong prejudice upon
the other side of the question, that one is
more likely to be condemned than applaud-
ed for telUng the truth. This does not in-
timidate me : '^ Potestas modo veniendi in
'^publicum sity dicendipericulum non rectiso/'

%t^Vi ^^fft vyTri, ^ifp ^.mm^'^ It



XU INTRODUCTION.

It is impossible that I should sit -itf a Civil
Court, and daily have causes brought befdrt
me, in which it appears that the unhappy
Myots still cling to their property, — still in
their necessities dispose of this property by
sale, mortgagCy and other methods, — it is
impossible that I should see this, and yet be-
lieve, that in this property they have no rights
There is not a Judge or Magistrate in Ben-
gal, whose unbiassed opinion will not cor-
roborate this statement. ~

From conversations with the natives in
the Upper Provinces*, I am convinced that

* I went ashore one evening at a small village near
Buxar, and being unattended, I found it easy to enter in-
toa familiar conversation with the principal i2yo^5. They
said they had resided on their lands for ten or twelve
generations : That the Zemindars had never attempted,
nor could they dispossess them. They pay at the rate of
250 rupees rent for 100 bigahs, and this rate has never

..ai ,fii^,.4u;k v^aos|t|creased



INTRODUCTION. XlU

tbe same ideas prevail there ; and from Co-
lonel WiLKs's very able disquisition, in the
5th Chapter of his work, as well as from the
corroborative proofs of the same facts which
I have heard from himself during the tinj^e
that I enjoyed his society at St. Helena, it
is evident to me, that the same order of
things is prevalent also in the South of In-
dia. I have, moreover, understood, that in
England the opinions formerly entertained

on



increased nor diminished. The trees on the land are their
own. The Zemindars could not cut them, hutthei/ithe
Rt/oIs) could, and without asking leave of the Zemindars.
They are the owners of the land, and the Talookdars on-
ly receive the rents, and had no interference whatever
with the management of the land. They say, their fa-
thers recollected the time when they lived without the
assistance of the Mahajuns (or money-lenders, a pecu-
liar set of men, whose profession will be afterwards des-
cribed), but for a long time past they have been reduced
to the alternative of employing Mahajuns. The village
Putwarries (or Registers) are, among them, the servants
of the Ryots, not of the Zemindars,



|^|V INTRODUCTION.

on the subject of the Zemindary Tenure
have undergone a very great revolution,
and that there are not now many to be found
who sincerely defend the arrangement which
has been made, or who do not, in their own
minds, believe that a very fatal error has
been committed.

One of the chief objects of this Essayist
to evince, that this error, although great,
is not irremediable : That, without altering
the present arrangement regarding the Per-
petual Settlement, much may yet be done
for the unfortunate peasantry of India. The
effects produced by the errors of this ar-
rangement have been indeed pointed out ;
but I must again repeat, that this very ar-
rangement may, with a few modifications,
be still rendered subservient to the prospe-
rity of the Company and the happiness of
the natives. It yet lies in the power of Go-
vernment to rescind their last regulation re-
■ " ^ garding



JJ^TRODUCTION XV

gar ding the authority of the Zemindars to
follow their own pleasure in giving leases of
tbeir lands; and, instead of allowing the
Zemindars to let out their lands on what-
ever terms, and for whatever period they
choose, they may be required to grant writ-
ten leases. They may be required to grant
these leases for a longer period of endu-
rance, thereby making it the real interest of
the Ryots to improve the land. The ob^
noxious clause in this regulation, and of
which the landholders have made so bad a
use, is this : ^' And the proprietors of land
^' shall henceforth be considered competent
Hr^ grant leases to their dependant Talook-
*^ dar^, under-farmers, and JSyo/^, and tore-,
f^.^ ceive correspondent engagements from
^5 fiach of these classes, or any other classes
*' of tenants, according to such form as the


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Online LibraryAlexander Fraser Tytler WoodhouseleeConsiderations on the present political state of India → online text (page 1 of 18)