Francis Carnac Brown.

Letters to and from the Government of Madras, relative to the disturbances in Canara, in April, 1837, with some explanatory notes. To which is prefixed a letter to the Honourable the Court of Directors of the East India Company online

. (page 16 of 19)
Online LibraryFrancis Carnac BrownLetters to and from the Government of Madras, relative to the disturbances in Canara, in April, 1837, with some explanatory notes. To which is prefixed a letter to the Honourable the Court of Directors of the East India Company → online text (page 16 of 19)
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went to the rooms of the women of his family, and there did the same.
He said that this was the second time his house had been searched in the
same way, the first time by the Talook (county) Officers. Not finding
any trace of the gun, the Delayet took him into custody, together with
one of the Coolies (a Teean) whom, with others, he had employed to
clear out the well, and were now taking them both to Tellicherry;
when, as they passed my house, he begged to be allowed to stop and
see me.

The Delayet, before whom all this was stated, confirmed its truth ;
his man, whose father had long been in our service, made no scruple in
telling me his belief, that there never was more than one gun found in
the well, and that the story of the second was a fabrication. Nevertheless,
the old man Paree, his prisoner, upwards of 72 years of age and in bad
health, was in great and natural alarm ; he said, he had never in his life
been suspected nor accused of a crime, was wholly unacquainted with
Courts and Cutcherries, and he, therefore, entreated that I would give him
a note to the Joint Magistrate, to testify that he was a man of good cha-
racter, not turbulent, nor ill-disposed (as his appearance and health, and
the feebleness of his years, visibly bore witness), and that he was de-
serving of belief on his word.

It happened that 1 was thoroughly informed of the occurrence, which
had led to his apprehension on this suspicion, of what seemed to be con-
sidered as constructive treason ; this finding, accidentally in his well, of
a piece of ordnance, a two or three pounder, two and a half or three feet
long, which one able-bodied man easily carried on his shoulder; and
hence was aware of the truth of all that he stated. The most consi-
derable and influential Nyr, living close to Eerikoor, named Anunden
Ejamahnen, or " Lord" Anunden, as tlie Natives style him, liad called
upon me a few days after the discovery, about two months before, in the


end of April or the beginning of May, and had mentioned the particulars
of it. He added, that a report had been got up of a second gun having
been found, in order to extort money from Paree, but that in reality
there was only one.

To give, when possessed of this information, the note he asked to an
old and highly respectable Native, like Paree, would have been, at any
time, an act of simple justice and humanity on my part : but, at that
particular time, after the ferment and agitation into which the Province
had been thrown, and from which the Natives were only slowly recover-
ing, it became a positive duty to prevent, by every means, the refiring
of the same train which might follow, if this accusation known to be
groundless, raised against a man of blameless life and respectable con-
dition, of his having produced one gun and secreted another, for the pur-
pose of selling this other gun to the Coorgs, were credited by the Joint
Magistrate, and hastily acted on. I, therefore, immediately gave him
the note he asked to tliis gentleman, and he and the Cooley continued
their journey, as prisoners, to Tellicherry.

The finding of the gun was this. Some three or four years before,
Paree had bought a ground at Eerikoor, which had been part of the
family property of one of the head servants (Karistens) of the Beebee
of Cannanore, and had settled it, according to the usual custom, upon
his daughter and her infant son. During the dry season of 1836, he
had endeavoured to clear out an old abandoned well in this ground, but
had desisted from alarm, on seeing masses of the sides fall in on the
workmen. In 1837, a drought, unparalleled for severity and duration,
desolated the country for eight months; from the beginning of Sep-
tember, 1836, to the end of the following April, not a drop of rain fell.
The cattle were perishing in hundreds ; most of the wells, even in the
vicinity of the sea, were dry, and water became very scarce for the uses
of the people. In this state of suffering, Paree, in the hope of getting
a supply for his own family and for his neighbours around, and being
best able to bear the expense of the work, again had recourse to the old
well, and resumed the clearing of it. After the workmen had been so
engaged three or four days, they first found some pieces of copper and
metal and other remnants; they then came to something longer and
weightier, which proved to be, to their surprise and that of every body
else, what they called " a Great Gun," (V'alia Tok). The neighbours
and town's people flocked to see this gun hauled up; when up, tlie four
Mookistens, or Parish Elders, immediately came to see it; they sent for


the Potail (Adigaree), and lie came. He and the Elders thereupon
drew up and dispatched a formal proch verbal of the discovery to the
County (Talook) Cutcherry; the county Duffadar (Head Constable),
and a body of Peons arrived at tliis time ; he and they all saw it. They
were on their way to receive, and escort to Mangalore, a body of
Canarese prisoners, who had been seized in Coorg, and were being
marched down after the late outbreak; thus establishing the fact, that
the well was being dug, and the gun found, aj'tci- this outbreak was
universally known to have been suppressed.

The gun was then taken away to the County Cutcherry, whither
Paree, although ill, was summoned (a day's journey from his home) and
a particular deposition of its finding taken from him. About six or eight
days after, the Potail and Parish Elders were likewise there summoned,
and similar depositions taken from them. The gun was next removed
from the County, and sent, with all the reports, depositions, and exami-
nations, to the Magistrate's Cutcherry at Tellicherry.

It appeared from them, that nor Paree, nor Potail, nor Elders, nor
neighbours, nor any one else could, in their ignorance, explain how the
gun came into the well. It never was suspected, nor charged against
Paree, that he hid, or that he or any one else knew of, the gun being
there; it never was doubted, but that the gun was found by pure acci-
dent, in the manner described, buried six or eight feet in the mud : the
charge conslructivelj/ against him was, that he had found tivo guns, had
produced only one, and secreted the other, with the intention of selling
this other to the Upper Coorgs; to the Upper Coorgs who, let it be re-
membered, had continued steadily faithful throughout the late commo-
tion in Canara, and had very mainly and actively contributed to its sup-
pression; and of selling this gun to them, after the commotion was en-
tirely suppressed. Whence the inference arrived at against him seems
to have been, that he was a traitorous, evil disposed person, who che-
rished hostile designs to the British Government, designs of aiding its
overthrow with this hidden two or three pounder, without powder or
ball. He had at this time, like every other man, the Government war-
rant for having, if he pleased, in his open, undisguised possession, fifty
guns ; the people being authorised and enabled by public proclamation,
two years before, to have arms.

From my inquiries, and from a knowledge of the previous history of
the country, the explanation of the gun being found in the well, was
simply this. Until the pacification of the Province, about forty years


ago, the Beebees of Cannanore and the ancestors of Lord Anunden,
neighbouring chiefs, were constantly at war. As regularly almost as
the season came, inroads and forays were made into each other's lands,
always accompanied, and generally led, by the head servants (Karistens,)
Nyr and Mapilla, on each side. The gun in question is just the kind of
ordnance, that would be the piece de reserve used in these onslaughts ;
and a deep well, in a ground at Eerikoor belonging to a Mapilla leader,
the very place in which it would be deposited for security, whether after
success, and certainly after disaster.

Paree, on his arrival at Tellicherry, a two days' journey from his home
and family, was taken with the Cooly, to the Cutcherry before the Joint
Magistrate, to whom he delivered my note. The Magistrate desired
him, through an interpreter, to speak the truth, and asked, where was
the other gun ? He assured the Magistrate that only one had been
found, and offered to give any security to be named, in attestation of the
truth of what he stated. Without anything more passing on the occa-
sion, without any further proceedings being held, or any other questions
asked, he was handed over to the custody of the Cutwal, who took and
immediately lodged him in the town Watch-house, with strict orders to
the Peons in charge, not to allow him to speak, or be spoken to, by any
person whatever, not to allow the persons who should bring him food to
approach him, nor to suffer him to go to a Mosque to prayers. These
orders were strictly obeyed ; in this abode, this nightly receptacle for
the reputed thieves and sweepings of the streets, and in this state, he was
kept three days and three nights. At length, on the fourth day, the
Cutwal inquired what was to be done with his prisoner, and how much
longer he was to be so confined. On this, Paree was ordered to be
brought up. This day, some of his friends had prepared, and brought
for presentation to the Joint Magistrate, a Petition stating his advanced
age and infirm health, and praying that he might be released on bail.
On seeing this Petition, the Sheristedar, or Head Native Officer of the
Cutcherry, came up and declined to receive and present it : the Petition,
he said, was unnecessary, Paree should be released on his producing
bail for his appearance. One of his friends stepped forward, and be-
came bound in a penalty of 100 Rupees, that Paree should attend daily
at the Cutcherry (the outside of it) from nine in the morning, until five
or six in the evening. Bail, at the same time, and of the same kind
was offered, bj/ Petition, for tlie Cooly, who had been taken into custody
with, and accompanied him to Tellicherry, but was positively refused;


and this man was continued to be kept in close confinement in the Ma-
gistrate's Cutcherry itself.

A few days after Paree's visit to me, I was surprised to see three of
the Eerikoor parish elders (JNIookibtens, the fourth absconded) arrive at
my house, all also in the custody of Peons, and all on their way to Telli-
cherry. These men are not in any respect Government Officers ; they
are the respectable chosen elders, or Church Wardens, of their several
parishes, who discharge gratuitously, and at a yearly great sacrifice of
time and personal trouble, many local duties and inquiries essential to
the purposes of Government, and the good order and well-being of their
community ; and whose very least reward for these great, though noise-
less, services, ought to be, all the return they ask, some show of respect
and consideration evinced to their persons and character, by the paid
Officers of the Government.

The Mookistens, on seeing, appealed to me, and earnestly besough
me what to do : they declared, they had only seen and heard of one gun
being found in Paree's well ; that they had so reported and stated at the
time at the County, but it was now said that there were two guns, and it
was insisted upon by the Peons, who had them in custody, that they were
to say so too at Tellicherry. On hearing this, one of the Peons present
turned round, and abused them grossly before my face, called them all
liars, and threatened them with the consequences, if they persisted in
their denial on their arrival at Tellicherry.

I endeavoured to pacify them as well as I could, told them not to
heed any threats, but to proceed quietly, and if what they had before
stated was the truth, to repeat it before the Joint Magistrate, without
fear of being punished, or found fault with.

They proceeded, and were delivered at the Cutcherry. After attend-
ing there daily for eight or nine days, without being once called up, or
questioned, or examined, living all the while at Paree's expense, one
afternoon they were suddenly given in charge of a Peon, together with
the Cooly who had, until that hour, been kept in confinement in the
Cutcherry, with orders to the Peon, that he was to proceed without stop-
ping, and deliver them all, and a letter of which he was the bearer, that
night to the County Peshkar who, with other County Officers, had ar-
rived at Eerikoor, in pursuance of fresh instructions to resume a strict
search for the missing gun.

The season when this occurred was the height of the rains. At dusk
the same evening, the party reached tlie neighbourhood of my house.


thoroughly drenched. Arrived there, the Parish Elders refused to go a
step further that night; there remained about sixteen miles of bad road,
through an unfrequented Jungle ; they had had no food since the morn-
ing, while the Cooly had twice dropped down on the way in a fainting
fit. The Peon insisted on his positive orders; a violent hubbub arose,
and they all came to me. I, of course, directed them all to be provided
with food and lodging for the night, and gave the Peon a note to
exonerate him from blame for the delay.

The next morning they continued their journey, and the species of
investigation and inquiry for the gun, which followed on their arrival at
Eerikoor, before the County Officers, will be best learned from the
following statement of his examination before these Officers, made by
one of the persons examined, (I insert one only) one of the Coolies who,
in the exercise of his calling of a day labourer, had been employed in
clearing out the well : —

Statei7ient of , of Eerikoor, made on the 5th August, 1837.

" Friday week yesterday, as I was sitting in the shop of , a

Kavye-district Peon, and Mookisten came, and took me near to the

Manatah Pagoda, where were assembled the County Peshkar, the
Police Gomastah, and the Mookistens. The Gomastah said to the
Peon, " Take this man to a distance, and after questioning him accord-
ing to custom, bring him back." On this, the Peon took me to the
river side, to a place where there was no one else, and said, " Tell the
truth." " I will," I replied. lie then asked, " How many guns were
found in digging M. Paree's well ? I hear two were found." I said,

" I, and , and , (two persons named,) it was, who dug M.

Paree's well, we found only one gun, no more." On this, the Peon first

abused me ; " You son of a b , you son of a thief, tell the truth !"

On my saying, " What I have said is the truth, why do you abuse me ?"
he first struck me on the back of the head, and then hit my chin up with
his fist, saying, " Do you think I will let you alone, until I make you
tell the truth ?" I began spitting blood, and said, " If it is the Saheb's
orders, that you are thus to beat and abuse me, by way of asking ques-
tions, do so." He then took me by the back of the neck, shoved me,
and took me before the Gomastah.

I there told the Mookistens how the Peon had ill-treated me: " iliey
said, "Tell it to the Peshkar and Gomastah;" which I did before all.


Neither of them said anything. The Gomastah, Peshkar, and Peon

then took me, , and (two persons named) to a short distance

from where the rest were, put each of us apart, examined, and took a
deposition from each, which depositions they never read over to us, nor
do I know whether what we said, or what we did not say, was written
down. I only said what I saw. On their desiring us to sign, we
signed, fearing if we said we would not, until the depositions were read
over, that we should be subject to worse treatment than we had already
suffered from the Sirkar Officers, whom it was vain for us to think of
opposing or resisting. I was unable to speak from the pain in my jaw.

I told all this when it happened to my father." (Signed) .

Even these examinations and the others, thus conducted, failed to
produce a trace of a second gun. Paree's house was searched for the
third time, as it had been searched twice before, his well, the wells of
his neighbours, and the tanks, were drained and examined ; the
Nullahs and river banks were explored, the grounds (Parumbas) dug,
and the Jungle around carefully searched : all in vain; the two-or-three
pounder was nowhere to be found. The County Officers were in a great
dilemma : their orders were, to send in their report to Tellicherry vntft
the missing gun, orders which I had the means of knowing, they con
strued to mean, that they were not to send their report without the
ordnance. But as no trace of the latter could be got, they hit, as I
heard, in their fear and perplexity, upon the following expedient to
save themselves : — They decided on reporting, with Lord Anunden, ray
first informant, sitting beside them, their belief in a second gun, that
it was most probably buried in the sands of the river, which being now
filled by the rains, no further search could then be made, but that an-
other search properly conducted, when the water should subside, would
doubtless bring the gun to light.

A day or two after this report was received at Tellichery, and
twenty-hvo dai/s after Paree had been taken into custody, and there
detained, he was called up, and asked whether he was ready to enter
into the security, which he offered to give the day he was brought in.
He said, he w^as ready; he was thereupon desired to produce a rupee
to pay for the requisite stamp ; after this preliminary, a Bond, of which
the following is a translation, was drawn out, and after he had duly
executed it before the Joint-Magistrate, he was told that he was now
permitted to return to his family and his home. The gun, his property,

was confiscated.



" Security Bond executed by M. I'aree, inhabitant of Malaputtum
parish, in the town of Eerikoor, and County of Kavye, to the all-
powerful Company Sirkar.

" The Joint Magistrate of Malabar having summoned and examined
me in consequence of its having been said that, besides the large g-un
in my possession, which was taken to the County (Cutcherry) I had
another large gun wliich I meant to sell to the Coorgs, and I having
declared to the Magistrate, that there was no other than one large gun,
and the Magistrate having desired me to give a Bond to that effect; I
hereby declare the truth as follows : There is in my possession no other
large gun whatever. I have neither secreted, nor have I sold to any
one, any large gun. If, therefore, any large gun be found in my posses-
sion, or be found anywhere else with my privity, at any time; if, at any
time it be found that I have sold, herebefore or hereafter, any large gun
to any one whatever, or given one away, or secreted one, I engage to
appear and be responsible to the Sirkar (the Government) for the same.
If I do not appear, I engage to pay to the Sirkar a fine of 500 Rupees;
if I do not pay this fine immediately, I and my heirs, consent that.
it shall be levied out of any property wliatsoever belonging to me.
I have subscribed this Security Bond before two witnesses at Tellicherry,
22 Karkadagum 1012, (4 August, 1837)."

Such is a narrative of the treatment which this Native publicly re-
ceived, such the treatment to which was subjected, before all his country-
men, this man arrived at the very verge of human life, beset with the
mental and bodily infirmities of his years, of spotless character, the head
of a numerous and respectable family, of age enough to be the Grand-
father of the Joint Magistrate, as considered, as esteemed, as respected,
in his own country and rank of life as, I must be suffered to say, the
Father of this gentleman in his. Tlirice is his house entered, thrice
searched, and sounded, and emptied of all its contents ; the privacy of
his women's apartments is similarly violated ; he is then summoned to
the District Cutcherry, he is next taken into sudden custody, dragged
away in the depth of winter, two days' journey from his home and family,
and lodged like a malefactor, for three successive days and three nights,
in a Watch-house, the nightly den of the thieves and vagabonds of the
town, with strict orders that no human being be suffered to have access
to him, or he to a house of prayer. On the fourth day he is tliought
of, and turned out of his prison, in the manner that an animal would be
from a pen, and ordered to pass all the hours of every day in outward


attendance at the Cutcheiry, under pain, if lie absents himself, of being
fined 100 Rupees. On the twenty-second day of this attendance, he is
brought before the Joint Magistrate; and witliout being accused of any
crime whatever, without being confronted witli any accuser, witliout
hearing a single witness, without being told one word further of tiie
reason of (or the smallest reparation being offered, or judged necessary
to be offered, to soften, to excuse, or to palliate in any way) this treat-
ment, imprisonment, and detention, and without being furnished with
any clue, to enable him to trace and expose a false accusation, and ob-
tain redress for all that he has suffered, he is ordered to sign and
execute a stamp Eiond; which, being bought with his own money, the
act is made to wear the appearance of being his own free, voluntary,
unsolicited act, binding himself unci /lis lieirn in a penalty of 500
Rupees, equal to him to 500/., in case a gun be, at any time hereafter,
found or traced to him. lie is made to suffer this treatment, because
he has been guilty of conduct, not merely guiltless, but innocent, not
merely innocent but blameless, not merely blameless but, in the highest
degree, kind, considerate, charitable, and praiseworthy; because two
months before, during a visitation of Providence, so cruel and desolating
as a fervid drought in the Torrid Zone, he ventured to resume the
clearing out of a well, on what is miscalled, his property, in order to
get a supply of water to allay the pressing wants of his faiiily and his
neighbours; because he did this, ciJ'Ltr the commotion in Canara had
been suppressed, and because, in the progress of the work, a two or
three pounder gun was found buried in the mud of this well. The
treatment which the day labourers he employed received, for following
their calling, and gaining their bread by the sweat of their brow, was,
that one of the number was, with him, taken into custody, and marched
a prisoner to Teliiclierry, where bail for this man was refused, and he
was kept in close confinenent, in the Cutcherry itself, for many days,
(his mother supported by his labour starving,) until his state was such
that, on the day of his release, he fainted twice in a walk of twelve
miles; the other men are abused and assaulted by the Native Officers
deputed to examine them, because they persisted in saying, as at first,
that tliey found only one gun in the well, and knew nothing of any
other. The public treatment which the Mookistens, the respectable,
chosen Elders of their community, received, because their eyes saw, and
their ears heard of, only one gun, and could not out of this one make
two, was, first to be bandied to the County Cutcherry, then like criininals-



to Tellicheny, the prisoners of Peons, who insulted and abused them
all the way; to be kept there from their homes and concerns for several
days, and sent back unquestioned and, as they came, prisoners.

Such was the treatment which all these persons met with at the
hands of the Revenue and Police Officers; for as the Joint Magistrate
is also Sub-Collector in his districts, so all his Native subordinates are
both Tax-gatherers and Police Officers: such the outrages, indignities,
and contumelies, all these innocent, blameless, men were subjected to in
their persons and individual liberty, without hesitation, without pause,
without comment; and this, immediately after a season of unexam-
pled public agitation ; the whole affair being treated and regarded as a
common, ordinary, occurrence, an every-day matter, dealt with and
disposed of according to the usual practice and routine of Magisterial

The Joint Magistrate, I have no doubt, is naturally as kind, well
intentioned, and considerately disposed, as any Officer in the Service;
and such is the system in which many of the modern statesmen and
law-givers of Madras are, from the first, schooled and familiarized,
that I am persuaded no one would feel greater surprise than himself,
at any part of these proceedings being considered open to question or
objection, as deserving of blame for harshness, wantonness, arbitrariness,
irreflection, or caprice; no one more convinced than Viimself, that every
part of them was regular, formal, authorized, and customary, within the

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Online LibraryFrancis Carnac BrownLetters to and from the Government of Madras, relative to the disturbances in Canara, in April, 1837, with some explanatory notes. To which is prefixed a letter to the Honourable the Court of Directors of the East India Company → online text (page 16 of 19)