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 5 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 5 of 19)
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known that they annually draw out of India and spend £120,000;
12 lacs of Rupees : locally an enormous sum, double the surplus revenue
of most of the Madras Provinces! In vain will the world, past or pre-
sent, be searched for a Government like this!


immediate, patient, temperate, and impartial enquiry on the

28. Your Honourable Court will not be brought to believe
that the Earth, in India, does not produce Rupees, but
grain ; that the trees do not bear coined money, but fruit ;
that never, from its creation, until your rule, was such a
thing there heard of, or known, as ^ fixed maximum money
assessment on the land, wholly chimerical and unrealizable
as this incredible tax is, even under your rule*. Your

* It would be a mockery to set about shewing here, in England, where
every man of ordinary information knows that the price of wheat has
fluctuated, in modern times, from 42 to 122 shillings a quarter, that no
country in the world can pay such a tax as " a fixed maximum money
assessment" on the land. To instance only a provision in the late Tithe i
Commutation Act; the money tenth is, according to it, determined by
the price of corn and produce, during the seven preceding years, every
succeeding year making the seventh in this perpetual cycle of reference
to the only equitable standard of value. But what is the history, what
is proved to be the authentic, recorded history of money assessments at
Madras? In 1807, Colonel Munro, the Collector of the Ceded Districts,
wrote thus: — " If no alteration be attempted, the Ceded Districts will
yield, one year with another, 18 lacs of Pagodas, and it will never be
necessary to call out a single Sepoy to support the collections." The
land revenue, which he reported upon (Report 2Glh July, 1807) was a
maximum rent in money y fixed on every field and spot of land, " culti-
vated or waste," after " a survey," made of a country as large as Scot-
land by Natives, "provided with a chain 33 feet long," and amounted
then to 640,000/. In 1827, after 20 years of peace, the same person,
Sir Thomas Munro, he being Governor of Madras, and in the Ceded
Districts, was obliged to reduce this assessment, which he had declared
in 1807, "was collected with the greatest ease," to 485,714/.; a redac-
tion of nearly one-third of the whole amount, (Report of Select Commit-
tee, 16th August, 1832.) What name ought to be given, where English
is spoken, to the exactions on the Natives, that were going on throughout
these 20 years? VVliat would English Statesmen say to one of their
number, who would venture to appear before them, with such an expo-
sition of 20 years' management of the most important branch of Revenue,
derived from the Kingdom of Scotland ? Tins then is the result of the
fixed maximum money assessment in the 7nodel Ryotwar Province of
Madras. The result of the management of all the Provinces, for the


Honourable Court cannot be brought to perceive that, if you
insist upon taking, as revenue, six-tenths of his produce from
the Native, every obligation of justice and policy, stifling
every claim of humanity, requires that you should take it
in that which he has to give ; that which his preceding
sovereigns took ; that which every private landlord in the
country, wherever such a class of persons is still suffered to
exist, is obliged to take, as rent : not in that which, often
by no possibility, can the Native get. The plainest, the
simplest, the most direct, and the most obvious of all gene-
ralizations show, to those who will be at the trouble of
making them, or at the least pains of learning the real con-
dition of the people, that in a country where there are no
roads, thero can be no towns, where there are no towns,
there can be no trade, where there is no trade, there can be no
exchanges, no exchanges, no money ; and where there is
no money, that men must be reduced to barter, as they are
throughout the Peninsula of India, to barter one with the
other, the little surplus they have left for the supply of
their half dozen wants. To insist on having his revenue in
money, therefore, is insisting on having that which the
Native cannot get, nor can he give, could he coin his

same period of 20 years, all years of profound peace, is exactly of the
same commendable, instructive, character. "In 1808 — 9, the actual
collections of Revenue were 4,09,30,000 Rupees (4,093,000/.); in
1827 — 8, they were 4,01,72,000 Rupees, {4,017,2001.) decrease in 20
years, 75,8001. ! Such is the iiresistible force of circumstances and situa-
tion in moulding the opinions of men, that the functionary, one of the
ablest in the service, who exhibits this astounding and almost incredible
result of the Government of a large kingdom, (and of whose knowledge
and great capacity the home authorities have wisely availed themselves),
produces it as clearly establisliing the fact, that " the system of civil
" administration actually in force at Madras has been successful,
" according to all the tests by which it can be fairly tried !" (Calcutta
Finance Committee, p. 132.) There is here provided an unerring "test"
of the entire success " of tlie system," that is, when " the actual collec-
tions of Revenue" shall be — zero.


blood into drachmas. For, of the money which is collected
from him monthly, during ten months of the year, and the
minutest fraction of which is spent on the spot, every Rupee
of the residue is kept hoarded and locked up in the pro-
vincial Treasuries, until it is sent, as proximity dictates,
either to Madras or Bombay ; whence the slow wants of a
restricted, an impeded, and a circuitous, ybre/g-w trade must
bring it back to the few inland marts there are, before this
coin can again come within the reach of the Native, to
enable him to pay his maximum in it.* This regular, annual,

* To the Secretary to Government in the Financial Department, Fort
St. George.

Tellicherry, 29th October, 1836,

" It is with rebictance that T bring the following matter to the notice
of the Right Honourable the Governor in Council : were it the first in-
stance of the kind, or did it not demand a remedy, I should be silent.

" It is hardly necessary to inform Ilis Excellency in Council, that the
whole surplus Revenues of the Provinces of Malabar and Canara, as
well as the subsidies of the tributary states of Cochin and Travancore, to
the amount of at least 25 or 30 lacs of Rupees, are annually sent to
supply the necessities of Bombay ; and that this great drain of the coin,
required for the circulation of these countries, is made in Bombay cur-
rency, till lately, some local coins excepted, the only currency known.
Were the sums that have been thus exported for the last 25 years added
up, the amount will be found to be so great, that it is a matter of
astonishment how these countries have borne up against this annual drain,
and have continued to pay, year after year, into the Treasuries of the
Collectors, the increasing money-revenue assessed upon them in this ex-
ported coin. But whatever may be the opinion entertained on this point,
it will hardly be disputed that the necessities of the people of the
Western Coast for coin, to meet the public demands, must be sufficiently
obvious as to merit consideration, and that they have some title to expect,
at all times, from the Government of Bombay, every facility to remit-
tance transactions; that is to say, to expect that bills on the local Trea-
suries, for cash paid at Bombay, shall not be refused, when those
Treasuries are filled with money ready to answer all bills. I put the
matter on the narrowest ground.

"The demand for money, in exchange for produce, begins early in


sy&iemAi'icforestal/ing by the Government o^ the coin, which
such a country requires or can attract, leads inevitably to
an annual regraiing of the produce ; making the price
worthlessly low, when the producer is compelled to seliybr
money, to pay his tax, and extravagantly high, when he is
obliged to buy, as his necessities are sure to oblige him to

September with the first of the ten annual Kists, (Revenue instalments)
that falls due ; before the Coast is well open for country craft, and six
weeks before ships willingly touch. Several weeks before, and after this
period, my agents in Bombay applied for Bills on the Collector, and
were told repeatedly in reply, that the Treasury was shut, and not likely
to be opened. Finding this to be the case, and hearing that the Hon-
ourable Company's Cruizer Clive was about to be despatched to the
Coast, they took the only alternative, and made me by this vessel a remit-
tance in specie, the freight charged upon which is double the rate paid
upon sending specie to Great Britain. The Clive passed down, not
being suffered to anchor : yesterday she returned and landed my specie,
after having received from the Collector of Malabar alone four lacs and
thirty thousand Tinpees oi the remaining surplus Revenue of the Pro-
vince; every rupee of which, I speak advisedly, would now have been
paid into the Bombay Treasury, to the great saving of time, for every
rupee must return, and to the infinite accommodation of the people, if
the Government had thought fit to receive the money, which myself and
the merchants had ready to pay in exchange for bills.

" Whenever a vessel is despatched from Bombay to this Coast for trea-
sure, in addition to the expense of the vessel, a number of Shroffs are
put on board, sufficient to furnish one for every port whence treasure is
to be shipped. It is superfluous to say, that this and every expense
whatsoever would be saved, and no more than reasonable facility be given
to the money transactions of the Western Coast, if the Government of
Bombay would follow, as regards them, the invariable practice when
formerly it drew bills on Calcutta, and insert a periodical notice in the
Gazette, stating that the Treasury would be open for a given time and
for a given amount for tenders for bills on the Coast Treasuries."

" 1 have the honour, &c.
" F. C. Brown."

With regard to the remittances of European functionaries, every Officer
is allowed to receive one-third of his month's pay in a bill at thirty days
on the General Treasury, and every Civilian the whole of his pay in a
bill at ten days.


buy, to repay in kind the next year.* In addition to this
direct tax upon the land, akin to which nothing has ever
been seen in the world, and the warrant for exacting
which are the positive, express orders of Your Honour -
able Court ;t — in addition to the Monopolies of two of
the necessaries of life — Salt and Tobacco ; the Monopoly
of Salt enforced by penally prohibiting the Natives frnm
touching the sun-evaporated sea-salt at their own doors ;
that of Tobacco enforced by prohibiting them fro m grow-
i ng a leaf of the plant on tlieir lands ; thus making
i t profitable to the smuggler to introduce and sell Amer i-

* An Assistant Collector from Canara observed that he would wil-
lingly serve there without pui/, provided the Government would allow
him to trade. He was asked why ? " You are sure," he replied, " of
making regularly twenty to thirty per cent., if you only buy grain when
the crops begin to be cut, and the Ryots want money, and sell it
towards the end of the season."

f " We are aware that the difficulty lies in ascertaining the degree in
" which, in all the variety of cases, the surplus produce already is, or is
" not, absorbed by the Government demand. But this is the difficulty
" which exists in forming or adjusting the settlement everywhere. Minute
'' accuracy cannot be obtained ; but in making the best approximation to
" it in our power, we shall avoid all material ^vii.,if the surplus produce
" is, IN ALL CASES, vuitle the tTTMOST extent of our demand.'" (Court's
"Letter to Fort St. George, 12th December, 1821, paragraph 99.) \

" By this latter sentence," observes General Briggs, who quotes the -; ;
letter (p. 294) in his, the ablest work ever written on, Indian Land-tax, | I
"it seems clear that, in the latter end of the year 1821, the Indian * •■
Administration in England was of opinion that it was just and expe-
dient to take from the landholders of India the whole surplus pro-
duce ; i. e. the whole of the landlord's rent, leaving the cultivator only a
sufficiency for his own subsistence and the maintenance of his stock !" .i >

But why stop short at this demand? Why not take "the surplus
produce in all cases," of every loom, of every tool, of every engine, of
every manufacture, of every house, nay, saving a sufficiency of food and
raiment, to be determined by the taker, why not take "the surplus pro-
duce" of every man's brains in the country, howsoever exerted? The
right is the same in all these cases as in the first ; its exercise would be
as just, and — as wise.



can Tobacco in India ! — in addition to this direct tax of,
at least, the luhole of the nat rent of the land, suggesting
the plain enquiry what more the Sovereign can demand from
his Native tenant, whom he proves to be a mere occupier
by reducing him to the condition of one ; — in addition to
this tax and to these Monopolies, ingenuity, one would
suppose, had tasked its powers in devising what indirect
taxes could be imposed, that should be most profoundly
cruel, mischievous, and suicidal to the happiness and pros-
perity of the people. For, not only are there frontier duties
and export duties levied from Province to Province, thus
erecting every Province into a separate foreign Kingdom,
each with a separate Tariff, but there are export duties
exacted upon all produce and goods taken from port to
port in the same Province; so that not an article can be
taken by a Native for sale at the nearest mart by any one
of the navigable rivers, the highways with which Nature
conceived and designed to bless and civilize his country,
without its being stopped at the mouth for export duty !*

What has been, what must be, the result of a system
of revenue and internal taxation, such as this? The result
invariably has been, in every instance, that in a few brief
years, the maximum money assessment proves to be wholly
unrealizable from the land ; and the discovery is made,
either when the people, preferring immediate death to lin-
gering starvation, seize what arms, clubs and sticks, rage
and despair supply, and break out into violence; an issue
which is speedily extinguished by their decimation by the
bayonet and the gibbet, and the failure of land-revenue
is, of course, attributed "to their lawless and unprovoked
rebellion ; " or, when having parted with so much of their
produce, to raise the money maximum, that not enough re-
mains to sustain life the year through, famine and disease
relentlessly seize upon hundreds, and upon thousands, and

* See Note B. at the end of the Letter.


Upon tens of thousands; and it is then reported to your
Honourable Court, that the unburied bodies of the dead
lie so heaped and accumulated, as to taint the air for miles
around, and to pall the maws of legion troops of every
obscene bird and beast of the air and earth.

Bear witness to this present picture, ye famine-devoured
Provinces of Agra! Bear witness to it, ye Englishmen!
casual, compulsory sojourners amid this desolation, who
wrote and published throughout India, to stimulate the hu-
manity of your countrymen, that for a subscription of only
one rupee, for a sum of no more than twenty-four pence
sterling, food enough could there be bought to subsist a
human being for a whole month through ! — Bear witness to
it, ye who beheld in the places where this quantity of food
could be bought for such a sum, who beheld with your
own eyes, mothers sell their children, nay, offer their
nurseling infants in barter for one meal, and this failing,
cast them headlong into the stream ! *'

And this spectacle in a country, where the teeming powers
of Nature still continue to be such, that the earth yields
harvests, although deprived of all those reproductive, recre-
ative aids, barren of which, the fertile, smiling fields of Great
Britain would be as waste, desert, and silent as the sands of
Arabia : for, from Cape Comorin to the Himalayahs, such
is the general poverty of the people, that the accumu-
lation of their cattle-folds, instead of being hoarded and
lavished, as in every other agricultural country on the globe,
in restoring and invigorating their exhausted lands, and
thus increasing the produce, and ultimately the public reve-
nue, ten, aye, a hundred-fold, this manure is resorted to,
and daily prepared, and forms the general, in some Provinces
the sole, fuel which the Natives have it in their power to
command, for the preparation of the pittance of food left to
them to consume !

* See Note C. at the end.


30. Impossible as it is to compress all the proofs and
demonstrations of this subject within the compass of the
present letter, it is not possible, when attempting to throw
light on the causes of riots and insurrections in India, to
keep out of view this vast gangrene, this frightful ulcer,
deriving and descending from the very head of the body-
politic, which is incessantly preying upon the vitals of the
Natives ; the unerring proofs and progress of which are sure
to manifest themselves, by periodical famines and tumults
breaking out in every part, where a vigorous arm, wielded
by an enlightened head and a noble heart, has not gone to
the root, and extirpated the causes, as in Bengal Proper and
Benares' Province ; or where some natural local advantages
do not exist, as in Malabar, and operate as adventitious
sources of health, in counteracting the otherwise inevitable
tendency of the mass to festering, convulsion, and dissolution.

31.1 solicit your Honourable Court's forgiveness for this
digression from the subject-matter of this letter, to which I
return. I have stated that official notices led me to conclude,
as I may, perhaps, have led your Honourable Court to con-
clude, that the Commission appointed by the Governor in
Council of Madras in September, " to inquire into the
causes of the insurrection in Canara, etc.," of the previous
April, was dissolved in December by the successive retire-
ment of the two General Officers, the Military Members,
and by the Medical Certificate granted to the Civil Member
on the 5th December.

I sailed for England on the 6th, and from Colombo on
the 17th December. My Letter to the Government of
the 23rd November, did not reach Madras before the 8th
or 9th December. Its transmission was purposely delayed,
in order that it might arrive at the same time as any
letter, which the first Judge of Tellicherry might think pro-
per to send, in reference to the observations upon his con-
duct in April, with a copy of which I furnished him. For
several days before I sailed, the troops at Cannanore were


kept in readiness to receive Sir Henry Gough, K.C.B., the
General commanding the Mysoor Division, within whose
range and controul is the subordinate command of Malabar
and Canara. Sir H. Gough's route and progress to these
Provinces were, of course, regularly reported to Madras ; so
that the Governor in Council was apprised, at the time of
General Fearon's retirement from the Commission, that
there would be, on the spot, a Queen's Officer of high rank,
independent command, distinguished character, acknow-
ledged experience, and, moreover, an entire stranger to all
the functionaries. Civil and Military, at Mangalore; if the
presence of such an Officer had been at any time deemed
indispensably necessary, as the head of the Commission,
in forming and delivering to the Government adispassionate,
unbiassed, impartial opinion upon the melancholy events
which had occurred in Canara, and in pouring oil and balm
into the wounds of the unfortunate Natives.

32. Although the Governor in Council therefore was pos-
sessed of this information, late letters state that the Com-
mission of Inquiry did proceed in the course of December,
that it was reduced to a sole Member, and he, the Civil
Member — whose state of health was such, that he was pro-
vided with a medical certificate to sea for eighteen months,
and who, however able, and however estimable, was the
known, the declared, and the intimate friend of some of the
authorities at Mangalore, whose public acts and conduct
formed the subject of his investigations. These circum-
stances now render it imperative upon me to place before your
Honourable Court the particular Regulation (8 of 1822),
under which the Commission, so constituted, was empowered
and directed to act.

The title is, " A Regulation to rescind (certain) Regula-
tions; and to make provision for the investigation of the
conduct of the public Officers of Government, European
or Native, when necessary, iri the way which in each par-
ticular case may be deemed MOST convenient."


The Preamble is :

"Whereas the Rules of Regulations III of 1809, and II
of 1810, prescribing a particular course of inquiry on
charges, or information of corruption, embezzlement, or
other high misdemeanor, against the European public Offi-
cers, employed in the several Civil departments under the
Government, have been found to be inconvenient in practice,
and otherwise objectionable : the Governor in Council has
resolved to rescind those Regulations, and also Regulation
VI. of 1818, supplementary to the before-mentioned Regu-
lations, and to enact the following Rules, to be in force
from the date of their promulgation."


III. " Whenever it shall appear to the Governor in Coun-
cil to be necessary that an investigation should be made into
the conduct of any Officer of the Government, European
or Native, relative to any alleged or supposed corruption,
embezzlement, breach of trust, or any other gross malver-
sation, or high misdemeanor, or violation of public duty,
the Governor in Council will determine hij what persons,
and in what way, such investigation shall be made and
conducted, on consideration of the particular circumstances
of every such case."

33. About the end of February, or the beginning of
March, the Commission closed its labours, the difficulty
and responsibility of which, from the first, must have been
greatly lightened and lessened by the prejudgment arrived
at, and placed on record, by the Governor in Council, rela-
tive to " the causes of' the insurrection in Canara, etc." On
the 6th April 1837, the Criminal Judge reported in the very
words doubtless he had heard the principal Collector use,
that the latter, at Mangalore, had not " the slightest idea
of am/ spirit of disaffection existing in the District"
(Province.) On the 19th January 1838, the Governor in
Council at Madras, is pleased to observe : " It is a well-
known fact that, for many tnonlhs previous to the outbreak


above spoken of, the District of Canara was infested with
large armed bands of robbers, though not certainly in the
immediate vicinity of the scene of insurrection. From
those bands, it does not appear too much to suppose, that the
force which attacked the town of Mangalore was principally

34. Contemporaneous with the termination of the Com-
mission, appeared in the Gazette the removal of the prin-
cipal Collector and Magistrate of Canara, and his promotion
to the higher, more dignified, and more lucrative Office of
second Judge of the Court of Appeal and Circuit for the
Centre Division. So far back as the previous July or
August, before the orders from Bengal, directing a Commis-
sion to be assembled, were received, this Officer had ar-
ranged, with the customary tacit consent of the Government,
an exchange of Provinces with the principal Collector of
Salem ; thus adding the weight of his own irrefragable tes-
timony, to the conviction all men felt, and his best friends
warmly urged, of the propriety and necessity of his removal,
al that time, from Canara. On the present occasion, eight
months after, in conveying the promotion, for which he
had applied, and in communicating the public reasons on
which it was grounded, the Governor in Council is pleased
to advert to "the repeated insubordinate and unjustifiable
conduct," of the Collector, "and to declare that it will be
more advantageous to employ him in a situation, where his
want of discretion will be less detrimental to the public ser-
vice." Such is the approved official formula, by which, at
Madras, a displaced Collector-Magistrate, is raised, pro-
moted, and transmuted into a Circuit Judge.

35. There are, there must be, fresh among the Madras

1 2 3 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 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 5 of 19)