Mountstuart Elphinstone.

Selections from the minutes and other official writings of the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, governor of Bombay. With an introductory memoir online

. (page 41 of 41)
Online LibraryMountstuart ElphinstoneSelections from the minutes and other official writings of the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, governor of Bombay. With an introductory memoir → online text (page 41 of 41)
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infantry, besides the contingent of the Jadejas. It is
calculated that these chiefs could furnish 20,000 men ;
but, admitting this to be the case, they can only be
reckoned as a force of which the Rao can have the
services whenever he is willing to pay for them. The
num1)or of this body that is really efficient probably
does not exceed 4,000 or 5,000.

The internal government of the Rao's immediate
demesne appears to be good. It is a great defect in


the system that the revenue is farmed, and the greater
because the principal farmers are nearly related to
members of the Regency ; but the original tenures of
the land are favourable to the cultivator. The superin-
tendence of the Resident prevents their being en-
croached on. The certainty of retaining the lease for
five years is an inducement to the farmer to improve
his country, while the neighbourhood of so many
chiefs, in whose lands an oppressed Rayat would find a
refuge, is a check on his exactions. The competition
of Rayats likewise secures those on the lands of the
Jadejas from oppression, though they do not possess
the favourable tenure which is general in the Rao's
countiy. The tenure is called Buta. It gives a per-
petual right of occupancj' to the Rayat on his paying
a fixed proportion of his produce, which varies in
different places from one-half to one-eighth, but is
generally one-third. That the ground is the Rao's
appears never to be questioned ; but the Rayats sell
their right in it without any opposition — generally at a
very short purchase (about five years).

The neighbourhood of Sindh (on importation from
which it at all times depends for a large portion of its
subsistence) prevented Cutcli from feeling the famine of
1813, so much as Kathiawar. It has never been so
much harassed by plunderers ; and although the earth-
quake of 1819 was a severe calamity, it was not one
of that sort which seriously aff'ects the population or
cultivation ; so that Cutch is, on the whole, probably
in as flourishing a condition as it ever has been.

The police is good, notwithstanding the number of
independent divisions ; indeed, the example of this
country and Kathiawar makes one question whether,
when the chiefs are really well disposed, the number
of persons possessing influence does not make up in


police for the want of extensive jurisdiction. The
only disturbers of the public peace appear to be the
outlaws, who find a refuge in the dependencies of
Sindli, or in the desert. Justice is administered by the
Patels and by Panchayats, and the people do not com-
plain of the want of it.

The last revolution was effected at the request of
the Jadejas, and the last treaty affords them a guarantee
of their possessions. It might, therefore, be expected
that they would be content, and accordingly I have not
been able to learn that any dissatisfaction exists among
them. Three persons of that class came to me with
complaints, but all related to oppressions committed by
Bharmalji, or Fateh Mohammed, and not redressed by
the present Piegency. I had long separate interviews
with more than twenty of the principal persons in
Cutch, and although it was scarcely to be expected
that they would be ver}^ unreserved on such an oc-
casion, yet it is satisfactory to know that I gave them
many openings in the course of conversation to dis-
cover their real sentiments, and likewise put direct
questions to them regarding the conduct of the Regency
without hearing of anything offensive or inconsistent
with former practice. One chief complained that the
decisions of the Regency were not always just, but he
confined himself to general censure ; and I found that
he had lately lost a cause by the Regency's confirming
the award of a Panchayat, against which he had ap-

The Jadeja chiefs have been the great losers by the
earthquake, which demolished their forts ; but they are
still in a prosperous condition. Few of them are
much in debt ; they have few disputes among them-
selves, and no private wars. Some of them are re-
duced to poverty by the numerous sub-divisions of


their estates, every younger brother beiug entitled to a
share equal to one-third, and often to one-half, of that
of the elder ; but, on the whole, the number of estates
that have descended to single heirs induces a suspicion
that in Cutcli infanticide is nut confined to females.

The Jadeja chiefs of Cutch are generally accused of
treachery. Poisoning is said to be a prevalent crime
among them ; but in what I have heard of their
history, I have found no instance of it, and I perceive
more of the unsteadiness that results from indifference
than of deliberate treachery in their public conduct.
This want of attachment to any sovereign is produced
by their own independence of the liao's authority, and
by the want of energy in the chief, and consequent
distraction in the administration, which his Govern-
ment, in common with most of those under Rajputs,
has almost alwaj^s displayed. The appearance and
behaviour of the chiefs, though not much polished, is
decent, manly, and prepossessing.

The character of the common people appears to be
peaceable and inoffensive. The inhabitants of Vagad
arc said to retain their propensity to plunder, the
Mohammedan herdsmen in the Banni (a tract of grass-
lands extending along the edge of the northern Ran)
are reckoned tierce and unsettled ; and the Mianas
(another Mohammedan tribe in the east of the Rao's
territories) are notorious for their desperate character,
ahvays ready for hire to undertake any enterprise, how-
ever dangerous, or however flagitious. These tribes
are under hereditary heads of their own.

The external relations of Cutch scarcely deserve to
be mentioned. It has escaped the ravages and exactions
of the Mahrattas, and it has twice repelled invasions
from Sindli. Its offensive operations since the days of
Rao Desal have been confined to three invasions of the


north of Kathiawar by Fateli Mohammed, aud one
incm'sion to Varahi, in the neighbourhood of Eadhanpur.
The use of a connection with Cutch to us is to curb
the phmderers of Vagad, to check the Khosas, to keep
Sindh at a distance, and to afford an opening into that
country in the unwelcome event of our being engaged
in a war with the Amirs. The most desirable situation
of Cutch for us is that it should be under a strong and
independent government. The first of these conditions
was found to be unattainable, and the want of strength
has led to the loss of independence. We are now too
deeply engaged in the affairs of Cutch ever to retreat,
and the option reserved to us of withdrawing from the
subsidiary alliance is rendered nugatory by our guarantee
of the rights of the Eao and of the Jadejas. Of all our
alliances this is probably the most intimate and the
most difficult to dissolve, since to free us from its
obligations requires the consent, not of one prince, but
of 200 nobles.

It is, therefore, of the most importance to consider
the manner in which our influence is to be exerted.
During the Rao's minority we must continue to super-
intend and control every branch of the Government ; but
our Eesident's interference should be confined, as at
present, to superintendence. While Eatansi is properly
supported he will always have a X)reponderance in the
Eegency, and will guide it in the direction which is
given to it by our Government.

Unless the Eesident be supine, Lakhmidas will be an
adequate counterpoise to Eatansi's influence ; the very
knowledge that there exists such a rival ready to com-
municate any misconduct of his to the Eesident will be
sufficient to make Eatansi cautious and moderate ; and,
as it is the policy of the Lakhmidas, and must be the
ambition of every Jadeja in the Eegency, to maintain


the principles most populiir amonp^ their countrymen,
the Resident, if he shows himsc^lf disposed to listen to
their communications, can never be ignorant of any
action adverse to the ancient practice or the public
feeling. The chief business of the Resident must be to
watch over the conduct of his colleagues in those points
where they are likely to be united by a common interest.
In the internal management of the Rao's country he
ought not to exercise so minute a control as to destroj'
the spirit or lessen the responsibility of the other
members. When any great change of system is pro-
posed, it is, of course, his duty to examine it carefully ;
but except on such occasions, it is enough if he readity
listens to complaints, and calls for explanations when they
seem to be well founded. In all measures affecting the
Jadejas he ought to take a more active part. Experience
has shown that they are ready to submit to a Govern-
ment of ministers supported by a power unconnected
with their own, and it is probable that as long as their
personal honour and interest are attended to, they will
be, if not friendly, at least indifferent to our proceedings ;
but it is necessary that they should be treated with
attention and civility, and that care should be taken not
to encroach on their privileges. The vigilance of the
Resident should guard against the negligence, partiality,
or corruption which may be evinced by the Regency in
deciding on the quarrels of the chiefs. His authority
should repress all attempts on their part to renew the
practice of plunder or of private war ; and his moderation
should guard against the temptation of adding to the
Rao's possessions by forfeitures, even in cases where the
resistance of a chief should have required the emploj^-
ment of a militar}^ force. Without this precaution, a
slight offence will lead to a fine ; delay in payment, to
the employment of a detachment ; and that to the dis-


possession of the inclividual and the discontent and
alarm of all the other Jadejas. A fine has been the
usual punishment, and ought still to be sufficient ; and
if it should be absolutely necessary to dispossess a chief,
the disinterestedness of the Government should be shown
by restoring his lands to his next heir. The three
most probable points of difference with the Jadejas are :
settling their disputes among themselves ; enforcing
the prohibition of female infanticide ; and compelling
them to act against plunderers within their own districts.
In the first, all danger may be averted by the prompt
and impartial administration of justice ; in the second,
by caution and delicacy in the means of detecting guilt,
and moderation in punishing it. The third is an object
of great importance. It is more likely to be attained
by vigilance than by severity, by explaining what is
expected, censuring neglect, and compelling restitution,
with the addition of a fine as the punishment of par-
ticipation. Great care should be taken to avoid any
appearance of arrogance in our treatment of the Jadeja
chiefs ; but I do not think there is any necessity for
referring political questions to the decision of their
body to the extent which a superficial view of the
correspondence of the Residency would lead us to think
usual. It is natural to suppose that the former Raos
would consult the principal Jadejas l^efore they entered
on any measure that required the cordial co-operation
of the Bhayad, and, in the absence of an efficient
sovereign, it is still more necessary that the Regency
should learn the sentiments of that body ; but it docs
not appear to be usual, or to be expected, or to be
practicable, that all should be assembled to give their
votes even on the most important questions. The
Resident should continue to consult the greatest chiefs
separately or together as the skhin best suited to the


occasion, and may extend or confine the number ac-
cording to the importance of the question ; l)ut I sliould
think fifty or sixty the greatest number that need ever
be consulted. These are all the general observations
that suggest themselves, but there are various subjects
of temporary importance which require our immediate

The first is the situation of the late Rao.

The odium of that Prince's measures has been lost in
the sight of his misfortunes, and all fear of his power
among the Jadejas has been removed by the British
guarantee. The consequence is that he is now an
object of general compassion, and, under the erroneous
impression that our power would ajfford a sufficient
security against a renewal of his misconduct, the
greater part of his late subjects would probably be glad
to see him restored to the Masnad. An opinion prevails
of the indefeasible rights of a prince to the nominal
exercise at least of a sovereignty which he has once
possessed; and this is shown by the language of the
people of Cutch, who, when off their guard, generally
call Bharmalji the Eao, and Rao Desal only the
Kunvar or Prince. I consulted several of the principal
persons in Cutch about the succession to the Masnad in
the event of the death of Rao Desal, and all who
delivered their sentiments with frankness declared at
once for Bharmalji, although all agreed that he ought
to be kept in prison, and the Government administered
by a Regency.

The wives of Bharmalji, especially the mother of the
present Rao, are all naturallj^ anxious to promote his
interests, and with them go the wishes and intrigues of
all the inhabitants of the palace. Rao Bharmalji must
have some adherents, especially among the soldiery who
were disbanded at his fall; any unpopularity of the


present Government would throw the Jadejas into
seal ; the dwelling which he inhabits being built m.
for commodiousness than security, might easily all
of his escape ; and the Mianas and Jats would sc
supply him with a desperate band who might prot
him until further support could be obtained. For th
reasons it seems highly desirable to remove Bharm;
from Cutcli, or at least from Bhuj ; but this is unf
tunately prevented by a stipulation in the treaty. 1
dangers I have alluded to can therefore only be count
acted by greater attention to the security of his perf
and by destroying the impression that he is ever
recover his power. To show the resolution of •
British Government I declined seeing him (although
the least offensive terms), and I rejected all the appli
tions that were made to me to allow him to return
the palace. My correspondence with the Resident v
show my sentiments regarding his restoration to
family, in which I think humanity requires every
dulgence that can safely be conceded ; but I shoi
think it a most desiralde arrangement if he could
removed to some place of strength more completely <
off from the town.

The next step that occurs for destroying the chai
of his recovering his influence is to call on the Jade
to declare an heir to the present Rao, but this on (
amination appears both unnecessary and impolitic.
Bharmalji has already been pronounced by the treaty
have forfeited the Government as fully as can be dc
in any public instrument, nothing could be gained b;;
new declaration to that effect ; and as it has never be
disputed that the next heir is the chief of Khaki
descended from the Eaja Godji, the only effect of
call for a declaration would be to invito a fruith
and probably an angry discussion. It is also not i]


robable that Kao Bharmalji may yet have children
•horn it would be both unpopular and unjust to set
side ; the insanity or incapacity of their father being
ertainly no bar to their claim, and there being no dis-
nction between the title which would be possessed by
uch children, and that which has actually been admitted
1 the person of Kao Desal. It seems therefore most
xpedient to treat the question of the succession as
Iready settled, and to admit no further mention of
iharmalji's restoration.

The Regency ought no doubt to be filled up, and as
he object is to gain the confidence of the Jadejas as
veil as to have a natural mode of ascertaining their
eelings, I should think it desirable that the choice
hould fall on two Jadejas. I have requested the
.Resident to take the opinions of as many chiefs as he
ionveniently can on this subject, and to be guided by
he prevailing sentiment among them. The new
Regents should understand that after the expiration of
he present lease no member of the Regency will be
bllowed to be a farmer of the revenue.

The exposed and unconnected situation of Anjar sug-
gested a question whether it might not be politic to
•estore it to the Rao's Government, taking a money
payment instead ; and if this payment could be well
5ecure(>, I do not see a single advantage in keeping the
listrict. As long as our influence at Bhuj continues,
t is of no use whatever ; and if that influence were to
ixpire, it would require a strong force to defend it :
5ven then, the jealousy it would occasion between us
md the Rao would probably soon involve us, as it did
)efore, in hostilities with that Prince. The only ques-
ions therefore are, whether we can obtain adequate
security for the revenue we give up, and whether it
vould be satisfactory to the Rayats if Anjar be restored



to the Eao. The failure of the Cutch GovernmeDt in
paying the subsidy makes the answer to the first of
these questions very doubtful. I have referred both to
the Resident for his report.

It would be popular to restore the fort of Bhujia to
the Eao, and it would be popularity easily purchased,
for the fort is, I believe, incapable of being defended,
especially in its present state ; but as it commands our
cantonments, it would be necessary to move the brigade
to some other ground. If a good position could be
found near Bhuj (for it ought not, I think, to be at
any distance from the Eao's person), it would be de-
sirable to remove the brigade thither, and to construct a
redoubt within which a residence might be erected for
the late Eao, and where the stores, etc., might be de-
posited if the force were obliged to move. The expense
of such a work would, however, be considerable, and it
will be necessary to call for an estimate before it can
be determined on. At any rate the cantonment can be
moved, and some sort of field-work thrown up for the
stores. The present force in Cutch appears to me no
more than sufficient. It would be insufficient if we
had any reason to distrust the goodwill of the in-
habitants. The detachments at Patau and Eajkot
could, however, reinforce it within a fortnight.

The wish of the people of Bhuj is strongly in favour
of repairing their walls, which I think ought to be done
as soon as the finances of the state will admit of it.
The same observations apply to Lakhpat Bandar, but I
do not think it necessary to incur the expense of re-
pairing Anjar, which we could never spare an adequate
force to defend.



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Online LibraryMountstuart ElphinstoneSelections from the minutes and other official writings of the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, governor of Bombay. With an introductory memoir → online text (page 41 of 41)