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have better sewers, but I doubt if we have
more moral courage, for it takes some moral
courage to stand up to the empire which governs
one in every five of the human race, and more
than one in every five square miles of the habita-
ble globe, and to stand alone. But the British
like this man far better, I make no doubt, than
those, whether from India or from any other
country, who bend to them, agree with them,
flatter them, and who mutilate their pride to
become eunuchs of patriotism, whose capital is
Paris, and whose creed is cosmopolitanism.

As we were rowed back the length of the lake,
the sun was going down, leaving a great curtain
of dark purple as a background for the palace.
This building stands on the crest of a ridge run-
ning parallel to the lake, and a hundred feet above
it, its granite and marble are all of one whiteness,
and with this royal background it looked like a
palace of alabaster with carved turrets of old
ivory. There is only one other picture, in India,
the Taj, which bears comparison with this lake
and its surroundings.


The city, of some fifty thousand inhabitants, is
entirely surrounded by a bastioned wall, and the
palaces old and new within make a town of them-
selves. On the great terrace running the length
of the old palace, where the Maharana still keeps
his own apartments, there is room to parade the
whole army, cavalry, elephants, and all. From his
windows this mediaeval prince can look out into
this colossal court-yard, where he insists upon
the old ways, and so we saw the afternoon we
were there, as you may see any other afternoon,
bullocks, pigeons, chickens, elephants, camels,
geese, all sunning themselves in lazy contentment.
As we drove out of the palace, a magnate of this
small kingdom rode in, mounted on a fine horse,
the saddle and stirrup-straps of red velvet, and
the bridle and reins of some red stuff as well. He
himself was in brilliant-colored garments, a sword
by his side, pistols in his belt, and there followed
and surrounded him a retinue of fifty or more,
mounted or on foot, with runners on ahead to
clear the way for them through the crowded

These were delicious days we spent roaming
over the palaces and gardens, in and out of the
temples, and through the sunny streets of Udai-
pur. The only sad spot in the picture was our
reception by the son and heir in his apartments.


He is a cripple, shrunken and thin, but with pleas-
ant manners, a pathetic smile, and a little Eng-
lish at his command. He was surrounded by
the officers of his household, who looked stalwart
indeed beside him, and it was evidently a real
pleasure to him, as it was probably a rare one, to
receive strangers.

I remember particularly the garden palace
so-called, which forms a part of the old palace,
and is a hanging garden, filled with flowers and
ferns, and palms and fountains, and with exqui-
sitely carved pillars, and marble walls and floors
all perched on a part of the flat roof; the wonder-
ful carving of the marble around doors and win-
dows; the garden of the court ladies, surrounded
by a high wall, with a great marble swimming-
bath in the centre and filled with flowers and
shrubs; the Hindu temple of Jagannath with an
elephant on each side of the long flight of marble
steps leading up to it, and every inch of it carved ;
the great gateways of the city, the Elephant gate,
the Delhi gate, the ]Moon gate; the cenotaphs
of the royal family for generations back, en-
closed by a high wall and with many fine trees,
and on more than one of these tombs mention
of the number of the wives who burned them-
selves when their masters died; the groups on
foot or on horseback, of the be whiskered gen-


try, for even in a land where the beard is
everywhere a mark of manly dignity, the Raj-
put is conspicuous for his care of his beard, and
by tying a scarf around his head and neck he
curls out the ends of his whiskers, till sometimes
they are twisted over behind his ears, lending him
a dashing appearance, which his soldierly bear-
ing emphasizes ; the startling appearance of gen-
tlemen in the process of dying their beards black
with henna, for during the interim their beards
are a bright orange color, which gives a particu-
larly fierce frame for the dark faces and eyes;
and then the return to our own little palace with
its superb view of lakes and hills, and our cosey
dinners by candle-light, with the steward watch-
ing with jealous eye every movement of the bare-
footed and turbaned servants who attended us;
and well I remember one morning the shrieks
and cries in our court-yard when the steward,
well over the age when most men enjoy a bout at
fisticuffs, was seen giving a sound beating to a
rapscallion who had maltreated the buffalo that
brought us the skins full of water for our baths.
Where could a man go for a holiday where he
would escape more completely from modernity,
and be able to look out of a casement set in the
Middle Ages and see his own environment in per-
spective; where better than to Ildaipur as the


guest of the Maharana ? The setting is there in
these bewilderingly beautiful surroundings, and
surely the prince is there as a seal to stamp it as
genuine. He is a direct descendant of the Raj-
puts of Chitor. They were conquered by the
Mughals as were the other Rajput clans, but they
fled and found shelter among the mountains and
deserts of the Indus, and, unlike the others, re-
fused to mingle their high-caste Hindu blood even
with that of a Muhammadan emperor. They
still boast that they alone among the great Raj-
put clans have never given a daughter in mar-
riage to a Mughal emperor. Their motto is a
fine one: "^Mio steadfast keeps the faith, him
the Creator keeps." Certainly the present ruler
is putting it to the test. Long life and success
to him, say I!

The Maharana's hospitality guarded us even
when we had left his capital. Four hours by
train brought us to Chitorgah. There at the sta-
tion an elephant and a tonga, a kind of two-
wheeled cart drawn by ponies, awaited us and we
were taken to see the citadel city where this fam-
ily have ruled and fought ever since the begin-
ning of the eighth century. On a rocky hill over
five hundred feet high is the great fort over three
miles in length. In the old tumultuous days the
capital city of Mewar was Chitor, situated in this


fort. On one occasion, after a siege in which
eleven royal princes were killed, all the women
entered an underground cave, and were there
burned to death, and as the smoke and flames
arose the men rushed out to throw themselves
upon the swords of their Muhammadan enemies.

The whole of the enclosure at the top is covered
with the ruins of palaces and temples. The two
towers of Fame and Victory, the one eighty feet
high, the other in nine stories and one hundred
and thirty feet high, are still well preserved. This
so-called fortress could stow away the hill of the
Acropolis in one corner and the Roman Forum
in another, and impresses you with the magnifi-
cent scale upon which these people carried out
their building operations. How this place was
ever captured, with its sides of sheer rock reach-
ing up five hundred feet from the plain below,
and crowned by walls so thick that one may
drive along the tops of them, and this before the
days of cannon, is a mystery, a mystery even to
one who has seen Quebec and knows its story.

When we arrived at the station at Chitorgah,
the carriage was detached from the train and left
on a siding. When we returned to it from the
excursion to the fort, we found a kitchen estab-
lished outside the carriage door, with pots and
pans and dishes and charcoal fires, and a dinner


of several courses was there and then prepared
and handed in to us. I was asked to sign a
"chit" or voucher for it, for the Maharana's
treasurer, but that I refused to do. It was Raj-
put gallantry indeed to extend hospitality to
guests so long as they remained in Rajput terri-
tory, but we drank His Highnesses health instead
in our own brew, and at eleven o'clock the car-
riage was attached to another train and we Avere
off; with an abiding assurance that our Indian
hosts, so far, had nothing to learn in the West of
fine manners and generous hospitality.



IT would be easy to spend a year in India, and
never hear the words Bunia or Pani. As a
guest of affable officials, of native princes;
as a visitor to Delhi, Agra, Benares, Amritsar,
the ruins of Akbar's great city of Fatehpur-Sikri,
to Bombay, Lucknow, and Calcutta, one may
hear nothing of Bunia and Pani. At manoeuvres
with the army, at the great meeting of the con-
tingents of Imperial Service troops, when we
were all the guests of Her Highness the Begum
of Bhopal; shooting or pig-sticking with Indian
or British potentates, you hear nothing of Bunia
or Pani. You might come away from India
thinking that the Viceroy and his brilliant con-
sort drove about in splendid equipages with out-
riders, postilions, and a mounted body-guard;
that the governors of Bombay, and Madras did
the same on a smaller scale; that the military
and civilian officials were interested mainly in
sport, and in making themselves comfortable.
As a matter of fact, each and every one of


these people, from His Excellency the Viceroy
down to the last recruit to the civil service, is
thinking of Bunia and Pani. And well they
may, for Bunia and Pani are the two great
problems in India.

You must tear away the magnificence and the
rags; the Imperial etiquette and the splendor of
the native princes; you must stop your ears to
political and parliamentary discussion ; you must
forget the polite European essayist who writes
of his holiday in India, and likewise the bitter
fulminations of the yeastily educated native jour-
nalist; and you must study Bunia and Pani,
otherwise you leave India as ignorant as when
you first looked at a map of that vast continent.

Pani means water. Bunia is the name for the
local shopkeeper, grain merchant, and money-

Great Britain has invested capital in India for
its commercial and industrial development, in-
cluding the employment of its people, to the
amount of $1,750,000,000. One-tenth of the en-
tire trade of the British Empire passes through
the seaports of India, and this sea-borne trade is
more than one-third of the trade of the empire
outside of the United Kingdom. India is the
largest producer of food and raw material in
the Empire, and the principal granary of Great


Britain. The imports into the United Kingdom
of wheat, meal, and flour from India exceed those
of Canada and are double those of Australia.

It is said that the hoarded wealth of India,
buried in the ground, stored in the treasure-
houses of the native princes, and in the jew-
elry and precious stones of the Indian men
and women, small and great, amounts to

Aside from the strategical importance, what
would the British Empire be without India, and
what would India be if it were not that the Vice-
roy and the 10,000 Europeans and the 1,500,000
Indian government employees under him keep
Bunia and Pani forever in mind!

These 300,000,000 in India are agriculturists.
Water for their fields means food and comfort;
the lack of it means, fever, plague, and famine.
And when fever, and plague, and famine come
in India, they do not take a few score, or a few
hundreds, or even thousands; they kill millions.
In 1877 the famines in southern India alone
swept away over five millions of people; and a
few years ago, in the Punjab, over two millions.

When we hear of a drought, we think of it in a
hazy way, as an inconvenience connected with
the laundry, the bath-room, or the garden; or at
the worst a mill here or there must stop work for


a week or two. But what if it meant death by
starvation of numbers equal to the whole popu-
lation of Greater New York, or of the population
of the whole Western division of States, or of all
New England, in a few months! That is what
it means in India. How little we know of the
institutions, the codes, the religions, the obser-
vances, the problems, the troubles of other peo-
ples and of other lands; and worse, how little we
care even when we are undertaking to teach and
to govern them!

"When Mazarvan the Magician

Journeyed Westward through Cathay,
Nothing heard he but the praises
Of Badoura on his way.

"But the lessening rumor ended
When he came to Khaledan,
There the folk were talking only
Of Prince Camaralzaman.

"So it happens with the poets;
Every province hath its own,
Camaralzaman is famous,
Where Badoura is unknown."

The experience of Mazarvan the Magician
is the experience of every other intelligent trav-
eller. It was with eagerness therefore that I ac-
cepted the opportunity to see Pani and Bunia at
close quarters where "the folk were talking only"
of them.


The deputy-commissioner of a certain district
in the Punjab was my host. He was about to
make a tour of inspection. The Punjab has an
area of 134,000 square miles and a population of
25,000,000. Seven-eighths of this total popula-
tion live in 33,000 villages with an average popu-
lation of about 500. Half of the population are
Muhammadans; 6,000,000 are Hindus; 5,000,-
000 of them are Jats, and these Jats are half
of them Muhammadan, a fourth Hindu, and a
million Sikh Jats, and they own half the land in
the Punjab. Jat is the name given to the de-
scendants of the Scythians who settled in India,
and whose first great king was Kanishka.

The Punjab is divided into twenty-nine dis-
tricts each in charge of a deputy commissioner or
collector; and these again are grouped into five
divisions each under a commissioner. Each of
these districts has its district board presided over
by the deputy-commissioner, who is also a mag-
istrate and collector of the district. There are
some 1,500 members of these boards, of whom
600 are elected. They are responsible for local
matters, roads, schools, bridges, hospitals, dis-
pensaries. In the large towns there are munic-
ipal committees, and of the 1,500 members
nearly 1,200 are non-officials, and they control
and spend over $2,000,000 per annum, I cite


these facts not to bewilder the reader with details,
but to show how the British Government strives
to encourage the people in managing their own
affairs. In the larger towns the members of
these committees show some interest; but the
members of the provincial committees take little
interest, there is next to no discussion, and the
European official chairman does the bulk of the

The commissioner is under the control of the
financial commissioner, who, under the lieuten-
ant-governor of the Punjab, is the head of the
revenue administration. The lieutenant-gov-
ernor is the right hand of the Viceroy in the Pun-
jab. Each district with its deputy-commissioner
is divided into minor divisions called Tahsils, and
a Tahsil as a rule contains two to four hundred
villages, and a village may contain fifty huts,
built of mud, and thatched with grass, and gene-
rally containing one room, with sometimes a
space enclosed with mud walls, where household
duties are performed, where odds and ends are
stored, and where the bullock or bullocks are
tethered at night.

It is a long way from the Viceregal Lodge, and
the Viceroy, at Calcutta, to this hut and its occu-
pants in the Punjab, but they are closely con-
nected, as we shall see, and it is one of the glories


of the British administration in India that this
connection exists and is maintained. If the family
in that hut in the Punjab is stricken with fever, or
if the plague stalks in among them, the headman
of the village goes to the dispensary, the official
there reports to Delhi, Delhi reports to Lahore,
and the lieutenant-governor there, to Calcutta.
Almost before the relatives of that family know
what has happened, they know in Calcutta; and
the machinery, with its net-work of living wires
which spreads over India like a vast cobweb, is
put in motion to relieve that family in the hut in
a village that few white people ever see.

The deputy-commissioner, his young assistant,
and I rode out of Delhi early one morning on our
way to the first camp. We were not many miles
from Delhi when three men met us on the road.
Each held in his hand a rupee, which he offered
to the deputy-commissioner with a profound
salaam; this was touched and remitted, this be-
ing the old sign of allegiance. Thus the feuda-
tories of the great Mughals showed their allegi-
ance to the Emperor ; thus the great native chiefs
to-day offer a gold piece to the Viceroy, or to the
governor of the province to which they belong;
thus the headmen of these villages through which
we passed made known their loyalty to the great
British Raj, represented here and now by the


deputy-commissioner. Then begins a rapid, and
sometimes excited, conversation as the represent-
atives of the village walk beside us. The official
replies fluently in the native's own tongue, and
the expression on the faces shows their confid-
ence in his self-control, patience, and experience.
They know little, and care less, about legisla-
tion, but this method of dealing with their affairs
they both understand and enjoy.

It is of the affairs and condition of their village
that they talk. One complains that the cattle
from a neighboring village stray into the fields
and destroy the crops; another that three hun-
dred of his village have died of the plague, and
there are not enough laborers left to cultivate
the soil and pay the taxes ; another asks that the
irrigation canal be brought nearer to his village ;
another retails how the hail has spoilt the crops ;
another that the white ants have destroyed the
wheat ; another that members of the Arya-Somaj
are preaching sedition among the villagers ; one,
and what a relief his tale must have been to my
long-suffering host, says that the taxes of his
village are all paid, and that they are quite
happy, as long as they have peace and safety
"under the shadow of the Protector of the Poor."

The deputy-commissioner is as patient and
polite to them as he is to me, when after leaving


one after another of these groups, I begin a rapid
fire of questions. Every now and again he de-
cides to see for himself the situation in this or that
village, and we set off at a brisk canter, leaving
the main road to make for the village in question.
They are all much the same, though differing in
population. Fifty or more mud huts, with the
refuse stored in the compound of each, which is
intended for manure, or fuel ; and the interior of
the hut cleaner than I expected, for the walls and
floors are covered with a mixture of mud and cow
dung, which seems to be a cleanly, as it is a favorite
form of whitewashing, since I saw it also used in
the cavalry lines in many parts of India. Near
the village is the so-called pond, a shallow place
filled with stagnant water in which pigs, ducks,
geese, cattle, and mosquitoes share and share
alike. There are the village wells, some for high-
caste, some for low-caste people; the village
temple with its sacred tree, the peepul tree, is
there; the council tree also, under which the
leaders of public opinion smoke their pipes of
an evening; there are the shops in the principal
street with the proprietor squatting beside his
open bags of salt, sweetmeats, grains and spices,
these latter covered with flies and hornets and
wasps; another sells brass and iron and bell-
metal cooking utensils and water-jars; there are


the potters, and I see for the first time, and
understand, the Bible's potter's thumb and pot-
ter's wheel.

"For I remember stopping by the way
To watch the potter thumping his wet clay;

And with its all-obhterated tongue
It murmured — Gently, Brother, gently pray!"

I see the wheelwright building those awkward-
looking carts which I have admired and won-
dered at as they bumped their way unbroken
over awful roads. They are made of wood, bam-
boo, and string. They can give at every joint.
That is the secret of their resistance. I see the
shed where the children are taught ; and in a few
of the villages they are crushing the sugar-cane,
boiling sugar, and doing well with the sale of it,
coarse as it is. It is needless to say that the
streets are not paved, and you walk ankle-deep
in mud or dust; and goats, water-buffaloes, and
sacred bulls have the same privileges, the sa-
cred bulls rather more, than you. None of the
dogs seems to have owners, each is out for him-
self and the devil take the hindermost; and at
night they and the jackals sing rival choruses.
The men and children follow you about sol-
emnly curious; the women, with bare legs and
arms and shoulders, cover their faces as you pass,
not as we think from modestv whoUv, but be-


cause it is considered an impertinence to look at
us boldly. One or two of the houses are more
pretentious; they have two stories, a tiled roof,
and a court-yard, and the proprietor owns bul-
locks and even a pony. This is the home of the
Bunia. He buys, and sells, and lends money.
He is the Hindu Shylock.

A Hindu will spend a year's income on a mar-
riage feast for his daughter. It is one of the
Hindu social laws obeyed among them, as are
similar laws among us, with toil, sacrifice, and ex-
travagance; and with far more attention to de-
tail than the moral law or the behests of religion.
It is then that the native mortgages his fields, his
crops, his everything, to provide a feast suitable
to what he considers his station. He buys whis-
tles just as we do, that we do not want, that do not
whistle, or that give forth false and discordant
notes ; because his little social world has made it
the fashion. He could live very well, just as we
could, if we only bought what we liked, and what
we needed, but Heera Lall goes bankrupt, just
as Mr. Climber and Mr. Splurge do, buying what
they do not want in the w^ay of whistles, to play
tunes that nobody cares particularly to hear.

Then the Bunia lends at twenty and fifty per
cent and even more. The crops do not even
pay the interest, let alone the taxes; and Heera


Lall Is soon in the hands of the Jews, and labors
from sunrise till sunset on the land which is no
longer his. In years of poor crops, or when the
peasant is sick or otherwise incapacitated, again
the Bunia appears, not only as a lender, but
tempting him to buy on credit.

A parental government has stepped in to pro-
tect the small land-owners; there are 3,000,000
of them here in the Punjab alone. The new Land
Alienation Act provides that no mortgage can be
given for more than fifteen years, and the money-
lender is not allowed to purchase except by per-
mission. Sales are only allowed between agri-
culturists, or where by the sale of part the whole
is redeemed. Taxes are often remitted in years
of bad crops, in whole or in part; and the gov-
ernment lends money, at a low rate of interest,
to poor communities to buy seed or cattle. This
law for the protection of these helpless agricult-
urists, and there are 250,000,000 of them here in
India, was bitterly opposed by native babus,
lawyers, money-lenders, and the leaders in the
movement for representative government. Peace
and quiet and prosperity have made land valua-
ble in India; hence the intriguing to get pos-
session of it. We know something of the land
shark in America; one needs little imagination to
picture what would happen if he had his way in


India. In a few years the land would be In the
hands of a few, and the rest would be serfs. The
government that brought Pani to India's fields,
and a strong hand to control India's Bunias,
brought salvation.

No man has the smallest right to pronounce
an opinion upon British rule in India, until he
has seen the water trickling painfully through its
fields, and the Bunia straining at the tether that
keeps him in check. Here is the real problem,
other matters are froth compared to it.

It is bew^ildering to find that there is a society
in America which, with words and money, en-

Online LibraryPrice CollierThe West in the East from an American point of view → online text (page 16 of 29)