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deavors to upset the British rule In India; more
bewildering still to find members of this society
In America, and labor leaders In England, taking
sides in India with the blood-sucking Bunia and
the agitators who support him. Nothing but
dense ignorance can explain It, unless It be that
morbid craving for notoriety which leads the critic
to rush into any convenient dusty room, waving
a cloth about his head, careless of what becomes
of the dust, so long as he occupies the centre of
the room. Many rooms are dusty in all our civ-
ilizations, and the only way to clean them is with
a damp cloth, and quietly, and a little at a time.
But the demagogue, and the agitator, scoff at
such methods ; first because such methods call for


work, and care, and study ; and secondly because
such work must be done quietly. What does
Cleon care for such a job as that! Let there be
strikes in England, famine and bloodshed in
India, panics and excitement, and distress, in
America, so long as Cleon occupies the centre
of the stage for a brief moment, enjoying that
delicious notoriety to which all else is sub-

We have ridden fifteen or twenty miles. It is
getting hot and dusty, when we see the glimmer
of tents, the smoke of fires, groups of camels, and
attendants and servants, and we have reached
camp. My tent measures thirty feet by twenty;
it is carpeted with rugs, has a dressing-room with
tub, wash-stand, and other necessaries. There is
a writing-table and an easy chair. Your clothes
are laid out, the hot bath is ready; and shaved,
and bathed, and in light clothes, you are ready
for breakfast.

There is a mess-tent, the deputy-commissioner's
office-tent and living-tent, the assistant's tent,
and all is ready even to the pencils, pens, and
blotters arranged on the office table. After
breakfast the deputy-commissioner retires to his
office, and one after another, singly and in groups,
citizens and village officials appear with their
troubles, complaints, disputes, and business.


Hour after hour he listens, questions, decides,
and patches up differences.

Court is held out here as in Delhi. A pictu-
resque group, witnesses, prisoners, attorneys,
police are squatting, or standing, around the door
of the assistant's tent; and for two hours or more
he deals with a case of the theft of clothes from
one woman by another. The clothes of the
whole party would scarcely bring a dollar at
auction, I should guess; but here as in Bombay,
or in Calcutta, justice holds sway, and the low-
liest may claim and receive protection.

After five hours' work or more, we are off on
our ponies, led by some of the sportsmen of the
village, and one evening we returned with a bag
which included duck, hare, rabbits, a species of
Indian grouse, and a deer. We dress and dine,
and dine w^ell, and after a chat and a smoke, to
bed. The sounds are strange; the gurgling of
the loose-lipped camels, the cries of the jackals
and yelping of the pariah dogs, the raucous cry
of the peacocks, the chattering of monkeys and
perroquets; then for a time the noise and bustle
of loading protesting camels and getting under

There is a duplicate set of tents, and each
night at about eleven all but our sleeping-tents,
and the bare necessities of the morning toilet,


are loaded on the camels and set off for another
camp; those we leave behind in the morning go
on, not to the next camp, but to the camp after
that, so that each day, after our three or four
hours' ride, we find the camp set and ready for
us, and litigants, questioners, quarrellers, and
many who come merely to pay their respects,
warned beforehand of our coming, are there,
waiting the arrival of the "Protector of the Poor,"
as my host is often called, and as he is, for that
I can vouch from daily personal observation.

At one of these camps there appears Rai
Bahadur, a title conferred upon him by govern-
ment, Chandri Rughnath Singh. He is what
might be called a country gentleman in a small
way. He owns land, he is a magistrate of the
second class, and he is the head and representa-
tive of a certain group of villages and is called a
Zaildar. At the request of the deputy-commis-
sioner he shows me nearly a dozen medals and
one order given to his grandfather, his father,
and to himself for meritorious services as soldiers
in the native army. There is a mutiny medal
and two medals for services with Lord Roberts
among them. I was glad to meet him. He is
the other side of the shield, and poles apart from
the restless and discontented Bengali. He is a
stanch believer in British rule, has fought as a


soldier, and now works as a good citizen, bearing
his share of the common burden, modest, unas-
suming, and efficient. He accompanies us part
way on our next day's journey, and is evidently
as respected by the natives we meet as he is by
my host.

This title of Zaildar leads to an explanation.
The unit of the revenue administration in India
is the estate or Mahal which is usually identical
with the village or Mauza. Each district is di-
vided into several Tahsils and a Tahsil includes
from two to four hundred of these villages. Each
Tahsil has a separate land revenue assessment.
Each village is represented by one or more head-
men or Lavibardars. The villages again are
grouped together into Zails, by bonds of histori-
cal or tribal associations, or common interests,
and these Zails are represented by a Zaildar, ap-
pointed by the deputy-commissioner, from among
the headmen of the different villages. Each vil-
lage too has its Patwari or village accountant, we
should call him the town clerk, who keeps the
books for revenue purposes. He records mort-
gages, keeps the record of the land-owners, of
changes of ownership, of assessments and of
boundaries, and other matters pertaining to his
office. Thus there is a chain from each little vil-
lage and from each dweller therein, up to the


financial commissioner himself. It is an admi-
rable system, adopted from the Mughal emperors
by the British, Avith changes and improvements,
and kept going by these deputy-commissioners
and their assistants, and at the same time checked
by them by the method I am now seeing, of
travelling through the country and keeping in
touch with the people themselves. Whatever
else may happen, these few officials must keep
themselves fit for their arduous and never-ending
duties. Seldom do they ask for or receive an
Aegrotat; and as a body they seem to take it for
granted that they will receive little praise and
less recognition for their services; and yet no
body of men in the British Empire is doing so
much to keep their empire together and in peace.

Besides the revenue tax, each headman gets
five per cent for collecting from his village, and
also eight and one-fourth per cent is set aside for
various village needs. Not only do these land
revenue methods keep the people constantly in
touch with the officials, but in addition there
are the schools, the police, the medical depart-
ments, all again with representatives in every
village, so that the smallest and most far-away
community is cared for.

Although each of these small proprietors, there
are 3,000,000 of them here in the Punjab, owns


his land, lie owns it only as the tenant. The
landlord in the old days was the Mughal Em-
peror, and in these, is the British King-Emperor.
A share of the profits from the land belongs to
the ruler, by the traditions of centuries. The
total revenue of India is roughly $240,000,000.
Of this $91,000,000 are raised by taxation which
includes an excise tax on salt, spirituous liquors,
and drugs, and a customs duty averaging about
five per cent; about $46,000,000 from state
profits; and $100,000,000 from revenue from the
state's share in the land. The taxation is less
than forty-four cents per head of the population,
and even when the land revenue, which as we
have seen is really rent, is included, it is less
than seventy-eight cents. The system of self-
government in these villages and towns has
been pushed as far as can be with due regard
to efficiency. There are 750 municipalities in
India which administer the affairs of 17,000,000
people, and of the 10,000 official members 8,700
are natives, and they dispense an income of over
$30,000,000. There are 1,100 local boards,
charged with the care of village education, sanita-
tion, roads, and other civil works, which dispense
$20,000,000 a year; and of these an even larger
proportion of the members are natives. The de-
mands of the state for its share of the profits of


the land are revised at recurring periods of from
ten to thirty years. In Bengal alone the demand
of the state was fixed in perpetuity by Lord
Cornwallis in 1793. The state has lost millions
in consequence. British improvements have in-
creased both the value of the lands and of the
crops, but only the proprietors profit.

These are dry bones, these figures, but the
reader who has a dim notion that India to-day is
governed by a little knot of Englishmen must be
told to what a very large extent these English-
men have turned over the responsibilities of gov-
ernment to the Indians themselves, and at what
small cost per head of population this govern-
mental machinery is run.

During the hours when my host is at work in
his office tent, I prowl about in the neighboring
villages, talking to school-masters, town-clerks,
shopkeepers, and the laborers in the fields. In
one village the Patwari or town-clerk shows me
his books, his maps of the village lands, and we
walk over to a certain field, and he points out on
the linen map its boundaries, and then turns to his
books and shows me the names of the family who
own it, and their ancestors, and the liens upon
it. In some of these villages there are genea-
logical tables which trace back the descent of
each man for ten or even twenty generations.


It may be puzzling to read, but it is clear
enough when you stand in the field and see the
owner and his son, drawing water in the leathern
bucket with their bullocks, walking slowly up and
down the ramp; when you hear the Patwari tell
how the owner came to be the owner; what the
amount of the mortgage is, how much the govern-
ment has remitted on account of a bad year, how
much has been paid back, and how much is still
owing; how much that new well cost, and how
much the government advanced toward its build-
ing ; how much the crop from that field in which
you are standing generally fetches, and what pro-
portion is paid in taxes; whether that particular
peasant proprietor is industrious and economical
or not; how many children he has, and what it
costs him to live.

You find that he and his family live upon the
produce of his own land. The corn is ground
into flour in his own house by the womenfolk;
the pulse, spices, and occasional vegetables come
from his own fields ; even the tobacco he smokes,
and the hemp he uses for ropes, are grown by
himself. What little he sells is for money to pay
taxes, buy clothes, and perhaps to pay wages
when he needs additional labor. His cattle are
for milk or work in the fields, for he may not
use them for food, his caste forbidding this. In


the winter he and, so it appears to the visitor in
India, all the rest of the Indian population, are
chewing sugar-cane; in the summer the fruit of
the mango tree is equally popular. When you
attempt to draw him into conversation on the
subject of even the most elementary politics you
find him puzzled and uninterested. He is not
only not demanding *' elective institutions," but
he does not know what they are, and the read-
ing of a stray news sheet in the vernacular to
him, by one of his more learned neighbors,
leaves him dazed and bewildered. A voluble
place-hunter, orating to him of his rights and
privileges, leaves him impassive and undisturbed.
The policeman, the headman of his village, the
sight occasionally of a Zaildar, or a European
official, are all he knows of authority. He
sleeps peacefully in the traditions that have
filtered to him through centuries, and would
be happy indeed if he could control Pani and
escape Bunia.

You have your ear against the real heart of
India out there, and you hear it beating. This
is the heart of the hundreds of millions of India.
What you heard in Parliament ; what you heard
from the politicians in London ; what you heard
from law^yers and editors in Bombay and Calcutta,
and from teachers and preachers in iVligarh and


Benares, and from missionaries everywhere, is
diagnosis, is theory, is the dreaming of the scio-
list, or the bitter envy of the Brahman. It is
here, with Pani gurgling beneath your feet, witli
the tiles of the Bunias house overtopping the
mud huts of the village, in plain view, with the
Patwari's linen map spread out before you, that
you can put your fingers on India's wrist and
know something of the patient's condition.

The word "Delirium" comes from two Latin
words: "De," meaning "from," and "Lira,"
meaning "furrow." Etymologically, a man in
delirium is one who leaves the furrow, who
ploughs crookedly, who gets out of, and away
from his field. The city-bred man may well
ponder the ancestry of this word. The stirrers-
up of the man working placidly in the fields will
find more hysteria, more delirium in the towns
and cities than in the fields and their furrows.
Here in India, and I am not sure that it is not
as true elsewhere, the patient's pulse beats more
steadily, more quietly in the furrow, than when
leaving the plough and the fields he becomes
giddy in the streets and bazaars of the town.
At any rate it is true that even in our great new
cities of the West, there are few leaders, in what-
ever realm of activity, who are not themselves,
or whose immediate ancestors are not, country-


bred. Two or three generations are about all
that any family can survive of city life. Back
to the land is a modern cry, but it is as old as
language; it is the exact opposite in meaning to

The English official is not only doing his duty
in making these pilgrimages through the land,
but he is adapting, for purposes of his own, meth-
ods that are as old as India. The Durbar is,
with the exception of certain religious customs,
the oldest, most respected, and the most funda-
mental of all Oriental institutions. Briefly, the
Durbar means : the right of the subject to make,
and the necessity of the ruler to receive and to
hear, petitions in public. The Durbar halls that
one sees everywhere in India are the monuments
of the theory of justice which obtains everywhere
in the East, and which is so imbedded in the
Oriental mind that it is wellnigh impossible to
uproot it. All his rulers of whatever race, and
however despotic, from Kanishka to Akbar and
Aurangzeb, have held Durbars, often daily
Durbars, and no one of them would have dared
to neglect or do away with them.

The Oriental is a religious man. He believes
in the ways of God with men ; he believes it so gen-
uinely that he would make it part and parcel of
his life here. He therefore prefers a ruler who


is omniscient and omnipotent, who is both judge
and executioner. He demands the right to be
heard in public, to receive an answer on the spot,
and to have the decree of the judge executed at
once. If he is to lose his life, or his property, or
his office, or if he is to deprive another of life,
property, or office, that seems to him the simplest
and fairest way to do it. Although the emper-
ors of India were in a sense despots, as are, and
have been, all Eastern rulers, in that they had
the power of life and death, they never have
been despots in the sense that their subjects had
not access to them, and demanded it and re-
ceived it as a right.

The Oriental mind has no conception of equal-
ity between men. Even in matters of justice,
he dislikes rules of procedure, laws of evidence.
He prefers that the matter should be settled face
to face between himself and the ruler. As he
sacrifices to his gods, and does penance and gives
gifts that he may be well treated by them, so like-
wise he sees not justice but only injustice in being
deprived of the opportunity to give gifts, to use
cunning, to bring social or political pressure to
bear upon the man who is to judge him. He does
not scout at equality, he does not even know what
it means. He sees on every hand that men differ
in ability, in wealth, and in influence; and he


wishes to use such superiority as he has, and be-
lieves in the same privilege for other men, even
in the courts, and before his judge, and with
his ruler. He cannot understand that superior
standing in the community is of any value, unless
it can be used even in the courts for his own ad-
vantage. This is a religion in the East; we con-
sider such an attitude criminal in the West. But
how many rich murderers are hanged ; how many
rich thieves are imprisoned ; how many powerful
political bribers are punished, in America ? I
am not sure that any of us really care for justice.
I notice that even religion tempers justice with
divine grace, and that the best human nature
everywhere tempers justice with love.

The Western man believes in himself, not in
God. He hedges every authority with rules and
laws and regulations. Each man, whether judge,
or executive, or representative, is made responsi-
ble to some one else. There is always an appeal
to somebody else. The responsibility goes in a
circle, from the citizen to the magistrate, from
the magistrate to the court, from that court to the
next, thence to Congress itself, and thus back to
the citizen again. Men trust God, when they
believe in Him, but they do not trust men when
they do not believe in Him. The Oriental detests
these roundabout processes. He demands a de-


cree on the spot, from a ruler whom he is willing
to consider infallible. This is the puzzle to the
Western man in all Eastern countries. But that
underlying difference exists in India, China, Per-
sia, Turkey, Egypt, even in Japan, despite their
flimsy imitation of representative government,
today, as it has always existed.

One of the difficulties of governing in India to-
day is this unending circle of responsibility. An
unending correspondence, academic discussions
wuth annotations, beginning in the village of fifty
huts and ending in Parliament; with the result
that officials who ought to be spending most of
their time travelling through the country, as we
are doing, are bending over desks loaded with
files of documents and letters.

Be it said that all officials from the Viceroy
down, do make these pilgrimages through the
country from time to time, but there would be
much less trouble if they did so far more fre-
quently. Be it said too that I am not advocating
any " off-w^ith-his-head " form of government
here or anywhere else; but this Durbar system,
modified and controlled has its merits ; and to one
who has seen it in actual operation, it is evident
how suitable it is to the situation and how wel-
come it is to the people. In several of the native
regiments the English officers hold Durbars.


The accused is heard in public, judged in public,
and sentenced there and then in the presence of
his fellows. There is no secrecy, no incompre-
hensible rules of procedure ; and I was told over
and over again, by their officers, that the men
seldom objected when punishment was meted
out to them thus in the open.

This camping through the country is a sort of
peripatetic Durbar, a carrying on of the oldest
traditions of the East, and that it is well liked and
looked upon as a boon, as an institution under-
stood by the humblest of the people, is evident by
the welcome accorded the official everywhere.
These are the men ; these men and the army offi-
cers, brought into daily contact with the native
troops, so it seems to me, who are solving the
problems and lightening the burdens of this huge
mass of people in India. It is easy to become
viewy wdien one gets away from daily contact
with the problems of government. Not only in
the East, but in the West as well, one wonders
sometimes whether w^e are not devoting so much
time to the teaching and discussion of how to gov-
ern that we forget to govern; and after all the
only way to govern, is to govern. In the ^Yest,
representative government has resulted in such a
chaos of law-making that whole communities,
and vast aggregations of capital and labor, are


now engaged in trying to disentangle themselves,
so that they may be free to go about their busi-
ness. Here in India, where only some 500,000
out of the 300,000,000 can write and speak
English, it is necessary that the governing power
should be simple, open to all, and definite.

As I stand in this field in the Punjab, and think
of the seething mass of corruption, political and
moral, in France; of England, with one in every
forty of her population dependent upon the state ;
of New York, the greatest city in the greatest re-
public in the world, ruled and robbed by the most
corrupt society of plunderers ever kept together
for an hundred years, a society which, if it were
an individual, could only be rivalled by the worst
of the popes, or the most decadent of the Nawabs
of Oudh, I realize that the problem of govern-
ment is not solved by any easy expansion of the

According to the new council provisions, by
which the councils of the Viceroy, and of the gov-
ernors and lieutenant-governors, have been en-
larged by the addition of more Indian members,
the financial statement is subject to the moving
of a resolution by any member. According to this
new rule, these members will have even greater
liberty than is accorded to a member of the Brit-
ish Imperial Parliament itself. A member of

BUNIA — PANl 317

Parliament may not propose an increase of ex-
penditure, but only the reduction of a grant. An
Indian member of these new councils may pro-
pose an increase of expenditure, provided the
source from which it can be met is indicated.

I was present at the opening of the first re-
formed council of the Lieutenant-Governor of the
Punjab at Lahore, as the guest of His Honour,
and I saw the members sworn in. With the taste
for oratory, and for metaphysical discussion, of
the educated native, and there was evidence of
these qualities even on this occasion, these English
officials will have even less time than now for
travelling through the country. These officials
are overworked now, and from that plucky and
daring sportsman, Lord Minto, down, I saw man
after man who was overstrained by the responsi-
bilities put upon him. The sad feature of it is
that it is red tape that does it. Problems that an
official ought to solve on the spot, in Durbar
fashion, go roaming their way through reams of
correspondence, checked by this one and that
one, until the simple problem, probably arising
from Pani or Biinia, becomes an octopus, with
a bewildered official at the end of each tentacle.

I beg that my American readers will notice
this contrast between the poor peasant of the
Punjab and the emphatic display made by the


enlarging of the provincial councils. Perhaps
500,000 Indians are affected by the latter, while
there are 299,500,000 of the former. The 299,-
500,000 are dumb and inaudible; but they are
the people whom England has torn from the grip
of tyranny, and to whom she owes the stern safe-
guarding of their interests. She has no right to
forget them, to lessen her care of them, by having
too few oflficials to look after them, while engaged
in academic discussions of the rights of a few to

We have exactly the same problem confront-
ing us in the Philippines and in Cuba. From
priest and tyrant we extricated the natives, and
our first duty is to them. Why do these rheto-
ricians in India, in the Philippines, and in Cuba
demand the right to govern now, when we as
the responsible police must in the end bear the
burden of blunders or of dangers.^ Why did
they not save their country when she was in
chains ? Wliat proofs have we that they are
capable now ? None !

Indeed we are finding, even amongst the en-
lightened citizens of America, that representa-

Online LibraryPrice CollierThe West in the East from an American point of view → online text (page 17 of 29)