Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 62, 1830. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Die Martis, 23 Martii 1830.
The Lord President in the Chair.
James Cosmo Melvill Esquire is called in, and further examined as follows:
Will you turn to No. 40 of the printed Paper laid before Parliament relating to the Finances of India? You will find there a Statement of Commerce of British India with Great Britain and other Countries. Will you state what was the Amount of Import into Bengal from Great Britain in the Year 1826-27, stating it in Pounds Sterling?
Turn to the next Page, the same Item, and state what are the Exports from Bengal on account of The East India Company to Great Britain?
What do you understand by the Term Commerce, when the Imports are more than Forty Times as great as the Exports?
I understand the Excess of Exports from Bengal to arise from the Necessity under which The East India Company are placed, of bringing Home from India Produce the Proceeds of which are required to repay the Advances made in this Country on account of the Territorial Charges.
Then in fact it is not Commerce, but it is Proceeds of Goods purchased in India?
It is a Trade of Remittance.
In fact what is generally understood by the Term Commerce does not exist, or exists to a very small degree, between The East India Company and their Possessions in India?
If by Commerce your Lordships mean Transactions beginning with the Export of Goods from this Country to be returned in Produce.
Your Accounts are divided into Territorial and Commercial Accounts. A great Profit appears to exist on this Trade Account; is that credited on the Territorial or the Commercial Account?
The Cost of the Surplus of the Company's Exports from India beyond their Imports into India is credited to the Territorial by the Commercial Branch as so much repaid of the Advances made out of the Commercial Funds in England on the Territorial Account.
When you use the Expression, Surplus of the Exports from India, you mean that Sum applied in India in any One Year to the Purpose of Investments for Europe, beyond the Sum that would have been produced by the Proceeds of the Commercial Exports to India in that Year?
In your Statement of the Annual Deficiency of the Territorial Revenue this Sum of Fourteen or Fifteen hundred thousand Pounds is brought to the Credit of the Territory before that Deficiency is made out?
The Transactions between the Territorial and Commercial Branches do not enter into the Statement of the Revenues and Charges of India. I will explain the Principle upon which the Statement which shews the Deficiency is made up. We credit every thing that can be considered as Territorial Revenue, and we debit every thing that can be considered as Charge, including all Charges which have been incurred and paid in England, as well as those incurred and paid in India; and the Balance of the Account so made out shews either the Surplus or the Deficiency.
Will you turn to Page 16 of these Accounts, and state what is understood by the Term, Revenues realized; does that mean Net or Gross Revenue?
The Term implies Gross Revenue realized in Cash.
Has it been ascertained, since you were here last, what the Deficiency in the Revenue of Bombay arises from?
No further Information has been received than I stated to the Committee on Tuesday last.
The Witness is directed to withdraw.
Sir Edward Hyde East Bart. M. P. attending, is called in, and further examined as follows:
Have you had an Opportunity, since you were here last, of referring to a Paper to which you alluded, respecting the Amounts of Salaries and Emoluments received by Officers of His Majesty's Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William and other Settlements?
I have One of the Papers ordered to be printed by the House of Commons on the 5th of February in the present Year, which contains the exact Account of all the Returns made by the Officers of the Court: it is the most authentic Document of the actual Receipts of Salaries and Fees.
Have you had Occasion to refer to the Paper you formerly delivered in, respecting the British Population within the Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court at Calcutta, and the other Matters connected with the Judicial System, and with respect to Laws and Usages?
I have. I have brought into the Text many of the Marginal Notes I had made from Time to Time, as my Experience grew on those Subjects; and I have also made a few small explanatory Additions. I cannot present the Third Set of Papers, relating to the proposed Reforms of the Mofussil Laws, Courts and Practice, as containing a perfect System, but only as pointing out the several Respects in which I think the present System is capable of Amendment.
With reference to the Paper of Fees to which you have adverted, printed by the House of Commons; when the principal Settlement took place in 1803, were they increased or diminished as compared with Fees formerly received?
I believe that in every Instance where any Alteration has taken place at all, within my Knowledge, they have been diminished. I cannot answer for every Particular, for the Mass of them were framed long before I went to India; but in every Instance that I am aware of, where any Alteration was made in the Fees, I believe they have been diminished: I am sure the Alteration was never undertaken with a view to increasing them.
Are you aware that many Fees were received for which there was no Authority at all?
So I see stated in that Return. I was not aware of the Fact before I read it in that Return.
You cannot state what Steps were taken upon those Fees so received without Authority?
I cannot. I should observe that there are several of the Offices in the Supreme Court at Calcutta that in point of Emolument are very much better than the Situation of the Judges themselves; but that has arisen in a very great degree from the Increase of Business from Time to Time. When the Business originally was much more contracted, perhaps the Fees altogether did not amount to more than under Circumstances might have been thought proper; but as the Business increased, with the Amount of the Fees originally settled, those Offices became certainly very much overpaid. I should imagine, that with respect to several of the Offices mentioned in the Paper referred to, as the Fees amount to so much as they do, there would be no Reason at all for retaining the Salaries in addition to the Fees.
Is stealing from the Person a Capital Offence in India?
Stealing from the Person and a Variety of other Offences have been lately reduced into One Act, the Act of the 9th of George 4th, by which the Criminal Statute Law of India has been mainly assimilated to the present State of the Criminal Law in England; and therefore a great many of the Anomalies and Inconsistencies that before existed in the King's Courts in India have been done away, and the greater Part of the Criminal Law of India now, at least in the Supreme Courts, is the same as in this Country; and where there is still any Difference in the Mode of dealing with the same Offence, it is in mitigation of the Punishment rather than in aggravation of it.
Has a similar Alteration taken place in respect of the Act for maiming and wounding?
Yes; the Act called Lord Ellenborough's Act has now been extended to India. I have mentioned, in one of the Papers now delivered in by me, an Instance which occurred before myself, of having Two Offenders tried in the same Sessions, one who came under the Black Act, and the other under Lord Ellenborough's Act, before the Provisions of that Act were extended to India, when I was obliged to pass a much milder Sentence on the most atrocious Offender of the Two, at the same Time that I was under the Necessity of passing Sentence of Death on the other, whose Offence, though coming within the Black Act, was of a much less atrocious Character, in point of Moral Guilt, than that of the former.
Is it usual now to substitute Labour for Transportation?
It is not yet so. That is one of the Recommendations which I have made in the Papers I have presented. And especially in the Interior of the Country. The transporting a Man who is to go a Thousand Miles over Land before he is transported across the Seas is quite incongruous, and must add greatly to the Expence. There is another Recommendation I should advise in the Treatment of Offenders adjudged to Imprisonment that exists in the Mofussil Courts. It is a Practice with them, where Offenders, except of a very atrocious kind, are adjudged to be imprisoned, to direct that they shall be worked out of Doors in the Day-time; and I think that is a very important and necessary Alteration to be made in the Law there, as administered by the Supreme Courts; for in that Climate, and with Natives of the Description who are usually subjected to Imprisonment in our Gaols for Larcenies and such like Offences, the mere Confinement within a Gaol is really of little Effect to the Individual; very often it is a Physical Advantage to him, though a Moral Disadvantage, for he often gets better fed and better housed than in his own House. In point of Health, also, it is very desirable, that in all Cases where Imprisonment is awarded as a Punishment for Offences, the Court or the Government should have an Opportunity of directing the Offenders to be employed in Works out of doors. They can rarely be employed in Works within the Gaols; and being kept there without any Employment at all engenders bad Habits. It would be a great Improvement if such an Alteration were to take place.
Do you not think it would be attended with Advantage, if in the Hindoo Courts of Law in which the Persian Language is now used the English Language was substituted?
That is my Opinion. I believe it would be both reasonable in furtherance of Justice, and politic also in the Government. I have stated my Reasons more at large in the Papers I have presented.
Are not the Fees received by the Officers of the different Courts under the Controul of the Judges of those Courts?
Certainly they are, in respect of all Proceedings in Causes in Court; but I am not sure whether there are not some Fees regulated by Act of Parliament in particular Cases. If I recollect rightly, (but it is now several Years since these Subjects have been passing from my Recollection,) the Act which imposed the Duty of taking out Administration to deceased Persons who had no legal Representatives on the Spot, on the Registrar of the Supreme Court, mentioned what Fees he was to receive for such Service. But however this may be in particular Cases, I may say generally, that all the Fees of the Officers of the Court are under the Controul of the Court.
Are the Judges in the habit of looking periodically to the Fees taken, that there may be no Abuse?
The Fees ordered to be taken are settled in the Table of Fees, and I believe are regularly taken accordingly; and occasionally, from Time to Time, as the Business has increased, or the Attention of the Court has been particularly called to the Subject, they have been looked at; but I cannot say that they have been looked at very frequently.
The Question referred to those not provided for in the Table?
I never heard, before I saw the Return lately printed by Order of the House of Commons, that certain Officers had taken Fees without having express Authority to do so. No Fees, of course, could be legally taken without the Authority of the Court.
The Witness is directed so withdraw.
Richard Jenkins Esquire is called in, and examined as follows:
What Situations did you hold in India?
I held the Situation of Political Resident at the Court of Nagpoor for the greater Period of my Residence in India.
What was the general Nature and Character of the Nagpoor Government?
It is rather difficult to describe its general Nature and Character in a few Words, otherwise than by saying it was originally a Military Government, but that its Principles were in some measure modified by the Circumstance of the Rajah having himself risen from the cultivating Class. He was also checked in his Court by the Opinions and Influence of his Chiefs; and generally his Government was as mild as could be expected under those Circumstances; but the chief Object of Government was to collect Revenue, and there was very little Attention paid to the Judicature or the Police of the Country, which were left very much in the Hands of the Subjects themselves.
Under what System was the Land Revenue collected?
The System was a System of Village Settlement principally. The immediate Demand of Government was on Villages. The Potail was the Middle Man. He was both Agent of Government in collecting the Rents, and the chief Farmer of the Village, to whom the Ryots looked up for any pecuniary Assistance on all Occasions on which they required it.
Was the Potail simply responsible for the Payment of the Revenue?
He was the responsible Person for the Payment of the Revenue.
He had Power committed to him, of obtaining Payment from the Ryots?
He had; but the Government so far interfered as to insist on his Engagements with the Ryots being recorded in a Rent Roll, which specified the Name of each Ryot, the Field he occupied, and the Circumstances which changed every Year, in order to be on the one Hand a Check upon the Potail that he did not oppress the People, and that they might on the other Hand see what he collected, he himself receiving a nominal Sixth, I think, of the Rents which were collected from the Village altogether; that was his Remuneration.
Was the Payment by each Ryot changed from Year to Year?
Yes, if the Ryot was content, under all Circumstances; but it must be said that the Demand on the Potail was regulated by the Government, without immediate Reference perhaps to the State of his Collections. They demanded certain Sums according to the Necessity of Government, and the Potail was bound to provide for realizing that Sum, in Proportions of course from each Ryot according to what they had paid in the previous Year.
If there was a Difference between the Potail and the Ryot as to what they should pay, how was that settled?
By the Pergunnah Collector, the Pergunnah consisting of a certain Number of Villages; perhaps 75.000 or 80.000 Rupees on an Average.
Had they ever recourse to a Punchayet under those Circumstances?
Under those Circumstances, I think they have not.
What was the general State of Landed Property?
In the Nagpoor Territory, the greater Part of it, there were in fact no Rights to the Soil either in the Potails or in the Ryots; the Potails were generally Ijarahdar Potails; they held their Office at the Will of the Government.
Were they Military Officers as well as Collectors of the Revenue?
What appeared to be the general Effect of the System on the Prosperity of the Country?
As long as the Wants of the Government were not pressing, the Effect seems to have been very good. The Country was originally conquered by the Mahrattas from a very poor Race, and they, by means of Cowls and other Encouragements, brought it into Cultivation, and it advanced to a certain degree of Prosperity, which is spoken of very advantageously in general.
What is a Cowl?
It is a Promise not to collect above so much in a certain Number of Years from the Land, and the Persons then engage to employ their Capital and bring it into Cultivation.
A Cowl is an Agreement with the Potail for a Term of Years?
It is a kind of Protection on the Part of the Government from any extra Demands upon him for a certain Number of Years.
What was the usual Number of Years for which that Arrangement was made?
I think Five Years was about the usual Period, or from Five to Seven.
Was that considered sufficient?
That was generally considered sufficient for bringing a Village into that State under which the Government Agent would pronounce a fair Rent ought to be paid for the Lands according to the general Rates of the Country.
What was the System of Civil and Criminal Justice?
The System of Civil and Criminal Justice scarcely can be said to be any System at all. Justice was administered in petty Criminal Cases by the Potails, or the Heads of the Pergunnahs; or, if they amounted to any serious Offence, they were generally brought before the Rajah himself; or, where there was a Subahdar under the Rajah, who had charge of the Province, he decided those superior Causes. It was the same in Civil Cases. The Potail would decide the smaller ones, either personally or by Punchayet, and the Collector of the Pergunnah in the same Way. The higher ones went to the Rajah or the Subahdar.
Did they on all Occasions convene a Punchayet?
Generally on almost all Occasions.
Were they bound to abide by the Decision of the Punchayet?
There was an Agreement taken from the Parties which bound them to abide by the Decision of the Punchayet; and the general Feeling of the Country was very strongly in favour of the Punchayet. They considered its Award almost as a Decision from Heaven, according to the Proverb they applied to it.
How were the Members selected?
Usually each of the Parties selected Two, and the Fifth was nominated by the local Authority, President or Punj, as he was called in some Parts of the Country.
By what Laws were the Proceedings regulated; had they any established Law?
There were no established Laws; it was generally a Thing left entirely to their Discretion, according to the local Circumstances of the Country, which every Person of the Village was supposed to understand more or less. If it was a Case of Inheritance or a Partition of Property, it was decided according to the Hindoo Law. They called in the Assistance of a Shaster to expound it; but usually it was a very summary kind of Proceeding, with no fixed Law.
Did the Customs vary very much from Village to Village?
It is difficult to say that they did vary; the Decisions would probably vary considerably.
Are there any Courts of Appeal?
There was always a Petition open to the Rajah or the different local Authorities, as a Matter of Course; but it depended very much upon the Circumstances of the Parties whether the Person to whom the Petition was made would pay any Attention to it.
From what Class of Persons was the Subahdar taken?
The Subahdar was usually a Military Officer; he combined both Military and Civil Powers in his District.
Were there any Persons of large Hereditary Property in the Country?
There were none at all. Every Situation under Government was to a certain degree hereditary. Though the Emolument might pass to another, the Name always remained, and perhaps Part of the fixed Salaries would remain to the old Incumbent.
Was that Habit preserved in the Case of a Subahdar?
I think not in the Case of a Subahdar. I speak merely of the Ministers of the Rajah.
From what Class were they selected?
They were generally Brahmins.
What was the System of Police?
The Potail and the Village Officers were the general moving Power in the Country, and the Village Community were all more or less bound to assist; but there was one Officer in particular, called a Cutwal, in each Village, One or Two, according to the Size of the Village, whose peculiar Duty it was to keep the Peace.
Were they hereditary?
Those were generally hereditary.
Were they paid in Money or by Land?
Partly one and partly the other; the Custom differed in different Parts of the Country.
Under this Administration, was there any Security of Person or of Property?
Latterly there was very little Security of Person or of Property. The Country was overrun by Pindarrees; and the Rajah himself, being reduced to Distress by keeping up larger Bodies of Troops than his Finances could sustain, turned Plunderer himself, and employed Robbers to take away the Property of every Person who had any; and this was not only all over the Country where it might be unobserved, but in the City of Nagpoor itself.
Before that State of Things commenced, had there been Security of Person and Property under the Rajah?
There certainly was, to a considerable degree.
After the Year 1818 the Government was administered to a certain degree by British Functionaries, was it not?
Can you state the Extent of the Country subjected to British Functionaries?
The Country was very large in proportion to its Produce and Population; it was never regularly measured, but it was estimated at about Seventy thousand Square Miles. The Population was about Two and a Half Millions, excluding some of the more wild Districts, of which we could not ascertain the Population.
Was that the whole Population of the Nagpoor Territory?
It was, as far as we could ascertain the whole Population of the Nagpoor Territory, with those Exceptions. The Revenue was about Forty-six or Forty-seven Lacs of Rupees.
What Changes were introduced into the Administration of the Country?
We left every thing almost as we found it, as far as the Forms and the Names of the Officers went; but European Officers were placed in Situations where Subahdars had been before, to exercise a general Superintendence over the Country. They managed the Revenue through Native Collectors of the Subdivisions.
What Number of British Officers were so employed?
I think it was divided into Five Superintendentships.
Did those British Officers administer Justice as well as take care of the Revenue?
Were Appeals made to them?
Appeals were made to them from the Decisions of the Native Collectors of the smaller Divisions, in all Cases above a certain Amount.
Was the Police under their Direction too?
Yes, it was. The Administration of the Country, in Revenue, Police and Judicature, was under their Charge.
Was any Alteration made in the Mode of settling the Revenue?
There was no Alteration in the Mode; they still made their Settlements through the Potails. The Village Rent Rolls, which had been very much corrupted, they endeavoured to reduce to their original Purpose; viz. to express faithfully the Engagements between the Potails and the Ryots, and to make them Records by which both Sides should be bound, instead of obliging the Potail to grant Leases, which was not the Custom of the Country.
Did the Revenue vary from Year to Year under this Management?
Under this Management it varied in some degree from Year to Year, according to the Seasons, rather.
The Assessment was considered the same?
It was generally the same.
Was it a low Assessment?
I think upon the whole it was low.
Much lower than that which had in former Times been exacted?
Yes, judging of the Effect of the Administration; the Country increased under it in Population and in Revenue.
Was there considerable Improvement in the State of the Country?
It was very sensible.
Did the People appear to be very well satisfied?
They were in general very well satisfied. Some of the higher Classes probably, whose oppressive Exactions were put a stop to, and whose Importance was in consequence under a Cloud, were not so well satisfied as the general Mass of the Inhabitants were.
What was the Opinion you were led to form regarding the Probity and Efficiency of the Native Officers?
With regard to their Efficiency, we always found Officers sufficiently qualified to perform the Duties assigned to them. We took the Officers, generally speaking, as we found them. We were careful not to exact too much from them in the way of Probity, hoping that in the course of Time, seeing we were resolute that they should be as pure as we could make them, they would improve; but we feared that if at first we evinced a Disposition to exact more than we were authorized to do, all Improvement would be completely checked; and at last, I believe, there was very little Peculation or Misbehaviour generally among them.
Had you Occasion to dismiss or punish any of them?
In the first instance a few were dismissed; but, as I observed before, the Orders to the Superintendents were not to be over severe with them in that respect, but to endeavour to reform rather than to punish.
Did you make any Arrangements for the purpose of preparing the Country for a purely Native Administration?
All our Arrangements were completed with that View. We wished rather to bring the Country back to what it had been in its best Times, than to introduce any European Principles into the general Administration. With the Exception of that, we adhered to the System we found in force, which System seemed of itself to be sufficiently well calculated for all the Purposes of good Government.
The only practical Alteration you introduced was that of establishing British Officers at the Head of the Districts?
In the Judicial Department we insisted on having regular Records of Decisions, both in Criminal and Civil Cases, to a certain Extent. Of the smaller Causes only, which were decided by the Potails and Punchayets, we had no Record; but when the Government Officers, the Native Collectors, were employed in the Administration of Justice, they were obliged to record their Decisions, and the Grounds of them. The Superintendents also, who decided the Civil Causes, regularly recorded their Decisions, and the whole Evidence.
A Part of the Territory was lately restored to the Native Prince, was it not?
The central Part, the Part in which there was the smallest Number of wild Zemindars, whom he could not be expected to manage well, was restored to the Rajah.
What Circumstances induced you to restore it to the Rajah, after having had it under your Administration?
The Rajah's coming of Age.
What System of Administration is now adopted, or was recommended to be adopted, in that Part of the Territory now restored to the Rajah?
The same System is still continued, except that where there was an English Superintendent before there is now a Native Superintendent.
Sufficient Time has not elapsed to form a Judgment how far that has succeeded?
What are the Peculiarities of that Part which still remains under the British Government?
A very large Proportion of the Country is in the Possession of wild Zemindars, who pay nothing but a Quit Rent to Government. They are in great measure independent in the Exercise of their Authority over the Country.
The System of Administration in that Part of the Country was probably always different from that in the Country nearer Nagpoor?
The System of Administration is the same, as far as that which pays Revenue immediately to Government is concerned; but the Irregularities were greater the further it was from the Seat of Government.
If the whole Land Territory taken from Nagpoor under your Management had been placed under a Management similar to that which has been established in other Parts, do you think the Country would have been in a greater State of Improvement?
I cannot think it would have improved much more than it did under the Government which existed. It is open to compare the State of the Country so managed with that of other Parts ceded at the same Time to the British Government.
Can you state the Total Expence of the Management as established by you - that of the British Officers employed?
I cannot, from Memory. I think the Total Expences of the Civil Management of the Territory were from Seven to Eight Lacs of Rupees.
There was a large Expenditure of a Military Description, was there not?
There was a Military Force, which would have been requisite under any Circumstances, and which was much smaller than had been kept up before.
Can you at all state the Expence which would have been incurred in managing that Country as our own Territories are managed?
I am not able to state that.
The Management established in Nagpoor was much cheaper than that in other Countries?
I imagine it was. The Country was very poor. The regular Establishments, as they existed in the Company's Country, would have been more burthensome than the Finances of the Country would have afforded.
Were all the Officers employed in Nagpoor under you Military Officers, or were they Civilians?
They were Military Officers.
What Allowances did they receive, in addition to their Military Pay and Allowances?
1.750 Rupees a Month, in remuneration of Superintendence, originally; it has been since reduced, I believe, to 1.500, including Military Allowances and all.
How many Assistants had you at Nagpoor?
I had Three Assistants at Nagpoor, independent of those who managed Districts.
How many Officers were employed in each District?
Originally only One; afterwards there was an Assistant in the District of Chetteesgur only, which was very extensive.
Were the Officers employed in the District perfectly competent to perform the Functions that devolved upon them?
As far as my Judgment went, they appeared to me perfectly competent to perform the Functions that devolved upon them.
There was a Native Force at Nagpoor nominally in the Service of the Rajah, was not there?
How was that officered?
It was officered by British Officers.
How many Officers were there to each Battalion?
I think Four or Five in One Brigade, and only Two or Three in the rest.
Was that Force in a State of Discipline to be compared with the Discipline of the Sepoy Regiments in our own Service?
I believe the Brigade specified was considered so, generally.
The Number of Officers employed in each Battalion was greater than had been at a distant Time employed in our own Regiments, was it not?
In early Times, the Number was not so great.
What was the highest Situation held by the Natives in those Regiments?
The same as in the Company's Service; the Rank of Subahdar.
All the higher Offices were held by British Officers?
Yes, in the Infantry; in the Cavalry there was one at the Head of it who had been an Officer of high Rank under the Mahratta Government, who kept his Situation with a British Commandant, although the effective Command rested with the British Commandant. Each Rosalla of Horse, or each Regiment, as it might be called, had a British Officer at the Head of it, and a Native Officer who got as much as 600 Rupees a Month.
There were no Native Officers of the same Rank in the Infantry?
Not of so high a Rank. The Infantry in fact were raised in the same Way as the Company's were raised; the Horse were formed from the old Establishment of the Nagpoor Government.
Did any of those wild Zemindars you have spoken of serve in the Army?
How had the Native Army been officered before we had the Management of it?
It was generally a Foreign Army. Their Grades of Rank were much the same as we kept up in the Horse. We did not make many Alterations in the Treatment and Command of the Horse, except by having European Officers over them.
Do you mean that it was officered by Foreigners?
The whole Force were Foreigners, as far as related to the Nagpoor Country, both in Officers and Men. Some were Hindoostanees; some Mahrattas.
But not Natives of Nagpoor?
Very few indeed were Natives of Nagpoor, either of the Infantry or Cavalry, except the irregular Infantry, the Sibundee or Militia Force, as it may be called, of the Country. Most of the Nagpoor Horse were Foreign, both Officers and Men.
From what Part of the Country were they drawn?
Both from Hindoostan and the Deccan. Even the Mahrattas were principally from the Poonah Side of the Country.
Had any Lands been held on the Tenure of Military Service?
For a short Time the Government divided a considerable Portion of this Territory among the Military Commanders, in order to remove from itself the Burthen of Payment, allowing them to collect themselves in the same Way and with the same Authority as the Subahdars exercised in those Parts of the Country managed by them.
Had the Natives of Nagpoor any Means of acquiring Education?
Education was carried to a very small Extent indeed.
Had they any Law Officers?
There were in fact no Law Officers, except probably a few Men of Learning in Nagpoor and elsewhere who were employed as Occasion required when called upon to give their Opinion on Points of Hindoo Law, but those were very few.
You have said that no Rights to the Soil existed on the Part of the Ryots?
As far as we could ascertain, there were none. Our Wish was to fix every Right that had been invaded in the Time of the former Government. We wished to restore Things to their original Footing; but we found that no such Rights were claimed by the Inhabitants.
You did not conceive that to be a Consequence of Conquest?
They appeared never to have existed in that Part of the Country.
Were the Village Officers hereditary?
The Principle of Hereditary Succession appeared to be very generally entertained. And even with regard to Landed Property it was not customary to remove a Potail or a Ryot from the Lands he occupied, as long as he paid the Assessment, whatever it might be, that was demanded of him.
Did the Police Officers occupy any Lands in right of their Offices?
Yes, very small; but they were usually Cultivators on the Part of Government, as well as of those Lands assigned them in Payment for their Services.
You mentioned that you wished to bring back the Administration of the Country to its best Times; to what Time do you refer?
The Times referred to are those of the second Rajah after the Mahratta Conquest of the Country. The Rajah's Name was Jenajee. He lived in about 1760. The Country was then said to be in a better State than it ever was before or afterwards.
There is not much Mohamedan Population?
The Mohamedan Population was very small indeed. The Population I do not at this Moment remember; but it was, I remember, very small.
Was the Tenure of the Ryot under any Lease or Instrument?
A Rent Roll. In each Village there was a Paper which was a Record of the Lands of the Village, including the Name of each Field, (every Field had a Name,) the Name of the Occupant, and the Rent he was to pay. This was altered according to the Circumstances of the Case, each Year, as the Amount of the Rent on any Field might alter. There was a new one made out every Year. The Occupancy might alter, and another Ryot might have the Occupation of that Field. This Change took place constantly in the Nagpoor Country. If the Ryot did not pay the Rent demanded, the Potail had Power to remove him; in the same Way a Ryot, if he did not chuse to pay, would go to another Village.
How long were you in Nagpoor?
Nearly Twenty Years.
You were there before the Difficulties which occurred latterly?
I had scarcely arrived at Nagpoor, in the Beginning of 1807, before I saw the whole Country in a Blaze, and almost every Village burning, within a few Miles of the City of Nagpoor, and this going on from Year to Year.
Were you the first Resident at Nagpoor?
I succeeded Mr. Elphinstone there.
Then you were not acquainted with the Country in what you would call good Times?
What were the different Gradations of Judicial Authorities through which Justice was administered?
The Potail was the lowest; above that the Native Collector of the Pergunnah; and above that, if it was a District at a Distance from the Capital, the Subahdar of the District; or, if nearer the Capital, the Rajah.
The Decision of the Rajah, you say, applied to Matters of importance?
Was that both in Criminal and Civil Cases?
Generally in both. He decided in Person, or ordered a Punchayet, as he thought proper. I do not mean to say that the Rajah sat in a regular Court; it was transacted as any other Business would be before him, with the Assistance of his Ministers for the Time being. It was seldom, however, that Civil Causes came before him at all, for the Expences of any Litigation before the Officers of Government were so great that the People usually preferred to settle their Disputes among themselves.
They were chiefly settled by the Potail and the Punchayet?
Chiefly. If the Sum was a Sum of consequence, the Rajah rather wished it to be tried before him, that he might fleece both Parties; for a Portion, a Fourth I think, went to him as a Fine on the Loser, and another Fourth was taken from the Person who gained the Cause, as a Douceur for the Trouble of deciding it.
In what degree did the Authority of the Potail and the Punchayet apply to Offences committed against the Public Peace?
Those Cases were left very much to Discretion; the Potail might almost do what he liked; of course he was so far checked by the Public Opinion of the Villagers, that probably he was thence less likely to do an oppressive Act than an Officer of Government, and they would sooner suffer a little than appeal.
Did they ever resort to the Punchayet in Criminal Cases?
Never in Criminal Cases.
You stated that the People appeared to be generally very well satisfied with the Administration of Justice?
That alludes to the latter Period, when we had the Administration of the Country. I alluded, indeed, to an early Period, in which the People say that they were satisfied with the Government of the Country generally; that the Government took no more from the Country than was consistent with leaving the Inhabitants in good Circumstances.
From your own Observation, when you went there had you Reason to believe that the People were satisfied with the Native Government?
Far from it; for they had little Protection from Foreign Invasion; the Pindarrees were constantly ravaging the Country; and the Rajah's Troops, if they were sent to suppress them, plundered them; and the Zemindars plundered the Ryots in the Districts immediately near them.
During the Time it was under the Administration of British Authority, did they use the Punchayet much?
It was used in every Case in which the Natives did not object.
Was your Attention particularly drawn to the Proceedings of those Punchayets, and the Decisions under them?
Not to the Proceedings of those Punchayets, except in the Court established in the City for the Trial of the superior Causes which usually arose there.
Had you any Reason to believe that much Corruption prevailed?
I think the general Complaint was, that in the City, where the Business of Punchayets fell into the Hands of professional Persons, I mean a Set of People who, having scarcely any thing to do, were generally called for the Purpose, there was both great Procrastination and great Corruption. At a Distance from the Capital the same Complaint did not exist.
Was there a Right of Appeal from the Decision of the Punchayets?
No, except in a Case of Corruption.
To whom did the Appeal lie?
The Appeal came to the Superintendent.
Had you an Opportunity of observing the Manner and Conduct of the Native Officers under the Nagpoor Government? and if so, state your Opinion.
Where the Government seemed to pay so very little Attention to the Maxims of Justice and good Faith, it was very unlikely that we should find that the Officers under them would do so. Eve y Person who held a Situation under the Nagpoor Government at that Time paid for it, consequently they were allowed to take every Means in their Power to reimburse themselves.
What were the Duties that fell on the Assistants and the other European Officers; were they Duties of Superintendence?
The Assistants I spoke of were with me at the Residency in order to assist me in my general Duties. There was only One Superintendent at a Distance, who had an Assistant to take Part of the Judicial Duties off his Hands, the Revenue and Political Duties of the Superintendent with the petty Tributaries occupying too much of his Time.
Was he actually engaged in the Administration of Justice, or did he merely superintend the Native Officers in their Administration of it?
He was actually engaged in the Administration of it, in both Civil and Criminal Cases; in Civil Cases and in Criminal Cases of a certain Amount; and he received Appeals in all Cases from the Decisions of the Native Authorities under him, and had Power to revise their Proceedings.
How were those Cases to which his Authority did not reach decided?
There were no Cases to which his Authority did not reach in the Administration of his immediate District.
How were those Cases which did not come under his Superintendence decided?
By the Officers under him.
What was your general Opinion of the Native Officers, as to the Confidence that could be placed in them in the Administration of Government or of Justice?
I had every Confidence in the Natives, generally speaking, so far as they were strictly superintended and looked after. We could not expect to find, after a total Want of all Government which had taken place before we took charge of the Country, that there would be great Probity or great Honesty in the Natives. I attribute that to the loose State in which they were.
How were they paid? Were the Amounts of their Salaries large or small?
They were rather small. A Native Collector got to the Amount of about One and a Half per Cent. on the Amount of his Collection.
Had you ever any Opportunity of observing the Conduct of the Natives who were intrusted with the Administration of Justice, or the Administration of the Country, in any Part except Nagpoor?
I have scarcely had any Experience of that kind. I have been almost stationary in the Nagpoor Territory. Every Part of that I visited over and over again; but, with the exception of an occasional Visit to Hydrabad, or once or twice to Bombay, I have been in that Country for Twenty Years.
You can speak to the Character of the Natives only in Nagpoor?
In what respect did it appear to you that the Cultivation of Land in Nagpoor was improved during your Residence there?
I mean to say, there was a large Portion of Country which had been out of Cultivation brought into Cultivation during the Time we held the Country, and that under rather unfavourable Circumstances; because, from the Destruction of the Pindarrees, every Country round was reviving at the Time, and the Prices of Grain fell very much from what they had been.
Did you observe that there was much Improvement in the Implements of Husbandry which were used?
There was no Improvement in the Implements of Husbandry at all.
What Species of Plough is used?
It is a very coarse sort of Implement, a crooked Thing, with a little Bit of Iron at the End of it; it costs but Three or Four Rupees; the Material is of the coarsest Wood; sufficient rather to scratch the Ground than to plough it up, according to our Ideas of ploughing.
Do you not think great Advantage would arise from the Use of European Implements of Husbandry?
I have no doubt that European Implements might be constructed to suit the different Soils in India, and much better than they have now; but the Expence of them would be greater, I fear, than the Ryots could afford.
Are they in the habit of using Manure?
They do use Manure in the better Articles of Cultivation, to a great Amount, particularly in the Cultivation of Sugar, and the Cultivation of the Betel Leaf, which is in much Request among the Natives. Tobacco is also manured.
Do they use Dung?
They do, of all sorts.
Is it not very much the habit to burn Dung for Fuel?
The Dung of Cows and Bullocks is very commonly used, both for Fuel and for forming the Floors of their Houses, amongst the Hindoos.
That, being so valuable for those Purposes, is scarcely applicable for the Purposes of Agriculture?
No; it is chiefly the Dung of Sheep and of other Animals.
Did you observe that the Mode of Cultivation pursued by the Officers of Government who had Land was superior to that generally pursued by the Ryots?
I think, looking at the Capital of the Cultivator, there was an Improvement. Still the Implements were the same; but the Difference was, that they could afford probably an additional Expence of irrigating the Land, of additional Bullocks, or keeping up Wells formerly dug. They had better Crops of course.
You stated that the Amount of Revenue depended much on the Seasons; did you not find that those Lands in a superior State of Cultivation were more independent of the Effect of the Seasons than others?
Those Lands that were more irrigated were more independent of the Seasons than others.
You conceive that the Introduction of Capital would be attended with very considerable Advantage to the Cultivation of Land?
I have not a Doubt of that.
When you mentioned that you did not think the Territory of Nagpoor had suffered since it had come into the Possession of the Company, as compared with other Territories that also came into their Possession at that Time, did you make any Allusion to other Territories in which Indigo has been introduced?
Not to my Knowledge. I alluded to Countries that were immediately in the Neighbourhood of the Nagpoor Territory, or those that had been taken from the Peishwa and annexed to the Company's Territory.
Indigo is not grown in Nagpoor, is it?
No. There is the wild Plant found in the Country, but it has not been cultivated.
Do you know why it has not been cultivated?
I have no Knowledge of the Circumstances.
Have you known that in the Countries in which it has been introduced there has been a very considerable Increase of Wealth to the Inhabitants?
I had no means of informing myself; but I have no doubt that the Introduction of a more valuable Article of Cultivation would have that Effect.
Have you observed, in those Cases in which the Collector was raised to the Situation of Judge, that more Suspicion was entertained of him by the Natives than in the Case of a Judge who had not been previously Collector?
Not having resided in the Company's Territory, I have not had the Means of ascertaining that; but as far as I could observe, from our own Practice, in which the Superintendent was Collector and Judge, I think there was no Reason to suppose the Natives felt any Incompatibility in the Two Characters; on the contrary, it was according to their own Practice - the Union of Powers.
You mentioned that Sugar was grown in Nagpoor; are you aware of any sort of Foreign Machinery being used in the Cultivation or Preparation of Sugar?
There is no Foreign Machinery introduced into that Country; it is what has been used from Time immemorial by People of the Country.
Have you Reason to think very great Improvements might be made in the Quality of the Sugar, by the Introduction of Machinery?
I am not aware of the Effect of the Improvement of Machinery in improving the Quality of the Sugar, but I suppose it might.
Have you heard of such Machinery being introduced into Parts of the Madras Territory?
I have not.
You stated that the Assesments in Nagpoor were moderate; can you state what Proportion of the Produce they take?
It is extremely difficult to make out, but I think they were taken to be from a Fourth to a Third; but I will not state this as being at all a Thing I could vouch for.
Can you state the Expence of Collection per Cent.?
I cannot, at the present Moment.
Do you know the Expence of Collection in the Company's Territories?
I do not.
What is the principal Religion of the Country?
The principal Religion of the Country is the Hindoo.
Under what Code of Laws is Justice administered?
The Hindoo, as far as any Code of Laws is administered, in the Cases of Inheritance or Partition of Property; in other respects it is completely discretionary, the Judgments that are given, or were, at least.
In Criminal Cases, how is it?
We recommended that there might be some fixed Rule. We took from the Bengal Regulations the general Punishments for the principal Crimes, and recommended their Adoption to the Nagpoor Authorities, which was adopted rather to have some System than to leave it discretionary.
At present the Law enforced is similar to that enforced by the Bengal Regulations?
With regard to Criminal Justice.
In regard to Civil Justice, it is according to the Hindoo Code?
According to the Custom of the Country. In the Case of Punchayets, they are satisfied from their own Knowledge of it; and the Judges can ascertain it from the Officers about them. It is done in a rude but in a summary kind of way.
Does Slavery exist in Nagpoor?
There is a degree of Slavery which has existed in the City of Nagpoor particularly, but to a very small Extent. It is that, in Seasons of Famine, which have unhappily not been uncommon in that Part of the Country, as in others under the Scourge of the Pindarrees, it has been the Practice for the People to purchase the Children of the Poor, who, in order to subsist themselves, are compelled to part with them. Those are brought up in their Families, and Instances I believe occur in which they are not particular in retaining them; if the Parents or Relations claim them, they are generally willing to give them up; otherwise they use them as Domestic Slaves.
Are the Children of Slaves also Slaves?
I am uncertain of that; I do not think that they are.
Is there any Difference in the Value of the Testimony of a Slave and that of another Person?
I never heard of any Distinction being made. The Powers the Masters exercise over them are in fact no more than they would exercise over any other Part of their Families.
Are there any Agricultural Slaves?
None, I think, except in this Way, that there might be in a Family of a Cultivator Slaves acquired in the Manner I have mentioned; but they are not connected with Agriculture more than any other Employment.
There are none attached to the Soil?
No, certainly not.
What are the principal Articles of Cultivation?
The Grains in the greater Part of the Country are Wheat, Rice, and Jowary, a Species of Maize, which is the common Food of the Mahratta Peasantry, being the cheapest.
Is Opium grown there?
Hardly at all; perhaps a Man who has a Garden and the Means of watering it may cultivate a small Quantity.
Is any Monopoly on the Part of the Company exercised over the Opium grown in that Way?
No; there is nothing on the Subject of it in the existing Treaties as to the Cultivation of Opium in the Country.
You stated that a good deal of unproductive Land had been brought into Cultivation by means of what are called Cowls, Promises not to raise the Rent; can you state at all what Quantity of unproductive Land during the Time you resided in Nagpoor was brought into Cultivation by those Means?
I cannot. The Country having never been surveyed, the accurate Number of Square Miles is scarcely known of the Nagpoor Territory.
Should you say a very considerable Portion?
Yes, from my own Observation; and I was constantly in the habit of marching about the Country, to see how Things were carried on.
Was there a pretty general Desire on the Part of the Inhabitants to obtain those Cowls?
It was at first more than afterwards, when the Prices of Grain were so low that it was extremely difficult to introduce satisfactorily, without throwing other Lands out of Cultivation, the further Improvement of the waste Lands.
What Class of Persons were those who applied for and obtained those Cowls?
Generally Potails. One Man, if he had a little extra Capital to spare, would agree to employ it on a neighbouring Village, if he could procure it on the Terms of a Cowl.
Was the Object generally to bring the Land entirely into the same State of Cultivation, or to effect further Improvements?
Generally to make an Improvement on their Capital, expecting to pay at the End of the Period of Time, or Seven Years, for those Lands that were brought into Cultivation the Rents paid for other Lands in the Country.
Are they in the habit of growing the same Crop on the same Land in successive Years?
I believe there has been a good deal of that Habit; but in reference to the more valuable Articles of Cultivation they have some Variation of Crops.
What Species of Grain is most benefited by Irrigation?
I am not exactly prepared to say; but Rice, for instance, could not be produced at all without constant Irrigation. Wheat is very much improved by Irrigation, as they know very well; and where they can they employ Wells, or any Water they can get hold of, to increase the Produce.
When you undertook the Management of the Nagpoor Territory the Finances were greatly embarrassed?
When you surrendered the Government into the Hands of the Rajah, what Proportion did the Revenue bear to the Expenditure?
I think the Revenue was about Forty-seven Lacs of Rupees, and the Expenditure about Forty-four, subsequently reduced to about Forty-two before I gave over the Country to the Rajah, producing a Surplus of near Five Lacs of Rupees.
Had there been a progressive Course of Improvement?
Constantly progressive. There was a little Check in the firs instance, by a dreadful Famine which took place, arising from the Ravages of the Pindarrie, and the Armies which had been moving over it and plundering it, and also by had Seasons. The first Two or Three Years were consequently very unfavourable for any Improvement.
At the Close of this Term, do you suppose there was a greater or a less degree of Wealth in the Country than at the Time of its Commencement?
I should say there was rather an Improvement; except perhaps that a Number of the Military Class had Wealth, and who went off during the Disturbances. We know, for example, in the City of Nagpoor there were Twelve or Fourteen additional Mercantile and Banking Houses established in the Eight or Nine Years that the Country was under our Management; and in the Agricultural Class, to every Appearance, there was more Wealth than there had been before.
Was not the Improvement rather a Decrease of Charge than an Increase of Production?
The last Improvement of the Country was a Decrease of Charge, but the general Improvement was an Increase of Production. The original Revenue was 36 or 37 Lacs of Rupees, and it had increased to 47, the Produce of the Land Revenue and the Produce of Customs and Excise, and that after giving up the Transit Duties on Grain, amounting to a Lac and a Half of Rupees, which were abolished as being considered a Burthen on Agriculture. In the course of Two or Three Years not only this Sum was made up, but further Increase took place.
What was the Amount of the Rajah's Military Force stationed at Nagpoor?
The Rajah's Force was about 3,000 Infantry and 2,000 Cavalry, exclusive of Irregulars, employed chiefly for Purposes of Police and of Revenue Operations.
Do you attribute the Increase of Revenue to the Removal of those Taxes?
I think that they contributed to the Increase of the Revenue, by promoting the general Prosperity of the Country and the Facility of Exchange.
What is the State of the Roads in Nagpoor?
I am sorry to say, that as to the Roads, with the Exception of those we have constructed in the immediate Vicinity of the Capital extending from the different Cantonments to the City, there were very few in the Country. An Attempt was made to form a Road to extend to Calcutta, but I believe it was found advisable to discontinue it.
Is there any Means of Communication by Navigation?
The Rivers are not navigable sufficiently high up. There is one River called the Wineganga, and another the Wurda, which join the Gordaveray; some Attempts have been made to open a Communication with the Coast by means of them, but there are a Variety of Obstacles in the Way from Rapids and Rocks. A Third River is the Mahanuddy; for a certain Number of Months in the Year it is practicable to navigate it from Cuttack into the Eastern Districts of the Nagpoor Territory, probably from July to January. They might no doubt be more than at present used with Advantage to the Country.
There is no Communication by Canals?
There is not.
What do they use for Fuel besides Cow Dung?
Wood is the usual Article of Fuel. Cow Dung is used entirely by Hindoos.
Do they use it because Wood is too expensive?
I do not know that it is in that Part of the Country, for there is a great deal scattered through the Country which they can have for cutting. I believe the Hindoos use it from the Respect they have for the Article.
The Communication is carried on, by what Means?
By Bullocks and by Carts in the dry Season. In the Period of Rains it is almost impossible to carry on any Communication. Buffaloes and small Horses of the Country are not uncommonly used, as well as Bullocks and Carts.
The Witness is directed to withdraw.
Ordered, That this Committee be adjourned to Thursday next, One o'Clock.