Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 62, 1830. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London.
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Die Martis, 6 Aprilis 1830.
It has been one of the principal Subjects of Complaint from the Time of its first Institution up to the present Day. The Monopoly in the first Instance raised the Price from Three to Four hundred per Cent. and, owing to the Abuses in the Management, often to from Seven to Eight hundred per Cent. to the Consumer.
Yes; and with it its concomitant Evils, a great deal of Crime. The Smugglers, in Bodies from Fifty to a Hundred, often assemble, and plunder wherever they go, and have been known to overpower the Police. In Coimbatore, where they go to bring the Tobacco, very great Enormities have also been committed. I can read to your Lordships a short Paper upon the Subject, which will give a full Insight into these Things. It was introduced in a Memorial I addressed to the Court of Directors in August last, after my Return to this Country. "Tobacco Monopoly Abuses. - "The Complaints on the Tobacco and Salt Monopolies were first noticed by me in my Report dated 28th December 1808. The Subject was repeated at every new Abuse, and at length attracted the Notice of Sir Thomas Munro and Mr. Commissioner Græme. Not only had the People to pay the Company's Monopoly Price, which was about Four hundred per Cent. upon the Selling Price when the Monopoly was first introduced, but the additional Profit put on by the Retailers, besides cheating by means of false Weights, watering, &c. Mr. Reid, the Second Judge of the Provincial Court in the Southern Division, and the Judges of the Sudder Adawlut, also took up the Subject; and in consequence, after long Discussions, the Monopoly Price was reduced, in February 1816, from 228 to 175 Rupees per Candy; and the then Collector (Mr. Vaughan) in the same Year reported that it was not unfrequently sold at 200 per Cent. on the Monopoly Price, (R. 175 + 3 = 525 per Candy,) or more than 800 per Cent. upon the Selling Price to the Consumer when the Monopoly was first introduced. Nor were the Tobacco Grower's Grievances inferior to the Consumer's owing to the overgrown Influence of one Cassee Chitty, the late Collector Mr. William Garrow's confidential Servant in Coimbatore; in consequence of which the Ryots got but a Moiety of what the Government ordered them to be paid for their Tobacco, (R. 24 per Candy,) and on this Account alone sustained a total Loss in Four Years (as reported by the Commissioners, Sir Thomas Munro and Mr. John Sullivan,) of 4.55.000 Rupees; and Mr. Sullivan has further shewn, in his Report to the Board of Revenue, that the People of Coimbatore have just Cause of Complaint against Government, for their Interference in their Cultivation and Disposal of Tobacco, after having permanently fixed the Land Assessments; and he observes, that 'to make free Markets, free Prices, and unrestricted Cultivation the Data for assessing Lands, and then to shut the Markets, regulate the Prices, and restrict the Cultivation, was surely to trench upon private Rights and to violate public Faith;' and every Circuit Judge has noticed the Scenes of Bloodshed and Rapine which follow the Steps of the numerous Bandittis of Tobacco Smugglers. Mr. Sullivan reported the burning and Plunder of Villages where the Ryots refused to sell their Tobacco to Smugglers not an unfrequent Attendant upon Smuggling; and Mr. Commissioner Græme has noticed, 'that the present System augments the Duties of the Collectors, Magistrates, and Courts of Justice, inasmuch as it raises a Host of Smugglers, and consequently an Increase of Crime, and Frauds without End amongst the Native Servants.'"
Tobacco, as I have stated, is a Necessary of Life in a humid Climate like Malabar. I have seen Orders issued by the present Principal Collector to his Native Servants, ordering them, under Peril of Dismissal from their Offices, to sell a certain specified Quantity. I have Three of those Orders. They are in the original Language. I will read them in English.
"The Order from the Principal Collector, Mr. Sheffield, to the Tehsildar of the Nedungaad Talook. Your Report of Tobacco Sales in your Talook, from the First to the Sixteenth of Meenam, gives but Eighteen Tulams; whereas Five Candies ought to be sold every Month in your Talook. I now warn you, therefore, that if your Sales fall short of that Quantity, you shall certainly be dismissed from your present Situation, as I before warned you. Dated the Malabar Year 1002, 18th of Meenam; corresponding with the 29th of March Anno Domini 1827."
A very considerable Augmentation in the Sales. The Board of Revenue reported on the 2d August, that Mr. Sheffield's System was working with extraordinary Success, having in Four Months produced an Increase of about Twenty-eight thousand Rupees. I did hear that in the whole Twelve Months the Increase was about a Lac of Rupees.
I will read an Extract from my Paper given in to the Court of Directors in August last. "With respect to the Salt Monopoly, the People have been as loud in their Complaints as against the Tobacco Monopoly; and believing as I did, and still do, in the Truth of their Representations, I brought them to the Notice of Government, pursuant to repeated Orders of Government. That it was undoubtedly, as a Servant to The Honorable Company, my Duty to do so, in order that Measures might be employed for remedying the Abuses which existed, and for avoiding the Evils which I apprehended." (Those Evils I apprehended were, that the People would be again driven into Rebellion; such Instances of Commotions having unfortunately before existed in Malabar and Wynâad.) "These Complaints were, first, that many were prohibited from manufacturing Salt, and thereby their Lands which had cost them large Sums of Money were rendered useless to their Owners, as they would yield no other Produce. The extensive Suppression of Salt Pans both in Malabar and Canara is a Source of great Grievance both to the Proprietors and actual Manufacturers, who, 'to the Number of 6,438 in Malabar alone,' (as reported by Mr. Commissioner Græme in his Letter to the Board of Revenue dated 31st of August 1820,) 'were thrown out of a lucrative Subsistence; and the Compensation (which was not paid for Years, and sometimes not at all, as set forth in Petitions presented to myself,) was very inadequate.' This, 'tis true, the Proprietors in some measure brought upon themselves; but, as Mr. Græme says, the Collector disguised the Design with which he called for a Return of their Profits; and they, in return, concealed their Resources; and it would be rather severe to inflict a permanent Punishment on them for this Offence. In lieu of this Annual Compensation, Mr. Græme recommended the Purchase of the Privilege of Manufacture, or in other Words the Fee Simple of the Salt Pans. It should also be borne in mind that the Suppression of the Salt Pans is not provided for in the Salt Monopoly Regulations of 1807. On the contrary, a particular Distinction is made in favour of the Inhabitants of Malabar, who are to be at liberty to carry on the Manufacture, under the Penalty of Confiscation of the Salt, and of a large Fine, for selling to any other but the Officers of Government. Secondly, the great Difference in the Measurement, in the Receipt or Purchase from those who are allowed to manufacture, and in the Issue or Sale, which was represented in specific Complaints" (which I forwarded to Government on the 3d of December 1814) "to amount to a Reduction in Quantity of One Half, partly caused by the Operation of pressing down, and partly by a subsequent Deduction of Two in Ten over and above such unfair Measurement; while in the Issue or Sale no such Allowance was made to the Retailer or Purchaser. This Difference Sir Thomas Munro ascertained by an actual Inspection was Thirty-four and a Half per Cent. to the Purchaser, and Fifty-three per Cent. to Bunjarees, or Foreign Purchasers. The then Collector, in his Return to my Precept dated 11th of December 1811, (in Cause No. 1,160 on the File,) himself admitted, that it amounted to Forty per Cent; viz t. Twenty on the Salt Deliveries by the Manufacturers, on account of Wastage, and Twenty more in the Difference of Measurement in the Receipt and Retail of Salt. Thirdly, the additional Price put on by the Retailers, besides other numerous Frauds, which enhanced the Price to the Consumer from One to several Hundred per Cent. according to the Distance from the Salt Depôts, which are all on the Coast; and both in the Tobacco and Salt Monopolies the Employment of European Agents (exclusive of the Company's covenanted Servants) is felt as a very great Hardship, especially by those who have suffered most by the Institution of these Monopolies. Ever since the Year 1808, (vide my Letter to The Honourable the Governor of Madras, dated 28th December 1808,) I have constantly noticed the Injury to our Native Subjects by this preference in Malabar; and in the last Paragraph of my Letter to Government, dated 8th April 1828, I mentioned one Individual (Mr. Johnson, a Partner in the Firm of Messrs. Shotton and Co. Bombay,) who had no less than Four Contracts; viz t. for the Supply of Tobacco to Government for the Consumption of Canara for Three Years, (about 1,300 Candies annually;) for importing Goa Salt into Canara, (about 600 Candies;) for supplying the Lacadive Islanders with Rice; and for carrying these Articles from one Part of Canara to another. It may be argued that it is safer to trust Europeans than Natives with these exclusive Privileges; but I am of a very different Opinion. I know indeed that the Tobacco imported by Mr. Johnson is of a very inferior Quality to what it used to be, and what the People have a Right to except; and it will be obvious that the same Profit which would make it worth the while of any European to speculate in these Contracts would afford a Provision for Hundreds of Natives, and who, from having suffered by these Monopolies, have by far greater Claims upon us than our own Countrymen, who have numerous Modes of gaining a Livelihood from which the Natives must for various Reasons be for ever shut out."
What Alteration has taken place since the Period that I was a Magistrate I cannot say; but at the Time I was in Authority, and had Opportunities of knowing those Things, the Custom was to press it down by the Hands and Feet in the Parah, (a large wooden Measure;) while in the Issue it was piled up as light as could be; by which Means there was, I imagine, a Difference of at least Twenty per Cent. Another Twenty per Cent. was taken from the Manufacturers, thus: for every 1,000 Dungallees 1,200 were required.
It was not, I imagine, so intended in the first instance; but the Conservator, the Officer whose Province it was to superintend the Monopoly, extended it to Timber grown in Gardens; but I believe it was that Officer's own Act. Great Complaints were frequently made, but I never heard of any Redress, until Sir Thomas Munro abolished the Monopoly altogether. This, I think, was in 1823.
Entirely. I have seen Applications from the principal Shipbuilders to the Conservator of the Forests and to the Government, to sell to them, or to be allowed to purchase, Timber to build and repair their Vessels. They offered to purchase at any Price.
Certainly not. The Beebee of Cananore has a small Tract of Land, Five or Six Deshams, in the Vicinity of Cananore, and also the Lacadive Islands, for which she pays an annual Sum, about 10.000 Rupees, to the Government; but she has not a Particle of Authority; she merely collects the Revenues, that is, the Government Share of the Land Rent.
In Malabar and Canara there are certain defined Rates; but in the Southern Mahratta Country, while I was in Authority, they were farmed also to the highest Bidder. But the Rates were quite arbitrary; sometimes Portions of the Country were farmed out to different Contractors, who sublet Portions again to others; nothing is defined; it is left almost wholly, I may say, to the Contractors themselves. There being a Variety of Subrenters a kind of Competition is caused amongst them, by holding out Inducements to the Merchants to go through their Part of the Country.
Yes. As they collect the Duty without reference to the Commodity or its Value, but by the Number of Head of Cattle, (all Merchandize being transported by Bullocks,) owing to the contending Interests of the Renters, they do all in their Power to get the Merchants to come by their respective Chokies or Stations. I should add, that besides these Duties, the People are subject to Hereditary Imposts called Russooms, claimed by particular Families.
In the Northern Part of Canara, that is, from the Subramanny Pagoda, East of Mangalore, there are; all the Forests to the Eastward, or on the Ghaut Mountains that is, are the Property of the Government; I never, at least, heard of any Individuals laying Claim to them. But the whole Tract of Forests South of Subramanny is claimed, and I have no doubt is the Property of private Individuals. I have seen many of these Title Deeds upwards of a Century old.
The ostensible Reason given in the first Proclamation by the Principal Collector of Malabar, dated 18th July 1806, stated, "That The Honourable Company had Occasion for Teak Trees for the Purpose of building Ships, and therefore the Government had resolved to grant a Monopoly to one Chowakkara Moosa, in order that it might be furnished with the Trees it wanted at a low Price," &c. The subsequent Proclamation by the Madras Government, dated 25th April 1807, announced, "the Assumption, in pursuance of Orders from The Honourable Court of Directors, of the Sovereignty of the Forests in the Provinces of Malabar and Canara."
Very little at any Time was cultivated, and that confined to the Mountains of Wynaâd; a few Individuals among those Mountaineers have, I believe, obtained Permission to cultivate a small Quantity for their own immediate Consumption.
In Districts where it is not grown, it is, I believe; where it is grown, Arrangements are made with the Growers to deliver the Produce, for Exportation, to Government. Not having had Charge of those Districts, I am not able to speak positively in respect to them, further than as far as I have referred to in Mr. Sullivan's Reports on the Subject.
It was prohibited altogether, with the Exception of a few Individuals, in Wynaád; and I believe in Coimbatore they can cultivate it only under Licences, and that they are obliged to sell what is exported to the Government.
I can only judge of the Effects of the System; Monopoly, that is. Not having been employed in making the Settlement with the Growers, I cannot tell the Principles on which it was made; but from the Effect of it in Coimbatore, as reported by Mr. Sullivan, I should certainly say that the People had Cause of Complaint.
Any Persons who own that Description of Land. It is not propagated from Seed; it is indigenous. It is produced in the Recesses of the Mountain Forests, by felling Trees, and afterwards burning those Trees. Where the Tree has fallen, in the Openings, or Fissures, that is, in the Soil, the Cardamum Plants make their Appearance. The only Manure is the burning of those Trees. In Soonda Balagat there are Plantations of Cardamums, but the Fruit, Berry, that is, is very inferior to the natural Production.
Wholly private Property. There may be a few Forests which have escheated to Government; but I believe they have all now been given up to the original Proprietors; such Portion, that is, that had escheated to the Government through the Rebellion of the Proprietors.
At the Rate of from 550 to 700 Rupees; though they are often, particularly the Mountaineers, called Coorchers, Kadar, &c. left at the Mercy of the Contractor, who puts an enhanced Value on the Coins he pays them, or makes them take Tobacco, Cloths, Salt, Oil, Beetle Nut, and such necessary Articles. I have known Arab Merchants, and Merchants from the Gulf, Sind, &c. pay 1.200 Rupees for the Candyto the Coast Merchant; but then there is an Export Duty to pay out of it.
They vary, at the Discretion of the Local Officers of Government. Often Men who never carried Burthens in their Lives have been pressed. I have known them seized and confined, sometimes for Days, before the Detachment or the Regiment arrived at the Station where they were required. This also formed One of the Subjects of my Representation to the Court of Directors in August last.
The Commanding Officer of the Regiment; and individual Travellers make Requisitions on the local Authorities for the Number of Coolies they require. They issue their Orders to the Native Servants generally.
I have myself repeatedly brought the Subject to their Notice; and certainly the full Measure of Redress has not been afforded. I have too often observed a Disposition to take the Servants Part; though I have myself witnessed these and other Atrocities committed by marching Detachments. I have seen Houses that had been unroofed for the sake of the Thatch, as Fodder for the Cattle. I have known of Parties of Sepoys going into Houses and carrying away Rice, Fowls, Butter and other Articles laid in by the Inhabitants for their domestic Use.
I believe it is always done; but from a Variety of Circumstances there may be Delays, such as Rivers coming down, which commanding Officers cannot possibly foresee. The Native Servants are obliged in many Parts of the Country, Days before the Detachments arrive, to send out their Kolcars or Peons to press the Inhabitants, for as soon as it comes to their Knowledge that Detachments or Europeans are on the Road, they invariably run away and hide themselves.
They are the generally established Rates; the Orders from the Collector to his Servants are to provide them at the established Rates; but there are very few People in the Interior who can really be called Porters; that is, who are willing to carry Burthens; they are the Peasantry, and consequently Cultivators or Artificers.
In the whole of the Carnatic, I believe; chiefly in the Districts of Salem and Coimbatore; also in Mysore, Tanjore, Trichinopoly, Madura and Tinixelly. Of Bengal or Bombay I am not competent to speak with Certainty, excepting the Southern Mahratta Country, where Tobacco is grown in small Quantities.
To this Country; to all the Ports in India, Arabia and the Red Sea; I have heard of Mahomed Ally Pasha's Ships taking large Quantities; the Persian Gulf, Bombay and to all the Ports North of it; and to Sind, &c. up the Indus.
I am afraid that my Successor has not taken the Interest in that and other new Manufactures and Cultivation I introduced; such as Indigo and Bourbon Cotton; also in weaving Cotton, Woollen and Hemp by means of English Looms, &c. &c.
A Year or Two, it will produce. After the first Year, I have had them gathered in my own Garden, and those Gardens planted by the Convicts; watering regularly every Day during the hot Months, they produce an abundant Supply.
I held out all the Encouragement I could, by inviting the People to look at my Plantations and Manufactures; I also sent Specimens of the Silk I had made all over the Country. I had periodical Sales of both Silk and Indigo. Whenever I went on Circuit through my Districts, I took with me Two or Three of the English Looms, to instruct the People in the Use of them. Those with the Flying Shuttle were made by Two Soldiers out of the European Regiment at Belgâm.
The Two Soldiers, whom I had employed, and who had been Glasgow Weavers, after having been, I think, a Month, and just as I was sending them back to their Regiment, intreated of me to write to the Commanding Officer to obtain their Discharge, that they might carry on the Silk and Cotton Works. Those were the only Europeans I had an Opportunity of seeing.
In what Way would it be prejudicial to the Natives, if the Natives let the Lands to the People on their own Terms; the Question not referring to the indiscriminate Introduction of Europeans, but a Person wishing to establish himself for the Purpose of carrying on a Business of that kind?
From the Tendency of the strong to oppress the weak, which I have seen, wherever Europeans have been in the Interior, at a Distance from European Stations; and the People would not complain against them Nine Times in Ten, partly through Fear, and partly for Want of the Means to subsist themselves from their Cultivations and Homes, and to pay their Road Expences, &c.
Certainly; and another Objection is, I think, that whatever the Character of the European was, his superior Intelligence would give him such a decided Superiority over the Native Operatives, that the whole Industry of the Country would centre in him.
Would not the Employment of Capital in that Way lead to the Creation of Offices in which the Natives would be very advantageously employed; such as Agencies and Stewardships, and Offices of Inspectors and Superintendents?
Not to any Extent. I know that Experiments have been made in Amgerakandy Plantation in Malabar, by the late Mr. Brown, and also by another European of the Name of Skelton, at Mangalore, but both abandoned them.