Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 62, 1830. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, [n.d.].
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Die Jovis, 29 Aprilis 1830.
The Lord President in the Chair.
The Honourable Andrew Ramsay is called in, and examined as follows:
What were the various Situations you held in India?
I was about Twenty-five Years in the Commercial Department, Six Years in the Salt Department, and about Two Years in the Revenue Department. I was altogether about Thirty-four Years in the Service of The East India Company on the Bengal Establishment.
Where did you reside in the Commercial Department?
Principally at Jungypore from the Year 1804 to the Year 1818, and then again from 1824 to 1829.
In what Years were you in the Salt Department?
From 1818 to the End of 1823.
What were your Duties in the Commercial Department?
The first Six Years I was in the Commercial Department I resided at Ghazeepore, in the District of Benares; I was Assistant to the Resident of that Station. The Duties were, the Provision of Cloth, Sugar and Opium; and from 1804 to 1818 my Duties were entirely confined to the Silk Investment.
Were you concerned in the Sale of the Imports of Merchandize from England?
No, I never was, in any way whatever.
Have the Company large Establishments for the Purpose of the Silk Manufacture?
Very large; I think about Twelve Stations, or Residencies, as they are called.
Have any individual European Residents any Factories of the same Description?
I believe several have, but not equal in Magnitude to any of the Company's Residencies.
In the Company's Factories do they manufacture Piece Goods?
At One or Two Factories only; at Cossimbazar Factory, at Malda and Santipore; I do not recollect any others where Piece Goods are made.
Is the Manufacture of Silk Goods continued at those Factories?
It was when I left India.
What Process is carried on at the other Factories?
The winding of the raw Silk from the Cacoons.
Is that in no Case a domestic Manufacture in India?
Yes it is, but quite a different Process, and is what they term Putney Silk, which Silk is employed in the Manufacture of Piece Goods.
How is that Silk employed which is wound off by the Company?
It is all sent to Europe in a raw State.
Do the Mulberry Trees and the Worms belong to the same Persons in India?
Sometimes they do; but, generally speaking, they do not. The Mulberry is cultivated by one Class of Persons, and the Worms are reared by another, though in many Cases the Mulberry Cultivators keep Worms also.
Do those that are possessed of the Worms wind off the Silk?
I never recollect an Instance of it at the Company's Factory.
What is the Difference between the Italian and Indian Worm; does there appear to be a great natural Difference between them?
Not a very great Difference; but there is so great a Difference that those that are at all accustomed to them can see the Difference at once.
Which Species of Worm is in most general Use?
The Native Worm of India.
In a much larger Proportion?
I should think, at the Factory where I was, there might probably have been about a Twenty-fifth Part of the Italian Worm used. It is only at a few Factories in India the Italian Worm is reared at all. I believe the Factory I was at was the first where it was brought into Use.
Is the Silk of the Indian Worm inferior to that of the Italian Worm?
I always considered it so.
Is it much weaker?
That was the Objection I always found to the Country Worm.
Is it produced in smaller Quantities?
I believe the Quantity produced from an equal Quantity of Worms is nearly the same, but that may be owing to the Italian Silk being spun much finer than the other Qualities.
How many Harvests of Silk are there in the Year from the Indian Worms?
I think it may be considered that there are Four principal Harvests from the Indian Worm, November, January, March and June, they are the Four principal Harvests; but at some Factories there are One or Two Harvests more I think, but November and January are the principal.
Is the Silk in November and January much greater in Quantity and much better than at the other Seasons?
It has always been considered so.
Can Silk be obtained from the Italian Worm at more than One Period of the Year?
I never knew it produced oftener than once a Year.
Have there been any recent Importations of the Italian Worm into India?
Not since I have been in the Service.
In your Opinion has the Silk obtained from the Italian Worm become deteriorated of late Years?
I always understood from the Court of Directors Letters to India, that it had improved very much.
Is that your Opinion?
That is my Opinion decidedly, that it has so improved; the Question I understand to refer to the reeling of the Silk.
The Question refers to the Quality of the Silk furnished by the Italian Worm?
I should suppose, from the Reports I have read, that it has fallen off very much in Quality, and that the Fibre of the Silk when it was first imported to India was much stronger than it now is. It has certainly fallen off in Quantity, and I should think it has also fallen off in Quality.
Have any Attempts been made to increase the Manufacture of Silk in the Houses of the Natives?
No; I look upon the Attempt to be impossible.
On what Ground?
Want of Capital on the Part of the Natives, in the first place; and I have always understood that the Manufacture of Silk was a losing Concern.
The Question refers to the winding off of the Silk?
The Natives have not the Means of purchasing the Apparatus for it.
To what District in Bengal is the Silk Worm confined?
Generally speaking, to the whole of Bengal Proper, with the Exception of the Eastern Districts; there is no Silk produced there; the Country is unfavourable for it.
Is any produced in the Upper Provinces?
I believe it has never been attempted in the Upper Provinces.
Are you aware whether there are any further Difficulties in the way of its being cultivated in the Upper Provinces?
I should think the Climate is the principal Objection to it.
The Cold or the Heat?
Principally the Heat; the Heat in Bengal generally destroys the Worms, and I should think the Heat in the Upper Provinces would do it still more. For Three or Four Months in the Year, in the Upper Provinces, it is so dry no Vegetables scarcely will grow, while in Bengal, during the hottest Weather, it does grow.
Did the Servants of the Company in any Manner interfere with the Purchases of Silk Individuals desired to make in the Interior?
Yes; it is their Duty to do so; the Company make Advances, and it is the Duty of the Company's Agents to see that the Silk for which those Advances are made is not made away with by any body; but Individuals very often do it; Merchants very often purchase the Silk for which the Company's Advances have been made, and that is the Cause principally of the heavy Balances which the Company have outstanding in the Silk Districts.
The Object of the Question was to ascertain whether the Servants of the Company used any Authority, given to them by Law or by the Power of the Government, for the Purpose of interfering with the Mercantile Interests of Individuals?
Certainly. If I found an European Merchant carrying away the Silk for which I had advanced Money, I would take it away from him; and if I could prove that in a Court I could recover heavy Damages.
Had you any Power, as a Servant of the Company, in the making an Investment of Silk, which was not possessed by any other individual Commercial Speculator in the Interior?
State what it was?
There are Privileges given to those who receive the Company's Advances; they cannot be summoned in Civil Suits, except when the Investment is at a Stand, or after a Silk Harvest, for instance; and they are protected from the Oppressions of the Natives more than those who are not employed under the Company. The Native Police commit great Oppressions upon the Natives.
Have you any Authority, as a Company's Servant, over the Natives, except that which arises from Advances previously made to them?
I conceive not.
You were understood to say that Persons who receive Advances from the Company have certain Privileges, which they would not possess if they received Advances from Individuals?
Yes, that is the Case.
Is any Silk cultivated otherwise than by Advances?
A considerable Quantity.
With reference to the Silk which has been cultivated by Advances made of private Speculators, and for a Competition with the Company in its Purchases, how have the Company, by their Agents or Residents, the Advantage?
The Company's Prices at the Company's Factories generally regulate the Prices of the Day. There is only One District in India where there is any very large Quantity of Silk made that is not taken by the Company - that is the District of Rajeshaye, in which the Residency of Bauleah is situated.
In what Manner do you understand that the Price given by the Company regulates the Price to be given by other Persons; is it so high as to induce the Grower to sell all his Silk to the Company, and higher than a private Speculator would be willing to give for it?
I believe it has been latterly so very high, the Court of Directors have complained very much against it; and it is so high that no private Merchants have of late Years been able to purchase Silk with any Prospect of Advantage.
Can you state on an Average the Price per Pound at which the Company have purchased the Silk, and the Price at which they have been enabled to dispose of it?
I cannot state the Price at which the Company have disposed of it, for I have seldom had an Opportunity of seeing the Account Sales and actual Expences; but the Prices that have been given for it, I always understood, were much higher than the Court of Directors approved. Latterly they were from Twelve to Fourteen Rupees a Sier of Two Pounds Weight.
Have not the high Prices given for Silk by the Company enabled them to command all the best Silk in the Market?
I believe, as much as they wished to procure they have obtained in the Market.
Is not the Silk exported from India by the Company very superior in Quality to that exported by Individuals?
Certainly it is.
It sells much higher in the English Market, does it not?
I have always understood so.
You are understood to say, that they keep the private Speculator out of the Market by the high Price which they give?
The Company always give a liberal Price. There is no fixed Way of settling the Price; it is left to the State of the Market; if Piece Goods are in great Demand, it has an Effect upon the Price of the Company's Investments.
The Question alludes to Raw Silk rather than Piece Goods?
Any Rise in the Price of Piece Goods affects the Price of Raw Silk; for the Raw Silk and the Piece Goods are made from the same Article, though differently prepared.
When you say Silk costs from Twelve to Fourteen Rupees a Sier of Two Pounds, do you mean on the Spot of its Growth?
I mean at the Factory. I speak from the Invoices which I used to send to the Board of Trade, when I sent Dispatches of Silk.
Are you able to state what additional Charges would be put upon it, to bring that Silk to London?
No, I am not; but I should think from Fifteen to Twenty per Cent. I can speak from my own Knowledge of One Speculation I made in Silk in the Year 1805, when Marquis Cornwallis went to India; he arrived in the Month of July, and immediately put a stop to the Company's Investments. There was a great Scarcity of Money at the Time in the Market, and the Silk People came to me to know what was to be done with their Silk; I told them I could not take their Silk, and they must sell it to Individuals; their Answer was, there were no Individual Purchasers in the Market, and they could not sell it. There was a Discount on Bills at that Time of Fifteen per Cent. between Calcutta and Moorshadebad. They, the Brokers, came in a Body, and offered to give me their Silk, and to take the Loss of the Fifteen per Cent. upon themselves, which I agreed to. I sent the Silk to England, and I lost, I think, about Two thousand Pounds upon it.
Upon what Quantity?
I think there was about £20,000, and I never traded in Silk again.
Can you state at what Rate the Cultivator can afford to grow the Silk; whether it is Matter of Profit to the Cultivator?
No, I cannot state that, because they always pretend to lose by it; and it is a very difficult Thing to find out what it costs them.
Though they pretend to lose by it, is the Growth voluntary?
Are many induced to continue who have once begun it?
It has been increasing of late Years.
Was there not a Right of Pre-emption independent of Advances exercised by the Company?
I have never understood so.
In what State do you receive the Silk from the Natives?
In the Pods, which are called Cacoons.
You reel it for yourself?
It is reeled in the Factories belonging to the Company.
When you talk of Seven Rupees a Pound, do you mean in the State of Cacoons?
No; I mean the Silk after it has been reeled off, when it is invoiced and sent to Calcutta, which is the last Process.
Do you reel the Silk before you communicate to the Cultivator what Price he is to receive?
The Prices are fixed while it is reeling; they are sent to the Board of Trade for their Approval. They collect all the Prices, and state their Objections to the Prices of any particular Factory, if one should much exceed in Price the others.
How do you ascertain the Quantity?
After the Pods are received into the Factory, they who rear the Worms have no further Concern with them; the People who furnish the Raw Material, the Cacoons, have nothing to do with reeling the Silk.
What Price do you pay them for the Cacoons?
The Price is regulated by the State of the Market; if there is a great Demand for Piece Goods, the Putney or Bengal reeled, which is the Article of which the Silk Goods are made, regulates the Price.
How many Pounds of Cacoons do you average to One Pound of Silk?
If the Weather is very favourable, the Quantity of Silk produced from the Maund of Cacoons of Eighty Pounds is greater than if the Season has been unfavourable; but on the Average I look upon it to be something under Four Pounds, or about a Twentieth Part.
Your Payment to the Cultivator is not made according to the Number of Cacoons furnished, or the Weight of the Cacoons, but the Quantity of Silk that they reel off from those Cacoons?
There are Two Ways of doing it; one Mode is by paying for the Green Material, and when that is paid for, the Rearer of the Cacoons has nothing to do further with the Process; he is paid so much for each Maund of Cacoons he has furnished: another Plan adopted at the Factories is, that the Rearer of the Cacoon waits 'till his Cacoons are reeled off in the Factory, and according to the Produce of the Silk he is paid so much per Pound for the clean Silk which those Cacoons have produced.
How many Months in the Year are the Leaves on the Trees?
All the Year, excepting at the Moment that they cut them down.
When the Worms come into Life, and are old enough to eat, the Mulberry is cut down close to the Ground, the young Leaves are then given to the Worms, and those Leaves again sprout up, and may be cut within Two Months from the Time they were first cut.
How high does the Mulberry grow?
The Mulberry, when it is first cut, may grow about a Foot or a Foot and a Half in Height; and in the rainy Season, when it is allowed to grow, it rises from Six to Ten Feet in Height in the Course of Three or Four Months; and previous to the Silk Harvest commencing for the ensuing Year, or late in the Month of October, after the Rains have ceased, the Mulberry Plants are cut down to the Ground.
At what Distance do they stand from each other in the Field?
I think they are planted very like Potatoes in this Country, in Drills, nearly about the same Distance, in some Parts.
Have you ever seen them sown in Drills?
They do not sow it with a Plough, but they plant it. I believe the same Root lasts from Ten to Fifteen Years. The Court of Directors wished the Natives to use the old Leaves in preferece to young Leaves; but the Natives were averse to it, and it could never be carried into Effect.
Were any Europeans, conversant with the European Cultivation of Silk, living among the Natives, and forming Establishments in Bengal?
There were in the District of Bauleah several, but none in the District where I was.
Was the Silk of that District supposed to be superior to that of the other Districts?
I believe inferior; certainly not superior.
Do you know what was the Cause of that Inferiority?
I cannot answer that Question; the Factory I was at was the original Factory where the Italians were first settled when the Company sent to Europe for Men to introduce the Italian Mode of winding the Silk; and I believe the Jungypore Silk has always been considered among the best in the Country.
How long ago is it that the Italians were sent there?
About the Year 1760, or between that and 1764.
Do you happen to be aware whether, when the Indian Raw Silk is imported into this Country, any Goods are manufactured from that Silk alone?
I do not know. I saw a Man weaving Silk at the Repository at Charing Cross; and, on asking him a few Questions upon the Subject, he told me that the Bengal Silk was so weak they were obliged to have Italian Silk for the Cross Threads.
What is the first Year you were acquainted with Silk?
The Year 1804.
What was the Price you paid at that Time?
I cannot exactly recollect, but it was considerably less than it is now; it has been rising since.
Has it been at all improving in Quality since?
I have always understood that the Company's Silk was very much improved in Quality.
Do you refer to that grown from the Indian Worms?
Of all Descriptions.
Has not some Change been made in the Mode of taking the Duty on Silk?
I think there has been a Change made since the Renewal of the Charter in 1815 or 1816.
It was taken on the Pound indifferently; was not it?
I do not recollect that the Company paid any Duties at all before.
When they first paid Duties, how was it?
I do not recollect now; the Duties are charged in a different Way from that in which they were before.
How are they charged now?
There is an Entry made in the Books, and a Charge made, but no Duties were ever actually paid by the Factory where I was.
Did not that Change in the Mode of taking the Duties lead to the Introduction of a greater Proportion of the lower kinds of Silk in preference to the better kinds?
I cannot, without Reference to the Accounts, answer that Question.
Do you recollect any private Individuals who had Filatures during their Residence in India?
I know One myself who had very extensive Filatures-Mr. Fruchard, afterwards Inspector of the Company's Silk Investment.
Do you know any others?
There was a Mr. Watson who had considerable Filatures.
Do you know what was the Fate of those private Adventures?
I believe Mr. Frouchard was a very poor Man, and I have understood died very much involved. Mr. Watson is still alive, but I believe does not carry on the Silk Business.
Is not that owing to the Company producing the Silk and selling it at Home at a considerable Loss, so that it became impossible for Individuals to carry on the Trade profitably?
I should think that is the Case, that no Persons would like to deal in an Article they must lose by.
Do you know what the Average Loss is upon the Silk?
No, I never heard.
Did the private Speculators make Advances to the Natives in the same Way as the Company?
No, I never knew them do so.
The only Silk that the private Speculators were supplied with was the Country Wound Silk?
There are many Natives reel Silk in the same Way as the Company, according to the Italian Mode, and that Silk is sold to any Person who chuses to purchase it.
Does not it require some Capital?
Many Natives employed in the Silk Trade have large Capital, but that is chiefly confined to the Bauleah District.
The Natives who furnished Silk to the private Speculators were not entitled to the Privileges which were conferred on those who furnished Silk to the Company's Agents?
No. I beg to observe that those Regulations, with respect to Privileges, have since been done away with. The Orders had arrived before I left India, and there was a Regulation framing when I left Calcutta.
The Natives who furnish Silk to the Company now possess no more Advantages than those who furnish it to Individuals?
I cannot speak to the Regulations precisely.
Do you know whether Indian Silk is now used for manufacturing Purposes in England, for which it was formerly thought unfit?
I cannot take upon myself to answer that Question.
Do you conceive the Quality of Indian Silk is susceptible of much further Improvement?
I do not think that it is, for the great Defect in the Silk is want of Staple.
Is any Silk imported from China to Bengal?
No, not that I am aware of.
Do you know the Result of some Experiments that were tried at Sincapore, for the Improvement either of the Manufacture of Silk or the Cultivation of the Mulberry?
No, I never heard of them.
Did the Italians, on their Arrival in India, alter the Mode of the Cultivation of the Mulberry?
I believe not the least; I never understood that they did. It is entirely different from that of their own Country, but I believe they did not alter it.
Has there been an Improvement of the Manufacture of Silk at the private Establishments corresponding with that in the Company's Factories?
I do not know. I never was in the private Factory of any Individual.
How long were you employed in the Superintendence of the Salt Manufactory?
I was nearly Six Years in the Salt Department.
At what Place were you stationed?
I was stationed, for about Ten Months, in the Twenty-four Pergunnah Agency, though only Three actually resident; then Five Years in the Tumlook Agency.
Have the goodness to state in what Manner the Salt was provided?
By Advances to the Molungees, who are the People who manufacture the Salt.
Was the Condition of those Molungees as good as that of any other Labourers in the Country?
Fully as good, and in many Cases better.
Are there any Means of increasing the Supply, without any considerable Increase of Cost?
If higher Prices were given for Salt, of course more could be produced; but I always understood there was as much produced as was required for the Consumption of the Country. For Three or Four Years together, the Government tried the Experiment of giving an increased Price, and having a larger Quantity of Salt made; that was about the Years 1814, 1815, 1816, and 1817. But there was an enormous Loss to the India Company from the Experiment, and it was never adopted afterwards.
Do you know what the Alteration in the Retail Price was under that Arrangement in 1814, whether it rose considerably or fell?
I cannot answer that Question; I do not know.
Is the Salt sold by the Company in large Quantities?
It is sold at Monthly Sales, or every Two Months.
Is the Quantity to be sold known before Hand?
It is always advertised at the Beginning of the Year what Quantity will be sold in that Year, and I think they pledge themselves that not more than a certain Quantity shall be sold; and at the Beginning of the Year when the first Sale is announced, the different Sales of the Year are also put into the public Paper, and Proclamations published at the Salt Offices.
Is it sold in large Parcels?
It is sold I think in Lots of Three or Five thousand Maunds; the Quantity deliverable at the Agencies is in Lots of 250 to 1,000 Maunds each Lot.
Is the Trade chiefly in the Hands of large Capitalists?
The first Purchasers are large Capitalists, who purchase what is called the Tuncas, and those Tuncas are sold to Merchants in the Interior, who receive the Salt at the Agency Warehouses, and carry the Salt into the different Districts.
Is the Price obtained by the Purchasers at the Sale very much larger than that given by them to the Company?
I cannot exactly say what Advance they get, but the first Purchaser, no doubt, gets a Profit.
The Tunca is an Order for the Delivery?
Are you aware what Difference there may be between the Price at which the Salt is retailed, and the Price at which the Company sell it?
I have known the Prices paid for Salt at the Company's Sales to vary from 340 to 350 Rupees for 100 Maunds to 595 per 100 Maunds.
What is the Weight of a Maund?
Can you state, when the Price of the Maund was 350 Rupees, what the Price of that Maund retailed would have been?
No, I had no Opportunity of knowing that; I can state generally what I have paid for Salt myself, which has been about Five Rupees a Maund, but then it is not so pure; the Price in the Country is generally about Five Rupees a Maund.
Does the Price in the Country not vary very much?
I do not think it does.
Does it not vary with the Price at the Sale?
The Price at the Sale would have a little Effect upon it, but I do not think much.
Have any Europeans become Purchasers of Salt to any large Extent?
I have often heard of Europeans having Salt sold to them; but I never recollect hearing of any one who had made any thing by it.
Is Salt ever sent into the Interior in large Quantities?
Merchants resident at large Bazaars very often do so; but, generally speaking, it is carried in small Quantities in Return Boats; it is a very heavy Article, and there is great Danger in dragging it up against the Current.
On whose Account is it so transmitted into the Interior; on Account of Persons to whom the Boats belong, or the Merchants in the Interior?
Merchants very often have Boats their own Property, but they also freight Boats. Of course the Merchants resident in large Markets carry on a very extensive Trade in Grain and Salt, and different Articles.
What Return Cargoes do those Boats carry into the Interior besides Salt?
A Variety of different Articles; Cocoa Nuts, or any thing that is required in the Province to which they are going.
Have they generally a full Freight when they go back?
Seldom or never.
So that the Cost of the Conveyance of the Salt is not very great?
I should suppose that is one Reason why Europeans cannot succeed in the Trade, that the Natives can do it much cheaper, by sending small Quantities in the Return Boats. For instance, a Merchant residing at Patna sends certain Quantities of Grain to Calcutta, for the Use of the Horses there, and he receives back by those Boats the Articles that will sell in that Part of the Country; but they never freight their Boats so heavily as when they go with the Current.
Do you know any Instances of Salt being imported into India from Europe?
I heard of One or Two Ships that were sent from Liverpool a few Years ago.
Do you know whether the Adventure succeeded?
I understood that it did succeed, and that the Government immediately put an additional Duty on all Salt that might be imported.
Do you know whether the Price at which that Salt imported from Europe was sold was one that could have come into Competition with the Price of Salt made in India, had the Manufacture of Salt there been free?
No, I am sure it could not. If the Manufacture of Salt in India was free, there would be very little Salt required, for the Natives would make it in every District of the Country.
Is there any Prejudice on the Part of the Natives against the Use of Salt imported by Sea?
Many Natives of high Caste would rather starve than eat the Salt from this Country; no Hindoo of good Caste would eat any thing from on board a Ship.
Is that on account of its having been prepared by Persons not Hindoo?
Not only prepared, but any Articles touched by Europeans they will not eat.
Do you mean to state that there are the Means of preparing Salt at any considerable Distance from the Sea, and in various Parts of the Country?
The Salt is produced by various Means in India; there is a Lake the Bottom of which is entirely formed of Salt, called the Sambre Lake; but there is a Duty, I believe, on that Salt, if imported into the Company's Provinces; and they also make Salt in the same Way, I apprehend, as they make Saltpetre. It is not so good Salt, but they can make it, I have heard, in small Quantities.
In what Part of the Country are the Salt Manufactories of the Company?
In the lower Parts of Bengal, and in those Parts only along the whole Mouths of the Ganges, and up the Rivers and Creeks adjoining.
Cannot Salt be provided in this Part of the Country at a much cheaper Rate than it could any where else, except the Salt Lake?
Could not that Salt be manufactured so cheaply as to undersell any Salt made in any other Parts of the Country?
I have no doubt it could be; many Natives would manufacture a little for their own Use.
Is Salt generally manufactured on Advances?
Entirely by Advances.
To whom are the Advances made?
Individually to the Molungees, (who make the Salt,) in the Presence of the Agent.
Can you state what is the Amount of Advance made to each Molungee?
It depends upon the Quantity of Salt Land he has to manufacture his Salt from.
Is a Molungee invariably the Proprietor of Salt Land, or is it allotted to him?
He is either a Proprietor himself, or he rents it. They are generally Renters, and the Company pay a Remuneration to the Zemindar of the District in which the Salt is manufactured.
Speaking generally, are the Molungees indebted to the Company on their Advances, or are they on the Delivery of their Salt free from all Embarrassment?
I do not recollect, during the Time I was Salt Agent, that there were any Balances at the End of the Year, and Rewards are invariably distributed to those who conduct themselves with the greatest Propriety.
Do you conceive it is in the Power of any Molungee, without Difficulty, to leave the Manufacture of Salt?
Certainly it is; but it is generally considered to be a very great Punishment to be dismissed from the Service.
Are you not aware that an Impression contrary to that Statement prevails in this Country?
I have heard it often mentioned.
Do you know on what it is founded?
I conceive there is no Foundation in Truth whatever for it; for there is no Class of People in the World better looked after, or more kindly treated, than the Molungees employed in the Salt Monopoly in India.
Can you state at how much a Maund the Salt is produced; how much The East India Company gives for it?
The Price given by The East India Company varies in different Districts. In some Parts the Land produces more Salt. For Instance, in the Hidjelee Agency, situated between Tumlook and the Sea, the Earth is, I believe, more deeply impregnated with Salt than it is in the Tumlook District, consequently the Price given was less; for the same Reason, in the Districts in my Agency that were nearest the Sea, they received a less Price than the one nearest Calcutta.
In the District where it was most easily produced, how much was paid for it?
I think Half a Rupee a Maund; and in the most Northern District I think Twelve or Fourteen Annas, which is very nearly double.
So that the Sale Price is about near Six to Eight hundred per Cent. on the Cost Price?
Very nearly that.
What is the Quality of the Salt; is it refined?
No, it is not refined; it only undergoes one boiling.
Is it to be compared to the Salt eaten in this Country?
I think it is very far superior.
In what respects?
It is not so bitter as the English Salt.
Is it better than our Refined Salt?
I should think better than any Europe Salt.
Are the Crystals large?
It is very fine; it is not in Crystals at all.
Is the Madras Salt ever brought into the Market at Calcutta?
It depends upon the Quantity of the Salt in Bengal; if there is not a sufficient Quantity of Salt produced in Bengal, Government issue Proclamations with the Prices which will be given for the Salt from the Coast, and then Ships touch at the different Ports on the Coast and bring the Salt to Calcutta.
Except when the Salt produced under the Monopoly is not sufficient to meet the Amount advertised, the Importation of Madras Salt would be prohibited?
I conceive so.
Can you give any Information as to the Price that Madras Salt has produced?
No, I cannot.
Is its Quality inferior to that of Calcutta Salt?
I believe it is inferior, and sells at a much lower Price, though a much higher Price is given by the Company than for their own.
For what Reason is it bought at a higher Price by the Company?
To avoid Disappointment by the Natives, I conceive, from a smaller Quantity being made than the Supply of the Country requires.
Is much Salt consumed by the Natives?
They cannot live without it.
Has any Complaint been made to your Knowledge of the Quantity consumed by each Individual?
I do not recollect exactly; I have heard it often; I never heard the Natives complain of the Monopoly of Salt.
Do you conceive that if they were permitted to manufacture Salt, as you state, at a very low Price, the Consumption would be much increased?
No, I do not think it would.
Can you state what the Price of Salt is in the Interior, at any Distance from Calcutta?
To the best of my Recollection, it may be stated to be Five Rupees a Maund, that is about 200 Miles above Calcutta; I believe it is as dear in Calcutta, but then the Natives who purchase the Salt adulterate it very considerably after it leaves the Company's Warehouses.
Can you state at what Price the Salt imported from the North, and carried over the District, is able to compete in the Market with the Salt in Calcutta?
It is not, I believe, brought down in large Quantities lower than the District of Benares, nor would it answer, I conceive, to carry the Calcutta Salt higher than Benares.
How far is Benares from Calcutta?
By Land it is about 400 Miles, and by Water about 700.
Can you state at what Distance from Benares the Salt brought into Competition with that from Culcutta is brought to it?
I cannot state exactly the Distance.
How are the Countries not under the Government of the Company supplied with Salt?
There are vast Quantities of Salt produced in the Western and Northern Parts of India, but I do not know how they are regulated.
Do you know at what Price that is sold?
No, I have no Idea.
Is much Salt illegally made, or smuggled in?
I believe every Molungee almost is in the habit of smuggling a little Salt, which makes them so much attached to the Business; and some Molungees I have known very rich Men.
What is the Penalty on smuggling?
The Penalties on smuggling were Fine and Imprisonment, but I believe it was very seldom inflicted. I do not remember having committed any Person to Prison for smuggling, for I considered in some Instances the Molungees were not sufficiently paid for their Salt; it (the low Price) operates more against the Company themselves than as an Oppression towards the Natives who make the Salt.
Do you conceive it would be impossible to abolish the Monopoly and substitute an Excise Duty on the Manufacture, combined with a Custom Duty on the Importation?
I think it would be very dangerous to do it; and it would require some Time to prepare the Natives for such an Alteration.
What do you foresee to be the Diffiulties?
That it might have an Effect on the Supplies of Salt in the Interior, and the Difficulty of defining who should have the Salt Lands; they are possessed by Zemindars generally as their Property, so that if the Company were to give up the Monopoly, the Land would fall into the Possession of Men who would have the sole Power of making Salt; and in the District where I was, the Lands were generally possessed by Two People-the Rajah of Tumlook, and the Rajah of Mysadul. I paid a Sum every Month to those People of about Five or Six thousand Rupees, as a Remuneration for the Lands that were appropriated to the Salt Manufacture.
Do you conceive any other Difficulty would arise to the Imposition of such a Duty than that of framing proper Regulations?
The Supply would be at first very uncertain; and as the Natives do not complain of the Monopoly, I conceive it would be a very dangerous Experiment to try; the Monopoly would fall into the Hands of some Persons.
You say that Salt might be manufactured any where?
Yes; but of course the Earth produces very little, and the Salt is not so good, and it would be only the poorest Class of Natives who would think of taking that Trouble; probably it would be difficult for them to get a Supply in Time, if any sudden Change was made in the Monopoly.
Do you ascribe the principal Difficulty to the Abruptness of the Change rather than its being in the End nearly impracticable?
I do not think it is impracticable at all.
Are the Lands now occupied by the Company for the Purposes of Salt Manufacture divided amongst a great Number of Proprietors?
I cannot answer that Question without reference to Records upon the Subject. I believe every Native Molungee who receives Advances from the Company pays a Salt Rent for the Land from which he is to manufacture the Salt.
How many Salt Agencies are there?
Seven or Eight.
Would there be greater Danger of Adulteration in the event of the Monopoly of the Company ceasing?
I think there would be very great Danger; it increases the Danger if the Manufacture rests with Individuals.
Is it a voluntary Bargain on the Part of the Persons on whose Lands the Salt is made, or is the Land assumed by the Government as an Act of Authority?
I cannot answer that Question decidedly; there is a Remuneration paid to the Zemindar by the Salt Agent; but it occurs to me that that is a Remuneration for the Right their Ancestors held, and that the Natives who manufacture the Salt pay a Revenue for the Lands occupied by them for that Manufacture.
Is the Amount of that Revenue fixed by Government?
I think the Government have some Means of checking any Imposition.
Can you state what was the Number of the first Purchasers of Salt at the Company's Sales?
Are they Persons of large Capital?
They are generally considered as Persons of large Capital.
Are they a numerous Body?
I believe they are a very numerous Body.
Is there much Competition?
I conceive them all to go together, that it is a sort of second Monopoly, and that they receive a very small Profit on a very large Sum of Money, which in the course of Time makes them large Capitalists.
Are they Natives?
Yes, they are Natives.
Do the first Purchasers never sell the Salt by Retail?
I believe never.
Are the Persons who purchase the Salt from them numerous?
There are a certain Number from every District between Benares and Calcutta, Salt Merchants; People who trade in Salt also trade in Grain and all other edible Commodities.
The first Purchasers purchase at the Auction?
Are the second Sales by private Contract?
Those Tuncas are sold at so much Advance per Cent.
Can you state at how much per Cent. in general?
I never had an Opportunity of knowing.
Do those Persons whom you describe as the second Monopolists agree together not to give more than a certain Price, or do they bid against each other?
The Impression upon my Mind is, that they agree together what Price they will give.
What is there to prevent those who are now the second Purchasers being the first Purchasers?
I know no Rule that prevents them; they might, if they had Capital sufficient.
Is the Quantity in each Lot so large as to deter them?
No, I do not think that it is; though one Lot might be more than they would require.
The Lots are 5,000 Maunds?
Yes, to the best of my Recollection, they are either Three or Five thousand; I cannot recollect precisely which.
Do you consider the Situation of the Molungees as improved, compared to what it was some Years ago?
Most certainly it is.
There were some Courts of Justice specially formed for their Protection, were there not, some Years back?
I do not know that any were; but new Regulations were framed, and the Government have always exercised great Vigilance in every thing relating to the Salt Department.
What were those Measures of Improvement by which their Circumstances have been ameliorated?
They took place so many Years before I was in the Department, that I cannot satisfactorily answer that Question; but it was in the Time of the Government of The Marquis Wellesley the new Arrangements were made; and I believe there was more Corruption on the Part of the Europeans than there is now; that the whole System was corrupt.
Have you Reason to think that, before this Improvement took place, their Situation was peculiarly unfavourable, as compared with that of the rest of the Natives?
I should not suppose that their Situation was particularly hard; for they participated, of course, in the Corruption which existed throughout the whole Department.
Do you know whether any Measures have been adopted with a view of making the Employment less unhealthy than it used to be?
I conceive it impossible to do that, for it is the Situation of the Country which is unhealthy.
You think the Employment is now as unhealthy as it was Twenty Years ago?
Were you concerned in the Purchase of Investments of Indigo?
No, I never was.
When you were resident in the Interior, had you Occasion to see the Conduct of the Indigo Planters?
I have often seen the Conduct of the Indigo Planters.
Before they had Permission to hold Lands in their own Names, in what Manner did they obtain Land for the Purpose of cultivating Indigo?
They obtained Lands by farming the different Zemindarries in the Names of their Servants, and they had just as much Possession of the Land before as any Law or any Act of Parliament could give them.
Did it appear to you that any practical Inconveniences arose out of the former System of Farming in the Name of their Servants?
I conceive very great Inconvenience to arise from that.
State what they were?
Various Oppressions of the Planters towards the Natives.
Of what Nature were those Oppressions?
Compelling them to sow a larger Proportion of Land with Indigo than they would otherwise be inclined to do, and by taking their best Lands.
Did those Oppressions arise out of the System; namely, the System to which they were forced to resort, by not being allowed to hold Lands in their own Names; or did they arise out of the necessary Connection that was existing between them and the Natives?
It arose out of the Competition which takes. place between Indigo Planter and Indigo Planter residing in the same District.
When they forced the Natives to apply their best Lands, and a larger Portion of the Land than the Natives desired, to the Cultivation of Indigo, whose Power did they exercise?
The Power of the Zemindar.
Was it from the Zemindar they took the Lease?
The Zemindar may rent his Land to Three or Four People. The Zemindar lets it to what is called an Izardaar, or Farmer; the Izardaar again to what is called a Durizzardar, or Underfarmer; and each gets a considerable Profit on the Lands, and the Natives are in consequence very much oppressed.
Under that System were any Measures adopted for preventing the Lessor from delegating, or the Indigo Planter from exercising Power which did not belong to them by Law?
I conceive the Farmer stands exactly in the Shoes of the Zemindar, and is bound by the same Law which regulates his Conduct towards the other Parties.
Are the Rights of the Zemindar over the Lands within his Zemindarry in all Circumstances ascertained, or do they vary in different Parts of the Country?
I believe they vary in different Parts of the Country.
Before those Leases were granted, were any Means taken to ascertain the Rights of the Zemindar in that particular Zemindarry?
That I cannot answer.
Do the Indigo Planters make in all Cases Advances to the Cultivators?
I believe in almost all Cases they do.
What Powers have they for the Purpose of forcing the Ryots to observe the Conditions of the Leases made with them?
They have no Power, except that of resorting to the Courts.
Are there Instances in which Ryots have made Agreements with more than One Person for the Produce of the same Field?
I believe many Instances; that it is an Occurrence that happens daily in every Part of Bengal.
Does that lead to much Litigation or Violence?
It leads to great Violence and great Oppression.
By whom is the Oppression exercised?
By the different Indigo Planters and their Servants.
That is, in endeavouring to force the Ryot to perform both Obligations?
Yes; and in cutting the Weed to which both Parties conceive they have a Right, violent Affrays take place, and Bloodshed and Murder frequently occur.
Do such Violences occur oftener in Parts of the Country where there are not Europeans?
I believe not.
Is it the Fact that an Individual is more disposed to take the Law into his own Hand, when he thinks he has no Right?
I think so.
Has the Manufacture of Indigo been improved by the Indigo Planters?
I have always understood it has been greatly improved within the last Twenty Years.
What is the Condition of the Persons who act under them; are they in a comfortable Situation?
Under a good Master they are very comfortable, and under a bad one they are very much the reverse.
Should you say that the Condition of the Ryots who labour for European Indigo Planters was generally better than that of other Ryots?
I should say it was not better.
Are they not equally well remunerated, or does the Inferiority of their Condition result from those occasional Acts of Violence?
Indigo is a very uncertain Plant; the Native is put to great Expence in cultivating his Field, and very often it yields nothing; and where the Indigo Planter who makes Advances on the Land is inclined to be oppressive, it leads to the most serious Consequences to those Individuals.
Do you think that the Measures adopted by the Indigo Planters lead to a more extensive Cultivation of Indigo than would take place if Europeans were not engaged in that Article of Commerce?
That is, that the Indigo Planters adopt Measures for forcing the Ryots to cultivate Indigo, and that has led to more extensive Cultivation of the Plant?
The Indigo Planter farms the Lands in the first instance, and that compels those Persons either to sow a certain Quantity of Indigo, according to the Quality of the Land he possesses, or he deprives him altogether of his Land, and turns him out.
Has not the Ryot in most Parts of the Country by Law a Right to cultivate his Land in what Manner he pleases?
That Right is interfered with by the Indigo Planters?
Yes, it is.
All that the Ryot owes to the Zemindar is a certain Portion of the Produce of his Land, whatever that Portion may be?
No; the Land pays a certain Revenue to the Person who holds the Lands.
He has entire Liberty to cultivate the Land as he pleases?
Provided he pays that fixed Revenue, no one can displace him?
That was the Intention of the Regulations.
What Remedy has the Ryot when thus forced to cultivate the Land not according to his own Wishes, but those of the Indigo Planter?
He has no other Remedy than an Appeal to the Court.
What Chance has he of having that Appeal heard?
I believe he has very little.
What would it cost him to appeal to the Court?
That I cannot answer; it is to the Zillah Court that I refer.
Do you mean to say that the Cultivation of Indigo is carried on on a general System of Compulsion?
No, I am certain it is not; I am only alluding to a large Proportion of Planters in the lower Parts of Bengal, where a Number of low Europeans and Half-castes are settled.
The System of Compulsion is in fact an Abuse?
A great Abuse.
And it is confined to One District?
It is confined to the whole of Bengal.
Is it general throughout Bengal?
It is now becoming more general every Day. When I first knew Bengal, it was confined to the Districts near Calcutta- Kisnagur and Jessore principally.
Is the compulsory Cultivation of Indigo general throughout those Districts?
I believe it is.
And the perfect Impotence of the Law to protect the Natives against it?
I believe it is; but I beg, in addition to those Two Districts, to add Three or Four more - Rajuhaye, Purneah, Malda and Moorshadebad.
Throughout those Districts, is the Condition of the Ryot cultivating Indigo materially worse than that of other Ryots, speaking generally, otherwise than in the Instance of a very bad Master?
I speak in reference to the Three or Four first Districts I first mentioned merely from Report; I speak of Moorshadebad and Malda from what I have myself seen.
Of what Date?
In 1824, 1825 and 1826; and I say decidedly that the State of the Ryots in those Districts is in a very deplorable Condition, as compared with the other Ryots in the same Districts who do not cultivate Indigo.
Can you state what Number of Europeans are settled for the Purpose of cultivating Indigo?
No, I cannot.
Can you state how much Land is employed in the Cultivation of Indigo in the Province of Bengal?
I cannot answer that Question. I cultivated 100,000 Begas myself. I believe there are Two Begas and a Half to an Acre.
Does not the Bega vary in Size in different Districts?
Then it would be about 40,000 Acres you cultivated?
Was that on your own private Speculation?
Yes; another Gentleman and myself.
Is it generally a profitable Speculation?
I found it so when Indigo was only Half the Price it now is; and I believe it has been a very losing Speculation since the Price of Indigo increased.
How do you account for that?
The Oppressions of the Natives, and the great Competition existing amongst the Mercantile People in India.
Has the Expence of Cultivation increased?
Every thing connected in the Manufacture of Indigo has increased, and the Seasons have been very unfavourable for many Years past.
Has the Expence of producing Indigo much Increased?
Taking into Consideration the Failure of the Seasons, it has been very much increased. For the last Five or Six Years there has not been one good Crop of Indigo.
Has a much greater Quantity of Land been applied to Indigo Cultivation?
I believe not; I believe the same Lands; all the alluvial Lands on the Borders of the Ganges.
Is the Cultivation annually extending?
It is only an annual Plant. In the upper Provinces of India it is a triennial Plant.
Has more Land been brought latterly into Cultivation?
I believe latterly Cultivation has increased to a great Extent.
The Price, notwithstanding, has continued to increase?
In the Part of India where it is an annual Cultivation, is Indigo planted the Second Year on the same Lands?
Yes; the Lands, generally speaking, are overflown by the Ganges, and a Sediment is deposited, which manures the Lands; and if no Inundation takes place, the next Season is almost certainly a Failure.
That has been the Case?
It has been the Case for several Years.
Is the triennial Indigo of a different Quality from the other?
It was 'till lately. They found out within these few Years that by boiling they can make it nearly as good as the Bengal Indigo; but I believe it has never been considered quite so good.
Is it grown exclusively on Lands which are subject to Inundation?
In Bengal it is generally sown on Lands subject to Inundation, and no Person will sow any other Lands if they can get those; but since the Cultivation became so great, I believe Lands that are not inundated are also sown with Indigo.
Is it an exhausting Crop?
I should think it was, from the Strength of the Roots and the Size of the Roots.
Do you know whether, in some Parts of the Country where Indigo is grown, there is amongst the Ryot's Race an increased Consumption of European Manufactures as compared with other Districts where it is not grown?
No, I do not believe there is.
What Right of holding Land is now given to an European Planter?
I do not know what has taken place since I left India.
Is the Cultivation entirely in the Hands of Europeans?
Not altogether; some of the Natives have considerable Factories.
Is the Indigo manufactured by Natives as good as that manufactured by Europeans?
I believe not.
During the Period in which it was such a beneficial Employment of Capital to Europeans, do not you think the Ryot shared at all in the Advantages which arrived to the State?
I think they did. 'Till the Cultivation took place in Bengal, I think the Ryots were comparatively happy; I have heard them say so themselves.
For some time after European Capital was first invested in that Employment, was not the Situation of the Ryot engaged in the Cultivation considerably improved?
The Introduction of that took place long before I went to Bengal, and I cannot give a satisfactory Answer to that Question.
Do you think that it can be attended with great Advantage to the European Cultivator, without leading to some Improvement in the Circumstances of the Ryot, as to Wealth and increased Comfort?
I think it might do so; but the Effect it has had has generally been the reverse, I think, speaking from my own Observation.
Do you happen to know whether, in those Districts in which Indigo is grown, the Collection of the Land Revenue has been facilitated?
I believe the Collection of the Land Revenue in Bengal has always been effected without the least Difficulty; but I have no doubt the Introduction of Indigo Planters into the Interior of India has of course circulated a much greater Capital than would otherwise have been the Case; but I believe there is no Difficulty in collecting Revenue in Bengal, because the Provinces were assessed so much below what they might have been.
Were you ever at Tirhoot, in Bahar?
I have been in that District, but never resided in it.
Did you observe there an Appearance of increased Wealth among the Ryots?
I believe there is no doubt that there is.
Was there a considerable Consumption of European Manufactures?
That I cannot speak to; I should think the Natives employed in the Cultivation of Indigo make very little Use of European Manufactures of any kind.
What was the Condition of the Ryots in that Part occupied by yourself in the Cultivation of Indigo; was their Situation comfortable or otherwise?
I can only speak from what I have heard from themselves, that they were comfortable, and that it was my Interest to make them comfortable.
Then the Difficulties you speak of were obviated on your Part where you resided?
There was not that Competition at that Time that existed in the other Parts of the Country.
Those Oppressions of the Ryots have been taken place since the great Competition?
Chiefly when I was concerned in Indigo myself, I made a Point of making the Situation of the Ryots as comfortable as possible.
Might not those Oppressions of which you have complained be easily obviated in other Instances as they were in your own?
If the same Conduct is observed to be followed up, it might be; but a very different Class of Persons have come into Possession of the Factories, Country-born Half-castes, and One or Two Europeans.
As Principals or as Agents?
Did you reside in the Place where your Indigo Plantation was carried on?
Yes, I did, about Forty Miles above Moorshadebad.
Do Persons who have taken those Lands for the Cultivation of Indigo generally reside there?
They generally reside on the Lands. In some Cases the Agents in Calcutta have a Share in the Factories, but not in all.
Is there much Difference in the Situation of the Ryot, whether it is conducted by the Principal in Person or by Agents?
I should conceive not.
What has led to this Change in the Description of Persons who manage the Indigo Plantations?
The Introduction of a greater Number of Europeans of course has led to the Change.
Do those European Indigo Planters retire to England at a certain Age?
Some of them do, if they can make the Change.
Do many of them remain in the Country?
I believe very few who can quit it.
Do their Sons succeed them in the Indigo Plantation?
Very commonly they do.
Do they marry?
Where do they get their Wives?
They marry the Daughters of Indigo Planters, I suppose, or any body they can get.
Is the Race they leave a white Race or a mixed Race?
Both white and mixed.
Do they divide their Property amongst those Persons of different Colours?
That I do not know.
Do you recollect any Indigo Plantation which has been for more than One Generation in the Hands of Europeans?
There has not been Time enough for that since I was in India; but I believe it was considered so profitable a thing that many Gentlemen came home, leaving their Property in the Hands of Agents in India.
Are those Indigo Plantations established by means of Capital imported into India from England, or by means of Capital borrowed from the Agents at the Presidency?
Generally by Capital borrowed from the Agents at Calcutta.
Are the Persons to whom those Plantations belong generally Persons of substantial Wealth themselves?
I believe a very small Proportion are at all in comfortable Circumstances.
Have they not been considered as the Agents of the Agents in Calcutta?
In many Cases they may be considered the Servants or Superintendents of their Agents.
How do those Persons you have described first get established in the Indigo Plantations?
Through Recommendations, I suppose, in many Cases.
Can a Person who is in India go to any Part of India he pleases, and follow any Line of Life he likes, without some Leave from the Government there?
None ought to do it; but no respectable Man is ever refused Leave, I believe, and many get Leave who ought not to have Leave.
Have you heard of the Failure of the House of Palmer and Company, at Calcutta?
Are you aware that that House was principally connected with Indigo Plantations?
I do not know, but I have heard they were.
Do you mean to say, that among Indigo Planters there are not many respectable Men?
I mean to say there are many very respectable Men; Men of the highest Respectability.
And Men of Capital?
Not many Men of Capital.
What Capital they have they have acquired in that Country?
Yes; I never knew Men with Capital going out to India to establish an Indigo Plantation.
Have not many of the Disorders which have taken place in the Indigo Districts been occasioned by Disputes about Boundaries?
I believe that is the principal thing which creates Disputes. Lands are thrown up by the Ganges, or great Rivers, and each Party claims those Lands.
Are not such Disturbances rather to be imputed to the Peculiarity of local Circumstances than to any defective Conduct or blameable Conduct in the Cultivator?
In some respects they proceed from local Circumstances, certainly.
The Witness is directed to withdraw.
Ordered, That this Committee be adjourned to Tuesday next, One o'Clock.