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, 18 Maii 1830.
Dr. Patrick Kelly is called in, and the Correspondence and Papers relating to Samples of Tea procured for the Foreign Office by His Majesty's Consuls are put into the Hands of the Witness, and he is directed to prepare a Statement, shewing the Cost per Pound of the Samples of Tea received by the Commissioners for the Affairs of India from His Majesty's Consuls, and the Value affixed to the respective Samples by the London Tea Brokers, converting Foreign Weights and Monies into English Weights and Monies.
It was in a very unsettled State, and had been so for the last Thirty Years previous to our taking Possession of the Country. It had been overrun by Bands of Freebooters; I believe there were at different Times about Eighty distinct Bodies, which had been in the habit of ravaging the Country; this was the Cause of its being very much depopulated. I think 1,100 out of, I believe, 2,700 Villages, for I merely speak from Recollection, were rendered desolate altogether; and those which remained were open to the Pillages of a Race of People denominated Bheels. These People are supposed by some to be the Aborigines of the Country; but they have been for a long Period attached to Villages as Guardians or Watchmen, with certain Immunities in Land and Fees from the People themselves. The Consequence of those Ravages deprived the Inhabitants of the Means of supporting the Bheels, who went into the Hills, and were in the habit of attacking the Villages. In order to secure themselves from these Assaults, the Villagers procured the Assistance of Foreign Soldiery, such as Arabs and Sindies, for their Protection. Many Villages, not able to do this, purchased the Forbearance of the Bheels by the Alienation of Lands, or rather Portions of the Produce, (a sort of Black Mail,) which they gave to the Bheels, to induce them to forbear their Attacks. At the Time we entered Candeish, the Arabs had gained very great Influence and Power in the Villages, as well as the Bheels. The latter had inspired great Terror by their Proceedings, and it became necessary, of course, to restore Order.
After having obtained partial Possession of the Country, we found several Places in the Occupation of the Arabs, who refused to give them up after the War had ceased, holding them on their own Account. Measures were first taken to reduce the Power of the Arabs; any Arrears of Pay or Sums of Money due to them, and to which they appeared to have legitimate Rights, were inquired into, and paid; and they were eventually sent out of the Country. The Bheel Chiefs were then to be dealt with. Those Persons who had raised themselves to be Heads of Gangs were invited down by me from the Hills; an Examination was gone into of the Claims they had on the Villages for Black Mail, or whatever Immunities they might have established; and, according to the Nature of each Case, a Pension was allotted to the Chiefs, and Engagements made to induce their Followers to return to those Villages to which they originally belonged.
They had the Effect of breaking up the Union that formerly existed among them, and enabled me afterwards to reduce those who reverted to their ancient Practices, which it would not have been so practicable to have done if we had done it in the first instance, before we obtained that Information. Their Numbers, when I came into the Country, amounted in the Estimate to about 5,000 of this Description, the Number was probably exaggerated, throughout the Country, under Forty or Fifty Chiefs. In the Course of Four Years, which was the whole Time I was in the Country, Military Operations were occasionally had recourse to at the Season of the Year when we could approach the Hills, for the Country was extremely unhealthy at Times. When we had recourse to these Measures we contrived to surround the Bheels, to cut off their Supplies, and to cause them to surrender without any Bloodshed. There were not, I think, above Fifteen or Twenty Persons killed or wounded during the whole Military Operations; and when I came away there was One Gang only that I recollect, of Forty Bheels in one particular District, whose Chief had just been killed in an Affray which had taken place with some Inhabitants of the Country passing through it, and this Gang was still in the habit of pillaging the Country. I do not recollect that there was any more united Gang than those Forty Persons. The rest of the Bheels returned to the Villages, and became the Village Police.
Civil Justice was administered by the People themselves, under the Form of Proceedings called Punchayet. This is a sort of Court of Arbitration. When the Parties themselves agreed to conform to this Mode, the Cause was decided by Arbitration; but when the Parties did not agree to adopt this Plan, Persons were appointed by the Government to hold a Court, the Parties being previously required to abide by their Decision before any Proceedings were taken.
Always. In all Cases there was a Right of Appeal, not against the Judgment of the Court, but against Corruption; for as the Parties themselves agreed to abide by the Decision, it was not thought right, in the Absence of any Expence attending it, to leave Appeal too open.
When I first went into the Country I misapprehended the Instructions I had received, and fell into the Practice of trying all Criminal Cases for upwards of Two Years by a Jury. The System was subsequently altered by the Bombay Government when Candeish was placed under its Authority. The Jury was composed principally of Landholders and influential Men in the Country, who had to decide upon the Fact, while the Native Law Officers, who sat on the Bench, promulgated the Law, and I then passed Sentence according to my own Judgment, and in accordance to the Nature of the Sentence awarded by the Native Law Officers. This was sometimes not consistent with our Notions of the Administration of Justice, such as Mutilation or other Modes of Punishment, and it was not thought proper therefore to adopt it.
Yes; entering at the same Time on the Proceedings what the Native Law Officers had promulgated as Law. Those Proceedings were then sent up to Government; and they were not carried into Effect, in Cases of Life and Death, until confirmed by the Head of the Government, for Candeish was then under the sole Commission of Mr. Elphinstone.
The Witnesses were examined by the Jury as well as by the Judge. The Jury were competent to put any Questions they chose, and I found them exceedingly useful in eliciting Evidence that it would have been impossible for me as a European to understand the Bearing of.
The Trial by Jury was quite new, inasmuch as there had been a Series of Anarchy for Thirty Years before; I do not think the System is quite new among the Natives of India under good Administration. Criminal Justice by a sort of Juries I think frequently prevails under the best Native Governments, and in fact it does so under the Government of Sattarah. There are always Three or Four Assessors on the Bench, so that, though not a Jury, there are always several Voices in the Administration of Criminal Justice.
Yes, I felt too heavy a Responsibility; I can mention One particular Case which will elucidate the Subject. There was an Instance in a remote Part of the Country where a great Land Proprietor, and a Man who had extensive Influence and Possessions, was said to have put his Wife to Death. The Circumstance was reported to the Chief Native Authority, who required him to appear before him to account for his Conduct. This was a Proceeding to which Men of his Station had not been accustomed under their own Government. He refused therefore to go; and on that Evening, in a State of Intoxication, he, together with his Brother and several others, in passing through the Town on Horseback, attacked the Individual who gave the Information, and killed him. The Murderer then went off to the Hills in the Neighbourhood, and raised a Party of Followers, for his Protection probably as much as any thing else, but it was supposed for the Purpose of attacking the legitimate Authorities. I immediately moved a Body of Troops against him; but perceiving from the Reports I had from the local Officers, that he was not very popular, I thought it better, instead of carrying the Measure so far as to go to War, to procure his Seizure. I offered a Reward therefore of One hundred or Two hundred Pounds for the Seizure of the principal Persons engaged in this Insurrection. In the Course of a Fortnight, without any other Military Operations, the Two Brothers were brought in to the Officer commanding the Detachment. Depositions of the whole Case were taken, and the Parties were sent in to be tried on the Spot. They were tried by Jury. The Jury discriminated between the Guilt of the elder Brother, who had actually committed the Murder, and his younger Brother, who was only present, but went off with him into the Hills. They found the elder Brother guilty of Murder, and he was executed on the Spot where the Crime was committed. In respect to the younger Brother, they acquitted him either of being accessary to the Murder, of which there were no Proofs that he had been a Party, though he was present, but there was no Proff of his being an Accomplice, nor was any Evidence adduced that he had been at the Head of any particular Party in attacking the Government. It was only proved that he with the rest of the Family, had gone off with his Brother. The Jury declared, that, according to the Practice of a Native Government, it was exceedingly likely, that not only his Brother, but the whole of the Murderer's Family, Women and Children, would have been seized had they not gone off together, and that the younger Brother therefore was no more guilty than the other Parties; that although he was an Adherent, and might have been engaged in the Insurrection, it did not appear that he had been guilty of any overt Act; and, in consequence, they considered that, although his Intentions might have been bad, there were no Proofs of it; and they acquitted him accordingly, in spite of any thing I could say; for I considered that having gone off with his Brother, and being known to be with the Body engaged in Insurrection, he was guilty as well as his Brother, though in a lesser Degree. The acquitted Chief was afterwards reinstated in all the Family Estates, and continues, I believe, a good and respectable Subject.
We had a very large Establishment called Sebundies, a sort of Local Militia; they could hardly be considered Police. I consider the Police of the Country those that belong to Villages; the local Militia had little or no local Information, and only went where they were sent by the Civil Authorities. I relied chiefly upon the Village Police for the Preservation of the Tranquillity of the Country.
The Force was never employed in actual Military Operations, except in the Reduction of the Town of Amulneer, after the Peace; but they were frequently employed in surrounding and embracing the Haunts of the Bheels, in order to reduce them to Subjection. On these Occasions, the Orders the Officers received were not to fire upon them, if they could possibly take them. They were mostly armed with Bows and Arrows; they were found to be a very contemptible Enemy; and, for the Purpose of sparing Bloodshed, they were not fired upon.
The principal Source of Revenue, as your Lordships are aware, is from the Land. A Settlement was made with Villages, in the first instance, and the Villages afterwards distributed the Assessment among the Inhabitants.
An Average was taken of the actual Collections of Ten Years, which was supposed to be the Amount each Village was calculated to yield. My Instructions were to adopt the Ryotwarry System, which had been adopted by Sir Thomas Munro in the Madras Provinces; but there was a Measure necessarily connected with the Ryotwarry System which it was not possible for me to carry into Effect. It was necessary, in the first instance, to ascertain by Measurement the Extent of the Lands, and afterwards to assess each Field. The cultivated Land was, however, measured Three successive Years during the Time I had Charge of Candeish, and the Assessments were made by the Villagers themselves, the whole Amount being fixed at the Average of that which the Lands had produced for Ten Years.
The legitimate Heads of Villages. They are in that Part of the Country denominated Potails. It was through them that the Village carried on its Communication. They are, in fact, the hereditary Chiefs of the Villages.
Neither they nor the People remonstrated at first, for this Settlement bore such a strong Contrast to the Manner in which they had been treated before, that they were exceedingly glad of any Measure that had the Appearance of Justice and Moderation. They subsequently complained very much of the Average of Ten Years being taken, in consequence of the great Difference which took place in Three Years in the Rise and Fall of Produce. The Assessment being made in Money, it became heavy the Moment the Price of Grain fell. When I went into the Country, the common Grain of the Country sold at about Four Shillings a Bushel; when I left the Country in Four Years, such had been the Increase of Cultivation and the little Demand, probably from the Absence of Cavalry and other Circumstances, that the same Grain had fallen off to Sixteen Pence a Bushel; it was quite impossible, therefore, that the Villages could pay the same Amount in Money the Fourth Year as they had done in the First Year. The Revenues of Candeish consequently fell off very much, though the Cultivation did not; and I have Reason to believe that they have fallen off much more since, and have never recovered.
They assessed them according to the Quantity of Land each Individual cultivated, and according to the Nature of that Land, as well as with regard to its productive Qualities as also with reference to its Proximity to the Village, and other Circumstances.
It did vary from Year to Year. I endeavoured to fix it, but it was changed annually in every Village by the People themselves; and I found it impossible to carry into Effect any permanent Money Assessment of the Land; and, I believe, it is impossible to render it so, where the Assessment forms so very large a Proportion of the Produce as our Assessment does.
I had only One Assistant at first. I had subsequently a second Assistant sent up, for the Purpose of examining the Rights of certain Individuals to Exemption from Payment of the Land Tax. The Orders of Government required me to do it, and I thought it ought to be investigated, but stated my Inability to go into a Matter of so important a Nature. I thought it necessary, therefore, to have an additional Assistant. That Gentleman joined me, and after being Six or Seven Months in the Country he died. I had subsequently Two more Assistants sent up, and after that some more were sent up.
It produced between Seventeen and Eighteen Lacs of Land Revenue the first Year; and in the Fourth Year, when I went away, I made the Settlement Eleven Lacs only, in consequence of the Variation in the Price of Grain. I understood it fell off subsequently to as low as Six Lacs.
If, therefore, in that Country, or in others similarly situated, there appears to be a Falling-off in the Revenue, the Committee are not from that Circumstance to imagine that the Country is deteriorated in Cultivation, or that the People are in a worse State than when they paid more?
We are always desirous of keeping up the Revenue as much as possible, therefore I think that, though not able to realize the whole Amount, we press so much upon the Inhabitants it must lead eventually to the Falling-off of Cultivation.
Really I cannot state what was the exact Proportion; my Instructions were to realize a certain Sum of Money equivalent to the Average of Ten Years former Collections. I believe that latterly the Assessment must have taken at least One Third, probably more; it is assumed that under the Native Government they are in the habit of taking a Half.
Yes. Here is a Document which I beg leave to read. It is "An Account of actual Collections under the Nabob of Arcot's Government, realized from the Village of Utramalur, in the Province of Arcot, in the Year 1742, derived from the Village Books." This was published in The Asiatic Journal; there is not the least Doubt, I believe, of its Correctness. The Produce of this Township being Rice, chiefly raised by Irrigation from a Tank built and repaired at the Government Expence, it claimed to share Half of the Crop with the Cultivators.
One Third of the Produce is first cut off from the Gross Produce, leaving Two Thirds to be divided. Actually paid to Government 25.141 Pagodas, leaving a Balance of 433 Pagodas in favour of the Village, more than Half. The Land being cultivated by Irrigation from the Tank which was kept up at the Expence of Government, and a certain Portion of Capital being thus vested by Government in the Cultivation, the Government has in consequence a Right to derive some Advantage directly from that vesting of Capital. The Practice, however, was only to take One Sixth of the Produce of Land not cultivated by Irrigation. Had the Village of Utramalur been cultivated without the artificial Aid of Water, and the Government only have claimed One Sixth, the following would have been the relative Proportions.
|Total Produce, as above||71.914|
|Alienations to Village and District Officers||13.760|
|Fees to Village Officers||3.071|
|Government Tax, being One Sixth||8.4532/3|
|Balance to Village||42.285⅓|
A Village under the British Government, in the latter Case, would be assessed, according to the most moderate Ryotwar System, in Money, at Thirty or Forty per Cent. of the Produce of each separate Field; and such an Assessment is, I believe, actually in progress now in the Deccan.
During the last Thirty Years there has been no Rule. The Districts were put up for Contract, as Tolls are in this Country, by the Native Government; the Person who bade highest had the District made over to him; the Person who got Charge of the District was to get the Revenue in the best Way he could. It frequently happened, before the Year was up, the same District was put up and sold to another Person; and there was a Contest between the Two Contractors which should realize the Money.
In that Part of India the System of taking any Proportion of the Produce has long been abandoned; but the Principle on which the ancient Native Government always administered the Country, and realized the Revenue, was by taking a certain Portion of the Produce, and then converting that Produce into Money, which varied every Year. We seem to have overlooked this Principle, and to have fixed the Revenue in Money, which in fact is the most variable Impost which can be put on the Land, when it comes to be so onerous as to embrace the whole Rent. Rent of Land must vary according to Circumstances.
Yes, I think it would be quite possible, and quite practicable, to introduce a System of assessing whole Villages, and allowing whole Villages and Communities to assess themselves; and I think it is likely such an Assessment would be permanent, if we gave up to the Inhabitants of the Country the waste Land, which the Government now claim, I think unjustly, to themselves.
I think there are in every Village in India the Ingredients for such a Settlement among the People themselves. I think the Village Communities and the Corporations still exist. In the Work I have written on the Subject, I have asserted nothing from my own Experience, but have quoted from others who have written on the Subject; and it appears to me that those Village Corporations and Communities do exist in every Part.
Yes; I ought to have excepted that. I understand that the Zemindarry Settlement Lord Cornwallis introduced in 1793 has had the Effect very much of breaking up Village Communities, though not altogether of destroying their internal Constitution.
I think it would. I find in all Villages Three Classes of Cultivators: one Cultivator, who has a Right of selling his Land and of paying a certain fixed Sum to Government; another Cultivator, who has not a Right of selling his Land, but a Right of Occupancy ad infinitum, so long as he pays a certain Sum to Government, and a certain Portion also in Fees to the first Description of Cultivator; there is also a Third Cultivator, who comes from other Villages, and cultivates, by Agreement, from Year to Year. Those Persons have quite distinct Rights; and I think any Ryotwarry Settlement which gave to all Classes the same Rights would be doing Injustice to other Parties.
I do not know how any Europeans could occupy Lands in India, unless the Government were to give up the waste Lands, which they now claim under the Zemindarry Settlement, or in Places where Zemindarry Settlements have been made, and the whole of the Land had been made over to the Zemindars as Proprietors, in the permanent Settlement of Bengal.
In many Parts of India I think he would be able to obtain it from the Village as a Corporation altogether, as a Community; certainly it would be necessary for the whole of those Persons to agree to give up their Rights in the particular Portions of Land belonging to them, but the Agreement would be made essentially by the whole Village.
If the Land was rented of them they would receive the Rent, and that would be the Means of their Subsistence; it would not be a necessary Consequence that they should continue to be Cultivators, if they had a Surplus Rent.
Certainly; a great Number of Individuals possess Lands in Candeish, where the Rights of the ancient Freeholders have been usurped; some possess Lands which they hold exempt from Payment to the Government; those Lands they let to other Persons. I myself, by way of Experiment, occupied Fifty or Sixty Acres of Land, and paid a Rent for it, and kept the Accounts.
Yes; a Person who is a Proprietor in some Parts of the Country sometimes sublets his Land. In the Provinces of Madras it is very common, where the Rents are not very onerous. There he sublets to another Person, who pays him a very small Fee as a sort of Landlord's Rent, and pays the Assessment of the Government; therefore in those Two Cultivators there is an essential Difference, one is the Proprietor and the other a Copyhold Tenant.
Yes; my Landlord was a Person of Family which had been reduced. The Land had lain fallow for a long Time, and he was in the habit of letting it to the Potail of his Village, who gave him little or nothing for it. I was anxious to get some Land of this particular Tenure, that I might ascertain the Portion of Produce I could have afforded to pay to Government as a Cultivator.
I think the Surplus Average Profit of Three Years was about Twenty-five per Cent, which was all. I had to pay to the Landlord his Rent, and what I should have had to pay to the Government, but the Government would have taken a much larger Sum than I paid to him.
No; I did not pay so much as Twenty-five per Cent. to the Landlord; I think, not above Twenty per Cent. About Twentyfive per Cent. was the Profit, after deducting the Expence of Cultivation. If I had had to pay the Tithes and Taxes, Village Expences, and so on, I should have been ruined; I should not have been able to pay the Landlord what I did. But I had but little Time to attend to it, and I did not understand the Nature of Agriculture much. To have continued it, I suppose, would have been a very losing Concern.
It was paid through the Agency of the Potail, who collected, and sent it by one of the Village Servants to the Head Man of some greater Division of Eight or Ten Villages, and he sent it to the Head of the District. It was collected monthly, and sent to my Treasury.
There was no considerable Expence in the Collection of the Revenue, nor any permanent Servant sent round to Individuals for the Money. The Revenue was collected by the Potail, through the Agency of Village Servants.
On some Occasions I was obliged to do so, but not on many. The Principle of the Administration was to be very lenient; and whenever I recommended that Remissions should be made, and stated it to be impossible that the People could pay, the Remissions were given.
I have resided, during the greater Part of the Time I was in India, in the Territories of several Native Princes, and have had Opportunities of conversing with the People. After the Battle of Mehidpoor I was for a short Time in charge of the conquered Districts of Holkar in Malwa, and I was for Four Years at Sattarah.
Certain Regulations had been introduced under the Orders of Mr. Elphinstone, by my Predecessor, Mr. Grant Duff. Those Regulations were framed on the Native System, with very little Alteration on our Part; and I think, therefore, I may say, that the Administration of the Government of Sattarah, as it now exists, may be deemed a good Specimen of the Management of a Native Government.
The Country is divided into Districts, each yielding from a Lac to 1,50,000 Rupees, containing from One hundred and fifty to Two and even Three hundred Villages. Over this District is an Officer, called a Subahdar. That District is then subdivided amongst a great Number of other junior Officers, each having from Six or Eight to Twenty Villages under his Charge. The whole Civil and Judicial Business is conducted through those Officers, each Village having its own Native Institutions prescribed to them. The Village Institutions are so well known, as stated both in the Fifth Report and in my Work, that it is perhaps unnecessary to go into a Detail of them.
Yes. In the Collection of Revenue the Settlement is made with Villages by the Subahdar and the junior District Officers together, usually under the Superintendence of The Rajah himself, who makes a Tour every Year for that Purpose.
It is fixed with reference to the Sum yielded in former Years. In that Part of the Country (Sattarah) there has been an ancient permanent Assessment of Lands, which is recognized; the Lands which are cultivated every Year are assessed in that Sum; each particular Bit of Land is assessed according to the Rates of different Villages. Lands which lie waste are excluded from the Amount of annual Settlement. Lands which are only lately brought into Cultivation, or brought into Cultivation according to a certain Agreement, in an increased Ratio, until they have been cultivated for Seven Years, pay accordingly, when at the End of the Term, they pay the whole Amount of that which is considered the full Assessment.
No, I think not. I think that the Villagers themselves, where the Assessment was left entirely to them, managed to satisfy each other. No doubt there were Partialities to certain Individuals, but I think that in this respect we are very apt, in going into those Investigations, to confound the Rights I have so often alluded to, of the different Description of Cultivators. In Sattarah the People appeared to be satisfied with the Arrangements, when the Distribution of the Assessment was made amongst themselves.
I think not. I think much the same; but the Country was falling off; and one Year particularly, when there was a great Drought, and there ought to have been a very large Remission, I was unable to induce The Rajah to consent to that Remission. The Consequence was, the Occupants left the Country, and did not return for Two Years; whereas, under the Government of the Putwurdhun Chiefs, they relinquished the Land Tax almost entirely in that Year; and the next Year the Cultivators were all present, and paid very largely, while in the subsequent Year The Rajah hardly got any Revenues.
No, I was not. On the Subject of the Administration of the Punchayet under the Native Government, I shall be able, perhaps, better to explain the Native System if I read some Notes I have made upon that Subject. It appears to me, from all my Inquiries, that there were several Courts: First, the Village Court, in which the Potail and the Inhabitants of the Village decided all Cases by Arbitration; all Cases that had reference to the Inhabitants of the same Village. From this Court an Appeal lay to a certain District Officer, which in the Mahratta Country is called Desmook, recognized in all Parts of the Country as the District Officer. From the Desmook Appeals lay to the Subahdar, and eventually to The Sovereign.
Not in Appeal Cases. The following is the Mode of proceeding in these Courts: before a Plaintiff can have his Cause inquired into, he is obliged to give Security to prosecute and to make out his Case, on pain of Fine or Fee. The Defendant is then obliged either to satisfy the Plaintiff or to give Security for the Amount sued for. If the Cause is to be litigated, the Plaintiff and Defendant are bound over to appear on a certain Day, in Failure of which Judgment should go by Default. It frequently occurs, that the Parties join Issue on a particular Point, on which the Cause rests, and is decided. The Award being given, both Parties are required to give Security for Fulfilment before the Proceedings are closed; and if the Defendant be required to pay a certain Sum of Money, it was necessary for him to give Security for it. In these Proceedings all Witnesses are examined vivâ voce, and all Testimony is taken down in Writing, for the Facility of Appeals.
Yes, always. It usually happens that most of the Members can write. The Proceedings are all taken down in Writing; not only the Person signs his Name as the Person who has written out the Proceedings, but Two Witnesses are also necessary. In conclusion, all the Members of Punchayet are required to write that they have come to this Decision.
It extends universally among the Brahmins, Shopkeepers and Merchants, not very generally, I think, among the other Classes; but there is no Instance of a Brahmin or Shopkeeper who cannot read and write.
Yes; some Schoolmasters were sent up from the College of Bombay to The Rajah of Sattarah. They had been educated in certain elementary Schools at Bombay. The Rajah would not receive them; he said they were not Persons that would answer his Purpose at all; he said he had Plenty of Schools; and in the small Town of Sattarah, where the Population did not exceed 10,000 Persons, I was surprised to find that there were Forty Schools; in Candeish and in the Deccan generally, Schools are common, and all Brahmins, the Sons of Bankers and the Sons of all Shopkeepers, or any Persons who have any thing to do with Business, are taught Reading, Writing and Accounts.
No, I think not; if it be desirable to adopt the System of Juries in India, there are certain Classes of People who, I think, should be bound to serve, such as Persons who have Immunities in Lands and other special Privileges, which they receive from our Government for doing in fact nothing, though they had Claims on their Services under the Native Government. Such Persons, I conceive, should be compelled to serve on Juries.
They have been granted by former Governments for Services performed or to be performed, and for the Support of Temples and Buildings, which have fallen into Ruins, or for the Support of Offices which have not been kept up.
In the Mahratta Country, under The Peishwa, it was commonly considered as belonging to the Government. In some Parts of the Peninsula it is believed to belong to the Village Communities. I think in the Carnatic it has been shewn, by the Minutes of the Madras Board of Revenue, that the waste Lands belong to the Village Communities; and I have no Doubt, under the ancient Hindoo Government, that was the Case; but in a Country that has been for the most part conquered for 600 Years by the Mohamedans, very few of such Privileges have been allowed to remain. The further we go South, where the Mohamedans did not conquer, we find the Hindoo Institutions and the Rights of Landed Property more perfect.
It depends upon the Nature of the Land. Where the Lands are cultivated by Irrigation, the whole Land is considered as belonging to the Community; and they draw Lots for certain Portions, Part of which each cultivates.
No, not in those Villages where the whole is distributed annually. I find this prevails in Italy, and also in Egypt, where the Practice of Irrigation extends very generally; for it is impossible to say how much Water can be afforded to each Field. It therefore becomes necessary to allot Fields to Individuals, according to the Proportion of Water which can be allotted to it. This seems to be the Cause of the Distribution of Lands annually to Individuals. This Practice, I believe, does not prevail in dry Lands, where the same Cause does not exist. There they cultivate the same Lands annually.
Yes; I think that extends throughout India. It has been particularly explained by the Board of Revenue of Madras, how those Rights extend, not only to the mere Pasture, but to the whole of that Part of the Common which the Village possess. That Right is called Gutcool, and is adverted to by Mr. Elphinstone and Mr. Chaplin in their Reports. In the Deccan those Rights are very frequently sold. With regard to the Right of grazing over the Common Lands of the Village, the Villagers will not allow the Cattle of other Villages to graze there.
The Government, I believe, claims the waste Lands in all those Countries which have been subdued by the Mohamedans, who claimed them as Lands they were at liberty to give for the Support of Temples, and for the Support of other Institutions, such as Colleges and Schools; and those Rights which the Mohamedans assumed reverted to the Hindoo Government when the Hindoos recovered those Countries. But under the Hindoo Governments in the South of India, not conquered by the Mohamedans, particularly in Malabar, Canara, Travancore and the Southern Carnatic, I conceive there that those waste Lands belong to the Village Communities, and that this Right is fully recognized in those Countries.
The Native Gentlemen, the Mahrattas particularly, neglect their Education very much; they are a good deal like the ancient Barons here, who thought more of War, and the Sword, and Field Sports, than of Education. When the Brahmins succeed to Territorial Property, they are educated as Brahmins in general are; but The Rajah of Sattarah always complained to me that he could get none of his Chiefs to allow their Sons to be educated; he found he had a great Difficulty in getting the young Nobles or Gentlemen of Family to learn any thing.
The Facility of reading and writing in the Books brought before them. They have their ancient Mythologies, and some few Histories of the Mahratta Government, which they are fond of reading or of hearing; but there is very little Encouragement to Literature among them. I think that the Natives generally, however, are desirous of receiving Information. On more than One Occasion I have found them so. I met Two Brahmins one Day sitting on their Horses reading, on their Journey, Books which had been printed in the College at Bombay. I asked them where they had got them, and if they bought them very cheap; they said they bought them very cheap at Poona. They were some of their own Stories.
He has no Knowledge of English, and I think he would have a great Repugnance that any of his Family should learn it; that arises from a Jealousy of our Power, and the Fear of their assimilating too much to ourselves; he is exceedingly jealous of such an Assimilation and of our Rule, though he owes every thing to it; but the Feeling is natural.
Yes, certainly, I believe in all Law Books. In the 8th Chapter of Menu it is said, in Verse 14, "He (The King) shall appoint a Lord of One Town, a Lord of Ten Towns, and a Lord of a Thousand," and so on. This I conceive to allude to a Potail.
The Potail is originally, I believe, an elective Magistrate, but in the Course of Time he, in some Places, succeeded from Generation to Generation, instead of being elected by the People. The Office should be confirmed by The King. He is employed by the Village as the Representative of the People, and by The King as the Magistrate of the Village. When I was in Candeish I frequently removed officiating Potails from Office on Complaint of the People, and allowed them to elect another, whom I confirmed.
I had not an Opportunity of knowing that, from seeing any Village newly created, but the Impression on my Mind is, that they were. In most Parts Villages appear to be divided into Six, Eight, Ten or Twenty original Shares; those were probably the original Proprietors of the whole Land; these Divisions have become minutely subdivided, the entire Shares being still recognized, and are called after the Names of the original Proprietors. Those Proprietors probably appointed the Village Officers, such as the Carpenter and Blacksmith, and other Village Officers known to exist in every Village. In India they have a curious Mode of retaining the Knowledge of the Limits of Villages, by apportioning Lands for domestic Officers on the Borders of the Village, beyond the ordinary Course of Cultivation. This being the Case in all Villages, it is very easy to recognize them, for each Man knows which is his particular Field.
I do not know; but I believe those Village Officers still exist, except perhaps the Police. By the Regulations of the Zemindarry Settlement, the Zemindars were exempt from the Maintenance of the Police, which gave to them a Plea for seizing on the Lands appropriated to that Purpose. I conceive that much of the Decoity we hear of owed its Origin to the Dispossession of the Proprietors of their Lands. Thus dispossessed, they collected in Bands, and made War on the Villages wherein their Rights were taken away. I draw this Conclusion from what I have read, and from the Conversations I have had with Persons from Bengal, such as Mr. Fortescue and others. Such appears to me to have been the Origin of that peculiar System of Gang-robbery, and that much of it arose out of the Zemindarry Settlements.
I have no doubt that Gang-robbery existed in all Parts of India, but not that particular Description of Gang-robbery; nor was it ever carried to the Extent it has been in Bengal. I state this as a mere Matter of Opinion, but I know that similar Attacks on Villages are made in all Parts of India whenever Landholders have been deprived of their Rights.