Affairs of the East India Company: Minutes of evidence, 21 May 1830

Pages 1081-1088

Journal of the House of Lords: Volume 62, 1830. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, [n.d.].

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In this section

Die Veneris, 21 Maii 1830.


The Lord President in the Chair.

George Harris Esquire is called in, and examined as follows:

What Situation did you fill in India?

I was a free Merchant in India.

Were you under Licence from the Company?


At what Time did you first go to India?

I went to India in 1793.

In what Capacity did you first act in India after you first went out there?

I was Assistant to the Salt Agent at Bullooah, though out of the Service.

How many Years did you continue to act in that Capacity?

From the Year 1794 to 1801. I think I came over to England in 1801, and whilst I was in England a Company's Servant was appointed to the Situation, and I was displaced.

You not having been a Company's Servant?

No; the Assistants to the Salt Agencies throughout the Country at that Time were out of the Service.

In what Capacity did you go out the second Time?

Under the same Licence. I had it renewed at the East India House.

What Occupation did you undertake in India upon that Duty of Salt Assistant ceasing?

When I went out the second Time, I first went into the Trade, at Luckipore, in Calicoes, and which, in about Two or Three Years afterwards, was quite knocked up by the Manufactures of Manchester. I then went into the Indigo Manufacture, in January 1808.

Where did you establish that Manufactory?

In the District of Kisnagur.

You continued in that Occupation during the rest of the Time of your Residence in India?

I did.

What was the Extent of Land which you brought under Indigo Cultivation during that Period?

I had generally about 36,000 Begas in Cultivation; from 30 to 36,000. Three Begas in the District of Kisnagur go to the Acre.

Did you find that an advantageous Employment of Capital and of Land during that Period?

Yes, certainly, I did.

In what Manner did you possess yourself of the Land you required for that Purpose; and what was the Nature of the Interest you had in it?


By Advances to the Ryots, the Tenants of the Land, I got the Land cultivated; having no Interest myself; not being able to have an Interest myself in the Land, under the Regulations of the Company.

Do you think the indirect Interest you were thus enabled to acquire sufficient to give Encouragement to the Employment of European Capital and Industry in that Species of Cultivation?

We often found that we wanted greater Interest, and frequently took large Farms, though in the Names of Servants, to the great Danger of Loss, at Times, putting ourselves so much into the Hands of our Servants.

You conceive, then, that were the Power of holding Land granted to Europeans, greater Encouragement and Security would be afforded to Persons disposed to embark their Capital?

Most undoubtedly; judging only from the Manner in which the Lands improved while they were in our Hands, or holding them myself as Farms, that the Improvement was always extremely great; the Villages I had in Hand increased in Value from Two Thirds to Three Fourths. I could give an Instance of having paid Rents for a single Village, Three or Four hundred Rupees when first I went into the Indigo Cultivation, and when I left it having paid 1.300 for the same Village, and collected the 1.300 with Ease, when at first I lost Money by the Three or Four hundred, merely by the Encouragement given by us to the Ryots; that it is our Interest to keep them in good Humour, and to be easy with them in all Circumstances when they have to pay their Rents, and to furnish them with Money when they wanted it.

You conceive the Ryots thus circumstanced were more favourably off than they would have been under any other System of Cultivation now prevalent in India?

Undoubtedly; and even better off than under the Talookdar. The Talookdars were very ready to let Europeans rent Villages, for when they came back into their Hands after Three or Four Years, they found them generally better cultivated, and more Inhabitants in them.

You found rather a Competition as to Land offered to you for Cultivation?

Yes, in some Cases. I was not much encroached upon myself; but sometimes, for Fear of Encroachers coming within the District I had in Cultivation, I used to take those Villages, in order to secure myself.

Did you experience any Difficulty from Disagreement with the Ryots or Possessors of the Land as to the Terms upon which you held them?

Very few indeed; in general they acted as conscientiously as most People in their Situation would do; no more than is to be met with even from Farmers in this Country.

Were there any Instances in which they let the same Land to more than One Person?

There have been Instances of that, certainly.

But not to such a degree as to present any material Obstacle to the Undertaking?

Certainly not.

Can you state nearly the Number of the Ryots that were employed upon your Farms?

Not very accurately; the Advances to them beginning perhaps from One Bega up to Forty, so that I could not state, within any Compass hardly, the Number that might be on the Books of all the Factories; having Eighteen different Factories at that Time, not of the same Size, all of them, but varying (in what we call the Vats) from Twelve to Two, the Extent of Cultivation at the same Time varying likewise.

Did you find them generally industrious as Labourers?

Certainly; our Labourers for the Manufacture were separated from the Ryots; he does not take any Part in the Manufacture of the Indigo after he has delivered the Plant.


Amongst what Class did you find those Labourers for the Manufacture?

The common People of the Country, as Labourers, are found in the Villages. I suppose, during the Manufacture, which lasted about Two Months, I had from Two to Three thousand Men in constant Employment.

Had you any or what Number of Europeans employed under you?

None whatever.

Do you conceive that under any Circumstances, supposing the Intercourse with India to be more open to Europeans, it would be for the Interest of any Capitalist engaging in Indigo Concerns to employ others than Natives as Assistants both in the Manufacture and the Cultivation?

Many do employ them. I had a great Dislike to employing European Assistants, because I found the Natives always fully sufficient and always trustworthy, and the more Confidence I had in them the more deserving I found them of it; I placed the greatest Confidence always in the Servants under me.

Do you think that probably much Employment would, under the Circumstances stated, take place to such an Extent as materially to interfere with the Employment of Natives?

I think not.

Can you state what would be the Difference of Cost in the Employ of European and Native Servants?

No European Servant we could get could stand the Climate sufficiently to undertake the Business; I have no Idea, except as Overseers, that they could be employed; Assistants, we call them.

What would be the Difference of Expence of European and Native Assistants?

We gave an Assistant from One hundred to One hundred and fifty Rupees a Month, a Native from Twelve to Twenty.

What would a Half-caste cost?

I should think he would not, if a Man of any Character, come under One hundred Rupees; we give a Portuguese Fifty Rupees, who is merely a Person not superior to the Native in general Character, but is considered to have a little Command over them, that is, where private Cultivation prevails.

From the Experience you had, you have no Reason to repent your own Determination to give a Preference to the Employment of Natives in the highest Situations under you?

Certainly not.

From your Experience of the Natives under those Circumstances, do you conceive that the Introduction of a greater Number of European Settlers would lead to Frequency of Dispute, or produce other Consequences detrimental to the Native Population?

I think it might in general; that depends upon the Person to whom the Factory belongs, how his Business would be conducted. If he saw the least Symptom of Violence in an Assistant or an Overseer, he would discharge him at once, because it must be his Interest to use the Ryot well; and as we are all influenced more or less by Self-interest, of course we should keep the Ryot in the best possible Humour.

Have you observed that there exists at present any Indisposition upon the Part of the Ryots or Natives to the Intercourse and Co-operation of European Settlers, when they are to be found amongst them?

Not at all.

Do you conceive that from such Intercourse the Natives would be Gainers, or otherwise, in point of Instruction and Morals?

I should think very much so.

Have you observed any Disposition to Improvement in Agriculture on the Part of the Ryots themselves, and upon their own Account, when Circumstances have admitted of it?

Yes, I think I have.


What have been the Circumstances most favourable to that Improvement which have fallen under your Observation?

Their better Condition, in the Districts where Indigo was chiefly cultivated, enabled them to have a greater Number of Bullocks for their Ploughs, and the Ground was better cultivated as they improved in Means. Wherever a Ryot can save a few Rupees, the first thing he does is to buy a Bullock; his Property is chiefly, if not all, in Stock, and the Bullock is the only Animal used in the Plough.

You think there is a Disposition on the Part of the Ryots, where the Circumstances in which they are placed enable them to save any thing beyond that necessary for their actual Support, to expend it in Improvements of that Nature, rather than in mere Extravagance?

Yes, certainly.

Were the Population with which you were acquainted entirely Hindoo?

Not entirely; the general Population in Kisnagur, I think, was Two Thirds Hindoo to One Third Mussulman, speaking of the District generally.

Should you make any Distinction with respect to the Two Religions, as to the Opinion you have formed, their Habits, their Integrity, or their Industry?

The Hindoo, compared with the Mussulman, is a Man of much superior Character generally as a Servant.

You would prefer, under the same Circumstances, to have to do with a Hindoo Population?

Most undoubtedly.

Did you observe any Religious Jealousies on the Part of the Hindoos, or more particularly the Brahmins, of Europeans settling amongst them?

None whatever.

Are you of Opinion that such would arise if the Number of Europeans were greater than it is now?

I should think not, as the new Settlers would be chiefly of the better informed Europeans.

Your Opinion then of the Safety of a more frequent Settlement of Europeans in India is founded upon the Belief that it would in general consist of Persons of a superior Character and Education to those of the lower Orders?


Have you had Occasion to observe particularly any other Species of Cultivation than that of Indigo?

No, I have not.

You have not seen any thing of the Cultivation of Sugar?

No; there is very little Sugar or Cotton cultivated in that District.

Is there any Alteration in the existing Laws and Regulations, by which you think the Cultivation of Indigo might be more generally and beneficially extended?

I can hardly form an Opinion upon that Subject. I should think the Possession of Lands legally would enable the European to do more than he did indirectly, and judging only from the Improvement that took place whilst the Lands were in our Possession.

Have you any Means of knowing whether the Improvement in those Lands has continued or increased since you left India?

I believe it has considerably increased.

What was the State of the Police and of Crime in the Part of the Country in which you resided?

That relates so much to the Office of the Magistrates of the Civil Service, that I can form a very little Judgment upon that Subject; I think the Police of Kisnagur at one Time was in a very low State indeed.

What appeared to you to be the Crimes most prevalent among the Native Population?


Whilst I was in Kisnagur, the Crime of Decoity and Gangrobbery was at its Height; not that ever I was molested by the People in the least, though perhaps residing in the very next Village to them; and I remember only One Instance where they attacked an Indigo Planter whilst I was there.

Were those Gang-robberies carried on by Persons who at other Times were engaged in the Cultivation of Land, or by professional Robbers?

By professional Robbers.

Do any Means occur to you by which that Species of Offence might be diminished?

No, I cannot state any. It is now greatly diminished throughout the District. The East India Company took great Pains to put it down. An Indigo Planter was the Person under whom the greatest Number of those Decoits were taken up and brought to Punishment; he was afterwards made a Magistrate of Calcutta, and is now a Magistrate of Calcutta.

Your Experience in the Salt Department relates to a remote Period?

A very remote Period.

Is there much Difference in the Quality of the Indigo produced in different Plantations?

It depends entirely on the Goodness of the Plant.

More upon the Goodness of the Plant than the Soil?

The Soil, of course, has its Effect on the Plant.

What was the State of Education among the Ryots and Native Population with whom you were in immediate Contact?

In a very low State-little Village Schools; there were no other Means of Education, except for the higher Classes.

What sort of Education was given at those Village Schools?

Merely a little Writing, and reading Bengalee, and keeping Accounts.

Did you observe any Taste for Learning?

Yes; they were all eager to learn; the Boys went with the greatest Pleasure to it; and some of the little Tracts published concerning Geography and those little Things which the Missionaries at Serampore published, they would come and copy.

Did you observe, among such of the Natives as had at all any Means of indulging it, a Disposition to use and procure English Manufactures and Commodities?

As far as their Means went; it was the greatest Present you could give to a Native Servant-the Present of a Piece of Broad Cloth. When I have gone to Calcutta, they have requested me to bring them back Pieces of Broad Cloth particularly.

Have you any Doubt that an Increase of Means on their Part would be attended with an increased Demand for English Commodities?

Amongst the better Classes, certainly.

What is the Expence of bringing into Indigo Cultivation any given Number of Acres of Land?

We advanced Two Rupees a Bega for the Cultivation in the first instance, and One Rupee for Seed and weeding.

Does the Ground require much Preparation for the Cultivation of Indigo?

It is a small Grain, like Turnip Seed, and the better the Ground is dressed the better the Produce.

Did you carry out with you large Capital with a view to this Speculation?

No, I did not, when I went to India first; when I entered into the Indigo I had Capital of my own.

A great deal of Indigo is cultivated by borrowed Capital, advanced by the Agency Houses, is it not?

Yes; they are Persons who deal in Money, and who must get their Money employed somehow.


What is the usual Rate paid for Money advanced in that Way?

Eight, and Ten, and Twelve per Cent.

Under that Rate of Interest, does the Cultivation of Indigo generally answer to the European?

Yes, certainly.

Is not the rate of Interest less now than formerly?

The Rate of Interest is Eight per Cent.

You described a great Number of Labourers whom you employed during Part of the Year; how were they employed during the other Part of the Year?

They are Workmen in the Villages; many of them from great Distances, where they cannot find Labour. Hundreds I had in my own Employ, some came from the Distance of Nagpore, Four or Five or Ten Days Journey, for the Purpose of getting Employment, as Irish Labourers come into this Country.

After the Labour was over, they returned to their Homes?

Yes; taking with them the little Money they had saved.

With whom did you agree for the Leases you held in the Names of your Servants?

With the Talookdars and Zemindars.

How many different Leases had you?

At different Times not above Three or Four large Tracts; some Leases including Ten or Twenty Villages; some including as high as Fifty Villages, I have had in One Lease.

What was the Extent of Land you held under Lease, and what was the Extent of Land employed in the Cultivation of Indigo where you only made Advances to the Cultivators?

That I cannot accurately say; my Cultivation was increased thereby in the Villages that I got in Lease; what the Proportion was, I cannot say at all.

What were the Stipulations on each Side in any of those Leases?

I, by taking the Lease, was placed in the Zemindar's Situation, and paid him what Sum of Money he demanded. We took them, I think, at a little Loss, in general, he rack-renting the Villages first to an Izadaar, then to a second one called a Dur-Izadaar, before it came into my Hands.

You, having taken that Lease, stood in the Place of the Zemindar, and stood accountable to Government for the Revenue?

No; I paid that to the Zemindar, who paid to Government. If I could not trust the Zemindar, I very often paid it myself to Government, having got him to agree to it, for it was not always that he would; they are generally very extravagant People, and I got them to agree, if I could, that I should have the Lease on those Terms, and that I should pay the Portion due to Government to the Collector of the District, the Remainder to go to the Zemindar.

By that Lease you become possessed of all the Rights of the Zemindar over the Ryots?

I always so considered.

Was there any written Agreement between you?


Was that written Agreement recorded in the Collector's Books?

Not always; sometimes it was.

Had you ever Occasion to go before a Court of Justice with any of those Persons?

No never.


Nor with any of the Ryots to whom you made Advances?


What were the Rights of the Zemindar to which you succeeded by becoming possessed of that Right; what Power had you over the Ryots?

I had the Power of distraining for Rent if they fell into Arrears.

Was that Rent to you fixed?

It was.

Was that stated in the Lease?

Yes; a Rent Roll was delivered.

You give to a Zemindar a fixed Sum, and for that you succeeded to his Right of taking from the Ryots a fixed Sum annually?


Was the Payment of each Ryot mentioned in the Rent Roll, or only the total Payment of the Village?

The Payment of each Ryot.

What Power of directing the Mode of Cultivation had you under that Lease?


Then what was the Benefit of the Lease?

To keep other People off, and to induce the Ryot to cultivate more Land for me in Indigo, through the Goodwill of the Ryot; getting him to cultivate more Land for Indigo than he perhaps would have have done if I had not taken the Lease.

The only Difference under the Lease was, that he was to pay to you instead of paying to the Zemindar the same Sum?

Yes; but the Ryot had a Friend. Whenever the Rent Day came, I paid the Rent of the Village; I never looked to him 'till he sold his Crop; I never forced him to pay his Rent at any Time when he was distressed for Money.

When you had a Lease, did you make any Advances to the Ryots for the Cultivation exactly as when you had no Lease?


Then you cultivated no more in the one Case than you did in the other?


The Advantage of the Lease was, that you were able, as you think, to keep out Interlopers more effectually than you would without a Lease?


That having the Lease you could prevent the Ryot making an Agreement to deliver the Crop to more than One Person?


Do you apprehend, that if Europeans generally were enabled to hold Leases of that Description, the Production and Manufacture of Indigo would be increased?

I should think not much; all the Lands fitted for it almost are in Cultivation; a certain Quantity of Land must remain to cultivate Rice, and other Necessaries of Food. A certain Proportion only of the Ryot's Land can be put into Cultivation for Indigo.

Must not the Amount of Indigo produced depend upon the Demand for it?


That Demand would not be increased by the Europeans holding Lands?


Therefore neither the Cultivation of Indigo, nor its Manufacture, would be at all increased by an Alteration of the Law?

I do not see that it would be increased by an Alteration of the Law.


Supposing you had made Advances for the Delivery of Indigo, produced on 5,000 Begas, and that you were desirous of establishing a Factory, for the Purpose of manufacturing it, what would be the Cost of that Factory?

The Cost of the factories forms a very small part of the Outlay.

In what does the Outlay consist principally?

In the Advances, and in the Expence of the Manufacture; the Building, (id est,) the Brick and Mortar, is a very small Proportion.

What was the annual Amount of your Advances on the 36,000 Begas?

My annual Outlay was about Two Lacs of Rupees.

That is the Outlay in Advances only?

In Advances and Labour.

What Proportion did those Advances to the Ryots bear to the Expence of Manufacture?

I can scarcely tell; I should think not so much as One Half; I should think about One Third, or nearly One Half.

Had you any Difficulty in disposing of those Factories when you left the Country?

None whatever.

Are there generally Persons desirous of entering into the Employment?

In general.

Would Persons desirous of entering into the Employment be equally willing to take off the Hands of the Indigo Planter, who wishes to retire, the Lease he had of his Lands?

Oh yes, certainly.

Did that Lease, in your Opinion, give you the Power of obliging the Ryot to cultivate Indigo?


You never found any Difficulty in inducing him to do it?


It did not interfere with the Position of the Ryot, but left him exactly as he was before?


Was any Part of the Capital you employed a borrowed Capital?

Part of it was, at first.

What Security did you give to the Agency House that advanced that Capital?

I gave none.

What Security have they usually?

They in general make an Insurance to cover the Advance of Money to Indigo Planters to whom they lend their Money.

Do you mean by the Demand of a higher Interest?

No; the Agents latterly expected a Life Insurance to be made for a Twelvemonth. When they sent in the annual Account, they made the Person take out an Insurance for the Balance of that Account, and if that Balance increased, the Insurance was increased: if it diminished, the Insurance was diminished annually, if it was an annual Insurance.

Upon what Principle was the Rate of Insurance calculated?

The common Rates of Life Insurance in that Country.

Are you aware in what Proportion they differ from the Rates of Interest?

I am not aware.

Can you state the Premium upon a Life of Forty?

I cannot.

The Agency House had no Apprehension of not receiving the Amount of what it had advanced, provided the Indigo Planter lived during the Year; the only Danger they contemplated, was that of his Death?

If he died, his Death paid off his Account.

Therefore they took a Life Insurance; but they had no other Security-no Power over the Crop?

No; sometimes they had the Security of the Factory; the Crop they could have no Security on.

Is it the Custom with Individuals to enter into a joint Security with the Manufacturer who borrowed the Money of the Agency House?

Very seldom.

Then the Agency House may be considered to advance the Money of its Customers to those Indigo Planters, without any thing that can be considered as legal Security from the Planters to whom the Money is advanced?

No, none.

What Proportion, in the Part of the Country with which you are acquainted, do those whom you call the better Classes bear to the others?

I cannot at all say.

Is it only the better Class who would, in your Opinion, be Demanders of British Manufactures?

I should think only the better Class; I mean by that the Class we employ as our Head Servants, and whom we call Gomastahs; People immediately under us, to do all the Business, and keep the Accounts, and attend to the Cultivation.

Those are the Persons whom you employ as Assistants?


Those are the only Persons who would demand Broad Cloth?

Those are the only Persons who would demand European Articles.

Can you look forward to any State of Things in which the great Body of People would become Consumers of British Manufactures?

No, I cannot, immediately.

Was much Distress occasioned in the District with which you are acquainted when the Calico Manufacture in India was superseded by that of Manchester?

No, there was not. I was then in the District of Tipperah, when the Company's great Factory was at Luckipore, and in the Space of One Year I should think from Thirty to Forty Lacs of Rupees were withdrawn from the Manufacture of Calicoes, and the Revenue did not experience the least Defalcation. The whole Country in that Part of it is cultivated like a Garden; there is not a Spot of Ground where they could feed a Bullock on, scarcely.

Did they not appear to be the worse for the Failure of the Thirty or Forty Lacs?

No; the Weavers turned their Hands to the Plough. They are most of them little Landholders.

In that Part of the Country the Revenue is by no means highly assessed, is it?

I fancy not.

Was the Revenue in general highly assessed, in your Opinion?

Yes, we generally conceived it was; it did bear rather heavily on the Produce.

Did the Ryot experience any Difficulty in paying it?

Very frequently.

Were you obliged to make frequent Remissions?

Yes; I was very often obliged to lend them Money for the Purpose of paying.


What was the Condition of the Ryot; how did he live?

From Hand to Mouth constantly.

Had he any Furniture in his House?

None that we should call Furniture.

Any Clothes?

Oh yes; their Condition was greatly improved latterly, from the Time I first went there to the Time I came away; their Houses better, and their Condition generally improved.

That was during the Space of how many Years?

During the Space of Fourteen Years, from 1808 to 1822.

What are their Implements of Agriculture?

A small Plough, which costs from Two Rupees to Four Rupees; merely Three Pieces of Wood put together; a very simple, light, inefficient Machine indeed; the Harrow is nothing more than a short Ladder drawn across the Ground, sometimes a few Bushes are tied upon it, to bush harrow, the Ground being light.

What is the Depth of the Furrow made?

It is a mere Scratch of the Ground.

Do they always use Oxen in ploughing?

Yes, with the Exception of Buffaloes; they always plough with Cattle.

What is the Average Quantity of Land in the Possession of each Ryot?

Some Ryots rent from Two to Forty Begas; the Average I cannot state; some rent Two or Three Begas of Land, some Twenty, Thirty, Forty Begas, as they have Bullocks. They calculate by their Number of Bullocks how much Land they can take; a Pair of Bullocks would plough on an Average Ten or Twelve Begas.

In that Part of the Country, what Proportion of the Gross Produce of the Land remained with the Ryot when he had paid his Rent?

I cannot say.

Was it such as to enable him to accumulate Capital?

No; very seldom.

Was the Possession of Land by the Ryot of any real Value to him?

Of course; it furnished him with the Means of Subsistence.

He could not have afforded to pay more Rent than he did?

Certainly not, in that Part of the Country.

What he received from the Land just maintained him and paid his Labour?


Was it the Condition of the Ryots engaged in the Manufacture of Indigo, or of the Ryots engaged in the Cultivation of it, which was in your Opinion improved?

I think that both were improved; the Country got much better inhabited.

Did they appear to pay their Rent better at the End of the Term than at the Commencement of it?

Certainly, much better.

What was the Duration of your Lease from the Zemindar?

Three Years. They would seldom grant it for more; sometimes I had it for Five Years.

In your Opinion, you lost from taking the Lease, except as you derived an Advantage from keeping others off?

Sometimes I lost by the Lease; our Object was not to make by the Lease of the Land, but to keep other People off, and to make our Business easier, and to induce the Ryot to cultivate more Land than he otherwise would have done, knowing he might always get Money when he wished for it, and that he would not be pushed for his Rent, when it was not convenient to pay it.


As you stipulated to pay a fixed Sum, and to receive a fixed Sum, the only Doubt was, whether you would receive the whole of what was due to you?


There was no possibility of making a great Profit by the Lease?

No; we very seldom made a great Profit by the Lease.

In what Manner could it be made?

By bringing more Inhabitants into the Village, as in the Case I stated, by improving so much; until my Lease was out, the Improvements would be my own.

You were understood to say, that the Sum to be paid by each Ryot was fixed?

Yes, when I took the Lease; but I should manage to get a great many more Inhabitants into the Village.

You could not exact more from any individual Ryot who was there at the Time you took to it?


But you generally obtained a Rent from the new Men?


You considered the Land to belong to yourself, in the same Situation as if you had been Zemindar?

Yes; and if we could establish more Ryots in it, which has been the Case in general while it was in our Hands- if Lands have improved, if we have brought the waste Part into Cultivation, that was our Benefit.

Do you think that a Zemindar would be induced to give a longer Lease than for Twenty-one Years?

I never knew them give a Lease of that Period.

Do you think the length of it would be sufficient to enable the European Speculator to derive the full Benefit from the Employment of his Capital?

Yes, I think it might.

He would not look forward to remaining longer in the Country, in all probability?

No, I think not.

Does not the Improvement in the Condition of the Ryot, and the Manufacture and Cultivation of Indigo, depend much on the Conduct of the Planter?

Very much.

Were you aware of any Acts of Oppression on the Part of Indigo Planters against the Natives employed by them?

Never, scarcely; it is so contrary to their Interest. Instances have occurred, no doubt.

In which they have been compelled to place more Land in Cultivation under Indigo than they would have been induced otherwise to do?

They have tried to compel them to do so, and Violence too has been used in some Instances.

You think that not a general Case?

Not by any means, certainly.

Is the Land under Cultivation of Indigo subject to Inundation?

Not generally; they try to get Lands which are subject to Inundation, as they are by that Means enriched annually.

Is Indigo an annual Plant in India?

It is.

Is it usual for the Zemindars to let their Lands to Izadaars and Dur-Izadaars?

Yes; it sometimes happens many Zemindars keep the Lands in their own Hands, and collect their own Rents, and do not farm them out.


Does each of those Classes of Persons demand an increased Rent from the Class immediately below them?

Yes; there is an Increase put on by each Individual; one Man takes it from the Zemindar on purpose to make a little Bonus by it, and he lets it to another Man.

Does the Ryot pay an increased Rent in any Case to the Person immediately above him?

He is called upon to do it in a measure, sometimes.

What Power has he to make him pay an increased Rent?

There is no Power for it; but he is told, "I have been obliged to pay the Zemindar so much more than the Rent of the Village; you must make good some of it." In general the Ryots are willing enough to do it, for they hold much more Land than is in their Leases or Pottahs, and they are rather willing to come forward, if they think they shall be used kindly.

If the Ryot, since his Pottah, has taken into Cultivation any Portion of Land previously uncultivated, the Zemindar claims a Right to charge a Rent for it?


And another Person standing in his Situation would exercise the same Right?


The Value of One of the Villages you mention was increased from Three hundred to Thirteen hundred Rupees; was the Value of that Lease increased by merely bringing a larger Number of Begas into Cultivation, or the introducing a larger Number of Ryots, and did it, in consequence, pay a larger Rent to the Zemindar?

If the Village improved during the Three Years I held it, until my Lease was out, I myself gained the Advantage of it; then it fell back into the Zemindar's Hands, and the next Time I went to take a Lease of him, he asked me so much more Money, as I had improved the Village so much, and he made me pay Eight or Nine hundred Rupees; the next Time he raised me up to Thirteen hundred Rupees. I do not mean to say, that I had not collected Thirteen hundred from the Ryots, and with as much Ease as I had the Three hundred previously.

Did the Improvements which took place during your Tenure of that Village consist in the bringing new Lands into Cultivation, or the demanding higher Rent from the Ryots?

Bringing more Land into Cultivation, and bringing in more Ryots into the Village, for the Purpose of Cultivation.

But the old Lands paid no more than they had done previously?


You treated, in the taking of Land, with the Zemindar?

Sometimes I treated with the Zemindar; it was to my Loss if I took of those holding under him.

Do the Expences of the Cultivation of Indigo differ much in different Parts of India?

I believe considerably.

To what Extent?

I have known them differ One Third in different Parts of the Country, from a greater Number of Indigo Planters being settled in one Part than another.

From whom had you the Lease of the Land on which your Factory was built?

I held in Perpetuity. An Application was made to Government to hold in Perpetuity Twelve or Twenty Begas, for the Purpose of building a Factory.

Were all your Factories built on that Footing?



Who granted the Perpetuity?

The Zemindar. I have rented small Pieces of Land from the Ryot, that had been waste Land, or out of Cultivation, in order to cultivate Indigo myself; I cultivated it a great deal myself at one Time, in order to have Workmen at the Season of the Year when I wanted them.

Unless it is Land in his own Possession, or waste Land, the Zemindar cannot grant a Lease in Perpetuity, can he?

No, I should think not.

The Ryot alone can give you the Perpetuity at a Quit Rent?


Have any Zemindarry Rights been sold, to your Knowledge?

My Son has bought a large Zemindarry Right within the last Two Years; he is a Native born. I had rented it myself. I believe there are Forty odd Villages.

In Cases where Zemindarry Rights are alienated, is the Licence from the Government necessary to recognize that Transfer?

Where a Person is able to purchase it in his own Name, he has only to register it with the Collector. There is no Application necessary to Government, that I am aware of.

The Witness is directed to withdraw.

Enoch Durant Esquire is called in, and examined as follows:

You are engaged in the Silk Trade, are you not?

I am, as Silk Broker.

Are you able to speak to the Qualities of Bengal Silk as compared with the Italian Silk?

I am.

Can you state the relative Estimation they bear in the Market?

The Range of Qualities of Silk both from Bengal and from Italy vary very many Shillings per Pound. The best Qualities of Bengal Silk sell in this Market nearly as high as the best Qualities of Italian Silk; but we have very little Italian Silk which sells here so low as some Qualities of Bengal Silk.

The very highest Bengal Silk sells as high as the very highest Italian Silk?


What Proportion of Bengal Silk imported is of that Quality?

A very small Proportion. The Company have Two Filatures in Bengal, the best Silk of which sells nearly on a Par with the higher Qualities of Italian Silk.

Do you know where those Two Filatures are situate?

The Names of the Districts I can state, but I do not know their Locality; the Names are Comocolly and Gonateer.

The whole Quantity of Silk imported is about 1,200,000 lbs; can you state nearly how much of this 1,200,000 lbs. may be said to be of good Quality?

Of the highest Quality, not above 10,000 lbs. speaking from Recollection.

The great Bulk of the Remainder is inferior to the Italian Silk?

Taking as a Standard the highest Quality of Bengal Silk at Twenty Shillings per Pound, it ranges at all Prices from that down to Seven Shillings.

Can you state what Proportion of the 1,200,000 Pounds sells at Seven Shillings?

Considerably the larger Quantity, comparatively with the highest.

So as to form a large Proportion of the whole?


Probably 50,000 to 100,000 lbs. Weight per Annum, out of the 1,200,000, is of low Quality; Seven, Eight or Nine Shillings; but that Quality is not imported by the Company; and I am not aware whether the Question relates entirely to the Company's Silk, or to Bengal Silk generally; about One Quarter to One Sixth Part of Bengal Silk is imported by the Private Traders. When I speak of Silk at Seven, Eight or Nine Shillings, I do not speak of the Company's Importation.

Setting aside the extremely bad Silk and extremely good, what is the Average Price of the greatest Proportion imported from Bengal?

It is impossible to answer that Question; the Average Prices of each Company's Sale will materially vary, and I think it would be difficult to get at the Average Price of any One Sale; probably I should come near the Question by stating that at the last Company's Sale (I speak from Recollection) the Average Price of their Silk was somewhere about Thirteen Shillings per Pound.

Can you state the Price last Year of the good Italian Silk, not of the first-rate Quality, but an average fair Quality?

Understanding the Questions to apply all through to Raw Silk, I should think (there was a good deal of Fluctuation last Year in the Market) the Average Price of the current Qualities applicable to general Purposes of the Manufacture of Broad or Garment Silk was about Eighteen to Nineteen Shillings per Pound.

Has the Quality of Indian Silk improved within late Years?

Speaking of it generally, certainly not.

Are you sufficiently acquainted with the Manner in which it is raised in India to be able to state from what Reasons it continues to be of inferior Quality to the Italian Silk?

I have no practical Knowledge upon the Subject.

Have you collected such Information as to enable you to form an Opinion upon the Subject?

Apparently the Reason why it is not improved has been from its having been under the Management of a great Company; I am of Opinion that the System of a great Company reeling Silk is inconsistent with that very close Superintendence which is necessary to the Perfection of reeling Silk. Silk is not like Cotton or Hemp, or any of those Articles which can be pulled to Pieces, and the Fibres drawn out by Machinery, but it begins with a Filament or Worm Thread, and the Regularity or Evenness of the Thread, which makes the Perfection of the Silk when reeled, can only be acquired by a practised Hand and experienced Eye. Machinery cannot combine these Filaments, so as to make a perfect Silk Thread. From all the Information I have received from the Silk Reelers of Italy, they speak of the extreme close Superintendence which they are obliged to exercise during the Time of reeling over every Department of their Filature, in order to obtain a tolerably good Quality; and the Superintendence, so close and so attentive as it is described by these Silk Reelers of Italy, I apprehend, never can be obtained under the Agency of a large Company.

In point of fact, however, the Silk brought to this Country by the Company is better than that brought by Individuals?

Generally, much so, because there are no European Filatures of any Extent, or perhaps only One remaining, except those in the Hands of the Company; the Silk brought to this Country by Private Traders is purchased in the Market, having been reeled by Native Reelers, who do not adopt the full Advantages of the European System of careful reeling.

What Measure would you suggest for the Purpose of improving the Cultivation of Silk in India?

I think the Situation and Circumstances of the Silk Manufactories of this Country indispensably require that the Raw Silk Supply from India at this Moment should not be disturbed; but I apprehend the only Way to improve the Quality of Silk in India would be by opening it to the Competition of individual reeling; but that is only on general Principles, and applying them to this particular Question.


Are you aware of any Restrictions now placed on Individuals engaging in that Manufacture in India?

There are no Restrictions that I am aware of; but the Transactions of the Company are so extensive in Silk, and in consequence their Mode of supplying the Market is such, that Individuals cannot enter into successful Competition with them as Silk Reelers while their Transactions are on their present Scale. Facts will substantiate this. There have been Attempts made to establish European Filatures in India at very considerable Cost, and under the very best Management, but the Two largest have been relinquished, after some Years Perseverance.

Are you aware of any Proceedings on the Part of the Company that led to the Abandonment of those Filatures?

No direct Proceedings that I am aware of; but the general System of the Company rendered the Pursuit not only unprofitable, but I apprehend also losing Concerns. As respects the Effect of their System here, the Company import a certain Quantity annually, within a few Hundred Bales; at least they endeavour to import about from 800,000 to a Million Pounds annually; the Demand for the Raw Material in every Manufacture of the Country will very materially vary from one Year to another, and there is sometimes a much greater Demand for Silk some particular Year, and much greater Activity, than in others; the Company importing their regular Quantity, and selling their regular Quantity as they import it, when those Quantities happen very considerably to exceed the Demand for Raw Silk, Prices fall, and a Loss is sustained sometimes of Twenty or Thirty per Cent, and this involves the Private Trader who is bringing Silk to this Country. The Company are content to bear this Loss, considering that the Subject has various Bearings, and that it is also a Question with them of Remittance. Whatever may be their Reason for bearing the Loss, the Result is, every now and then, a Year occurs in which the Quantity offered is not demanded; the Consequence of that is, it sells at a great Loss, reducing the Value of Private Trade Silk, and occasioning the individual Loss which I have mentioned; and I attribute to this Circumstance, more than any other, the Private Filatures of Bengal have been given up.

Your Opinion is, then, that the Company not accommodating the Supply to the Demand with the same Nicety and the same Attention which would be exercised by the Private Trader occasions a Variation in Prices which is fatal to the Speculations of the Individual?

Certainly, that is my View; but it is impossible that any Company can proportion a Supply of Raw Silk, requiring much previous Arrangement, to the Demand, because on the System of a large Company their Orders must go out upon a general Scale; they must receive upon a general Scale, and they must sell on a general Scale.

You think that the Company importing Silk into this Country for the Purpose of remitting that which must be remitted, whether at Profit or Loss, are not influenced by those Considerations which govern and controul the Private Merchant, and therefore materially interfere with those Merchants?

Yes, and on other Grounds also; for having opened Filatures in Bengal, and having a certain Population in their Silk Districts to provide for, according to their Views, they are compelled to go on on one general Scale of reeling a certain annual Quantity. They are not Purchasers in the Market; they are the Reelers of the Silk in Bengal. These Circumstances therefore operate in several Ways. Whether the Demand is slack or great, they are obliged to issue, in the first instance, Orders for a certain Quantity; they bring this Quantity, and they consider themselves obliged to sell this Quantity. Under these combined Circumstances, when the Demand slackens so as not to take it, there is always considerable and sometimes great Reduction in Price, which the Private Trader cannot support.

The Result is, that a private Individual cannot trade in competition with a Company conducting a Trade occasionally at a Loss?

I so consider.


In those Observations, do you refer to the Importation by the Company of Raw Silk only, or of Manufactured Silk?

Of Raw Silk only; I know nothing of Manufactured Silk.

Have you referred to the Accounts presented to Parliament of the Quantity of Silk imported by the Company in successive Years from the Year 1814?

I have not; I cannot speak to them, except from Memory.

Are you not aware that there is a very great Variation from Year to Year?

Yes, there is a Variation from Year to Year; but the Company import in what are called Seasons. A Part of the Season of 1828 may by Accident be so imported as to be reported in 1829. The Quantity imported for each Season has been about 700,000, or from that to 800,000 Weight per Season; but the Returns per Year will vary from that, because it may be so arranged that Two Thirds perhaps of each Season may come in in One Year, increasing the Imports of that particular Year, and diminishing the Year following. There is sometimes a Delay of their Shipping, or some Delay in the Passage, and it will come in the next Year in consequence.

Do you know at what Cost the Company raise their Silk?

I apprehend that varies from one Year to another, depending on the Price of Cocoones; and the Cost of Silk in Bengal will be much affected by a greater or less Loss upon Advances made. Iapprehend, on this and other Grounds, it will be difficult for the Company to ascertain the real Cost of their Silk.

You refer to Advances made for Silk in India?

Advances made to the Natives in India for Cocoones.

Are you acquainted with the Cultivation of Silk in Italy?

Not practically; merely from Information.

Do you know the comparative Difference in the Price of Labour?


Do you know the comparative Amount of Freight?


Does it appear to you, that the reeling of the Company's Silk has been inferior of late Years to what it was?

Some of the Company's Filatures have improved, and some have retrograded, so that I think there has been, upon the Average of late Years, no material Alteration.

Do you think that, considering the natural Qualities of Indian Silk, if the same Attention were paid to the reeling of that which is paid to the reeling of Italian Silk, it would fetch a higher Price in the Market than it does?

I think a much greater Proportion of it might bring the higher Price.

Do you know whether that Proportion of it which bears a high Price is produced by the same Silk Worm, and from the same Tree, as that which bears the low Price?

From the same Cocoones, certainly; only that the Cocoones are sorted with greater Care.

Do you know of any Difference between the Italian and the Indian Worm?

The Thread of the Indian Silk is different to the Thread of the Italian Worm, but it does not follow that the Silk is inferior. The Indian Thread is not so firm as the Italian Thread; for some Purposes it is better, and for other Purposes not so valuable.

Can you state the relative Value of the Silk produced in a very hot Climate, as compared with that produced in a more temperate Climate?


A very hot Climate, I apprehend, is unfavourable to the Production of Silk; a moderately warm Climate is favourable to it. The great Difference is, that the best Silk is generally produced on the higher Grounds of the Country, not on the Plains; but that is a Difference not important, but I have been informed there is a Difference.

Is not a great deal of artificial Heat introduced into the Filatures?

The Cocoones are reeled out of Warm Water; there is no other artificial Heat.

Has there of late been any Improvement in the Silk Manufacture of India?

I have no Knowledge of Manufactured Goods.

You have stated that the best Bengal Silk is equal in Price to the best Italian Silk?

Nearly so.

Is it applicable to the same Purposes in Manufacture?

Not precisely to the same Purpose, but to the same Class of Goods, or rather to Goods of equal Price when manufactured. I believe it will not make Velvet, but it will make Silk Goods which will sell as high as Velvet.

When you speak of the Expences incurred by the Company in cultivating Silk in Bengal, do you include in that Estimate the Cost of their Buildings?

The Buildings required are, I believe, very trifling. I certainly had no Reference to Buildings; my Reference was to the Expence of their Commercial Establishment, their Agencies, &c.

Do you think that, supposing the Production of Silk in India to be improved to the highest Degree which you think it capable of, our Manufacturers could proceed without the Assistance of the Italian Silk?

The general Impression among the Manufacturers is, that they cannot proceed without some Italian.

Will you state your Reason?

Hitherto they have not found that in some Articles of Manufactured Goods the Bengal will produce an equal Quality.

Are they ever used together?

Constantly; I believe Italian is now rarely used without a Mixture of either Bengal or China Silk.

Does that improve the Quality?

It either improves the Quality or reduces the Price; I think more Reduction of Price than the Improvement of Quality.

Is much Indian Raw Silk sold for Exportation?

Very little.

Has it ever occurred that Indian Silk has been exported for the French Manufacture when the Crop failed on the Continent?

When the Continental Silk has been very dear, there has been some sent; but an Exportation of China Silk takes place much sooner than Bengal Silk.

Has any Exportation of Indian Silk taken place this Year?

No, none this Year.

In the last Year?

Of China Silk, I think there was, last Year, but not Bengal.

Does the Quality of China Silk vary so much as Bengal Silk?

No; it is much more equal.

How do you compare China with Bengal?

The very highest Quality of China, Bengal and Italian sell nearly at a Price; but the general Price of China Silk is below the Medium of the fair Class of Italian Silk.

Applicable to the same Purposes?

Of late, it has been found so; but there was for many Years a great Prejudice against it.


Has the Quantity of China Silk imported increased?

The Company have relinquished the China Silk Importation for some Years; and since they have given it up the Importation of China Silk has been gradually increasing; it is now about Three hundred thousand Pounds Weight per Annum, or rather more; last Year, I think it was Five hundred thousand or Six hundred thousand.

In whose Hands is it now?

The Company's Officers, Captains, Mates, &c. and also Private Traders, who now bring it very much, I believe, as a Return Investment for their Outshipments.

Do you happen to know the Price in China?

It varies a little in China. I can state what it is understood to cost in English Money when purchased at a moderate Price; it is understood to come in here, including Expences, at about Sixteen Shillings.

What does it sell for?

Of late, it has sold under that Price; at a Loss rather than a Profit.

Has any Attempt ever been made to bring the Cocoones into this Country for the Purpose of reeling them?

The Attempt has been made from Italy, but not from India; but they are very bulky, and pressing them into the Package injures them; their Bulk prevents their bearing the Charge of Freight.

Are you aware whether there is any great Difficulty in sending the Silk Worm from one Country to another?

Not the least. The Seed has been taken from any one Country to another; the China Worm has been brought to Italy, vice versa the Italian and China Worm to Bengal; but it has been always found that the Worm partakes of the Climate to which it is transported, in a Year or Two.

In order to produce in India the same Quality of Silk in successive Years, it would be necessary from Time to Time to have fresh Importations of the Worm?

I do not think that will have the Effect, for the Fibre of the Silk will depend in some measure on the Food, and the Food is different in Quality.

Would the Variation increase, or would it be as great in the first Year as in succeeding Years?

The Attempt has never been much persevered in; but I think it would be as great in the first Year as in the subsequent Years.

You think that the Worm does not degenerate in another Climate?

My Impression is, that the Quantity of the Silk depends very much upon the Food, and not upon the Worm; that therefore, if the Worm is transported from one Country to another, that would not much alter the Quality of the Silk; but I do not think there is so much Difference in the intrinsic Quality of one Silk and another, as in the Preparation in the reeling of it. Whether Silk is of the Production of France, Italy, Spain, Bengal or China, if it is very accurately reeled, it will all obtain high Prices.

Is not some Silk of stronger Fabric than other Silk?

Some Silk is of stronger Fabric than other Silk; but the weak Fabric, if equally level in its Thread all the Way through, is applicable to some Purposes to which the stronger is not applicable, and therefore will fetch a high Price for some Purposes. Where a very even Thread is wanted, for example, some kinds of Garment Silk, Lace, Crape, &c., in some the stronger, and in some the more delicate, are best suited, and they will all equally bear a high Price.

Is the Import of a large Quantity of Silk at an inferior Price of great Importance to the Silk Manufacture under its present Circumstances?

I think, as the Manufacture of this Country is now situated, subject to the Continental Competition, the Import of a large Quantity of Bengal Silk at a low Price, the Consumption of which is confined exclusively to this Country, is essential to its Prosperity, and the withdrawing of it would be very hazardous.


Do you know why the Consumption of that sort of Silk is confined to this Country?

From the better understanding its Preparation.

Are Foreigners in the habit of mixing in the same Manufacture the finer and the inferior sorts of Silk?

I have no Knowledge of the Foreign Manufacture, but I apprehend not to the same Extent that we are. They do not get the various Qualities of Silk to enable them to mix; the Manufacture of the Continent is chiefly confined to Silk of the Growth of Italy and France.

Is Bengal Silk much used with other Materials, not Silk, in this Country?

Bengal Silk is much more used with other Articles than the Silk of other Countries.

The Witness is directed to withdraw.

Ordered, That this Committee be adjourned to Tuesday next, One o'Clock.