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doers can so abstain, and still be able to murder,rob, torture, dishonour, and burn upon a pretty large scale; and where they are so numerous, and so ready to unite for purposes 'offensive and defensive,' and the local authorities so generally connive at, or quietly acquiesce in, their misdeeds, any attempt on the part
of an honest or over-zealous individual to put them down, would be sure to result in his speedy and utter ruin.”
Another passage indicates a process of private "annexation" which would delight a Transatlantic filibuster :
Talking with some Brahmin proprietors, they told me that they did not permit Rajpoots to reside in, or have anything to do with, their village. "Why?" I asked. Because, sir, if they once got a footing among us, they are, sooner or later, sure to turn us all out.' 'How?' 'They get lands by little and little at lease-soon refuse to pay rentdeclare the lands to be their own-collect bad characters for plunder-join the Rajpoots of their own clan in all the villages around in their enterprisestake to the jungles on the first occasion of a dispute-attack, plunder, and burn the village-murder us and our families, and soon get the estate for themselves, on their own terms, from the local authorities, who are wearied out by the loss of revenue arising from their depredations. Our safety, sir, depends upon our keeping entirely aloof from them.'
An effective melodrama might be got up out of the surprising adventures and cruel wrongs of the Lady Sogura, told by Sir William at some length, as illustrative of the present state of society in Oude. This Beebee was heiress to the estate of Munearpoor, yielding a rent-roll of £3500 per annum, and, in an evil hour, constituted one Nihal Sing her manager or steward. This gentleman, having surrounded himself with followers of his own clan, and made things pleasant with the Amil,* "turned out his mistress, and took possession of her estate, in collusion with the local authorities." The contractor, however, the chief of these "authorities," fancying the opportunity for further business, planned a night attack on the new proprietor by a neighbouring talookdar, in which Nihal Sing was killed; and the conqueror took possession, in concert with the contrac
tor. The latter was superseded the following year, on which the nephew of Nihal Sing recovered possession in the name of the Lady Sogura. Five years later, the heiress got rid of her self-appointed trustee, by procuring her property to be exempted from the jurisdiction of the contractor; but, in two years more, the estate was replaced under the district Maun Sing, who had obtained the jurisdiction through the influence of contract. He immediately seized a portion to himself, and remitted the rest, together with the lady, to the keeping of her old trustee, by whom she was put in confinement, and plundered of all she had.
another plundering expedition, in Her jailer, however, engaging in which he was defeated, and obliged to fly, the cestui que trust escaped, and presented herself to the Court at Lucknow, from whence orders were sent to Maun Sing to restore her to the estate, and punish the unfaithful guardian, Hurpaul Sing. The mode in which these orders were obeyed is characteristic :
"Maun Sing sent confidential persons to say that he had been ordered by the court of Lucknow to confer upon him a dress of honour or condolence on the
death of his two lamented brothers, and should do so in person the next day. Hurpaul Sing was considered one of the bravest men in Oude; but he was then sick on his bed, and unable to move. He received the message without suspicion, being anxious for some small inter
val of repose, and willing to believe that common interests and pursuits had united him and Maun Sing in something like bonds of friendship.
"Maun Sing came in the afternoon, and rested under a banyan-tree which stood opposite the gateway of the fort. He apologised for not entering the fort, on the ground that it might lead to some collision between their followers, or that his friend might not wish any of the King's servants, who attended with the dress of honour, to enter his fortress.
Hurpaul Sing left all his followers inside the gate, and was brought out to Maun Sing in a litter, unable to sit up without support. The two friends embraced and conversed together with seeming cordiality till long after sunset, when Maun Sing, after investing his friend with the dress of honour, took leave, and mounted his horse. This was the concerted signal
*The collector or farmer of the revenue.
for his followers to despatch his sick friend Hurpaul. As he cantered off, at the sound of his kettle-drum and the other instruments of music used by the Nazims of districts, his armed followers, who had by degrees gathered round the tree without awakening any suspicion, seized the sick man, dragged him on the ground a distance of about thirty paces, and then put him to death. He was first shot through the chest, and then stabbed with spears, cut to pieces with swords, and left on the ground. They were fired upon from the fort while engaged in this foul murder, but all escaped unhurt. Maun Sing had sworn by the holy Ganges, and still more holy head of Mahadeo, that his friend should suffer no personal hurt in this interview; and the credulous, and no less cruel and rapacious Gurghunsies, were lulled into security."
This part of his instructions accomplished, Maun Sing put the disputed estate "under the management of government officers;" and when the heiress obtained a fresh order from the Durbar to put her in possession, she was offered one-half of what remained, with a promise of more next year. Instead of redeeming the promise, however, the contractor next year seized the lady and carried her to his camp as a defaulter to the state. She was finally made over a prisoner to one Ghuffoor Beg, commanding the artillery, who employed his soldiers in collecting her rents for his own benefit! The poor lady was still in this Hindu chancery, treated with all manner of indignity and cruelty by the artillery," when Colonel Sleeman came into the
neighbourhood. He represented her case to the Durbar, but with faint hopes of redress.
Sir W. Sleeman's book is full of cases of equal or greater iniquity. Robbery, torture, and murder are represented as everyday occurrences. The petitions forwarded to Lucknow for redress remained unanswered; and nothing that could be urged on the king produced any effect.
The king's habits (he, reports to Lord Dalhousie)—
"Will not alter; he was allowed by his father to associate, as at present, with these singers from his boyhood; and he
cannot endure the society of other persons. His determination to live exclusively in their society, and to hear and see nothing of what his officers do, or his people suffer, he no longer makes any attempt to conceal. It would be idle to hope for anything from him but a resignation of power into more competent hands; whatever he retains, he will assuredly give to his singers and eunuchs, or allow them to take. No man can take charge of any office without anticipating the income by large gratuities to them; and the average gratuity which a contractor for a year, of a district yielding three lacs of rupees a-year, is made to pay before he leaves the capital to enter upon his charge, is estimated to be fifty thousand rupees. This he exacts from the landholders as the first payment, for which they receive no credit in the public account. All other offices are paid for in the same way.
"The king would change his minister to-morrow if the singers were to propose it; and they would propose it if they could get better terms or perquisites under any other. No minister could hold office a week without their acquiescence. Under such circumstances, a change of ministers would be of little advantage to the country." Again
"It is not his minister and favourites alone who take advantage of this state of things to enrich themselves; corruption runs through all the public offices, and Maharajah Balkishen, the Dewan, or Chancellor of the Exchequer, is notoriously among the most corrupt of all, taking a large portion of the heavy balances due by contractors to get the rest remitted or misrepresented. There is no court in the capital, criminal, civil, or fiscal, in which the cases are not tampered according to their wishes, unless the with by court favourites, and decided
Resident has occasion to interfere in
behalf of guaranteed pensioners, or officers and sepoys of our army. On his appearance they commonly skulk away like jackals from a dead carcass when the tiger appears; but the cases in which he can interfere are comparatively very few, and it is with the greatest delay and difficulty that he can get such cases decided at all."
This interference of the Resident in judicial proceedings was in itself the strongest condemnation of the whole system. So universal and ac
* This ruffian is the "high-spirited noble" who has just come over to the winning side at Lucknow, and will doubtless excite the enthusiastic admiration of all true English patriots and lovers of humanity.
knowledged was the corruption that an exceptional treatment was corded to his representations; and the benefit of this privilege was gradually extended (like the benefit of clergy) by construction, till it embraced, not only British subjects and soldiers, but all the families of sepoys and pensioners in the British service, regular and irregular. The loss of this privilege of overriding the ordinary courts, is alleged to be one of the annexation grievances which led to the recent Bengal mutiny.
And now, in the face of all this corruption, misrule, and their terrible consequences, is it not startling to be told that the population-not the great landholders or official agents, who thrive by oppressionbut the poor cultivators who groan under it, preferred the native government to our own? This is positively the fact; and the disgraceful reason is assigned-viz. our incurable devastating passion for law-making.
Sir W. Sleeman had a long talk with the Brahmin communities of two villages, who had been driven by the Oude authorities over the border into our district of Shahjehanpoor, and after some time again invited back to their native villages. He describes them as 66 a mild, sensible, and most respectable body, whom a sensible ruler would do all in his power to protect and encourage," but whom the reckless governors of districts in Oude most grievously oppress. They told him that nothing
could be better than the administration of the British district of Shahjehanpoor, under a collector whom all classes loved and respected. The question was then put
"And where would you rather livethere, protected as the people are from all violence; or here, exposed as you are to all manner of outrage and extortion?' 'We would rather live here, sir, if we could; and we were glad to come back.' And why? There the landholders
and cultivators are sure that no man will be permitted to exact a higher rate of rent or revenue than that which they voluntarily bind themselves to pay during the period of a long lease; while here, you are never sure that the terms of your lease will be respected for a single season.' That is all true, sir, but we cannot understand the aen and kanoon (the rules and regulations), nor should we ever do
so; for we found that our relations, who had been settled there for many generations, were just as ignorant of them as ourselves. YOUR COURTS OF JUSTICE ARE THE THINGS WE MOST DREAD, SIR!! and we are glad to escape from them as soon as we can, in spite of all the evils we are exposed to on our return to the place of our birth. It is not the fault of the European gentlemen who preside over them, for they are anxious to do, and have justice done, to all; but in spite of all their efforts, the wrong-doer often escapes, and the sufferer is as often punished! The truth, sir, is seldom told in these courts. There they think of nothing but the number of witnesses, as the quality. When a man suffers wrong, if all were alike. Here, sir, we look to the wrong-doer is summoned before the elders, or most respectable men of his village or clan; and if he denies the charge, and refuses redress, he is told to bathe, put his hand upon the peepultree, and declare aloud his innocence. If he refuses, he is commanded to restore what he has taken, or make suitable reparation for the injury he has done; and if he refuses to do this, he is punished by
the odium of all, and his life becomes miserable. A man dares not, sir, put his hand upon that sacred tree, and deny the truth--the gods sit in it, and know all things; and the offender dreads their vengeance. In your adawluts (courts), sir, men do not tell the truth so often as they do among their own tribes or village communities. They perjure themselves in all manner of ways, without shame or dread; and there are so many men about
these courts who understand the and regulations,' and are so much interested in making truth appear to be falsehood, and falsehood truth, that no
man feels sure that right will prevail in them in any case. The guilty think they have just as good a chance of escape as the innocent. Our relations and friends told us that all this confusion of right and wrong which bewildered them, arose from the multiplicity of the 'rules and regulations,' which threw all the power into the hands of bad men, and left the European gentlemen helpless."
Now, really this is too bad. We have already expressed our low estimation of the judicial system in India, but it is hardly credible that things should have come to this pass, that the most atrocious tyrannies are preferable to British law; and that, with all our philanthropy, civilisation, education, and religion, we cannot manage to elicit the truth in our courts as well as the benighted
Hindu," who believes there is a god in the peepul tree! Would that some of our Christianising legislators would lay to heart this humiliating revelation! It is of vastly more consequence to the future government of India than any of the nostrums vended in pulpit, press, or Parliament.
Sir W. Sleeman's report, from which our extracts have been taken almost at random-certainly with no design of selecting the worst cases must have satisfied Lord Dalhousie (in the writer's words) that "the longer the present king reigns, the more unfit he becomes to reign, and the more the administration and the country deteriorate." It was clear that Wajid Ali Shah ought to be removed; the only question was, whom or what to establish in his place. Here, as usual, there were "three courses to pursue."
1. The king might be induced to abdicate in favour of the next heir, or some other member of the royal family.
2. The administration of government might be assumed by British officers acting in the king's name, but under the directions of the Governor-General.
3. The kingdom might be dissolved, and the territory annexed to the British dominions.
The first of these courses, as least injurious to the independent existence of the state, was recommended by Sir William Sleeman, but with a very important modification. The heir-apparent was a minor, and no member of the royal family was fit to be trusted with the regency, still less to be elevated to the throne in supercession of the infant. Sir William's plan was to constitute a board or council of regency, composed of the British Resident as president, and two natives of rank; but on the important questions of who should appoint the said natives, and who they should be, the Resident's views seem to have fluctuated very considerably. In one letter he recommends the king's mother and brother, in another the king himself, as the authority to recommend the members of council to the GovernorGeneral. Again, at the beginning of
a despatch, we find the king's brother recommended as a member of the board, but a postscript to the same document runs thus: "I find that the king's brother is altogether incompetent for anything like business or responsibility. The minister has not one single quality that a minister ought to have; and the king cannot be considered to be in a sound state of mind." With such materials, how was a regency to be formed? and what was its use when formed? If the native members resisted the Resident, here was the old difficulty revived; if they obeyed him, he would, in fact, be regent, and the first course becomes identical with the second.
In favour of this second course were the highly successful precedents of Nagpore and Mysore, where Sir Richard Jenkins in the one, and Sir Mark Cubbon in the other, acting as commissioner in the name of the native sovereign, but wholly independent of his direction, had administered the functions of government to the best possible effect. The advantage of this system lies in the little disturbance it inflicts on native laws, usages, and society. The laws remain unchanged, and are administered by native officials as before but their conduct is superintended and corrected at every point by the European assistants of the commissioner, and the final appeal is to the latter, instead of to the native prince. Now, the theory of the native_institutions is generally pretty good, and the chief law is the will of the ruler. If you can prevent corruption, enforce order, and substitute at the head of the administration, in place of a Mussulman tyrant or debauchee, a European officer of high order, responsible to his own Government, you accomplish, in fact, all that can be accomplished for the benefit of the country, while you preserve the semblance and feeling of a native power, and, what is perhaps of more consequence, the revenue is expended within the state, and for the exclusive benefit of its inhabitants.
The objection to this system, on the other hand, is, that it maintains, in addition to the de facto Government of the country, another court with the
title and appearance of royalty, and always looking to the resumption of its active functions. Such a court is necessarily a cave of Engedi. Its pecuniary resources are used in plotting against the government in possession, and the anomaly ensues of burdening the revenues with one set of functionaries to govern well, and with another to oppose their endeavours, and bring back the exploded misrule. The weight of this objection is so great, that this system can hardly be regarded as other than a transition one-a preliminary, in short, to annexation. Nagpore has already lapsed to the British by the failure of heirs to the native prince; and Mysore will experience the same fate on the death of the present rajah. In no case could it be contemplated to restore the native government to power again, after exhibiting the superior efficacy of the British.
This course, then, might have been adopted in Oude during the reign of Nussur-u-Deen, who repudiated his son, and seemed to desire that he might be the last of his dynasty. In fact, it was then authorised by the Court of Directors, who exhibited so honourable a concern for treatyobligations in abrogating Lord Auckland's treaty of 1837. Sir William Sleeman says the nobles of Oude at that time expected this arrangement to take effect;-it is even believed that Nussur was poisoned, in order to hasten the transfer. But after re-establishing the monarchy in the line of Mahommed Ali Shah, it might well be open to question how far the mere assumption of the administration would prove feasible or efficacious.
Lord Dalhousie determined on the third and most "thorough" of the courses which it was open to pursue. And in spite of all that is urged, and
well urged, by Sir W. Sleeman against the danger of absorbing state after state into the British empire, we cannot see that anything short of annexation would have met the case which demanded redress at our hands. It was a choice of difficulties; and admitting the evils dwelt upon by Sir William-indeed, many of his predictions have been too faithfully realised in the late revolt-we think that England was bound to encounter the risk in the hope of repairing the consequences of her own act, in so long sustaining a throne which, but for her support, would have disappeared in the general wreck of the Mogul usurpation.*
One thing must be obvious to every reader of Sir W. Sleeman's pages - viz. that the population he describes would resist to the last any system of administration which promised to enforce order, equity, and humanity. Such ruffians as Maun Sing and his whole fraternity of Rajpoot robbers, will fight to the death for the traditional rights of their "order;" and the very people who suffer, find the system so agreeable to Hindu tradition and genius, that on the whole they rather like it. Native life in Oude has, in fact, been a lottery glittering with the most splendid prizes, in the contemplation of which the blanks and the fearful cost of the game are overlooked. The European looking at Oude sees justice perverted, humanity outraged, debauchery and villany everywhere triumphant; the land held by brigands, women imprisoned, dishonoured, scourged, and mutilated; men dragged from their blazing homes by night, beaten with clubs, scalded with boiling oil, hacked to pieces with swords, or left to die lingeringly, with their noses cut off to the bone, and their religious pride trampled under the hoof of a brutal robber. Such
* "Between the city, the pampered court and its functionaries, and the people of the country beyond, there is not the slightest feeling of sympathy; and if our troops were withdrawn from the vicinity of Lucknow, the landholders and sturdy peasantry of the country would, in a few days, rush in and plunder and destroy it, as a source of nothing but intolerable evil to them."-SLEEMAN.
Sir W. Sleeman's pages abound in authentic instances of all these horrors. Among them, the last seems to have been thought the most terrible. It was inflicted on a Brahmin and a Rajpoot, as a warning to a crowd of captives to pay their ransom. The bones of a nylghau were hung about the Brahmin's neck, while the Rajpoot's mouth was forced open and a Mussulman spit into it. The deadly blow was struck. The men were "outcast" for ever. They might have committed