Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

practicable and effectual an expedient, as to afford them the benefit of the capital, the skill, the enterprize, and the example of Englishmen. To the employment of this means, however, there exists at present, an effectual obstacle. By the terms of the Company's charter, no British-born subject is allowed to live within the territories of the Company, without their licence; and any private individual, not in the Company's service, after having been at the trouble and expense of procuring their license, and of the voyage to India, is liable at any moment, without cause assigned, to have that license revoked at the pleasure of the Company's officers in India, and to be sent off to England, as ignominiously as if he were a felon. However groundless may be this act of oppression, however great the injury to his affairs, there is no authority to whom he can appeal,-no earthly means of redress whatever. As if to make this terrible power, if possible, still more revolting to Englishmen, foreigners are exempt from its operation ; for a foreigner, or a Native, if arrested in India, could be punished only after legal trial and conviction for any alleged offence.

If any doubt was ever honestly entertained, about the effects to be expected from the unrestricted settlement of Englishmen in British India, as cultivators, land-owners, merchants, manufacturers, &c., it has been most effectually dispelled by the result of the experiment in the growth and preparation of Indigo. About forty-five years ago, the export trade of this article from India did not exist. What was at that time produced by the Natives, was of so bad a quality, as to be unsaleable in Europe. The Company happily not interfering to prevent it, some Europeans embarked in the speculation; and there are now about three hundred indigo manufactories belonging to Europeans. These establishments export the article, to the value of nearly two millions sterling annually; they furnish almost all the indigo used in Europe ; having, by their superiority in quality and ultimate cheapness, driven that produced in America, out of the European market. The consequences to the internal condition of India, are not less satisfactory. For it is shown, by the evidence of the most respectable authorities among the resident merchants of India, that the indigo districts are the best cultivated, the most peaceful, and the most prosperous, in the whole country; and that the extensive establishment of indigo-cultivation in a district is the usual forerunner of that state of affairs, so uncommon in British India, when the services of the troops are no longer required, either to keep the peace, or to collect the revenue. The result of this experiment is equally encouraging in a political, as in a commercial, point of view. For it has conclusively proved the groundlessness and absurdity of the alarms which the Company affected to feel lest Englishmen, if allowed to settle in India, as in any other British dependency, should drive the Natives by insult and oppression to revolt; or, by the assistance of an invading enemy, to effect our expulsion.

But if these advantages be likely to flow from unrestricted settlement in India, it should seem unaccountable that the Hon. Company itself should not be desirous of encouraging it! This seeming inconsistency will be explained by a sketch of its constitution. It consists of five or six thousands of shareholders, of all ages and of both sexes. Its affairs are managed by twenty-four Directors, among whom there are said to be only three mercantile men.

-These Directors have at their disposal an immense amount of patronage. Besides, as they can divide only 102 per cent. per annum, as they pay these dividends, in effect, by borrowing, and as the magnitude of their debt is made the plea for the renewal of their Charter, (on which their patronage depends) they have a direct and powerful motive for the continuance of this ruinous system. They have, however, one last resource in this argument, that the result of the improvement of British India, would be the establishment of its independence. Supposing it to be as true as I shall presently show it to be false, that it were possible to retain British India in subjection longer under the present system, than under that which I am advocating, the just, humane, and generous proposal couched under this argument,—that we should keep 100 millions of the human race in their present state of degradation and misery, in order that a fluctuating body of twenty-four Directors might continue to enjoy the fruits of their monopoly, (for it amounts to nothing else,) is an insult to English ears. How groundless, however, this danger is, at least for a long series of years to come, will appear from the following considerations.

The inhabitants of British India consist of a number of divers nations, differing in language, religion, habits, manners, as widely as the most dissimilar nations of Europe. These circumstances place an almost insuperable obstacle in the way of any general or very extensive combination against the British power. There are some indications, however, that the maintenance of the present system would be a work of increasing difficulty, and that a change in the constitution of Indian society, is in progress, which will be capable of being in no other way so beneficially influenced as by the free intercourse with Englishmen. The Hindoo population has always appeared, notwithstanding its prodigious numbers, to be deprived of the power of effectual combination, by its horribly antisocial system of caste; and to be, therefore, quite contemptible as a hostile power. But, whatever be the cause, that system, after having exercised its unmitigated despotism for thousands of years, has of late suffered a very considerable abatement of its rigidity.

This circumstance has been pointed out by different observers; but by none more distinctly than by the late excellent Bishop Heber. He frequently alludes, in his delightful work, to the proofs which were continually presenting themselves to his observation, how much less formidable an obstacle caste was than formerly, or than he had expected to find it, to the reception of Christianity, to improvement generally, or to intercourse with Europeans. Whoever will examine his Journal and Correspondence, with a view to this point, will find that his observations and reflections on the country itself, had grudually changed the prepossessions with which he entered India, in favour of the existing arrangements, into a settled conviction that an effectual change of system is not only highly desirable, but indispensably necessary.

Considering that this commencement of improvement has alreedy been the effect of the very partial removal of the former restrictive policy; and that those restrictions must be still further relaxed, and in all probability altogether removed, at the approaching expiration of the Company's Charter, we need entertain no apprehensions that the steps, thus happily made, can possibly be retraced; they must proceed : and, seeing what has been their origin, and their course, it is obvious that they can in no other way be so safely or so effectually promoted, as by permitting and encouraging the intercourse of respectable Europeans with the Natives. From the distance, and consequent expense of conveyance to that country, it cannot be resorted to by Englishmen in any considerable numbers, except by such as are of respectable station. The wages of labour in India are too low to offer encouragement to European labourers; and Englishmen of respectable station can hardly settle there in any considerable number, without gradually introducing the spirit, and in some degree the forms, of English institutions. And what could be more gratifying or more honourable to the national character, than the introduction of that spirit, and of those institutions, into those vast and fertile regions ?-than the education of a countless multitude of different nations, in our arts, our civilization, our beneficent religion ?-Familiar with our language, and acknowledg. ing with gratitude their obligations to it and to us, for a degree of moral and intellectual advancement, which no degree of cultivation of their indigenous system could ever have enabled them to attain ;

-such a people, connected with us by commercial and political ties, would contribute to our financial prosperity in the only way in which one country can ever be made justly, or even effectually, to contribute to the revenue of another. Let us not deceive ourselves with expectations of a surplus revenue to be derived from the internal taxation of India, or of any other country. Revenue can never be obtained from such a source, but by the most abominable injustice; nor can it be permanently thus extorted in any considerable amount, without impoverishing the dominant state itself. The only legitimate end of government, is the promotion of human happiness; and (as a principal means to that end) the efficient protection of person and property. But if the governing power take more than is required for its necessary expenses, property is not completely and efficiently protected.- No govern

ment can have a right to take from any country more than sufficient to defray the expense of governing it; and it therefore follows that no country can justly draw a surplus revenue from another. No just government will ever attempt thus to plunder a weaker country; and no country strong enough to resist, will ever submit to þe thus plundered.

But, further, it cannot be done with impunity, even to the dominant state itself; for it is an act of oppression so odious, that it cannot be enforced but by so arbitrary a system, as greatly to impair the prosperity of the subject country; and, by diminishing its power of production and its means of consumption, to injure the dominant state, by the diminution of its commerce, more than it can be benefitted by the produce of such oppression. Our expectations of revenue from India, therefore, must be confined to that to be derived from her external commerce, and from the increase in our internal consumption, to be caused by the extension of our trade with that country. And here is a field for our exertions more extensive than any which has yet been opened to our manufacturing skill and industry, great as they already are.

But, it will be asked, when the abject, dissimilar, and disunited nations of India shall have laid aside their mutual antipathies and animosities, and, through a long course of prosperity and goud government, shall have become a wealthy, powerful, patriotic, and united people, will not the government of that country declare itself independent? We surely need not attribute to the British government of that day, a folly so egregious as the attempt to enforce any species of direct taxation, on between one and two hundred millions of unrepresented people, at the distance of half the globe, and animated by the spirit of the British constitution. In proportion as the people of a country so extensive, fertile, and populous, as India, advance toward the independent spirit of Englishmen, they must be approaching to a condition in which their continuance in subjection to a government at so great a distance would be neither suitable nor advantageous to either country. But for a very long period, the English settlers and their descendants will rely upon their mother country for support ; and will therefore form the strongest connecting link between the two portions of the Empire. And long before their interests shall have become so united and identified with those of the Native races as to have changed these relations, so large and so important a part of the business of government in that country, will have been habitually transacted by local institutions and agents, that an amicable separation might be almost a matter of mere form, scarcely involving the displacement of a single functionary. Under such a state of things, the effective power on the soil of India must be so utterly disproportionate, as to prevent the idea of coercion from entering the imagi

Oriental Herald, Vol. 22.

nation of any reasonable being; and we may therefore anticipate, at the distance of ages, the Euthanasia of the political connexion, in a peaceful separation, which shall leave both countries in the full concession of mutual and unrestricted commerce ;—the principal, if not the only, source of the advantages of which the connexion can ever be productive to either.

From Hafız.

With pleasure I talk of my pain,

To the world I my secret confide:
For the slave of love's powerful chain,

Is released from all trouble beside.
But, alas ! who shall give me the powr;

Ey'n the half of my woes to declare?
I'm the bird of a sanctified bow'r,

Say how did I fall in the snare ?
I once was an angel of light,

Yes, Eden has been my abode :
Nor should I, had Eve stept aright,

Have e'er trod this disastrous road.
You ask me, how can I forget,

Fair Tooba's heart-ravishing tree,
And the Hoories with eye-balls of jet;

I forget them, my charmer-for thee !
'Tis true-on the page of my heart,

Thy name I can only explore :
For Love, when he taught me this art,

Though with chastisement, taught me no more.
As yet no diviner has told,

What complexion my fortune has got,
Be it thine then, my fair, to unfold,

What stars have determin'd my lot.'
Thee, Love, since I first understood,

New pains were my portion each hour :
My heart has run currents of blood,

Since first I experienc'd thy power.
My cheeks are with weeping defild,

Give thy tresses to wipe it away;
Or Hafiz's roundelay wild,

In silence for ever 'twill lay.

« AnteriorContinuar »