« AnteriorContinuar »
RETRENCHMENT IN THE INDIAN ARMY.
To the Editor of The Orientul Herald." Sir,—You have, no doubt, long ere this, heard of the infamous order putting all stations from Allahabad to the Presidency on half batta." "He who allows oppression shares the crime," and it is hoped that the Editor of The Oriental Herald' will once again exert himself to protect those who, from their situation, are unable to protect themselves. This new order, it is said, emanating from the Court of Directors, and acted upon by Lord Wm. Bentinck (from whom better things were expected) is considered by the whole of the army mean and infamous in the extreme. An officer with his regiment is, even now, put to many shifts to support the character of a gentleman, and in the grade of Ensign, it is well known a man cannot live upon his pay and support that character. The Ensign is obliged to involve himself, and hence follows all the misery he must undergo in after life-if he gets a staff appointment, it is true he has then the means of liquidating his debts; if not, and how few even of those possessed of talents, can ever hope for such good fortune, he must go on as he has begun; is pestered to death with duns, and as follows of course, in a short time becomes callous-callous, can any member of the Court of Directors who has ever been in India read that word without a shudder-has he sons ? has he any near relatives about to commence their career! if he has, I will venture to affirm he cannot.
How many fine, high-spirited lads do we see daily arriving in India, sons of Gentlemen, and who fondly imagining that in a foreign clime, they too will be able to support themselves as such—some perhaps, who have come out in the expectation of being able to assist their parents; think of their disappointment, of the horrid sinking of the spirit, which accompanies the conviction (and it very soon forces itself upon them) that do what they may, they are helpless, perfectly helpless! Şee these fine young men, and meet the same three or four years after, on my word, as a gentleman, you often cannot believe them to be the same individuals, the brandy bottle, that sad resource for the miserable, has wasted the form and withdrawn the blood from the once healthy cheek; to complete the picture, they neglect their duty, Courts Martial follow, and they are driven with disgrace from the service, or, perhaps, as a favour, placed on the pension list ; those who have sense and prudence enough left to avoid such a catastrophe, escape, not long-cares and sorrows soon put an end to life in an Indian climate.
That this should be the case with all who enter the military service, or with the greater number—God forbid—but the career of far too many ends even thus. Can it be believed it is the allowances of such a service the authorities at home propose to reduce!! The order has made the married officers discontented to a degree, it takes the very bread out of the mouths of his children. The medical men, and with equal justice, are just as discontented as the last, in fact the discontent is universal. ,
To excite any feeling of compassion in the breasts of the Court of Directors, or the East India proprietors, is, we know froin experience, a vain and useless attempt—but in the name of heaven, are the members of these two Honourable Courts imbeciles ?-have they no foresight ? from their actions one may certainly be led to say, none. I am a young man, Mr. Editor, but “ the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong," and in like manner an observation or two I shall make seems to have escaped my elders. A day or two since I mentioned to an intelligent Sepoy of my company this batta business, his answer was, “ Sahib, why do you allow them ?" I believe I must have looked surprised, for he added immediately, “ first they will cut you, and then they will cut us, but send in a petition, the Sepoys will join you, and then what can they do?" He paused a moment or two_"Sabib, we all know that your interest and ours is the same ; if they cut you, you cannot afford to assist us in any of our little difficulties; the other day you made us all a present (alluding to some trifling expense I had paid for them) I suppose you will not now do it again our interests, Sahib, are the same." And let me ask, with my worthy friend the Sepoy, what could they do if men became desperate? and we would as soon the Honourable Company “ took our lives, as that whereby we live."
Breaking the spirit of the Officers is not the way to make an army efficient. Let the Court of Directors annul these odious orders, let them do so without delay; and I for one, hope that “all may yet be well.” Even now it is not too late to regain the esteem and respect of their servants, perhaps, however, such a thing is in their eyes a matter of no moment ; they keep no covenants with us; the time, however, may come when they will repent it.
AN INDIAN Officer.
The Medical Service. . To the Editor of The Bengal Hurkaru and Chronicle.'
Sir,—The subject on wbich I am about to trouble you, concerns the respectability, the interest and the welfare of a body of gentlemen in the Honourable Company's service; and as their profession is at once liberal and arduous, and one in which all the interests of humanity are concerned, it demands some consideration ; indeed, a great deal more than it has yet met with.
With your permission then, Mr. Editor, and in few and plain
words, I have to draw your attention to the situation in which Assistant-Surgeons of this service are placed, by the orders lately issued. It may not be amiss to remind you, that from the com mencement, a medical man's studies and pursuits are attended with great expence and labour; and it is natural, that when he commences upon his professional career, he should expect, by the fair and liberal exercise of his anxious avocations, to open to himself a way to independence. He considers it a duty to attend to the calls of bumanity ;-—the poor who are sick and distressed naturally look up to him for relief ; the misery he is too often brought acquainted with, induces, nay, compels, him to admit the call of the sufferers, not only on his attention, but on his purse ; and he has surely a right to expect that those willing sacrifices at the shrine of humanity will be compensated to him by a fair, if not a liberal, return for his professional labours, when rendered to the affluent. Deeply concerned in alleviating and healing the sufferings and wounds of humanity, he is expected not only to keep pace with the advancement of the science, but, by industrious research, to add to the general stock of information ; if the means are not granted to him, it is impossible he can attend to these various claims and duties. The Assistant-surgeons of the Honourable Company have now nothing but a living afforded to them, and that a very wretched one. There is no inducement to them to be zealous and industrious in the discharge of their several duties; the prospect held out to them is blank and dreary, and if they be found wanting in their duty, their employers have none to blame but themselves. It is obviously the policy of every government to make a man's interest correspond with his duty ; the more especially where such important and extensive ones as those under discussion are concerned. To neglect this maxim seems alike impolitic and unjust. Without stopping here to notice the cruelty of inveigling men to enter a service, on conditions and expectations open to violation by the stronger party, (for what else is it to deprive them of those allowances established for years, and which they came out assured of possessing ?) can it be in reason expected, that a medical gentleman will leave an English home, and come to India, where he may be marched about from one end to the other of that land of exile and disease, of hot or cold, dry or wet extremes, and endure, for a long series of years, in an unhealthy, nay, deadly climate, all the trouble and expence to which it may suit that government to subject him, for the sake of a mere subsistence ? If it be urged that he has something to recompense him when he arrives at the rank of Surgeon, I deny the position ; for the present allowances of a Surgeon are altogether an inadequate return for his past services and present exertions. Waiving, however, the consideration of this point for the present, the argument becomes reduced to a declaration, that an Assistant-Surgeon can deserve nothing! Still, for the sake of argument, let it be granted that
it is fair he should derive no advantage from the service till he reaches the rank of Surgeon, the chances of his living to be a Surgeon, and if he should become one, that he shall live to lay by any thing like a provision, are infinitely against him. Here I may remark, that all the medical gentlemen of this service came out in the certainty that they would be at least reasonably, if not handsomely, remunerated for their professional services; that at the end of seventeen years, they might perhaps save so much, as, together with their pension, would enable them to return home and enjoy the remainder of their days. An Assistant-Surgeon cannot enter the service before he is twenty-two years of age; the greater number enter much after that period. Supposing he is sixteen years an Assistant-Surgeon ; for it cannot be a less period with those coming in junior of a list of 250, when he comes to be a Surgeon, he finds himself at least thirty-eight years of age ; at what period of life, I may ask, will he be able to retire with that which shall enable him to live decently, not forgetting to take into account the half-batta? To an European, there is little of real comfort or enjoyment in this country; he toils on in it, in hopes of seeing some few better days, and these days he is anxious to enjoy while he may yet have the ability and power of doing so. Besides, a medical man (and, I believe, every other in the service) will call to mind the changes that have become so frequent of late, and the reductions for which there is so decided a taste, and if he cannot depend upon the stability of his allowances for one given period, how can he expect to calculate on the enjoyment of any thing hereafter ? Having premised thus much, Mr. Editor, I shall proceed to the main subject.
The Honourable East India Company (under the impression it would appear that their Medical Oficers were too well paid) have considered it necessary to deprive them of the medicine allowance which they had been drawing for a number of years past, and which was granted to them partly by way of recompence for their labour, for, according to the number under their care, was the proportion of medicine allowance; this pittance surely needed not to have been looked upon with an evil eye, when it is taken into consideration, that it was granted only for the number of soldiers, syces and grasscutters employed by the Company. Bearers, Clashes, &c. in the service were attended gratis, and so were the families of officers, and their servants, and the poor people of the attached Bazars, and about the vicinity generally. From this allowance, the medical officer was obliged to furnish European and country medicines of every description, Wine and nourishment, Instruments, Cots, Stationary, &c., &c., and to keep up and pay the Hospital Establishment of servants, (a Native Doctor excepted) and when marching to provide carriage for the conveyance of all his stores, &c. According to the new system, a medical man is not paid in proportion
to the labour and responsibility of his charge, but according to his rank; for instance, a Surgeon, whether in charge of a corps, or five companies, will draw the difference of batta of a Major, viz. 270 Rs. on full and 135 on half batta. An Assistant Surgeon with the like charge, will draw the difference of batta of Captain, viz, sixty Rupees on full and thirty Rupees on half batta, in addition to the established allowance of his personal rank. Government have also resolved, that for every charge less than five companies, a Medical man shall not draw difference of batta, but only thirty Rupees Palankeen allowance. Now supposing he had the charge of four Companies consisting of 400 men, will any one say that thirty Rupees a month for a conveyance, is a fit return to a medical man for his education, industry and talent ? Palankeen allowance is no remu. neration whatever, for a medical Officer's labour ; and whilst on this subject, it may be observed that the sum fixed by Government will actually not keep up the conveyance necessary for a medical man ; for instance, there may be more than a dozen Officers scattered about in different parts of a Cantonment. Supposing that four or five of these Officers fall sick of fever at the same time, which is not uncommon, and the medical Officer is called on to see each of them three or four times a day, and to visit his Hospital besides, as often as is necessary, how is he to manage with one or even two conveyances, considering the ground he travels over? or if the thirty Rupees suffices to pay a set of Bearers, where is he to find means for buying, repairing, and replacing the Palankeen itself? A medical officer would certainly in strictness be justified in keeping only a Palankeen, or using a sick Dooly, and when his bearers complain of being tired, in refusing to go out. It is curious too, to find the medical officer placed among the Staff, and drawing allowances inferior to them all, when the duties to which he has to attend, are far more responsible.
These remarks are few and hastily written. Your space and my time alike demand brevity, which consideration has induced me not to depart from the immediate question, but there are collateral branches of it which are even more distressing than the main point, I have hitherto written as my own interests and feelings are affected as a Bachelor; but it is impossible to paint the anguish and distress the order alluded to, bas heaped on the married Assistant-Surgeons; nor is the bitterness of their despair unmixed with indignant remorse, that through no fault of theirs, they should have been made the instruments, however guiltlessly, God knows! of dragging their unhappy partners within the vortex of that ruin which blasts their own prospects for ever. These men married under moderately fair circumstances, when morality, prudence, and propriety equally sanctioned the measure, and now, without fault of theirs, and from events which they could neither foresee nor controul ; nay, which they were the rather assured against by their faith in their employers, they are doomed to the agony of knowing, that they