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WRITINGS ON INDIA - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXX - Writings on India 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, XXX - Writings on India, ed. John M. Robson, Martin Moir, and Zawahir Moir (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1990).
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WRITINGS ON INDIA
TRADE WITH INDIA
Parliamentary Review, Session of 1826-27 (London: Baldwin and Cradock, 1828), 58-68. Headed and running titles: “Foreign Dependencies—Trade with India.” Not signed; not republished. Identified in Mill’s bibliography as “An article on trade with India which appeared in the Parliamentary Review for the session of 1827” (MacMinn, 8).
Trade with India
on the 15th may,* Mr. Wolryche Whitmore moved for a Committee to inquire into the trade between Great Britain and India. Mr. Whitmore rested his demand for investigation upon a specification of grievances; among which he insisted chiefly upon the inequality of the duties on East India and on West India produce; the impediments which, as he affirmed, the East India Company were accused of throwing in the way of private merchants trading to the East Indies; and lastly, the commercial restrictions, which he seemed to suppose existed at Singapore, and other “emporia in the Eastern Archipelago.”1
On the first of these topics, the discriminating duties on East India produce, our opinion has been already given. The subject was plainly treated, in the course of the debate, by Mr. William Smith; who placed the advocates of these duties in a dilemma from which they cannot possibly escape.2 If the duties were equalized, the taxed commodities either could, or could not, be obtained at less cost from the East Indies than from the West. If they could, the discriminating duties are a tax on the people of England, to enable the West Indians to carry on what is, or would otherwise be, a losing business, by means of slave labour. If not, the duties are meant for no purpose except to ward off a danger which does not exist: they ought, therefore, to be repealed, were it for no other reason but because animosities are engendered, and valuable time wasted, by the agitation of the question from year to year.
The complaints of Mr. Whitmore against the East India Company, it is impossible to decide upon without a full inquiry: and if they be persevered in, it is highly proper that they should be subjected to investigation by any committee which may hereafter be appointed to inquire into the East India trade. Judging, however, from what Mr. Whitmore hinted rather than stated concerning the nature of the imputations, we do not imagine them to be of a very serious character. “The Company secured to itself, in some cases, the right of preemption. Their resident agents advanced money to the growers, and then shut up the produce, so as to answer the demands of the Company.”3 This is the sum total of Mr. Whitmore’s complaints: but surely if, as would appear from this statement, the Company actually advances to the producers the capital with which they carry on the production, it is entitled to privileges somewhat greater than those of a simple purchaser; and there is nothing unfair in the transaction, unless it can be shewn, that, by an abuse of the powers of government, the Company extorts from the producers more favourable terms than the private merchants could obtain, for the same equivalent, by the competition of the market. This, however, Mr. Whitmore does not affirm.
The debate chiefly turned upon the question of the discriminating duties; on which subject Mr. Huskisson, though he opposed the motion, expressed his entire concurrence in the general principles laid down by Mr. Whitmore, and declared that he had nothing more at heart than to promote them, “so far as they could be fairly and justly brought into operation.”4 This, we believe, is a profession which few men would have any objection to make on any subject. To attach to it any meaning, it would be necessary that we should have the means of knowing how far the speaker’s ideas of fairness and justice extend. Mr. Huskisson, however, took particular care to say nothing which should give the remotest indication of the course he intended to pursue. His speech was according to the old approved parliamentary tactics. Fair words to all parties, pledges to none: impossibility of laying down any principles which could be inflexibly adhered to: necessity of delay; not a short delay, to give time for consideration, but a delay of several years—delay until the House should take into consideration the renewal of the East India Company’s charter, which expires, we believe, in 1834.5 It was impossible to shew one single point of contact or connexion between the question of the East India Company’s charter, and that of the duties on East India produce. If the duties on East India sugar are a grievance, they are a grievance whether the King or the Company is to have the government of India, and whether the Company or private merchants are to be, after 1834, the importers of tea from Canton. Yet, so truly parliamentary is the policy of postponing the consideration of whatever appears likely to give trouble or annoyance; so deeply rooted in the hearts of our public men is the desire to put off, till the latest period possible, the evil day when the partial interests of any powerful body are to be interfered with; that almost every member who followed joined with Mr. Huskisson in begging Mr. Whitmore to withdraw his motion, and “leave the matter to Government,”6 to be by them postponed until the time comes when attention will be distracted by so many other still more important topics connected with India, that whatever the Government may be pleased to ordain on the subject will pass, comparatively speaking, unchallenged and undiscussed.
The reasons stated for the postponement were far from sufficient to account for the apparent universality of the desire for it. There were “experiments already in progress,”7 of which the result was not yet apparent. We are aware of none, the result of which, if known, could have the slightest influence upon the merits of this question. The inquiry would “excite and inflame those anxious alarms,” which Mr. Huskisson said it was his “earnest wish to allay.”8 This argument, though it is perfectly en règle, being invariably brought forward as a reason against discussion whenever discussion is inconvenient, is yet such a one as ought never to be heard from the lips of an enlightened statesman. Common sense, if it were listened to, would dictate a directly opposite conclusion. If there are groundless alarms, by what means can they be so effectually dispelled as by laying open promptly and completely the real state of the case? As a general proposition, it will scarcely, we presume, be maintained, that ignorance or misinformation is less likely to produce groundless alarms than correct information; and if it is on the sugar question in particular that correct information is expected to prove so alarming, the reason must be one which it would not answer Mr. Huskisson’s purpose to tell; that, if all the facts were known, so gross and glaring would the injustice appear which is done to the public of Great Britain, for the sake of the planters, that public indignation would at once compel a reform of the system. The absurdity of this plea is the more obvious, because the West Indians, and Mr. Huskisson along with them, profess to believe that the East Indies, even if the duties were equalized, could not supply sugar on equally advantageous terms with the West. Surely, if this be true, an inquiry, the result of which would be to establish this fact, would allay apprehensions, not excite them. True it is that the West Indians, by their strenuous opposition to the removal of these unpopular duties, an opposition which would be without a motive if they themselves believed what they say, prove sufficiently their own insincerity. But every one will acquit Mr. Huskisson of such paltry artifices. The true reason, as we suspect, which would render the granting of a committee a source of real alarm to the planters, is one which Mr. Huskisson could not decently state, however strongly he may have felt it. This reason is simple;—it would convince them that Government was in earnest. At present, they may flatter themselves, with some appearance of justice, that it is not.
It well deserves attention, that such flimsy excuses, when they were excuses for delay, should have been so completely satisfactory to the House. But any reason is good enough, when the conclusion accords with our inclinations: any ostensible motive will suffice, when the course which it recommends falls in with the predominant habit of our minds.
In answer to what had been observed by Mr. Whitmore on the subject of Singapore, and the other “emporia in the Eastern Archipelago,”9 Mr. Huskisson stated, that “no tonnage, or duty of any description,”10 was now demanded at those ports: and the fact is, that Singapore has always been a free port, and that the duties which were formerly levied at Penang and Malacca have recently been discontinued. Mr. Huskisson viewed this circumstance “with great satisfaction, because it was the result of those principles of policy which he had recommended.”11 Were we, also, convinced that the measure was borne out by the principles to which Mr. Huskisson alluded, it could not but have our entire approbation. We are afraid, however, that, instead of being a result of those principles, it is in direct opposition to them; and that the ministry, which recommended or sanctioned such a measure, have been misled by names.
The principle, which Mr. Huskisson supposes to have dictated this course, is the principle of free trade; and if we look to the words alone, free trade undoubtedly implies exemption from all taxes or duties whatsoever. But a principle, when it is expressed in two words, is very seldom expressed accurately; some necessary condition or qualification is almost always omitted: and when we are satisfied with adhering to the terms of a proposition, and are not careful to keep always in view the grounds of it, we are perpetually in danger of acting in contradiction to the very principle which we imagine to be directing our conduct.
The principle of free trade is the principle of leaving undisturbed the natural distribution of capital; and the foundation of it is the observed and well-established fact, that capital, when left to itself, under the guidance of individual interest, always finds out the channels in which, under the existing circumstances, and in the existing state of knowledge, the greatest produce can be obtained at the least expense to the community. When this principle is clearly apprehended, it is evident at once that free trade does not require that the different employments of capital shall be subject to no taxation, but only that, if taxed at all, they shall be taxed equally, so that one employment may not be encouraged more than another.
If there are two modes of obtaining the same commodity, and both are taxed,—taxed moreover to an exactly equal amount,—the commodity will naturally be obtained in the cheaper of the modes; but if a minister awkwardly attempts to introduce free trade, by removing the tax from the more expensive mode of obtaining the article, while the cheaper mode remains taxed, as before, the commodity will probably be obtained in the more expensive mode, and a quantity, greater or smaller, of expense and labour, will be uselessly thrown away.
This is precisely what has been done in the Eastern seas. The ports of Continental India, particularly Calcutta and Bombay, have hitherto been the entrepôts of a very extensive and valuable commerce; but at these places the port charges still continue, while they are now abolished in the Straits of Malacca. The unavoidable consequence will be, that many ships, for unloading which the situation of Bombay or Calcutta is more convenient, will resort to Penang or Singapore in order to save the duties, at the cost of a longer, a more hazardous, or a more expensive voyage. The whole of what is thus expended is sheer loss to the nation and to the world; and a loss, too, of that very kind, which it is the particular object of the principle of free trade to prevent; loss, by substituting a less advantageous disposition of capital for a more advantageous one. It is as if all duties and port charges were to be abrogated in London, while they continued to be levied at Bristol and Liverpool. No doubt, this would give to the commerce of London a most flourishing appearance, since a much larger number of ships, from America and the West Indies, would resort to London, in order to avoid the duties; but it is obvious, that the additional expense of the more circuitous voyage would be a clear and uncompensated loss to the community.
But even if the remission of duties, instead of being partial, had been universal, extending to all India, or even to all the world; we should be prepared to maintain, that the measure was a violation of that principle of which the doctrine of free trade is a consequence,—the principle of not disturbing the natural arrangement of capital. That principle, we contend, absolutely requires that all expenses which are incurred for commerce should be defrayed by commerce. The natural distribution of capital is equally disturbed, when any of its employments is charged with factitious expenses, or when it is relieved from its own.
The settlements of Singapore, Penang, and Malacca, were established, and are maintained, solely for the convenience of commerce; and none of them possesses any resources, independently of commerce, at all adequate to the liquidation of its own expense. The question now is, whether this expense, which must be borne by somebody, shall be borne by those who alone benefit by it, and for whose sake it was incurred; or be charged upon the community in general of Great Britain or India. We maintain that the former, both on the principles of justice and on those of political economy, is the advisable arrangement.
Free trade implies freedom not from restrictions only, but from all partial encouragement. Why is it that Government never thinks of erecting, at its own charge, buildings or machinery for any branch of manufacture—the cotton manufacture, for example? Not because the removal of any source of expense is not in itself advantageous; but because, when it can be removed from one class only by being transferred to another, there is no good reason for giving a bounty to the consumers of cotton, at the expense of the public in general, or any other portion of it.
If, instead of buildings, Government were to supply means of conveyance; if they were to abolish all tolls, and to supply waggons and other vehicles, free of charge, for carrying from place to place all descriptions of goods, could they here plead free trade in their defence? or rather would not such a measure be a direct infringement of the principle on which free trade is founded? The consumers of goods brought from a distance, have no claim to receive a premium at the expense of those who consume goods produced in their immediate vicinity; and as such a system would inevitably cause goods to be brought from a distance, which could be obtained cheaper by being produced at hand, the excess of expense, which would not be taken away, but only be laid upon other shoulders than those of the consumer, would be a clear loss to the community.
To take another illustration still more exactly appropriate to the case in hand: suppose that Government were to purchase the London Docks, and lay them open, with the warehouses adjoining, to all importing merchants, free of charge—would this be a proper application of the public money? Surely not. Let the expense of procuring commodities be borne by the consumers of those commodities: they will then be the more frugal in their consumption; and let not the whole public be taxed to afford, without necessity, a separate advantage to a part.
Such precisely is the case of Singapore, Penang, and Malacca; but with this great aggravation, that as each of those settlements is confessedly only an entrepôt, the parties for whose benefit British money is expended, are, for the most part, not even British subjects. It may be true that the merchants, who resort thither, are generally subjects of Great Britain; but the system which exempts them from all share in the expense incurred specifically for their convenience, is a boon, not to them, but to the consumers of the goods, of which they are only the carriers. They are benefitted indeed, but it is only by that extension of business which proceeds from a diminution of price, and by being freed from the trouble and annoyance attendant on a custom-house. Whatever tax might be imposed upon them, would be ultimately paid by their customers; the people on the east side of the Gulf of Malacca, and those among the people on the west side, who consume goods brought from the east. If the duty were one or two per cent, (or whatever else might be a fair equivalent for the protection given, and the wharfs and warehouses afforded,) one or two per cent would be added to the price of European and Indian goods in the Eastern Archipelago, and one or two per cent to that of the goods carried from thence to Europe and India. The effect, therefore, of this mistaken application of the principle of free trade, is merely to occasion to the purchasers of such goods a saving of that amount. So far as concerns the goods which pass to the east of the Gulf, being exactly one half of all which touch at the settlements, the saving is purely to the nations of Eastern Asia. On the remaining half, our countrymen merely share the advantage with all other nations trading to the east.
We have entered into a somewhat minute examination of this question, not so much for the importance of the subject immediately before us, but rather because we were anxious to clear up the misunderstanding with respect to the scope and effect of the principle of free trade, by which Mr. Huskisson seems, in this instance, to have been misled. We earnestly deprecate the converting any phrase, however unobjectionable in itself, into a catch-word, because it is sure in that case to find its way into the mouths of many who do not understand, or do not attend to its accurate meaning. “Equality,” in a neighbouring nation, and “No Popery” in our own, originally meant nothing but what was innocent and laudable. If the inventors of these expressions had taken for their motto a principle instead of an abbreviation, the one phrase could never have been made a handle wherewith to exterminate men for being unequal to their neighbours, by superiority in riches or talents; nor the other a ground for persecuting the men, whose opinions only it was originally intended to condemn. Such disastrous effects are not likely to arise from any abuse of the terms “Free Trade;” but it is necessary, when that phrase is made use of, always to bear in mind that the real principle of legislation is that of allowing private interest to regulate wholly the disposition of private capital, and avoiding to give any factitious advantage to one employment of it over another. It is by this test alone that every proposition, be its object to free trade from restrictions, or to impose them, must ultimately be tried.
MINUTE ON THE BLACK ACT
British Library, Add. MSS 36,468 (Broughton Papers), ff. 401-7. As unpublished, not listed in Mill’s bibliography.
This paper is one of the briefs assembled by John Cam Hobhouse, Baron Broughton, President of the Board of Control 1835-41 and 1846-52, as guides in preparing his response (which was negative) to the petition from inhabitants of Calcutta against India Act XI (1836), the so-called Black Act. For the petition, see “Memorial of the Inhabitants of Calcutta and Others, of All Classes of His Majesty’s Indian Subjects, to the President and Board of Commissioners for the Affairs of India, and the Court of Directors of the East India Company,” PP, 1837-38, XLI, 264-6.
Minute on the Black Act
the petitioners pray that cases of marriage, divorce, and inheritance or succession, respecting Englishmen, should be removed altogether from the Company’s Courts, and that in all other civil cases (viz. debt, contract or trespass) wherein Englishmen are affected either as plaintiffs or defendants, an appeal should lie to the Sudder Adawlut or to the Supreme Court, at the option of the appellant.
The first of these prayers might without impropriety be complied with if the English inhabitants really wish it; because the marriages and divorces of the English, and the succession to their property, cannot in any way affect the interests or rights of the natives. On these matters therefore I, at least, see no reason why the appeal should not lie to the Supreme Court, or even, if the English wish it, why the Supreme Court should not have sole cognizance, until the Indian Code is completed,1 which is all that the petitioners require.
But on the other question the interests and rights of the natives are most seriously at stake. When an Englishman in India, beyond the bounds of the Presidency, borrows or lends, or enters into contracts of any other kind with natives, he must be understood to do so according to the native laws, the only ones which are known to the parties he contracts with. The same reasoning applies to those cases of civil injury known by the name of trespass. An Englishman has no right to go up the country and say to the natives, I will regulate my transactions with you by the laws of my own country, and if you think I have injured you, you shall not have the redress your own laws would give you, but shall be satisfied with that given by laws you know nothing about. If an Englishman goes there for his own purposes, it is to be expected from him that he will make himself acquainted with the institutions and customs of the country: but it is not to be expected of the natives that they should, previous to dealing with him, make themselves acquainted with his laws and institutions: and their passive character and dread of the name of an Englishman make it necessary to give facilities instead of interposing difficulties to their resisting fraud or oppression when attempted to be practised on them by the more powerful race.
But if it be admitted that the English must be governed by the same laws as the natives, it is absurd to say that the Court which adjudicates their causes in the last resort, shall be the Supreme Court, which administers a totally different system of law, and from which an Englishman might again drag the native he had injured before the Privy Council.
The principal things to be done in meeting these petitioners are, certain misrepresentations to be set right and certain principles to be proclaimed.
First, as to the misrepresentations—
1st. The petition is so framed as to keep out of view the fact that the Act does not affect Calcutta. It is only when the Calcutta people settle and acquire property in the Mofussil, that they are placed under the Company’s Courts and the laws which govern the natives.
2dly. The petition talks invidiously of placing Europeans under native judges, sinking the fact that native judges have jurisdiction only in small sums, in which the expense of an appeal to the Supreme Court would be so out of proportion that it would never be incurred unless to harass an adversary.
3dly. The petition imputes all sorts of incapacities to the Company’s judges, in the teeth of facts, and in a manner grossly libellous to the service, but especially talks of judicial functions confided to inexperienced young men; forgetting that even if their prayer was granted, the same young men would continue to judge in the first instance, and that the question merely is whether the appeal from those young men shall lie to the Supreme Court or to the Sudder Adawlut: now the Sudder Adawlut does not consist of inexperienced young men but of the most able and experienced men who have passed all their lives in the execution of judicial functions, and are far superior on the average in judgment and experience to the young or second rate barristers who go out to be judges of the Supreme Court with all the self conceit and professional prejudice of men who know their own technicalities and little else—though there are some honorable exceptions, as Sir Edw. Ryan.2
Secondly: The principles to be proclaimed—
The first and greatest of these is, that the Natives of India need protection against the English, and that to afford them that protection is one of the first duties of the British government in India. To shew the necessity of this, reference may be had to the many parliamentary papers which shew the oppression and injustice the natives are subject to from the indigo planters, and the extreme difficulty of protecting them from it. The natives may as well have no justice at all, as be told to look for it to the Supreme Court, probably the most expensive tribunal in the world, and placed often a thousand miles from them. Accordingly all parties, the Judges of the Supreme Court included, joined in recommending that the Court should be divested of its jurisdiction over the Mofussil, or that that jurisdiction should be very much curtailed.
Secondly; it should be proclaimed that the English who resort to India or any other foreign possession, to make their fortunes, are naturally inclined to despise the natives and to seek to make themselves a privileged caste. That this is a pretension which ought to be resisted; and it is because the Company has always resisted it, that the English public of Calcutta are as a body, always hostile to the Company’s government.
Lastly; our empire in India, consisting of a few Europeans holding 100 millions of natives in obedience by an army composed of those very natives, will not exist for a day after we shall lose the character of being more just and disinterested than the native rulers and of being united among ourselves. It is difficult enough for the Govt to watch sufficiently over the acts of its own servants: but when to these come to be added a far greater number of Europeans spread over the whole country, coming into competition and collision with the natives in all walks of life, and over whom the government has no control but through the courts of justice; most of them men contemplating only a temporary residence; many of them needy, and not a few of them profligate; then unless the control of the courts of justice over these men be strict and even rigid, the conduct of a large proportion of them is sure to be such as to destroy the prestige of superior moral worth and justice in dealings which now attaches to the British name in India: and unless the government can coerce them with a strong arm, they will form in the eyes of the natives an English public foreign and often hostile to the government, and the overawing influence of our power and capacity which has been derived from our union, will be weakened; and thus our government in India will gradually lose both its moral supports—and physical support, independent of those, it has none.
PENAL CODE FOR INDIA
London and Westminster Review, VII & XXIX (Aug. 1838), 393-405. Headed: “Art. VII.—A Penal Code; prepared by the Indian Law Commissioners, and published by Command of the Governor-General of India in Council. Calcutta, [Bengal Military Orphan Press,] 1837.” (In PP, 1837-38, XLI, 463-588. It was not enacted until 1860.) Running titles: “Penal Code for India.” Signed “S.” Not republished. Identified in Mill’s bibliography as “A review of the proposed Penal Code for India in the same number of the same review [as “Milnes’s Poems”]” (MacMinn, 51).
Penal Code for India
it has been for some time, we suspect, the opinion of all who have paid much attention to the vexata quaestio of codification, that, from a question of Theory, it has now passed into one of Practice. The possibility of making a code (for the possibility only, and not the advantage, was contested) has long since been as well proved as words can prove it, and can only be made more evident by actually trying to do that which, until done, the world will never believe can be done, at least well enough to be worth doing. And such, in truth, has been the history of most great improvements in human affairs. That civilization should exist without slavery, or a great state without monarchical government, were not generally believed possible, until seen realized. The multitude, justly distrustful of their own capacity to decide upon the evidence of general reasoning, turn a deaf ear to all demonstrations of the practicability of any great thing hitherto undone. And among such things the reduction of the whole laws of any country into a set of written enactments proceeding from the direct authority of the legislature, must as yet be considered. Of the points usually insisted upon by the later opponents of codification, the one perhaps in which they have been the most successful is in showing that the Code Napoleon1 (though a prodigious improvement upon the old French law) is no code, in the genuine sense of the word: for as it does not define the technical terms it makes use of, but leaves their meaning and extent to be determined by the decisions of the courts of justice, a real knowledge of the law can only be obtained, as in England, by a study of precedents and cases; and it has even been found worth while to reprint large editions of the old law books,2 for the light which they throw upon the principles on which the judges proceed in their interpretation of the so-called code. To frame a body of statute law which should need no such adventitious aid; which should contain in itself all the law that is necessary, all that the judge requires to enable him to execute the will of the legislator when he knows the facts of the particular case; this would be to construct a code. But this, so far as we know, has never been the object aimed at in any of the modern European attempts at codification, anterior to the one now before us.
It is because the present is an attempt to attain that object, and (so far as we can yet venture to judge) an eminently successful one, that we are anxious to invite to it the attention and the criticism of jurists, and of persons practically conversant with the interpretation of language. We believe that this proposed Penal Code has solved the problem; that it has actually done, so far as the penal branch of law is concerned, that which was denied to be possible, namely, to frame adequate definitions of offences, expressed in general language: definitions sufficiently accurate, to leave no doubt that complete accuracy is attainable. Doubtless, as there are imperfections in all works, and especially in all such works, examination will not fail to detect, or experience disclose, cases needful to be provided for, which the framers of these definitions have overlooked; but the emendations necessary to include such cases, can be made without disarranging the plan or disturbing the symmetry of the code; and that is enough.
The Indian Law Commissioners are a body of five persons, appointed under the authority of the last Charter Act to frame a code of law for the inhabitants of India.3 The propriety of such a measure at the particular juncture, appears to have been suggested by the liberty then first granted to Englishmen, for settling in India without license from the East India Company. The great influx of Europeans which was expected to ensue, impressed upon the framers of the Charter Act a sense of the necessity of so revising the laws and tribunals of India, as on the one hand to leave Englishmen no just ground of complaint against the institutions of the country in which they might come to live, and on the other to afford effectual protection to the natives against their encroachments. The anomaly of exempting Europeans from the laws and tribunals of the country, and giving them separate ones of their own, was utterly indefensible in principle; it had been found productive of the most serious oppression and denial of justice to the natives, in cases affecting Europeans, even under the more limited access to the country which the latter had hitherto enjoyed; and now, when the government was no longer to have either the privilege of prohibiting the immigration of persons objectionable in point of character, or that of supplying the defect of legal control by an arbitrary power of banishment, it became an imperative duty to withdrawn all legal immunities from Europeans; to subject them to the only tribunals accessible to the people, and (so far as possible) to the only laws which those tribunals were, or could be made, competent to administer.
Such, therefore, was the more especial and peculiar motive which led to the creation of this Commission of codification. To this inducement, however, we believe may be added, without any undue compliment to the parties concerned, a sense of the importance of the object in itself, and of the value of any experiment which might tend to accelerate its successful accomplishment. We are the more inclined to ascribe this honourable motive to the authors of the measure, inasmuch as Mr. Charles Hay Cameron, the only gentleman who was sent from England specifically as a member of the Commission (and whose remarkable qualifications for such a post, are well known to all who have any knowledge of him and of the subject) was recommended to the choice of the Court of Directors and of the ministry, by the complete reform which he, as a Commissioner of Inquiry, had advised, and her Majesty’s Government effected, in the courts of justice and judicial procedure of Ceylon.4 Alone of all known countries, that British colony now actually enjoys a judicial system constructed on the best conceptions of philosophic jurists—a system in which, without any servile deference for the authority of Bentham, the principal improvements made in the theory of the subject by that great man have been, with due consideration of local circumstances, adopted and carried into practice.5 The system is understood to have worked admirably during the few years it has been in operation; and the introduction of it does honour to the Colonial Office. The operations of the Indian Law Commission are adding a second instance in support of a prediction once made, that the foreign dependencies of the empire will enjoy the benefits of many reforms, long before the much more compact masses of private interest which oppose themselves to such changes at home, will permit the mother country to share in them.
It was judiciously considered fitting that, of the five Commissioners who were appointed to give laws to India, three should be Company’s servants, of tried abilities and the requisite local knowledge; while the remaining two should be persons sent from England, and conversant with the general principles of law-making. Of these two Mr. Cameron was one; the other was Mr. Macaulay, who, having been appointed a member of the Legislative Council of India, assumed, in addition to his rather scanty functions as such, that of President of the Law Commission. Mr. Cameron’s health having prevented him from taking part in the later proceedings of the Commission, the letter to the Governor-General in Council, which accompanies the project of a penal code, is signed only by the other four members;6 and a greater share of the labour of completion than was at first anticipated has devolved upon the accomplished President of the Commission, whose style, pruned of whatever would be unsuitable to the character of the work in hand, is distinctly visible in every part of the volume before us, in which it was possible that style should be discernible.
It is not in its particular application to the circumstances of India, but as a specimen of codification in general, that this proposed body of penal law has claims on the attention of the English reader. We shall therefore omit all consideration of the appropriateness of the punishments, whether as to quality or quantity, and shall confine our notice to the definitions of offences, and the nomenclature and expression of the code at large.
The first four chapters are of a general kind, comprising all those explanations and directions which may be given once for all;7 and which, in an unsystematic mass of enactments like the English statute book, are either said over again in every statute (sometimes even in every clause of every statute) or left unsaid altogether. Such, for instance, are these—“The pronoun he is used of any person, whether male or female.” “The word man denotes a male human being of any age; the word woman denotes a female human being of any age.” “The words to do a thing denote omissions as well as acts.” “The word act denotes as well a series of acts as a single act; the word omission denotes as well a series of omissions as a single omission.”8 These simple instances, with many of a more complicated character, compose the first chapter, entitled “General Explanations.” The remainder of the generalities are comprised in the three succeeding chapters—“Of Punishments;” “General Exceptions;” and “Of Abetment.” In these chapters some, though not many terms, which require definition, are left undefined, the definition in those instances properly belonging not to the penal, but to the civil code, which has not yet been commenced; and in general it may be remarked, that since all offences are such by virtue of their being violations of rights, the attempt to define offences until rights have been defined (which is the business of the civil code), must be attended with peculiar difficulties; but this code has demonstrated the possibility of surmounting these difficulties in a far greater degree than could have been anticipated. Under the chapter of “General Exceptions” we fear that offences by culpable negligence would in many cases escape punishment; but culpable negligence, when productive of actual mischief, is itself, in the more serious cases, made a distinct offence by the subsequent chapters of the code; and in minor cases it may be presumed to be the opinion of the Commissioners that liability to a civil action for damages is the appropriate remedy.
The remaining chapters (chaps. v to xxvi) are those which treat of the separate classes of offences; and the best mode of exhibiting the peculiarities and the general execution of the code will be to extract at length the first section of one of the most important of its chapters—the section “Of Offences affecting Life.”
294. Whoever does any act, or omits what he is legally bound to do, with the intention of thereby causing, or with the knowledge that he is likely thereby to cause, the death of any person, and does by such act or omission cause the death of any person, is said to commit the offence of “Voluntary culpable homicide.”
(a). A lays sticks and turf over a pit, with the intention of thereby causing death, or with the knowledge that death is likely to be thereby caused. Z, believing the ground to be firm, treads on it, falls in, and is killed. A has committed the offence of voluntary culpable homicide.
(b). A, with the intention or knowledge aforesaid, relates agitating tidings to Z, who is in a critical stage of a dangerous illness. Z dies in consequence. A has committed the offence of voluntary culpable homicide.
(c). A, with the intention or knowledge aforesaid, gives Z his choice whether Z will kill himself, or suffer lingering torture. Z kills himself in consequence. A has committed the offence of voluntary culpable homicide.
(d). A, with the intention or knowledge aforesaid, falsely deposes before a court of justice that he saw Z commit a capital crime. Z is convicted and executed in consequence. A has committed the offence of voluntary culpable homicide.
(e). A is hired to guide Z through a jungle. In the midst of the jungle, A, no circumstance having occurred to release him from his legal obligation to guide Z through the jungle, with such intention or knowledge as aforesaid, leaves Z. Z dies in consequence. A has committed the offence of voluntary culpable homicide.
(f). A being legally bound to furnish food to Z, who is the mother of a sucking child, omits to furnish her with food, intending or knowing it to be likely that Z’s death may be the consequence of the omission. Z survives, but the child is starved to death in consequence of the failure of milk, which is caused by A’s omission. Here, even if A did not know of the existence of the child, he has committed the offence of voluntary culpable homicide.
(g). A keeps Z in wrongful confinement, and is, therefore, legally bound (see clause 338) to furnish Z with what he knows to be necessary to prevent Z from being in danger of death. A knowing that Z is likely to die if medical advice be not procured, illegally omits to procure such advice. Z dies in consequence. A has committed the offence of voluntary culpable homicide.
(h). A knows Z to be behind a bush. B does not know it. A, intending to cause, or knowing himself to be likely to cause, Z’s death, induces B to fire at the bush. B fires and kills Z. Here, B may be guilty of no offence, or if his firing was, under the circumstances, a rash act, he may be guilty of the offence defined in clause 304. But A has committed the offence of voluntary culpable homicide.*
295. Voluntary culpable homicide is “murder,” unless it be of one of the three mitigated descriptions hereinafter enumerated; that is to say,
Secondly, Voluntary culpable homicide by consent;
Thirdly, Voluntary culpable homicide in defence.
296. If a person, by doing anything which he intends or knows to be likely to cause death, commits voluntary culpable homicide on a person whose death he neither intends nor knows himself to be likely to cause, the voluntary culpable homicide committed by the offender is of the same description of which it would have been if he had caused the death which he intended or knew himself to be likely to cause.
297. Voluntary culpable homicide is “manslaughter,” when it is committed on grave and sudden provocation, by causing the death of the person who gave that provocation.
Explanation.—Provocation is designated as “grave” when it is such as would be likely to move a person of ordinary temper to violent passion, and is not given by anything done in obedience to the law, or by anything authorised by the law of civil or criminal procedure, or by anything done by a public servant* in the exercise of the lawful powers of such public servant, or by anything done by any person in the exercise of the right of private defence,† against the offender.
(a). A, under the influence of passion excited by a provocation given by Z, intentionally kills Y, Z’s child. This is not manslaughter, but murder.
(b). A is lawfully arrested by Z, a bailiff. A is excited to sudden and violent passion by the arrest, and voluntarily kills Z. This is not manslaughter, but murder.
(c). A appears as a witness before Z, a magistrate. Z says that he does not believe a word of A’s deposition, and that A has perjured himself. A is moved to sudden passion by these words, and kills Z. This is not manslaughter, but murder.
(d). A attempts to pull Z’s nose. Z, in the exercise of the right of private defence, strikes A. A is moved to sudden and violent passion by the blow, and kills Z. This is not manslaughter, but murder.
(e). Z strikes B. B is by this provocation excited to violent rage. A, a bystander, intending to take advantage of B’s rage in order to cause Z’s death, puts a knife into B’s hand. B kills Z with the knife. Here, B may have committed only manslaughter, but A has committed murder.
(f). Y gives grave and sudden provocation to A. A, on this provocation, fires a pistol at Y, neither intending nor knowing himself to be likely to kill Z, who is near him but out of sight. A kills Z. Here, A has committed manslaughter.
298. Voluntary culpable homicide is “voluntary culpable homicide by consent,” when the person whose death is caused, being above twelve years of age, suffers death, or takes the risk of death, by his own choice:
First, That the offender does not induce the person whose death is caused to make that choice, by directly or indirectly putting that person in fear of any injury;*
Secondly, That the person whose death has been caused is not, from youth, mental imbecility, derangement, intoxication, or passion, unable to understand the nature and consequences of his choice;
Thirdly, That the offender does not know that the person whose death is caused was induced to make the choice by any deception, or concealment;
Fourthly, That the offender does not conceal from the person whose death is caused anything which the offender knew to be likely to cause that person to change his mind.
Explanation.—Voluntary culpable homicide committed by inducing a person voluntarily to put himself to death is voluntary culpable homicide by consent, except when it is murder.
(a). Z, a Hindoo widow, consents to be burned with the corpse of her husband. A kindles the pile. Here A has committed voluntary culpable homicide by consent.
(b). A, by instigation, voluntarily causes Z, a child under twelve years of age, to commit suicide. Here, on account of Z’s youth, the offence cannot be voluntary culpable homicide by consent. A has therefore committed murder.
(c). A, by deceiving Z into a belief that Z’s family have perished at sea, voluntarily causes Z to commit suicide. Here, on account of the deception practised by A, the offence cannot be voluntary culpable homicide by consent. A has therefore committed murder.
299. Voluntary culpable homicide is “voluntary culpable homicide in defence,” when it is committed by causing death under such circumstances that such causing of death would be no offence if the right of private defence extended to the voluntary causing of death in cases of assault not falling under any of the descriptions enumerated in clause 76, or in cases of theft, mischief, or criminal trespass, not falling under any of the descriptions enumerated in clause 79.
(a). Z attempts to horsewhip A, not in such a manner as to cause grievous hurt† to A. A draws out a pistol. Z persists in the assault. A, believing in good faith that he can by no other means prevent himself from being horsewhipped, shoots Z dead. A has committed voluntary culpable homicide in defence.
(b). Z commits simple theft on A’s horse, and rides away with it. Here A has a right of private defence which lasts till either Z can effect his retreat with the property, or till A can recover his horse, but which does not extend to the infliction of death, inasmuch as A is in no danger of death or hurt. A pursues Z, and, not being able to overtake him, shoots him dead. A has committed voluntary culpable homicide in defence.
(c). Z commits an assault, not of a dangerous description, on A. A, knowing that he can defend himself from the assault without killing Z, kills Z. Here, as A’s act would be an offence even if the right of private defence in cases of assault of the descriptions not enumerated in clause 76 extended to the voluntary infliction of death, A has committed voluntary culpable homicide, which is not voluntary culpable homicide in defence, but which, according to the circumstances, will be manslaughter or murder.
300. Whoever commits murder shall be punished with death, or transportation for life, or rigorous imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.*
301. Whoever commits manslaughter shall be punished with imprisonment of either description,† for a term which may extend to fourteen years, or fine, or both.
302. Whoever commits voluntary culpable homicide by consent shall be punished with imprisonment of either description, for a term which may extend to fourteen years and must not be less than two years, and shall also be liable to fine.
303. Whoever commits voluntary culpable homicide in defence shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to fourteen years, or fine, or both.
304. Whoever causes the death of any person by any act or any illegal omission, which act or omission was so rash or negligent as to indicate a want of due regard for human life, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or fine, or both.
305. If the act or illegal omission whereby death is caused in the manner described in the last preceding clause, be, apart from the circumstance of its having caused death, an offence other than the offence defined in clause 327, or an attempt to commit an offence, the offender shall be liable to the punishment of the offence so committed or attempted, in addition to the punishment provided by the last preceding clause.
Explanation.—In cases in which the doing of a certain thing and the attempting to do that thing are distinct offences, if the offence defined in the last preceding clause be committed in the attempting to do that thing, the additional punishment to which the offender is liable is the punishment not of attempting to do that thing, but of doing that thing.
A uses force to Z, a woman, intending to ravish her. He does not ravish her, but commits the offence defined in clause 304. Here the term of imprisonment to which A has made himself liable is to be regulated not by the term of imprisonment assigned to the offence of attempting to ravish, but by the term of imprisonment assigned to actual rape, that is to say, A is liable to rigorous imprisonment for a term of not more than sixteen nor less than two years.
306. If any child under twelve years of age, any insane person, any delirious person, any idiot, or any person in a state of intoxication, commits suicide, whoever previously abets by aid* the commission of such suicide shall be punished with death or transportation for life, or rigorous imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.
307. If any person commits suicide, whoever previously abets by aid the commission of such suicide shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to fourteen years, and must not be less than two years, and shall also be liable to fine.
308. Whoever does any act, or omits what he is legally bound to do, with such intention or knowledge and under such circumstances that if he by that act or omission caused death, he would be guilty of murder, and carries that act or omission to such a length as at the time of carrying it to that length he contemplates as sufficient to cause death, shall be punished with transportation for life, or with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to life, and must not be less than seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.
(a). A, intending to murder Z by means of a spring gun, purchases such a gun. A has not yet committed the offence defined in this clause. A sets the gun loaded in Z’s path, and leaves it there. A has committed the offence defined in this clause.
(b). A, intending to murder Z by poison, purchases poison, and mixes the same with food which remains in A’s keeping. A has not yet committed the offence defined in this clause. A places the food on Z’s table, or delivers it to Z’s servants to place it on Z’s table. A has committed the offence defined in this clause.
309. Whoever does any act, or omits what he is legally bound to do, with such intention or knowledge and under such circumstances that if he, by that act or omission, caused death, he would be guilty of voluntary culpable homicide, and carries that act or omission to such a length as at the time of carrying it to that length he contemplates as sufficient to cause death, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description, for a term which may extend to three years, or fine, or both.
(a). A, on grave and sudden provocation, fires a pistol at Z, under such circumstances that if he thereby caused death he would be guilty of manslaughter. A has committed the offence defined in this clause.
(b). A lights a pile prepared for a Suttee, under such circumstances that if he thereby caused death he would be guilty of voluntary culpable homicide by consent. A has committed the offence defined in this clause.
(c). A pursues a thief, and fires at him, under such circumstances that if he killed the thief he would commit voluntary culpable homicide in defence. A has committed the offence defined in this clause.
310. Whoever belongs or has at any time belonged to any gang of persons associated for the purpose of gaining a livelihood by inveigling and murdering travellers in order to take the property of such travellers, is designated as a “Thug.”
311. Whoever is a Thug shall be punished with transportation for life, or imprisonment of either description for life, and shall also be liable to fine.9
What first strikes the eye in this long extract, is the happy invention of appending authoritative examples by way of Illustration, to all those enactments of the code which require them: an idea by which the advantages of general language, and those which English statutes vainly seek to attain by an enumeration of particulars, are happily blended; and which, besides the greater certainty and distinctness given to the legislator’s meaning, solves the difficult problem of making the body of the laws a popular book, at once intelligible and interesting to the general reader. Simple as this contrivance is, it escaped the sagacity of Bentham, so fertile in ingenious combinations of detail. As the Commissioners say, in their introductory letter to the Government—
The definitions and enacting clauses contain the whole law. The illustrations make nothing law which would not be law without them. They only exhibit the law in full action, and show what its effects will be on the events of common life. . . . The illustrations will lead the mind of the student through the same steps by which the minds of those who framed the law proceeded, and may sometimes show him that a phrase which may have struck him as uncouth, or a distinction which he may have thought idle, was deliberately adopted for the purpose of including or excluding a large class of important cases. . . . Thus the code will be at once a statute book and a collection of decided cases. The decided cases in the code will differ from the decided cases in the English law books in two most important points. In the first place, our illustrations are never intended to supply any omission in the written law, nor do they ever, in our opinion, put a strain on the written law. They are merely instances of the practical application of the written law to the affairs of mankind. Secondly, they are cases decided, not by the judges, but by the legislature, by those who make the law, and who must know more certainly than any judge can know, what the law is which they mean to make.10
With what degree of perfection the definitions contained in the section which we have cited, or in any other part of the code, fulfil the intentions of the framers, we now leave it to competent judges to decide. We are sure that all such persons will find, even in the little we have quoted, enough to satisfy them that their labour will not be uselessly employed in perfecting a work which is already so considerable an advance on all which has preceded in its kind. The Indian Government has caused the code to be printed and widely circulated throughout India, and has publicly invited criticisms and suggestions from all parties competent to give them. But in this country also, there is a Commission for the reform of the criminal law;11 which certainly has not yet effected anything upon a par with the expectations held out at the time of its appointment. A direction from the Home Secretary12 to these Commissioners, to report upon the present code, would give India the benefit of their criticisms, would put into their hands a most valuable aid for the performance of their own work, and would be no inconsiderable test of their fitness to perform it. Moreover, both Mr. Macaulay, and the ablest of the Indian members of the Commission, Mr. Macleod (who, we have the best authority for stating, took a most active part and rendered signal service in the concoction of the code,) are now in England. A government which should make any new appointments, either to the Criminal Law Commission, or to any other body constituted for Law Reform, without ascertaining whether these gentlemen, or either of them, were willing to serve on it, would do little honour to its own discernment. Their services, if attainable (of which we ourselves know nothing), would be secured without delay, by any government really in earnest about the Reform of the Law.
The notes to the code, containing the reasons for such of its provisions as seemed to require explanation or defence, are nearly as voluminous as the text.13 They are very able and valuable essays, and, we think, rarely fail successfully to vindicate everything in the code, the propriety of which might otherwise have appeared doubtful. In one case, we think the defence eminently unsuccessful; and probably other such cases might be found. By the proposed code, nothing which is true is a libel; or rather (for the Commissioners do not adopt that most ill-chosen word from English law) is defamation: no action can be maintained or penalty inflicted for attacks on reputation, unless the court, having entered into the evidence of truth or falsehood, pronounces the imputation to be false.14 And the Commissioners defend this provision at some length in their notes;15 but in a manner which fails to convince us. Nothing can be more proper than that the truth of a charge should be its justification, in all cases in which either a court of justice or the public are competent judges of the subject. But in matters which relate to private life, how can either the one or the other be made cognizant of the circumstances on which the morality or immorality of the act principally depend? Take the case of a family quarrel, for example;—who is to blame, and in what degree, are questions depending upon the previous character and relations of the parties—upon states of feeling produced perhaps by long trains of circumstances, not one of which can be given in evidence, or if it were, could be duly estimated by any one not intimately acquainted with the parties. Let any candid person ask himself, how far advanced he would be, in any such case that he is well acquainted with, towards forming a just estimation of the conduct of the parties, if he knew only such naked facts as would have admitted of being proved in a court of justice? And this in fact is the principal reason for leaving any immoralities whatever exempt from legal punishment. If any sort of act is really blamable, and if the circumstances which make it such can be so clearly discriminated and made apparent to third parties, as to be susceptible of judicial investigation and proof, it would be difficult to find any sufficient reason for not making that kind of act an offence under the penal code. But to do justice to this subject would require a much longer discussion than can properly find a place here.
That many other defects must necessarily be found in this code, its framers would, we are convinced, be the last persons to deny; and the first to hail any, even hostile, criticism, which might furnish valuable suggestions for its amendment. Unfortunately, few of the attacks of which it has yet been the subject, either from the Calcutta or the London press, bear, so far as they have come to our knowledge, marks of any but the worst motives and spirit.16 They mostly appear to proceed directly or indirectly from that party of English in India, to protect the natives against whose rapacity and tyranny, is one of the most difficult but most bounden duties of the Indian Government; and who are now venting, against what they consider as mainly the work of Mr. Macaulay, the spleen excited by the part he took in framing what they call the “Black Act;”17 itself but one, and not a very considerable, step towards executing the declared intention of Parliament for placing Europeans and natives under one equal law.18 It gave us much regret that so upright and able a supporter of the popular cause as Mr. Ward,19 should have made himself, on this subject, the organ in Parliament of a handful of foreigners attempting to make themselves a privileged oligarchy in a country of a hundred millions of inhabitants, and who, if the existence and regulations of the East India Company were not a perpetual barrier against them, would be in danger, under a conniving or passive ministry, of establishing a domination as much more tyrannical than that of the English party in Canada in the worst of former days, as the Hindoos are a more ignorant and more passive people than the French Canadians.
THE EAST INDIA COMPANY’S CHARTER
“Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords Appointed to Inquire into the Operation of the Act 3 & 4 William IV, c. 85, for the Better Government of Her Majesty’s Indian Territories; with Minutes of Evidence, Appendix, and Index Thereto” (29 June, 1852), PP, 1852-53, XXX, 304-36. Headed: “John Stuart Mill, Esquire, is called in, and examined as follows” (p. 304) and “John Stuart Mill, Esquire, is called in and further examined as follows” (p. 313). Mill gave his evidence on 21 and 22 June, 1852, in answer to questions 2912-3019 and (2nd day) 3020-3176. Not republished. Identified in Mill’s bibliography as “Evidence before the Select Committee of the House of Lords on India affairs, printed with their Report, (No. 88. of the sessional papers for 1852) ordered to be printed 29th June 1852” (MacMinn, 77). In the text below, the questions by the Committee members are in italic type. The questioners are not identified in PP or in the Sessional Papers of the House of Lords, 1852, XIX, where the same Blue Book is presented. The Committee was chaired by the Lord Privy Seal, James Brownlow William Gascoigne-Cecil (1791-1868), Marquis of Salisbury.
The East India Company’s Charter
what connexionhave you had with the Government of India? I am one of the assistants to the Examiner of Indian Correspondence, in whose office the greater part of the correspondence with India relating to the Government is conducted.
For what length of time have you been in that office? Since the year 1823, and nearly the whole of that time in the Correspondence Department; in fact, I may say the whole of it.
Have you been exclusively in that department, or in others also? Exclusively in that department.
Have we reason, do you think, on the whole, to feel satisfied with the general working of the Home Government of India? The present constitution of the Indian Government, considering the great difficulties of the case, seems to me to have worked very satisfactorily.
Will you state more specifically the causes to which you attribute the satisfactory working of the Government? I conceive that there are several causes; probably the most important is, that the whole Government of India is carried on in writing. All the orders given, and all the acts of the executive officers, are reported in writing, and the whole of the original correspondence is sent to the Home Government; so that there is no single act done in India, the whole of the reasons for which are not placed on record. This appears to me a greater security for good government than exists in almost any other government in the world, because no other probably has a system of recordation so complete.
In those records do you find the records of opinions? To a very great extent. If the local officer and the Government differ in opinion, or if the opinions of the different members of the Government differ from one another, the reasons on both sides, and the discussions that take place, are put in writing, and reported to the Home Government, who are thus in possession of all the materials of knowledge that the local authorities can supply.
What do you think would be the consequence of Parliament interfering more frequently and more extensively in the government of India? I think that many bad, and few good consequences would result. The public opinion of one country is scarcely any security for the good government of another. The people of one country, whether represented by the public authorities of this country, or by the nation itself, cannot have the same acquaintance with the circumstances and interests of the other country as they may have with their own. The great security for the good government of any country is an enlightened public opinion; but an unenlightened public opinion is no security for good government. The people of England are unacquainted, or very ill acquainted, with the people and the circumstances of India, and feel so little interest in them, that I apprehend the influence of public opinion in this country on the Government of India is of very little value, because there are very few cases in which public opinion is called into exercise; and when it is so, it is usually from impulses derived from the interests of Europeans connected with India, rather than from the interests of the people of India itself.
Supposing that appeals were permitted freely to the English Parliament from the decisions of the Governor-general of India, in cases of resumption, such as have taken place at different times, do you think that that would tend greatly to impair the power of the Government of India? I think that anything which causes the people of India to look beyond the Government of India to any authority here, of which they have no knowledge, and concerning which they have most indefinite ideas, would tend to weaken the local Government. Of course that inconvenience must be submitted to in so far as it has any tendency to increase the security for good government; but the real security for the good government of India depends, as it seems to me, upon a careful review of the Acts of the local Government, grounded on the transmission of all the recorded proceedings to this country. The proceedings are subjected to a very rigid examination, not, of course, as to all their details, but as to their general principles, and the spirit in which those general principles are applied to particular cases; this seems to me the only kind of appeal that is of any considerable value in regard to the government of a country at such a distance, and in the peculiar circumstances of India.
Will you state the successive checks which operated upon the occasion of the deposition of the Rajah of Sattara?1 There was first the decision of the Bombay Government; and then that decision could not take effect without the concurrence of the Government of India, which was, therefore, the first check or appeal, as it may be called. In the next place, that decision was subject to reversal by the joint action of the Court of Directors and the Board of Control; and, finally, it was open to any Member of either House of Parliament to bring forward a Motion, which, if it had been effectual, might have led to a Parliamentary inquiry, or eventually to a reversal of the Act.
And to a certain extent there might have been the interposition of the Court of Proprietors? The Court of Proprietors would have had no power of reversing what had been done. They have the power of holding a public discussion, which, as a means of publicity, is not without value.
In regard to the action on that occasion of the Government of Bombay, was there not a minute recorded of the Governor, and were there not also minutes recorded of each member of Council? There were. In the first place, there was the report of the local officer, the Resident at Sattara; this report was then the subject of discussion in the Council, and the Governor and each member of Council recorded their opinion. When they, either unanimously or by a majority, had formed their opinion, they communicated it in a despatch to the Governor-general in Council, who issued the final orders—final as far as India was concerned.
When this despatch, accompanied by the recorded minutes, was forwarded to the Government of India, were there not further minutes written by the Governor-general and the members of Council, each giving his opinion separately upon the subject? Whether that was so in that particular case, I am not certain, but I believe so. In cases of importance it almost invariably happens that the opinion of each member of Council is recorded separately.
With his reasons? With his reasons.
All those reports were then forwarded to the Court of Directors? Yes.
And the subject was discussed by the Court of Directors? Yes.
Were there further minutes entered upon the journals of the Court of Directors upon the same subject? It is not usual to enter on the records of the Court any minutes of opinions, except dissents.2 After a resolution is passed, any member of the Court who dissents from the resolution, if he thinks the matter of sufficient importance, records his dissent, accompanied with reasons, and those are, as a matter of course, communicated to the Board of Control.
Are those dissents communicated to the general Court, or to the Committee? The dissents are recorded on the minutes of the Court, and have nothing to do with any Committee.
The expression of all those opinions was submitted to the Board of Control before the ultimate decision was taken upon the subject? Yes; it does occasionally, but seldom, happen, that the ultimate decision is taken before the dissent has been sent to the Board.
It is only in cases where the question has been so repeatedly discussed, that it is thought hardly necessary to send up the dissents; but in the first instance, all the dissents are sent up? The dissents are sent to the Board as soon as they are copied; but cases have happened, though not, I believe, in matters of importance, when the despatch has been sent back approved by the Board before the dissent reached them: it is only in those cases that the Board has not had the advantage of the dissents before its final decision.
Any member of the Court of Proprietors moreover may, if he thinks fit, raise a question for public discussion, and appeal to the public in England upon the subject? Any nine members may sign a requisition for a special meeting of the Court of Proprietors, or any one proprietor may, at a quarterly meeting, after notice, make a motion on any matter connected with Indian affairs.
You think that those successive checks operate more beneficially for the protection of the natives of India than any constant interference of Parliament on their behalf? No one will deny that it is necessary that Parliament should be open to appeals on all subjects connected with the government of any part of the British Empire; but, so far as my experience goes, I should say that the security for the good government of India derived from discussions in Parliament is far short of that derived from the habitual examination of all papers of any importance by persons specially devoted to that object.
Persons who have no sinister interest? It is next to impossible to form in one country an organ of government for another which shall have a strong interest in good government; but if that cannot be done, the next best thing is, to form a body with the least possible interest in bad government; and I conceive that the present governing bodies in this country for the affairs of India have as little sinister interest of any kind as any government in the world.
Have the natives of India shown a disposition to employ agents in this country for the prosecutions of appeals against the decisions of the Governor-general? Yes; and I think with increasing frequency.
If the opinion became prevalent in India that changes of decision on matters of individual and immediate interest might be readily produced by such appeals to Parliament, do you think that they would become very frequent? Those best acquainted with India say, that the natives are exceedingly averse to giving up any pretension whatever, until they have tried every resource within their reach for getting a hostile decision reversed. I think if it were the habit of the people of India to look to a revision of their cases in England, as a thing which could be procured by sending vakeels, or delegates, here, they would very frequently do so, incurring much useless expense, and often ultimate disappointment. But the proper remedy is, that the Home Government should so act as to convince the natives of India that if their case is just, they will have full justice done to them, on a review of the papers, without sending any one here to represent them; and that if their case is unjust, however many people they may send, it will do them no good.
Would money be wanting on their part to prosecute such appeals? There are many natives who have ample means for the purpose.
Can you suggest any improvements in the present Home Government of India? It is difficult to suggest alterations in a system of Government, of which the good working, so far as it has worked well, could not have been predicted beforehand. The present constitution of the Government of India has been very much the growth of accident, and has worked well, in consequence of things which were not foreseen, and were not in the contemplation of those who established it in a great measure, from causes not provided for in the received theories of government. So much of the good working of the present Government being the result of accident, accident would probably have a great share in determining the operation of any new system which might be substituted for it; but it would be necessary to keep in view in any alteration the circumstances, so far as they can be assigned, which have been the causes of the beneficial working hitherto. Among the first of those seems to me to be, that those who are sent to administer the affairs of India, are not sent to any particular appointment; they go out merely as candidates; they go out when young, and go through the necessary course of preparation in subordinate functions before they can arrive at the higher ones. That seems to me the first essential requisite for the good government of India. A second great advantage of the present system is, that those who are sent out as candidates to rise by degrees to the higher offices, are generally unconnected with the influential classes in this country, and out of the range of Parliamentary influence. The consequence is, that those who have the disposal of offices in India have little or no motive to put unfit persons into important situations, or to permit unjustifiable acts to be done by them. Any change in the government of India which would bring the appointment to Indian offices into the ordinary channels of political or Parliamentary influence would, I think, take away one of the chief causes of whatever is beneficial in the present working of the Government of India.
Would the sale of such appointments, in your opinion, operate injuriously? It would probably bring a much greater proportion of them than at present into the channels in which political influence flows in this country, and in so far as it did so I think it would deteriorate the Indian Government. At present, the civil servants, appointed very young, and by individual members of the Court, do not usually become eligible for any very high appointment during the time that the Directors who appointed them can be supposed to have any influence over their promotion. Partly from this circumstance, and partly because the person who gives the appointment is only one of 24, it is my belief there is hardly any government existing in which there is so little personal jobbing as in the Government of India.
Is there not a tendency, from the patronage being administered from private and personal motives, to the service of India becoming a sort of caste of particular families and particular connexions? I should say not more than is in the nature of the case, and not to such an extent as to be an evil. It will happen under any system that persons who have served in India will look by preference to Indian appointments for their sons; and they would under any system be likely to have readier access to Indian than to any other appointments. In whatever manner the Home Government might be constituted, it would doubtless be partly composed of persons who have served in India, and, if so, the patronage in their gift would flow in the same channels as at present.
Is it not generally supposed that the patronage in the hands of the Directors is made use of to obtain elections to the Court? I have heard of such things; I do not know how far that is the case. I have no doubt the directors bestow their patronage on those who have served them in that, or any other way. But the main point appears to me to be, that neither a Director, nor any one else connected with the Home Government, has it in his power to appoint an unfit person to any situation in India: the only thing he can do is, to send out a candidate, who will ultimately obtain an important situation if he is considered fit for it by the local Government; but since the appointment here is only the appointment of a candidate, who is to go to India, and make himself fit for an important situation before he can receive it, the bestowing of this patronage from private motives is not attended with the evils which would arise from making appointments to office on private grounds.
Has not the influence of the proprietors, in the bestowal of the patronage, the effect of distributing the patronage more largely and more widely among the community? No doubt it has; the general course in which the patronage flows is among the middle classes.
What do you mean by the middle classes? I mean, in the present case, by the middle classes, the classes unconnected with politics, or with the two Houses of Parliament.
It has been frequently observed that a very large proportion of the servants of the East India Company have been selected from that part of the kingdom north of the Tweed; is it your opinion that such is the case, or not? It was the case at one time, from accidental circumstances. One of the causes was said to be, that the first Lord Melville was so long President of the Board of Control;3 at present I am not aware that there is a larger proportion of Scotch in the Indian service than in other departments of the public service.
It is your opinion that there are not a greater number of Scotchmen in the East India Company’s service than Englishmen or Irishmen? I do not think there are.
Do you consider a tradesman to belong to the middle class, or not? I do.
Are there not a great many sons of tradesmen sent to India? I am not aware what the proportion is; but I have no doubt that there are some.
What circumstance, in your opinion, leads to the appointment of sons of tradesmen to writerships, or cadetships? I cannot answer that question; I have no knowledge of the motives which operate on Directors in disposing of their patronage.
Is it not a curious circumstance that the son of a horse-dealer should be sent to India as a cadet? The son of a horse-dealer is as likely to qualify himself in the subordinate situations for succeeding to the higher as the son of any one else.
But that is not exactly the class from which you would select persons to be the companions of gentlemen who are to fill honourable professions? It is not the class from whom cadets or writers are generally selected; but I see no reason why such persons should be excluded.
Do you see any reason why the aristocracy should be excluded? I see no reason for excluding any one; but it does seem to me undesirable that those who are appointed to situations in India should be persons permanently connected with political parties, or with Parliamentary influence at home.
Do not you think that the higher the class of men who are appointed to fill our civil situations in India, the greater the security for the connection between India and England? I think that the permanence of the connection between India and England depends upon our being able to give good government to India, and to persuade the people of India that we do so.
Is it your opinion that those persons ought to be excluded from the Indian service who have any connection with the great political parties in this country? I would exclude no one; but I think it is a recommendation of the present system that those appointed under it are mostly unconnected with the possessors of Parliamentary influence.
You think that that is advantageous to the Government of India? It is the greatest protection that can be obtained against improper appointments.
Hitherto there has not been even a suspicion against the manner in which the Governor-general has exercised his power of selection? The Governor-general can seldom have any motive to appoint unfit persons to situations in India, because while the service is taken from one class, the Governor-general belongs to another, and none of his personal or political connexions are in the class from which the service is taken. He has thus no personal interest in appointing persons to situations for which they are unfit, and I believe it is very seldom that such appointments take place, except by mistake, or negligence.
Should you think it an extraordinary circumstance if you heard that a gentleman, on being appointed Governor-general, had, in the course of ten days, before he could get out to India, no less than 400 letters asking him for appointments? I should not be surprised to hear of any number of applications for appointments.
What is the second circumstance to which you alluded as a recommendation of the existing constitution of the Government of India? The two circumstances which I mentioned were, in the first place, that those who are sent out are merely candidates; they are never, or very rarely, appointed from England to any situation in India. The second circumstance was, that by the time those candidates come to be eligible for high situations, it generally happens that the Director from whom they received their nomination is no longer a Director.
Those circumstances that you have stated have reference solely to the appointment and promotion of civil servants. Do you see any other circumstance in the working of the Government at home which would recommend it to Parliament for renewal? The great reason, as it seems to me, recommending it for renewal, is the difficulty, if not impossibility, of forming a system of government which would be likely to work better.
The late Sir Charles Forbes was not a Director? He was not; but he had a son a Director at one time.4
He took a great deal of interest in the election of Directors? He had great influence in the elections.
Was he not connected with a party which hung together with the view of influencing the election of Directors? I am not aware that he was.
Should you be surprised to hear that Sir Charles Forbes, in the course of his life, had obtained 40 different appointments, and that he had the curiosity to have the likeness taken of every young man for whom he obtained an appointment, and those likenesses were hung round his room? From his long connexion with the Court of Directors, I should not be surprised at his having obtained that number of appointments. Those who were appointed on his recommendation have been as good servants as any others. If it were only from having a son a Director, he might obtain in a number of years almost that number of appointments.
Have you ever looked at the list of voters for the election of Directors for the purpose of seeing how many gentlemen can obtain a majority of votes?5 I have never examined the list with that particular view.
Should you be surprised if you found, on looking into it, that 413 gentlemen had 910 votes?6 I should not. That might be the result under any system which gives a plurality of votes on account of the property held.
Have you looked into the list which has been presented from the India House of the number of persons having more than one vote, and the number of voters and the number of votes? I know that there is a considerable number who have two, three, or four stars opposite to their names. If I am asked whether I think it would be better to give only one vote to each elector, I am inclined to think that it would make no practical difference of any importance. The proprietors are not a body which any one would have selected à priori for the election of Directors. Any other body whatever of respectable men would be as likely to elect proper persons as this, and this as likely as any other. As you cannot constitute an elective body in this country identified with the interests of the people of India, it does not appear to me to matter much what the body is.
Need the present body be identified with the interests of India, looking to what the qualification of the elector is beyond this, that it is their interest to see that the interest of the debt is paid? That is the only interest they have in India.
Do you think that the existence of the proprietors as an elective body has the effect of distributing more widely the patronage of the Court of Directors who now distribute it, than if such proprietory body did not exist, and had no claim upon the distribution? I cannot answer that question; I am ignorant what proportion of the patronage of India goes to the proprietors; and whatever the proportion may be, some considerable part of it would go into the same channels if no such body as the proprietors existed.
The more limited the number of persons who distribute the patronage, and the more limited the claims upon them, the more likely that patronage would be to pass in narrow channels connected with the individuals who gave it? It seems to me the primary and essential object that appointments in India should not be held by persons who have Parliamentary and political influence at home, that being the source from which inducements to make bad appointments, or to sanction bad measures, are most likely to come.
What is there in the constitution of the present Court of Proprietors which prevents any political party in this country from becoming proprietors, and, therefore, electors of the Court of Directors? There is nothing to prevent it; but it has not been the fact, and it is not likely to be the fact.
Is there any necessary connexion between the possession of a certain amount of stock, which gives a vote to the party holding it, and interest in the good government of India; and do you think that it would be desirable to introduce some more direct connexion with India on the part of the electors? I think there is a good deal to be said both for and against any such proposition.
Will you have the goodness to state what the arguments are for and against it? If the question were put with reference to some particular proposition, I might be able to answer more satisfactorily.
Is it your opinion that it would be desirable to allow the holders of the debt in India to vote for the Directors, or to give a right of voting to the Company’s servants? I think the constitution of the body of proprietors is of less importance than almost any other question connected with the Government of India; but the main fault of the present system is the long and troublesome canvass which is necessary to enable any person to be appointed a Director; and if there were an increase of the constituency, it is a question whether it would tend to make this canvass a greater or a less burden; it might do either the one or the other.
What objection should you have to Mr. Wynne’s proposal,7that the Crownshould have the power of appointing Indian servants as Directors on their return from India to this country? I think the fact that all Indian proceedings are reviewed by two separate bodies, independent of one another, is a much greater security for good government than would exist under any system by which those two bodies were merged into one. The double revision by persons of a different class, in a different position, and probably with different prepossessions, tends greatly to promote a close and rigid examination.
Do you suppose that the present system operates as a sufficient check upon the President of the Board of Control? To judge of the present system, it must be compared with some other. If we compare it with the system of an Indian Minister, who should have both the initiation and the final decision, he would act under a much less check than he now does. The Court of Directors, who are the initiating body, not being the body which finally decides; not being able to act but by the concurrence of a second authority, and having no means of causing their opinion to be adopted by that authority, except the strength of their reasons, there is much greater probability that a body so situated will examine and weigh carefully the grounds of all proceedings, than if the same body which had the initiative gave the final order.
On the whole, you conceive that the Court of Directors are the best administrative body that could be found under the peculiar circumstances of the Government of India? I would not pretend to say that no better could be found; but it seems to me they are as good a body as there is any probability of obtaining. Not having the final power, all the power which they exercise depends upon the care which they bestow upon the examination and consideration of the matters committed to them.
Are you acquainted yourself with the details of the correspondence between the Court of Directors and the Board of Control; can you trace a letter from the moment when it originates, to its final arrival before the Board of Control, or does your position enable you to know anything about it? In most cases it does.
With whom does the letter originate? With the Chairman.
Nominally and officially it originates with the Chairman; but does the Chairman, in fact, gives instructions for writing the letter? That depends upon circumstances. There is a vast mass of ordinary business respecting which the Chairman neither feels called upon to give previous instructions, nor do those who have the care of the department think it necessary to ask for them.
In point of fact, does it not frequently happen that the correspondence is examined by the clerk, or the secretary, and he suggests what the reply shall be? Sometimes so, and sometimes not. In the course of business, the papers come first into the hands of the secretary or clerk, or the person who is in charge of the correspondence; it is his duty, in bringing those papers to the notice of the Chairman, to be able to answer all questions concerning them, and it is expected of him that he shall have formed an opinion upon the subject.
It is expected that he shall suggest what the answer shall be? It is not expected; but he is always at liberty to do so.
Is it not the practice? It is not the practice universally; it is the practice in ordinary matters.
Is it general practice? There is no general practice. It is usual for the person in charge of the correspondence to ask the previous instructions of the Chairman, when he thinks there is any doubt of what the opinions of the Chairman would be.
Does he not write a memorandum first of all of the facts? That is sometimes done in complicated and important cases.
Is it not done universally; is not the substance of the papers in the collection stated in a memorandum, for the convenience of the Chairman; how can he possibly read all the papers himself? It is sometimes stated in the form of a memorandum, and sometimes in that of a proposed letter.
But in all cases the substance, at least, is stated in some manner to the Chairman? Yes.
Together with the opinion of the clerk who makes the statement? With an opinion, or without an opinion. Sometimes the officer who makes the statement thinks it desirable to ask the Chairman’s instructions first on the facts merely, without giving any opinion. In some cases again the Chairman does not wait till he has the facts brought before him, but sends for the officer, interrogates him on the facts, and gives instructions for preparing the reply, after calling for whatever papers he thinks necessary to understand it. The modes of proceeding vary according to the degree of importance ascribed to the matter, and according to the degree of interest the Chairman takes in the subject.
Do not they vary according to the business-like habits of the Chairman? They do; but since the last Charter,8 it has very seldom happened that the Chairman has not been a man of business.
Is it not a rare circumstance that the view of the Chairman is disregarded? By no means. On subjects on which a difference of opinion can fairly exist, it very often happens.
What is the character of the opinion expressed by the clerk; does it consist in remarks upon the correspondence in the way of censure or approval? Yes.
Do you know any one measure which has originated at home? It is scarcely possible to say where measures really originate. In cases of emergency, such as war, anything done must necessarily depend upon the Governor-general on the spot; and all that can be done by the home authorities is to express an opinion upon it after it is done, which may have an influence on the Government in future cases. But with reference to internal government, I am not aware of any great measures which have been adopted until after there has been a great deal of discussion between the Local Government and the Home Government on the subject; and though the measure may have originated nominally with the Government of India, the suggestions may often be traced to instructions which had been given, or principles laid down in despatches sent from the home authorities.
At the distance of many years? The despatches from the India House have in many cases tended greatly to form the opinions of Indian politicians in India.
In the case of the abolition of the 160 duties in the North-western frontier in the year 1843,9did that measure originate here? I am not conversant with the details of the Revenue department, though I am, of course, acquainted with its general principles.
Should you not say that the general government of India proceeds on all great occasions without receiving special instructions from home? I think a case can hardly happen in which the Government of India is not tolerably well aware, from previous despatches, whether the course which is about to be adopted is likely to have the approval of the home authorities. There is hardly any measure adopted of which the general principle might not be found discussed in the previous correspondence.
Do not you know whether the abolition of 160 duties upon the North-western frontier was approved or not? I am not aware whether it was approved at the time, but it was sanctioned.
You spoke of the working of the Government being, considering the difficulties, very satisfactory. Can you point out any of the difficulties to which you allude which would be removable by Parliament? It is difficult to foresee in what way alterations would work. But any alteration which placed the control of the Government in some one authority, instead of leaving it divided between two, would, I think, be for the worse.
Would you carry the same principle into effect in every case; instead of having a single Government, do you think it would be convenient to have a double Government? My opinion, if I were able to form any, would depend upon the nature of the case. I am inclined to think that such a double Government would be useful, wherever it was necessary to have a body of a permanent character specially conversant with a subject not generally studied by politicians in this country, while, at the same time, the general Government of the country must also have a voice.
Would you introduce the system of double Government with reference to the 52 colonies of the Crown? I am not sufficiently acquainted with the Colonial department to be able to express a positive opinion; but I should conceive that there might be great advantage from having some body analogous to the Court of Directors as a Council to assist the Colonial Minister.
A Council to represent each colony? It does not follow that there should be a separate body for each colony, any more than that there should be a separate body for each Presidency, or each Zillah, in India.10
Between Australia and Canada there is no connexion; one permanent body would not be able to advise the Minister of the Crown on Australian and Canadian matters? In Canada and Australia there are local representative bodies perfectly competent to exercise that antagonistic discussion, which seems to me an essential element of good government everywhere; but for India you cannot have any local body which shall produce that result.
Is there not a good deal of antagonistic discussion between the Government of India and the authorities at home; are not the Government of India capable of taking their own part, and giving their reasons for their measures? Certainly; but the discussion between the Government here and the Government there, I apprehend, is not sufficient security where there is nothing else to trust to; where there is no body representing the people of the country, and no body of persons ex officio conversant with their interests.
Should you say that the Court of Directors represent the people of India? Certainly not.
Is not their position directly antagonistic to that of the people of India? The antagonism which I contemplated was a discussion between persons who could not be supposed beforehand to be likely to be of the same opinion; discussion, by persons all of one mind, is of no use; where you have not the advantages given by a representative Government of discussion by persons of all partialities, prepossessions and interests, to secure that the subject shall be looked at in many different lights, though you cannot have a perfect substitute for this, still some substitute is better than none. If you can have a body unconnected with the general Government of the country, and containing many persons who have made that department of public affairs the business of their lives, as is the case with the Court of Directors, there is much better discussion and much better sifting of the matters committed to their charge, by having such a body in addition to the Minister of the Crown, than by having the Minister of the Crown without such a body, or the Minister of the Crown acting as Chairman of the body.
Do you think that if the Court of Directors, in its present form, is to be maintained, advantage would be derived from giving a quasi representative character to the Court of Proprietors, so that their representatives might be more identified in feeling with the people of India? I am not aware how the Court of Proprietors could be so constituted as to be identified with the people of India.
Could you not give to the Court of Proprietors more knowledge of the affairs of India: it appears, by a Return which has been presented to the Committee, that out of 1,760 persons who vote in the election of Directors, there are but 253 persons who have ever been in the service of the Government?11 I cannot foresee what would be the effect of making the circumstance of having served a certain time in India a qualification for the Court of Proprietors; but I should think it could not have a bad effect, unless by multiplying the body, and rendering the canvass more onerous than at present; the difficulty of the canvass has prevented some of the most eminent servants of the Company from seeking a place in the Court of Directors.
Might not the Court of Proprietors be so extended in number, as to render a canvass impossible; and might it not be so improved in its composition, as to give the means of knowing the respective qualifications and claims of the several candidates who desired to belong to the Direction, having served in India? It is difficult to say; there is no popular election at present, however public in its character, in which there is not a canvass; and in this case it is probable that the canvass would always continue onerous.
For instance, do you think that the 899 ladies who have votes, exercise a sound discretion in the selection of the individuals, knowing their qualifications and claims? I do not believe any portion of the Court of Proprietors exercise much discretion of that kind; I do not believe that to any great degree the election by the proprietors is determined by public grounds. I believe, however, that those who are influential among the proprietors are sufficiently before the public, and are themselves sufficiently interested in Indian affairs, not to use their influence on behalf of persons who would be considered discreditable. That is the extent to which there is now a security, and I doubt whether more would be obtained under any system, because I do not think there are the means of forming an electoral body sufficiently identified with the interests of India to afford much security for a good choice.
Do you think the English and foreign Jews, who hold a large amount of stock, exercise a sound discretion in the election of Directors, with reference to the good government of India? I have already said that I do not think the elections of the Court of Directors are made on public grounds; they are mainly the result of private influence; but those who possess the influence, exercise it under a sufficiently strong sense of responsibility to the public to prevent them from selecting any person very objectionable. The security at present depends rather on the kind of persons who are candidates, than on the kind who are electors. The candidates being, as a general rule, persons of Indian experience, who wish to keep up their connexion with Indian affairs, that is in itself some evidence of their not being wholly unfit for the station, inasmuch as persons who have gone through the Indian service, and retired from it, are not likely to retain a taste for Indian employment, unless they retain in some degree their fitness for it.
Has the tendency of the elections in the last 20 years of the Court of Proprietors, as at present constituted, been to strengthen the connexion of the Court of Directors with India, or otherwise? Nearly all the Directors chosen since the last renewal of the Charter have been persons who have served in India; but that I attribute not to the constitution of the Court of Proprietors, but to the fact, that since the Company has ceased to be commercial, there are not the same inducements as formerly to the merchants and bankers of London either to hold stock, or to become Directors, and in consequence few such have been elected.
Has not the circumstance of the Company having ceased to trade, and having ceased to transact all the business which was connected with that trade, increased the number of the Directors who take part in the consideration of the general Government of India? Very much so; it has rendered the personal participation of the whole of the 24 Directors in the general business of India much more complete than it was before. Under the former constitution of the Company, the administration of India rested, with the exception of the Chairs, entirely with the Committee of Correspondence, composed of the nine senior Directors, the remainder of the Directors having no voice in that portion of the business of the Court; of course they had a voice in the deliberations of the Court itself; but not having been previously prepared, by examination of papers and discussion in Committee, they had not so much influence, and were, besides, occupied with other things. The Committee of Correspondence, composed of the senior Directors, and, therefore, necessarily including any members of the Court who might be superannuated, were extremely overladen with business, and made a much more cursory examination of the papers than the Committees do now. At present the Government of India being the only business of the Court, it is divided among three Committees, to all of which every Director is eligible, and the consequence is, that every Director takes a more active part than formerly in the consideration of the draft despatches that are laid before them by the Chairs.
Has not one effect of that been that the Chairs have much less authority than they used to have in the Court? I think it has.
Has it not produced, whether for good or evil, a great practical revolution in the system of government; formerly the business having been conducted through the Chairs by a small body of persons who had the cognizance and general transaction of political cases; and now the 24 Directors take part in the discussions? There is generally a great indisposition to oppose the Chairs; and they are never opposed, except where there is fair ground for a difference of opinion.
Is it not the fact, that in former times, before the commencement of the present Charter Act, when the President of the Board of Control had settled any matter with the Chairs, it was practically a final settlement, and the view taken by the Court, was not in fact different from theirs; but now a settlement between the Chairs and the President, by no means brings after it, as a matter of course, the acquiescence of the Court? I am not aware whether or not there is so great a difference as the question seems to contemplate: there is certainly some difference, and there is a much more active part taken by individual Directors than formerly.
Is not that, again, a great practical alteration in the system of Government? I do not think it is a great practical alteration; it is some practical alteration.
So that we have now to consider whether it is expedient to retain a Government very different from that which existed in 1834? I should not say very different; in some degree it is different.
Does not the addition of three-fourths to a cabinet, which is the change that has been made, produce a very great change in the mode in which cases are judged of and discussed; are not cases now judged of and discussed as they would be in a popular assembly? On great questions which are likely to lead to a difference of opinion between the Court of Directors and the Board of Control, I doubt whether there is any difference; because on questions which were interesting to the collective body of the Court, all the Directors would at any time have given their minds to the subject, and the opinion expressed would have been the opinion of the collective body; I think the difference which has been produced is in the details; it happens much more frequently now that the draft despatches submitted by the Chairs undergo alterations of details in Committees, or the Court; but these are seldom of a kind that materially alter the Government of India.
Does not the influence of the Chair depend very much upon the individual Chairman? Yes.
This change goes, to a certain extent, to diminish the value of the previous communications? There still is very great advantage in the previous communications.
With regard to the active participation taken by the whole body of Directors in the transaction of the business, what is your opinion of that part of the law which requires one-fifth of the Court to go out annually?12 I think it makes very little difference for either good or harm; I have no decided opinion about it.
With this active part taken by those 24 gentlemen, might it not happen that, merely on account of rotation, a member connected with a department of public business, for which he was peculiarly qualified, might be obliged to go out, and the Court might be deprived of his aid in the transaction of that business? Yes; but that happens much more seldom than might be supposed, because it is always endeavoured to conclude the business of the year within the year. Subjects are begun at such times that they shall not be under discussion at the time of the renewal of the Directors, as in the case of the Session of Parliament, except that there is no interval, as in that case.
Whatever inconvenience exists in that case, your opinion is that care is taken to diminish that inconvenience? I think so.13
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Are there any circumstances in the relations between England and India which require that the machinery for the government of India should be differently constituted from that of the other dependencies of Great Britain? I think there are very important differences; principally two. In the first place, India is a peculiar country; the state of society and civilization, the character and habits of the people, and the private and public rights established among them, are totally different from those which are known or recognised in this country; in fact the study of India must be as much a profession in itself as law or medicine. In the other dependencies of Great Britain the people are for the most part English, and whoever is fit to deal with English people here, is fit to deal with them there. But in the case of India, even if a person of the greatest knowledge of the world and the most cultivated mind were sent to be Governor-general, he would still have an apprenticeship to serve. This makes it essential that the administration of India should be carried on by men who have been trained in the subordinate offices, and have studied India as it were professionally. A second consideration, not less important is, that the public of India afford no assistance in their own government. They are not ripe for doing so by means of representative government; they are not even in a condition to make effectual appeals to the people of this country; they cannot even make their circumstances and interests and grievances known and intelligible to people so different and so unacquainted with India as the people, and even the Parliament, of this country. The discussion here of Indian subjects, when there is any, is carried on not by persons representing the people of India, but chiefly by Englishmen who have personal interests or connexions in India, generally almost as ignorant of the people and the interests of India as the English public, and having mostly other objects than the interest of the people of India in view. Since, therefore, the great security for good government—public discussion—does not exist for India, as it exists for this country and for its other dependencies, the only means of ensuring the necessary discussion and collision of opinions is provided within the governing body itself. The British colonies, of which the people are mostly English, and in most of which there are representative bodies composed of English people, have ample means of discussion, and ample means by which, if they think themselves aggrieved by any act of the Government, they can appeal home; and when such an appeal is made, the people of this country, although often extremely ill informed as to colonial matters, are much more capable of judging of them than they are of Indian affairs.
What do you think would be the probable effect of carrying on the government of India like that of the colonies, by means of a Secretary of State for India? I should think it would be the most complete despotism that could possibly exist in a country like this; because there would be no provision for any discussion or deliberation, except that which might take place between the Secretary of State and his subordinates in office, whose advice and opinion he would not be bound to listen to; and who, even if he were, would not be responsible for the advice or opinion that they might give.
How could it be a despotism when Parliament would have the control of the conduct of the Secretary of State? Undoubtedly Parliament would have the control; but Parliament not having sufficient knowledge of India and its people, would exercise its control with very imperfect information; and it seems to me of the utmost importance to make provision in the constitution of the Government itself, for compelling those who have the governing power, to listen to, and take into consideration, the opinions of persons who, from their position and their previous life, have made a study of Indian subjects, and acquired experience in them.
But though Parliament might be imperfectly informed, Parliament would not think it was imperfectly informed? That would be one of the evils I should apprehend.
Would it be possible for Parliament to have sufficient cognizance of the facts connected with the administration of the Secretary of State for India, to enable them to act as a check upon his administration? It cannot be said that Parliament and publicity are no check; but I think they are a very insufficient one.
Would it be possible to give such publicity as would enable them to act as a check? It would be possible to give any degree of publicity; but it would not be possible to secure the requisite interest in the subject, or the requisite instruction.
Do you think that, under such a system of Government, the continual change of policy, which would be likely to take place, arising from the change of parties, would be fatal to the Government of India? It would be a great evil if it really happened; possibly, however, it might not happen, and the Government of India might continue to be carried on in much the same way under all parties; but there would not be the same security for this which there is at present. I conceive that there would be two great inconveniences: in ordinary cases there would be apathy and indifference on the part of Parliament and the public; the Secretary of State for India would be able to do exactly as he liked, and to omit any part of his duty if he were too indolent or too ignorant to perform it; but whenever it did happen that interest was excited in Indian questions, they would become party questions; and India would be made (which I should regard as a great calamity) a subject for discussions, of which the real object would be to effect a change in the administration of the Government of England.
Why do you think that greater apathy would exist upon questions relative to the interests of India, than upon questions relating to the interests of the colonies? Because the colonies have the means of making their grievances heard; the colonies are much more closely connected with England; there are many more English people who have interests there; and there are also in the colonies local popular bodies, which is of itself a very great check, independently of any check afforded by Parliament. If there were a possibility at present of establishing a similar check in India, by any form of local representative government, I should think the constitution of the organ of Government in England much less important; but at present the only security for the good government of India is in constituting the Government here with as little imperfection as possible.
Do you think it would be possible to recognise any body in India which should be competent to express an opinion upon measures relating to that country? I do not think that India has yet attained such a degree of civilization and improvement as to be ripe for anything like a representative system. It would certainly be possible for the Government to take natives into its counsels much more than at present; but this I think would be better done by cultivating a greater degree of intercourse between intelligent natives and the members of the Government, or the holders of public offices, rather than by forming a body of persons selected by the Government and considering them as the representatives of the people of India, who, probably for the very reason of their being selected by the Government, would not be inclined to recognise them as their representatives.
It has been stated by some witnesses, that great advantage has resulted in India from the preliminary promulgation of proposed laws, which has had the effect of eliciting opinions from the natives, so as to enable the Government to form an opinion whether the law might be advantageously carried into effect or not;14do you think that is a useful practice? I have no doubt that it has been a very useful and indeed a necessary practice. The Court of Directors, in the instructions issued after the last renewal of the charter, pointed out that, in the absence of the security against precipitate legislation derived from public discussion by a numerous body like the Legislature of this country, it was necessary to make some other provision for deliberation and previous information; and therefore to interpose a certain delay between the first proposing and the passing of any Act, and to invite, in every way in which it could conveniently be done, suggestions and information in the meanwhile.15
What are the advantages of the division of the home Government of India into two distinct bodies, the Court of Directors and the Board of Control? It affords, I think, a great additional security for discussion and consideration. By rendering the consent of two distinct authorities necessary, you, in the first place, secure discussion between those two. The initiative being given to one body and a veto to the other, and the body over which the veto can be exercised, having in reality no substantial power, except that which it derives from the force of its reasons, it is under very strong inducements to put reason on its side if it can. If the despatches which originate with the Court of Directors are not well grounded in reason, they carry no weight with the Board. The Court of Directors does not and cannot exercise any effective share in the government except in so far as it takes care to have reason on its side. Having this instrument of power and no other, it has the strongest motive to use that instrument to the utmost; and in doing so, it is a most efficient check upon the body which has the ultimate power, because that body being sure to have all subjects brought before it, with the result of the full consideration and concentrated judgment of a body which, from its constitution, has commonly that special knowledge and information which the President of the Board of Control in general has not, the President is under great inducement not to set aside the judgment of this comparatively well-informed body, unless he can give as strong or stronger reasons on the contrary side.
Is it not the case, that even in addition to the ordinary forms of conference and communication between the Chairs, as they are called, and the President of the Board, if there should be any difference between them, the President has the power of consulting the other members of the Court, and frequently does so through the Chairs, and in fact has recourse to any documents which the Chairs may have it in their power to lay before him, so as to strengthen the view which they have put before the President? The President can call upon the Chairs to produce any papers upon the subject which they may have omitted to bring before him.
Is it not the case, that independently of the legal power of the President, where different communications have taken place between the President and the Chairs, they are in the habit of laying before him any additional documents which they think will strengthen the views which they have put before the President? Yes, and of discussing all subjects on which there is any difference of opinion.
Is not the Court of Directors specially interested in appointing the very ablest officials? They are; and they exert themselves to obtain the ablest persons they can to conduct the correspondence under them. Their position gives them a very strong interest in doing this, since they can only expect that their draft despatches will be adopted by the Board of Control, if they are such as to carry the weight of reason and knowledge with them.
Would the same benefits be realized, in your opinion, if India were to be governed by the two bodies merged into one, and by endeavouring to form a single body which should unite the advantages of both, such as a Council of India, presided over by a Minister of the Crown? I think that such a system would be far preferable to a Government merely by a Secretary of State; but that the advantages now derived from the division of the governing body into two parts, the one having the initiative and the other the ultimate control, would not be obtained under the system of a Minister and Council. In the first place, there is now not only an examination by two authorities, but successive examinations by two sets of competent subordinates. If the body were but one, there would be only one set of subordinates; and that is not a trifling consideration, but in practice a very important one. In the next place, if the Minister of the Crown were President of the co-ordinate body, whether it were called the Court of Directors or Council of India, he would have, not as at present substantially a mere veto, but substantially the initiative, as the Chairman now has; and in that case the Council would not be under anything like the same responsibility, and would not exercise anything like the same power that the Court of Directors do. When the Council are obliged to consider the subject first, and to make up their minds upon it, and to write, or cause to be written, the strongest justification they can make of their opinion, the mind of this body is much more effectually applied to the subject, and a much more painstaking and conscientious decision is likely to be arrived at by them, than if they were only considered as the advisers of, or as a check upon another initiating authority. Of course, under the system suggested in the question, it cannot be meant that the power of decision should rest in the Minister and his Council jointly. The ultimate decision would rest with the Minister only, and his Council would be merely a Council. Now, when the Minister had thus both the ultimate power of decision and the initiative, it seems to me that the functions of the Council would be reduced to comparative insignificance, and there would be great danger of their becoming nominal.
If the plan suggested in the last question were adopted, would not the Government of necessity cease to be a double Government, and be a single Government, consisting of combined parts, which from their nature and their functions would be liable to constant collision? They are now liable to collision; but any prolonged conflict is provided against by giving to one of the two authorities—the Minister of the Crown—the ultimate deciding power: and I imagine that in any new system that could be proposed, this provision would be adhered to.
Although there is a liability at present to come into collision, is not that collision, and are not the consequences of such collision, better guarded against by the present system than they would be by that proposed? I conceive that under the alteration proposed, the specially instructed body would not have power enough; in the first place, because the initiative would fall habitually into the hands of the President, and consequently the members of the Council would not be under nearly such strong inducements as the Court of Directors are to form a careful opinion, and to stand up for it. In the next place, they would not be nearly so much in the public eye. The Court of Directors are at present the ostensible Government of India; they reap a very large proportion of the credit of good government, and of the discredit of bad; and it seems to me of great importance that they should still do so; because that is what places them, with no instrument in their hands but reason, under such strong inducements to employ that instrument to the utmost.
In fact you consider that the present system is a very convenient fiction? I do not think it is fairly described as a fiction, since it is acknowledged, that not only the Board of Control but the Cabinet, when of a different opinion, sometimes think it right to defer to the opinion of the Court of Directors: no doubt because they feel that the Directors are more competent to form an opinion than themselves. As the Court of Directors can have no power but what they derive from that belief, it is greatly for their interest that the belief should be justified.
Is it a fiction to say that the Government of India resides in the Court of Directors? It is practically by no means a fiction, since it does not happen once in a hundred times that a despatch, prepared by the Court of Directors, undergoes alteration in principle and substance by the Board of Control. It is true that this is in a great measure to be accounted for by the constant communication kept up between the Chairs and the President; so that, unless the Chairs are anxious to have a contest with the Board, in order to place on record an important difference of opinion, they seldom send up a proposed despatch which they know is contrary to the President’s opinion, and therefore will not pass. Still, however, in practice, the preparation of despatches rests substantially with the Court of Directors, and not with the Board of Control.
You think it is not fairly to be called a fiction; but do you not think that the general notion which people have of their power attributes to them much greater power than they really have? Undoubtedly the habit of speaking of the Court of Directors as the Government of India, causes the controlling power exercised over them to be very much lost sight of, and causes much less of the moral responsibility of the Government of India to rest upon the Minister of the Crown than is really his fair share. But even this has its advantages, because it brings the feeling of responsibility to bear more strongly upon those who possess the requisite knowledge, and whose examination is much more effectual than any examination that can be exercised by persons less acquainted with the subject. It therefore seems to me important that the Court should not be led to consider themselves, or be considered by the public and by the people of India, as a subordinate, but as a co-ordinate authority.
Do they not, under the power they have of initiating all despatches, virtually exercise a principal part in the general administration of the Government of India? In as far as that can be said of the home Government at all, I think they do. I think that those who deliberately consider all subjects in the first instance, recording their opinion, and who do this in such a manner, that in a great majority of cases their opinion is adopted by the controlling power, have a full share, and virtually the largest share in the administration.
Do not they practically furnish the knowledge by which the Government of India is conducted? They furnish much more than the Board of Control.
Is it not the fact that the Board of Control furnish none? The Board of Control furnish none but the knowledge which their officers have acquired by experience in the office.
What means of resistance, on the part of the Court of Directors, have the Legislature provided, for preventing the Board of Control from usurping the entire power, and reducing the Court of Directors to a nullity? The main security is, that the Board of Control cannot themselves initiate any instructions to India (except in the Secret Department, which is limited by law to matters of war and negotiation) unless by calling upon the Court to do so; it is only if the Court fail to do so within a certain time, that the Board of Control can initiate a despatch, and compel the Court to send it out; and this shows that it was the intention of the Legislature, that the Board should be a controlling rather than an originating power.
Have not the Court of Directors a further power, by having a virtual veto upon the nomination of the Governor-general by the Crown? They have; and I may say, on that subject, that I think the present mode of appointing the Governor-general, namely, by the Court of Directors ostensibly, but with the approbation of the Crown, is the only means by which the Court of Directors could obtain so much as a veto; everybody is aware that the Crown really appoints the Governor-general; but if the Crown were ostensibly to do so, if the nomination were to vest in the Crown, then, even if a veto were nominally given to the Court of Directors, they would not have a real veto. To refuse their sanction to an appointment once made, would appear to them so strong a measure, that it must be a very bad appointment indeed, much worse than is likely to happen, which they would feel called upon so to resist; whereas, by making it in legal form necessary that they should initiate the appointment, you do not secure to them, what I think it is not desirable that they should have, the real appointment, but you give them a real veto; you prevent the Crown from being able to force upon them any Governor-general to whom they have a decided objection. I think that a very important power.
Do you think it is as important, for the maintenance of their authority, that they should have the power of recall? I think it is proper and necessary.
Are there not circumstances under which the nomination of the Governor-general will fall to the Crown? If the Court of Directors make no appointment within two months.
Would it be desirable to place modifications of the same nature upon the power of recall; that is to say, by requiring certain notice of the intention of the Court to exercise the power? I see no particular advantage in that; because it is not to be supposed that the Directors would seriously contemplate a recall, unless they intended to persevere in it; it is not probable that they would raise the question unless their opinion was thoroughly made up.
Have you ever referred to what took place between the Government and the Court of Directors in the time of Lord Wellesley?16 I have no particular recollection of the history of those transactions.
Have you ever referred to it? I have.
Are you under the impression that the Court of Directors never wished to recall Lord Wellesley? I am under the impression that they did wish, but not so strongly as to take a measure which they knew would be extremely disagreeable to the Government of the time.
It was rather a strong Government, that of Mr. Pitt, at that time, was it not?17 It was.
Is not there a further power of resistance on the part of the Court of Directors, by refusing to send out a certain despatch, and compelling the Board of Control to appeal to public opinion in open court, and forcing them by means of a mandamus in the Court of Queen’s Bench? That is only the power which anybody possesses of compelling discussion by resisting a legal authority. The Court would no doubt never think themselves justified in resorting to such an extremity, unless they had such strong conscientious objections to the thing proposed, as to outweigh the objection to refusing obedience to a lawful order.
Do you recollect any instance in which that remedy has been resorted to by the Court? I remember one instance,18 and I think there have been two within my recollection.
In which it was successfully exercised? In one of the cases it was successfully exercised; I am not certain about the second.
Does the Court of Directors ever resist by avoiding to form a sufficient quorum to sign a despatch? The Court have no occasion to avoid forming a quorum; because no individual can be forced to sign, even if there is quorum, unless by process of law. In one of the cases mentioned, several of the Directors were fully prepared to go to prison, rather than sign an order which they thought grossly unjust.
Was that resistance successful? It was.
Have not the Directors the power of appealing to the Court of Proprietors, and producing such documents as they may think necessary for instructing the public mind, and thus communicating a knowledge of those measures of which they disapprove, without at the same time appealing to party prejudices, as would be the case were that appeal made to the House of Commons? No doubt the Court of Proprietors afford means of publicity, but not greater than would be obtained by a motion for papers in the House of Commons.
Would not there be this disadvantage in a motion for papers in the House of Commons, that they must act through some party, and the question would at once assume a party character? There are usually members of the Court of Directors in the House of Commons, any one of whom can move for papers.
Would it not be a great disadvantage if Indian matters were made the subject of party conflict? It is necessary that the last resort of an appeal to Parliament should be open; but I have already remarked, that I think the security which that affords for good government is not great, because there is generally no interest in the subject, unless it can be made a party subject; and if it be made a party subject, it is in danger of being decided by party interests.
Then do you consider it to be just as advantageous for the Directors to appeal to the House of Commons, as to appeal to the Court of Proprietors? I do not think the appeal to the Court of Proprietors is of any value except as an instrument of publicity. It is plain that they might have a perfect power of publicity given to them, without appealing either to the Court of Proprietors or to Parliament.
How? They might have the liberty of printing and producing papers, and it might be in their power to lay papers before Parliament.
Have they not that power at present? Only if they are moved for.
If papers were moved for in Parliament, would not a conflict most probably arise upon the subject of those papers? It might, certainly, although papers are very often moved for with no such intention, and with no such effect.
Is it in your opinion desirable that the Court of Proprietors should have the power of calling for papers under the present constitution of the Government of India? I think anything which leads to the production of papers or to the discussion of any questionable matter, is always useful, although I do not think the discussions in the Court of Proprietors afford much advantage in the way of good government. They occur rarely, and when they do occur the matter is commonly discussed without much knowledge of the subject, and commonly from other interests than those of the people of India.
Have the Court of Proprietors at the present moment any interest in the prosperity of the people of India further than as it may be connected with their dividends? None whatever.
Is not it desirable that they should have the power to call in question the actions of the Court of Directors and of the Government of India? The Court of Proprietors is a mere public meeting, at which persons of a particular class are admitted to speak and vote, and I think any public discussion on a public subject has the chance of doing more good than harm.
Would it, in your opinion, be desirable that the papers and correspondence of the Secret Committee should be laid before the Court of Proprietors? There are many transactions of Government, and particularly those of war and diplomacy (the peculiar functions of the Secret Committee), which until the transactions are completed never are, and generally cannot be, consistently with the public interest, laid before the public.
That is an exception to the general benefit which you propose to be derived from public discussion? Yes; but in European matters it is usual to give publicity even to this class of transactions after the emergency has ceased; and this is equally advantageous in Indian affairs. In fact it is usually done; for it hardly ever happens that the papers relating to Indian wars and treaties are not published almost as soon as they conveniently can be.
That is, through the medium of Parliament? Yes, generally.
When those secret papers are ultimately laid before the Court of Directors, are they not laid in extenso? Sometimes.
Not always? Not always.
Sometimes important papers relating to a transaction are withheld altogether, are they not? Sometimes.
What advantage is derived from the power of the Court of Proprietors to call for any papers? It sometimes causes papers to be made public sooner than they otherwise would be, or which, perhaps, might not have been made public at all; but the papers might have been called for by Parliament, if they had not been called for by the Court of Proprietors.
Does not it give to the Court of Directors the power of giving to the world any papers that they may wish to be circulated? No doubt it does.
In that way is it not very useful to the Court of Directors, whenever they wish to make an appeal to public opinion? I think it might be useful. It certainly affords them the means of doing so without the imputation of wishing to make a party opposition to the Government.
In point of fact, is not it their great object in general to avoid the production of such papers? I think there is no unwillingness whatever on their part to produce papers.
Do not the Court of Directors generally try to check such a motion on the part of the Court of Proprietors? Not at all, as far as I have observed, unless the papers relate to transactions still under consideration. In that case, as in similar cases in Parliament, it is often thought desirable that the papers should not be produced till the final decision of the public authorities has been come to.
That is in all pending negotiations? There is often an indisposition to give papers as long as the subject is under consideration; but when a decision has been passed, and the transaction completed, I am not aware that there is ever any objection made to lay the papers before the Proprietors, if the Proprietors desire to have them.
What is the usual number of persons attending a Court of Proprietors? The quarterly courts are commonly not very numerously attended, being mostly for routine business, unless notice has been given of some motion which excites general interest; but special courts I have known very numerously attended.
When you say “very numerously,” what number of persons do you mean? I do not know that I ever counted the number, but I think I must have seen as many as 200 or more.
But usually it is a very small number? Perhaps at quarterly courts there may not be more than 50 or 60; and sometimes a discussion has been kept up when there were (exclusive of the Directors) not more than eight or ten Proprietors in the room.
Are those discussions generally conducted by persons who have an Indian reputation, and who have been connected with the service in India, or by gentlemen who appear to have bought their qualification for the purpose of giving them an opportunity of making speeches and having them reported? There are marked instances of both.
Is not the latter the more common case? I should say, I think, that when motions have been brought forward hostile to the proceedings of the Government of India, they have been oftener by persons who had been previously connected with India, than by persons whose connexion with India Stock may be supposed to have been formed for that purpose.
Assuming that two such bodies as the Court of Directors and the Board of Control ought to exist, is it, in your opinion, desirable that the patronage of India should reside in the body which is inferior in authority? As between the two, it is in the Court of Directors, the weaker body, that I think the patronage should reside, for the reasons which I have already given. It seems to me very important, and at the same time difficult, that a body, every act of whom connected with the Government of India may be overruled, should nevertheless feel themselves, and be felt by others, to have a very important part in the Government, and a very important share of the responsibility of good or bad government. I do not see how they could keep their position, or be considered as the Government of India at all, if the patronage of India, such as it is, that is, the appointment of youths to rise through the lower to the higher offices, were taken away from them to be given to the other authority. If the authority which had the patronage were that which gives the final orders, the Board of Control would be considered as the Government, and the Court of Directors would have no influence at all.
Would there not also be a danger in that case that the appointments would have a political character, which you consider it so extremely desirable to avoid? That is also a very strong objection to vesting the patronage in the Minister of the Crown.
If the patronage were withdrawn from the Court, in what way should it be disposed of, in your opinion? I think in that case the only proper system, and one which I should myself consider as intrinsically the best, would be to bestow it by public competition; by concours, as some offices are given in France; to give it to the best qualified among all persons of requisite age and education who might compete for it.
By public examination? By public examination.
By the sale of commissions, or without sale? Certainly not by sale.
If you had such competition as that, you could not have only one Board of Examiners for so many different classes of offices, amounting sometimes to 400 or 500 to be given in one year; but it would be necessary that you should have different Boards of Examiners; and in that way persons rejected by one Board might be admitted by another. Would there not be great danger of not getting the best men by that process? No doubt such a Board might make mistakes; but probably not more than are made, for instance, in the classification of candidates for honours at the Universities, which is generally supposed to be conducted very fairly.
But there it is done by a single Board; but you could not bring 400 or 500 gentlemen before the same Board, and bring them all into one place? Not at one time; but I see no impossibility in even a larger number being examined by the same Board in the course of a year.
This is not a change which you suggest, but you think it would be the best system if any change were made? If there were a change I think that would be the best change, and I think it desirable in itself if it could be done without interfering with the position of the Court of Directors, or of some body similar to them, as a substantive part of the Indian Government.
Do you think it would be desirable to give any portion of the existing patronage to be competed for in the way you have described? I think the more the better.
Supposing it to be considered best to keep the patronage in the hands of the Court of Directors, do you think it would be desirable to set off any portion of that patronage to be competed for in the way you have described? I am not prepared to give a decided opinion. There would be advantages, perhaps preponderating ones, in such an arrangement, provided the Court of Directors retained sufficient patronage to make them be still considered substantially the Government of India.
When you speak of competition, do you mean a bonâ fide public competition open to all the world, or would you require any particular qualifications or previous course of education on the part of the candidates? I would admit persons to compete in whatever manner they had been educated, and at whatever place.
And in whatever condition of life they might be? And in whatever condition of life.
By whom and in what manner is it desirable, in your opinion, that the Governor-general should be appointed? I think the present mode unobjectionable. I think that the Governor-general should be nominated, as he is, by the Crown, and not by the Court of Directors, but subject to a substantial negative voice on their part. It is a great security against jobbing in India, that appointments to office are not made by the same persons who appoint the candidates. They are made by a great officer who has no previous connexion, or a very slight one, with the service, and is scarcely under any private motive to favour individuals; and I believe that in consequence the appointments are generally made with a remarkable degree of integrity and purity.
Would you think it inexpedient to appoint the Lieutenant-governors of Bombay and Madras from the civil service; and would you consider it more expedient that they should continue to be appointed by the Crown in the same manner in which you think it desirable that the Governor-general should be appointed? That is part of the question what should be the constitution of the subordinate governments. There are at present two systems of subordinate government on trial in India: the old system of a Governor in Council at each Presidency, and the system now on trial at Agra of a Lieutenant-governor.19 There is hardly experience yet to judge which of those systems ought to be finally adopted.
But as long as you continued to leave a considerable amount of patronage at the disposal of those Governments at the different Presidencies, do you think it would be expedient to select the Governors out of the civil service of the Company? I think they should be selected by the Crown as long as the present Governments of Bombay and Madras are continued. It does not follow that civil or military servants of the Company may not be appointed; in fact, a large proportion of the governors of Madras and Bombay have been servants of the Company, though appointed by the Crown, and they have been some of the very best.
Are there any special reasons for maintaining an exclusive body, such as the civil service of India, from whom all the higher offices in the administration of the Government, except the heads of the different Governments must be selected? What is to be said in favour of an exclusive service, is the necessity of special professional training: the necessity that those appointed to higher situations should have served in the lower, and should have risen by degrees. In fact, there is no other mode of training properly qualified officers. To take a person fresh from Europe, and appoint him to one of the higher situations, would be as objectionable as taking a person from the army, or from a merchant’s counting-house, and making him at once a Judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench.
Do you think that civil offices should be thrown open to Europeans not in the regular service; that is, to uncovenanted servants? As a general rule, I think not; Europeans not in the regular service can hardly be competently qualified. The maintenance of a sort of professional body called the Civil Service, is recommended by the necessity of a training in the subordinate offices, and if persons are often appointed who have not gone through that training, the object is sacrificed. In fact, the appointment of Europeans not in the regular service, unless quite exceptional, would be tantamount to giving up the principle of sending out young men as candidates, instead of sending persons out to fill particular offices.
Do you happen to be acquainted with the services of the late Mr. Greenlaw, who was an uncovenanted servant, and who died in the year 1844?20 I know his name, but I am not particularly acquainted with his services. He held an office to which uncovenanted servants have not usually been appointed.
Are you aware that he was a man of very great ability, and of very eminent public service? I believe he was.
To what grade in the service can uncovenanted servants rise? I am not aware how much of the restriction upon their employment is the effect of law, and how much only of practice, nor am I aware how far the exclusion in practice extends, especially as it has of late been in many instances relaxed; but generally speaking, the European uncovenanted servants are not eligible to anything beyond what would be here considered as clerkships, not to offices of importance and authority.
Not to judgeships? Certainly not; the natives are very largely eligible to judicial offices.
Do you think that the indiscriminate admission of uncovenanted Europeans to civil appointments would interfere very much with the employment of the natives? Very much.
Would it not be liable to this further objection, that the Governor-general would have the selection, as well as the promotion of Europeans in office? I presume that if uncovenanted servants were appointed at first to inferior situations, they would usually be in the first instance selected by heads of offices, rather than by the Governor-general.
Have you ever considered the expediency of filling the subordinate offices in the Foreign Department, with trustworthy Europeans? I presume clerkships are meant; undoubtedly it is of very great importance that the officers so employed should be trustworthy. I believe there is no restriction on the employment either of Europeans, half-caste, or natives to those offices; their qualifications depend upon the care taken by heads of offices in selecting them.
Was it not necessary on one occasion to make almost a clearance of the persons employed? I have no such instance in my recollection, but I cannot say that it was not so.
Are high civil offices thrown open to Europeans in the military service? Many high offices are so; I think the distinction which is made is a very just one; the offices to which military servants are not, except in very rare cases, appointed, are those connected with the administration of the existing somewhat elaborate system of Regulations, for which a person is incompetent, unless he has in the subordinate offices acquired a technical and precise knowledge of the system. But in all offices which do not require this, military men are now largely employed; they are very much employed in the Political, that is, the Diplomatic Department, and also in the civil administration of countries which have not been brought regularly under our laws; and when a territory is newly acquired, and it is necessary rather to ascertain the existing state of the country, and improvise rules for its temporary management, or to frame a system for the future administration of such countries, than to administer a previously existing system; then military men of known ability are very commonly selected, as is the case at present in the Punjaub, where the President of the Board of Administration, Sir Henry Lawrence, is a military man, and as was the case with Sir Thomas Munro, and many others.21 Very large use is thus made of military men with talents for civil administration; I have known instances of their being even made Collectors in the Regulation provinces; but those cases are rare, and I believe the motive to them was, that there were not at the time a sufficient number of civil servants in the Bombay Presidency. At that time Sir Henry Pottinger, Major Barnewall, and Colonel Robertson were made Collectors.22 Generally speaking, the situations to which military men are not appointed, are those which require a previously acquired special knowledge of the existing Regulations, and the existing modes of administration.
Would you admit the natives of India to the covenanted civil service? I think it of the greatest importance to admit the natives to all situations for which they are fit; and as they are constantly becoming fit for higher situations, I think that they should be admitted to them; but it would probably be better to do this without appointing them to the regular service. The covenanted service, from its constitution, is a service of gradual rise. A member of that service is not appointed to a particular situation to remain in it during his whole period of service, but looks for promotion after a certain time, and hopes to rise to the highest appointments; therefore, as long as the natives are not considered fit for the highest appointments, it would be hardly desirable to admit them to the regular covenanted service, because, if their promotion stopped short while that of others went on, it would be more invidious than keeping them out altogether. It seems preferable that the covenanted service should not be considered as having an exclusive right to appointments. If a native, being qualified in point of integrity, and having, as many of them have, a previous knowledge of that which a European has to learn, is fit for one of the higher appointments, let him have it without going through the covenanted service.
Is not a native rendered eligible for any appointment under the last Charter Act?23 The last Charter Act took away all legal disabilities; but there is a practical exclusion, and so there must be, until the natives are very much improved in character.
But legally a native of India is eligible for any appointment? He is.
He is not excluded because he is a native of India, but he is excluded because he has not passed through Haileybury?24 That would exclude him from the covenanted civil service.
Do you think that the natives of India are admitted to as large a share in the civil government of the country as they ought in their present state of education and knowledge to possess? There is a great and growing desire to admit them to all offices for which they are considered sufficiently qualified in point of trustworthiness. Hitherto they have not been admitted to any situations in which there is not a controlling European authority over them; but there is hardly any situation, admitting of that control, to which they are not now eligible; or if there be any such, there is a constant tendency to open such situations to them. They have now, especially in the Bengal and Agra provinces, almost the whole of the administration of justice in the first instance, subject to appeal to Europeans. They are also largely employed as deputy collectors, that is, in the branch of the Government, on which the prosperity of the country depends more than on any other; and those situations are sought for by natives of the highest rank and connexions. There was a remarkable proof of this some years ago in the North West Provinces. When the Nawab of Rampoor died, who was the descendant of Fyzoolla Khan, the chief who ruled over the portion left in existence of the Rohilla power, which was crushed by Warren Hastings, when this Nawab died, leaving no direct heirs, the collateral, who was next in succession, was a deputy collector in our provinces,25 and two other near relations of the deceased Nawab happened to be deputy collectors also. The new Nawab went from being a deputy collector under our Government, to succeed to his own principality, and he immediately commenced introducing the improvements which he had learned under our system.
Have those native officers of the Government Europeans placed under them? As deputy collectors they have no Europeans under them as subordinate officers, but only natives.
If the natives of India were to occupy a very large portion of the higher civil and military appointments of the country, do you suppose that we should continue to maintain the dependence of India upon this country? If the natives were allowed to wield the military force of India, I think it would be impossible to maintain British ascendency there; but I think it would be perfectly possible to open to them a very large share of the civil government without its having any such effect.
Without having any European supervision? I do not think you could make a native Governor-general, but I think natives might in time be appointed to many of the higher administrative offices.
Do you think they might be members of Council? Not, I should think, at present; but in proportion as the natives become trustworthy and qualified for high office, it seems to me not only allowable, but a duty to appoint them to it.
Do you think that in those circumstances the dependence of India upon this country could be maintained? I think it might, by judicious management, be made to continue till the time arises when the natives shall be qualified to carry on the same system of Government without our assistance.
Would you make any change in the functions of the Governor-general, with a view of relieving him from any portion of his duties? I would relieve him from all details; certainly from the government of Bengal. It appears to me that the proper function of the Governor-general is rather to superintend the Government of India in all its departments than to carry on any portion of it in detail. I would give him only the external relations of India, and the business of legislation, along with a general power of receiving appeals from the subordinate Governments, and of interfering, whenever necessary, in the higher departments of their administration, with such portion of the higher patronage as it may be desirable for him to possess.
Would you establish a separate government for Bengal, or would you put it on the same footing as that of the North West Provinces, leaving the Lieutenant-governor in the nomination of the Governor-general? It is difficult to give a positive opinion at present. If I were to recommend either plan, it would be the Agra system, which works extremely well.
Is not there this reason for the Agra system having worked very well, that during the portion of it which we had immediately under our eye, namely, the latter portion since the year 1844, it has been administered by a man of acknowledged superior ability and activity, Mr. Thomason?26 It is more particularly during the time of Mr. Thomason that it has been administered with such eminent success; and the expediency of continuing the system depends upon the possibility, as may be shown by experience, of providing a succession of such men. Unless this can be provided, I think it would be desirable that all the subordinate Governments should have Councils.
If the Lieutenant-governor of Agra were selected on the same grounds on which the members of Council are selected, would there not be very great danger of the Government not being equally well conducted? The members of Council are selected from the same class of persons as the Lieutenant-governors.
When Mr. Thomason was appointed Governor, was not he taken quite out of his turn, and was he not a much younger man than those who would be named members of Council? He was; no doubt, because there was nobody senior to him who was thought so well qualified.
No one would have been named a member of Council so young as Mr. Thomason? Probably not.
Do you think it expedient to assimilate the Governments of Bombay and Madras to that of Agra? Either that, or to assimilate the Government of Agra to them.
Do you think it desirable that the Governor-general should be attended by his Council when he removes from Calcutta? If the practice which has existed for some years were to continue, that the Governor-general should be a much larger portion of time absent from Calcutta than present there, I think decidedly the Council ought to go with him; and in that case it would become a serious question whether the seat of Government should not be transferred to the interior. If the absence of the Governor-general from Calcutta were only to be occasional, I see no reason why the present system should not continue.
Do not you think there would be great advantage in sending out Governors-general very much younger than they have usually been—men who might be expected to remain 15 or 20 years in the country? It is to my mind doubtful. One of the advantages of the present mode of appointing the Governor-general is that he takes out with him the latest English ideas and sentiments. He is under the influence of the most recent, which in politics are generally the best opinions.
Would he not have the same, if he went out at thirty instead of at fifty? He would; but if he remained a longer time, he would perhaps not retain the advantage.
If he remained a longer time, would he not have the advantage probably of acquiring the language, and the means of communicating personally with individual natives; and would he not, if he were successful in his administration, acquire very great weight and influence throughout India, particularly with the native states? I think he has all the influence now with the native states that he thinks fit to exercise; I think he can do anything he pleases with them.
Might he not possibly obtain more influence than would be desirable? His permanent interests would always be in this country; I am not contemplating the case of his being able to usurp an independent Government there, certainly; but I do not think that danger much to be apprehended.
Not if he were to remain there a great number of years, and thereby very much to increase his influence? I should think the danger not great of a European, who might at any time be recalled, acquiring a degree of influence over the army and the natives, which would enable him to set up an independent government.
Is not that, to a certain degree, the case in all countries similarly situated? I am not aware of any parallel instance.
Does not his influence, in point of fact, mainly depend upon the great power of the country which he is known to represent? He is considered the representative of the irresistible English power.
Would you still maintain the Legislative Member of Council, and if you maintained him, would you assign to him the same duties? It seems to me very important to maintain that office, that there may be at least one person to devote himself specially to so important a part of the business of government as Legislation.
Do you think there would be any advantage in having for administrative purposes, a fifth member of Council sent from England, holding such a position as an Under Secretary of State, and who should remain there for about as long as the Governor-general himself remains? I see no necessity for such an officer, in addition to the Governor-general; the appointment of the Governor-general is intended to contribute European ideas to the Government, and the ordinary members of Council contribute Indian ideas; if the Governor-general is properly appointed, I do not see any use in sending out another officer for administrative purposes.
Is it not the practice for the new Governor-general, when he goes out, to take out with him a private secretary, who may be of very great assistance to the Governor-general in the mere details of his office? Sometime it is; sometimes the private secretary is elected in India.
Would you think it desirable to add to the Council of India civil servants from Madras and Bombay? That would depend upon the nature of the functions assigned to the Supreme Government; if the Governor-general in Council were to exercise a general superintendence over all the Presidencies, without conducting the administration of any; if he were regarded as a supreme authority, to be referred to in cases of difficulty who should have the power of interfering in the affairs of the subordinate Governments, and should receive general reports of their proceedings, but should not be necessarily a part of the ordinary government of India, except as to legislation and great political transactions; in that case I think it would be important that all the Presidencies should be represented in the Supreme Council; that there should be a member from Madras, and another from Bombay, as well as from Bengal and Agra. For the purposes merely of legislation, I am not sure that there is any necessity for this addition to the number of the Council. On any enactments which relate particularly to Madras and Bombay, it is usual for a reference first to be made to the Madras and Bombay Governments; if indeed the whole proposition does not originate with them, by a draft Act being sent up by them, as it often is, for the approval of the Council.
Is it necessary that the Government of India should have some local knowledge in the decision of questions of pecuniary outlay relating to the subordinate Presidencies? It is necessary, no doubt, that they should have local knowledge; but that knowledge should be supplied to them by the Report sent by the local Governments, or elicited by the inquiries which the Supreme Government has power to make. All that is necessary as a qualification for the members of Council, is the habit of considering questions of a similar kind.
Would not it be desirable that the Council itself should be inspired by some local interest, to enable it to give full weight to the several reasons and arguments sent up from the subordinate Presidencies? That depends upon the degree to which the interference of the general Council at Calcutta extends. If Bombay and Madras continue to have local Governments which exercise a considerable amount of power, and the members of which deliberate in common, recording their opinions on the administration of their respective Presidencies, it does not seem to me necessary that there should be members from Madras and Bombay to advise the Supreme Council; but if there were merely lieutenant-governors at Madras or Bombay, it would be necessary.
Are you aware that no sum beyond 5,000 rupees can be expended by the local Governments without the consent of the Government of India, and that, moreover, not even a shifting and a change in the salaries of a Board can take place which involves an increase of salary to any one of the members, though the sum upon the whole should not exceed for the Board the sum which was before paid? I am not prepared to say, not having considered the subject, whether those restrictions are carried too far. Their object is partly to preserve uniformity of system as to salaries and establishments throughout India, in order that one portion of the service may not have reason to complain that others are treated better than themselves; and partly for the sake of the general finances of India; since the duty of keeping the expenses within the means rests with the authority which controls the affairs of all India, and not with any sectional department.
Do you think it would be conducive to the general public service, if the Court of Directors were to make this alteration (which they might do of their own authority) as regards the composition of the Council, namely, always to have in the Council a military member, and another member who had been engaged in the Judicial Department, and another who had been engaged in the Revenue Department; and in making provisional appointments, to make the succession provisional dependent upon the coming away, or upon the death of the member whom they particularly wished to replace by the person to whom the provisional appointment was given; so that a revenue member would succeed a revenue member, and a military member would succeed a military member; and the Council would always represent those three great departments? The point would be well worth consideration; but it must be remembered that many members of the service had both revenue and judicial experience. In fact, as a general rule, almost all persons who rise to be members of Council have in some degree combined both those functions.
Must not considerable public inconvenience be caused by this state of things which once happened, that the military member of the Council died, and he was succeeded by a gentleman taken from the judicial department who had a provisional appointment, and the Council was left without a military member, while it had two who were acquainted with law? I think the suggestion involved in the question has much to recommend it; but I am not prepared to give a positive opinion.
Must it not have been so originally, because formerly the members of Council consisted of the heads of departments? That was according to the first constitution of the Council, when it was much more numerous.27
Was not it at that time a Council consisting of the heads of departments, and were not they in the Council only because they were the heads of departments? I believe it was so, but only under a very ancient constitution of the Council; certainly not since the time of Warren Hastings.
Would you think it desirable to re-establish the Law Commission?28 I would. I think it of great importance, not only to have an officer forming part of the Government whose business it should be to attend to legislation pro hâc vice, but also that what the Legislature certainly intended in the last Charter Act should not be left uncompleted. The intention of the Legislature in appointing the Law Commission was, that the whole law of India and the constitution of the courts of justice should be deliberately considered, and, as far as necessary, remodelled; that great improvements should be made in the procedure of the courts, and that the substantive laws should be consolidated and reduced to a code. This has been in a very small degree performed as yet, because there has not, I think, been sufficient importance attached to it by any of the authorities. I think it very desirable that the subject should be revived.
The home Government at this moment exercise an absolute control over the Government in India. Within what limits do you think that control should be exercised? There are very few acts of the Government of India which it is possible for the authorities here to set aside when they are once done. Some very important things they can do: they can put a stop to pecuniary jobbing when they detect it; they can cancel improper appointments, and control salaries and establishments; and they can, and often do, redress the grievances of individuals. But in most of the political measures of a general character, they have very little power of interfering with effect or advantage, after the thing is done. They have, however, a great power of making useful comments, which may serve as instructions for subsequent cases of the same kind; and it seems to me the greatest good that the home authorities can do is to comment freely on the proceedings of the local authorities, to criticise them well, and lay down general principles for the guidance of the Government on subsequent occasions.
Do they exercise that function at present as frequently and as successfully as they have done heretofore? I think the defect, perhaps a natural one in a Government constituted like that of India (and it is a defect of most Governments), is that there is an aversion to lay down any principle that goes beyond the particular occasion. Governments are almost always disinclined to commit themselves to opinions, except on a specific point, and as narrow a one as possible; but when an opinion is given, even confined to a specific point, and reasons are assigned for it, they necessarily involve some principle, and that principle, whether expressly stated or involved by implication in the decision, must serve as some guidance for future occasions.
Do you think that the home Government are more disinclined to laying down general principles than they used to be? I think, perhaps, they are; I think there is less disposition to lay down general principles than there was formerly, perhaps in consequence of the greater interest now taken by individual members of the Court in the proceedings, and the greater application of their minds to them than formerly; for that very reason, there is a greater number of objections, and it is more difficult to frame any statement of principles that shall command a majority.
Are there any further improvements in the constitution of the legislative and administrative body at Calcutta which you can suggest? I am not prepared to make any other suggestions.
Do you see any difficulties likely to accrue from the unlicensed liberty of the press? I think both the dangers and the advantages of the free press in India have been very much overrated: that the dangers were overrated is proved by the fact; it was anticipated by many people, that if full license were allowed to the press, it would drive us out of India altogether.
Do not you believe that there is this difference in the character of the Indian press, as compared with the press of this country, that whereas in this country the tone of the press is decidedly superior to that of ordinary conversation on the subjects of which it treats, in India it is the exact reverse of that; and that if any one were to form an opinion of the general state and tone of European society from the comments made by the Indian press, he would form a very unfair estimate of the general character of European society in the country? I cannot speak from much actual knowledge of the Indian press; my impression certainly is, that the English newspapers in India are of very little use to good government, except in promoting inquiry, and drawing the attention of the Government to facts which they might have overlooked. From the little knowledge I have of the Indian newspaper press, I should say that its comments are seldom of any value.
Is not the style such as does not prevail in good society; would not it give to those who read habitually the leading articles in those papers an impression that the tone of society is very inferior to what it is? I am not sufficiently acquainted with the Indian press to be able to answer the question.
Are you aware that in point of fact, the tone of society in India is as good as it is in this country? I know nothing to the contrary.
You said that not only were the dangers that were expected to accrue from the establishment of a free press in India exaggerated, but also that the expected advantages were exaggerated. Is that your opinion? It is. As long as the great mass of the people of India have very little access to the press, it is in danger of being an organ exclusively of individual interests. The English newspaper press in India is the organ only of the English society, and chiefly of the part of it unconnected with the Government. It has little to do with the natives, or with the great interests of India.
Does not the Government of India labour under this particular disadvantage, that they have no means of defence against unworthy imputations which the press throws out; not being represented in the press? Certainly. It is the practice of the Indian authorities both in India and in England to look on while their proceedings are the subject of unmeasured obloquy by the newspapers and in public discussions, without taking any means of getting a correct statement made of their measures, and of the grounds upon which they have been adopted.
Is there not this difference in India as compared with England, that whereas in England, if an attack is made upon the Government, there is a Government paper that undertakes to rebut it; in India there is no such opportunity of stating the truth? I think the same observation applies to attacks upon the Indian administration in this country; it is very seldom that any portion of the press takes up the cause of the Indian Government.
Do you not think, with reference to the Court of Proprietors, that it might be some advantage if it was necessary that a quorum should be present previously to allowing any public discussion to go on, namely, that there should be, say 40 persons present, instead of having only five, as is the case sometimes now; would it not put some restriction upon their meetings? I have not much considered what would be the effect of such a regulation; but I apprehend that when it is important that a discussion should take place, it would seldom be difficult to obtain as many as 40, or some rather smaller number to be present.
In the course of your examination yesterday you spoke of it as a merit of the Government of India, that it was very much a Government of record, and that everything that was done was to be found upon paper.29Have you ever heard it objected that that system of record and putting everything upon paper at length, is carried to an extent that is practically inconvenient and cumbersome? It is only cumbersome in the sense of making a very great mass of records; but the system of indexing is so perfect that it is easy to refer to everything.
Is it not the fact that it does not necessarily increase the quantity of writing; but it causes all that is written to be sent home? Indian functionaries are obliged to write so quick, that they generally write at great length.
Does not it entail a very large staff of clerks and manual assistants? No doubt it must cause a considerable increase in the establishments, but the expense is amply compensated by the advantage.
Are you acquainted with the manner in which the business is conducted at the Government offices in this country? I have no practical acquaintance with it.
Do you believe that the number of hands compared with the amount of business transacted, and consequently the expense of conducting the business, is much greater in proportion, in the Indian offices, than it is in the offices of the Crown? I am unable to judge. But as the natives in India are paid at a much lower rate than Europeans in England, the number of hands may be much greater without causing greater expense.
Must there not of necessity be a great deal more writing, in consequence of the double Government, and the necessity of keeping a reserved copy in case of any accident happening to the other? Certainly.
Has not the direction given about the year 1829 or 1830, that every gentleman who wrote a letter should write an abstract of it in a book, failed of producing any effect in diminishing the size of the letters? It has made very little, if any, difference.
Is not the present system very nearly identical with that of the Foreign Office in this country, or, at least, ought it not to be so, according to the order given? I am not acquainted with the system of the Foreign Office.
Is it not the practice in the Indian correspondence to collect discussions upon a number of subjects into one letter? The system of separate letters has been much more resorted to in the last 20 years, in consequence of orders sent out when Lord Ellenborough was President of the Board;30 it has, however, been prescribed to the Governments of India, that they should, in addition to separate letters on subjects of sufficient importance to require them, also write quarterly letters, reporting miscellaneous subjects on which there have been no separate reports, because it was found that previous to that time, many subjects went unreported altogether; and the only way to insure a report of them was, by requiring that there should be letters written which should embrace everything not separately reported.
Has the effect of that rule been that letters which deal with multifarious business are the exceptions, and that letters on separate business are the rule? There is a much greater number of letters on separate subjects, than of miscellaneous letters; but the miscellaneous letters often extend to a greater number of paragraphs.
Is it your opinion that the education adopted in this country, for the civil servants of the Indian Government, is the best that could be adopted? I have great doubts of the necessity or expediency of an exclusive system of education for the civil service. I should be much more inclined to fix a standard of qualification, and admit all persons to receive appointments, if upon examination they are found to come up to that standard, placing the standard high, but allowing them to acquire the knowledge in any way and at any place.
You are not inclined to think that it should be a necessary preliminary that the candidates should have been educated at Haileybury? I am inclined to think the contrary.
Would there be the same facilities of acquiring the requisite knowledge at other places, which there are at Haileybury? If qualifications were required which could be obtained best at Haileybury, there would still be sufficient inducements to seek them there; but I would not make it compulsory. I am not aware of anything necessary for the candidates that can be learned nowhere except at Haileybury.
Does not Haileybury afford particular facilities for obtaining the necessary qualifications? It affords facilities, but they are so costly that it would be possible to obtain them at less expense elsewhere. I speak with deference to the opinions of persons who know more of Haileybury than I do; but my opinion is decidedly against, in any case, requiring as a qualification for employment that the person should have acquired his knowledge at some particular place or in some particular way. I would raise the standard of acquirements as high as possible; but having done that, I would admit a person who possessed the knowledge, in whatever manner he had acquired it.
Would your observation equally apply to the necessity of military education at Addiscombe,31or would you think that, in the case of military officers, it would be desirable still to continue that system? As it is necessary to have a special professional education for military purposes, it has been thought necessary everywhere to have institutions for the purpose; and some of the necessary professional qualifications perhaps cannot be acquired except by something like a college. But I would allow a person to acquire it at any institution at which it can be acquired; for instance, at Sandhurst, and at Woolwich.
All that you would require is, that there should be a certain degree of excellence to which they should come up, leaving the parties examined to have had their preliminary education where they may deem it expedient? Certainly.
Are you of opinion that the education acquired at Addiscombe is of a very superior kind? I have every reason to think so.
Do you consider that the acquaintances formed in consequence of persons educated for India belonging to the same college are advantageous, by affording facilities of communication in carrying on their duties in after life? It does not at all follow that they are placed in contact with one another afterwards; if they are, it is accidental, and there is the counterbalancing disadvantage that they begin too soon to associate exclusively with one another.
THE PETITION OF THE EAST-INDIA COMPANY
In Memorandum of the Improvements in the Administration of India during the Last Thirty Years, and the Petition of the East-India Company to Parliament (London: Cox and Wyman, 1858), 111-29. Appeared also in Debates at the East-India House, Relative to the Proposed Change in the Government of India (London: Cox and Wyman, 1858), 6-8; and in PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 148 (1858), in an unpaginated Appendix. The petition was presented to the House of Commons by Thomas George Baring (1826-1904) on 9 February, 1858, and to the House of Lords by Henry George Grey (1802-94), 3rd Earl Grey, on 11 February (PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 148, cols. 970-5 and 1121-37). Headed as title. Unsigned. Not republished by Mill. Identified in his bibliography as “The Petition of the East India Company to the two Houses of Parliament against the intended measure for depriving them of the Administration of India; printed by the company and presented in the Session of 1858” (MacMinn, 90). In the footnoted variant readings, “D” signifies Debates at the East-India House, “PD” signifies Parliamentary Debates. The square brackets around “Lordships” in the copy-text signal the deletion of the word when the petition was presented to the House of Commons.
The Petition of the East-India Company
To the Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled,
Thata your Petitioners, at their own expense, and by the agency of their own civil and military servants, originally acquired for this country its magnificent empire in the East.
That the foundations of this empire were laid by your Petitioners, at that time neither aided nor controlled by Parliament, at the same period at which a succession of administrations under the control of Parliament were losing to the Crown of Great Britain another great empire on the opposite side of the Atlantic.
That during the period of about a century which has since elapsed, the Indian possessions of this country have been governed and defended from the resources of those possessions, without the smallest cost to the British Exchequer, which, to the best of your Petitioners’ knowledge and belief, cannot be said of any other of the numerous foreign dependencies of the Crown.
That it being manifestly improper that the administration of any British possession should be independent of the general Government of the empire, Parliament provided, in 1783, that a department of the Imperial Government should have full cognizance of, and power of control over, the acts of your Petitioners in the administration of India;1 since which time the home branch of the Indian Government has been conducted by the joint counsels, and on the joint responsibility of your Petitioners and of a Minister of the Crown.
That this arrangement has at subsequent periods undergone reconsideration from the Legislature, and various comprehensive and careful Parliamentary inquiries have been made into its practical operation; the result of which has been, on each occasion, a renewed grant to your Petitioners of the powers exercised by them in the administration of India.2
That the last of these occasions was so recent as 1853, in which year the arrangements which had existed for nearly three-quarters of a century, were, with certain modifications, re-enacted, and still subsist.3
That, notwithstanding, your Petitioners have received an intimation from Her Majesty’s Ministers of their intention to propose to Parliament a Bill for the purpose of placing the government of Her Majesty’s East-Indian dominions under the direct authority of the Crown,4 —a change necessarily involving the abolition of the East-India Company as an instrument of government.
That your Petitioners have not been informed of the reasons which have induced Her Majesty’s Ministers, without any previous inquiry, to come to the resolution of putting an end to a system of administration, which Parliament, after inquiry, deliberately confirmed and sanctioned less than five years ago, and which, in its modified form, has not been in operation quite four years, and cannot be considered to have undergone a sufficient trial during that short period.
That your Petitioners do not understand that Her Majesty’s Ministers impute any failure to those arrangements, or bring any charge, either great or small, against your Petitioners. But the time at which the proposal is made, compels your Petitioners to regard it as arising from the calamitous events which have recently occurred in India.
That your Petitioners challenge the most searching investigation into the mutiny of the Bengal army, and the causes, whether remote or immediate, which produced that mutiny. They have instructed the Government of India to appoint a commission for conducting such an inquiry on the bspot .5 Andb it is their most anxious wish that a similar inquiry may be instituted in this country by your [Lordships] Honourable House;6 in order that it may be ascertained whether anything either in the constitution of the Home Government of India, or in the conduct of those by whom it has been administered, has had any share in producing the mutiny, or has in any way impeded the measures for its suppression; and whether the mutiny itself, or any circumstance connected with it, affords any evidence of the failure of the arrangements under which India is at present administered.
That, were it even true that these arrangements had failed, the failure could constitute no reason for divesting the East-India Company of its functions, and transferring them to Her Majesty’s cGovernment. For,c under the existing system, Her Majesty’s Government have the deciding voice. The duty imposed upon the Court of Directors is to originate measures and frame drafts of instructions. Even had they been remiss in this duty, their remissness, however discreditable to themselves, could in no way absolve the responsibility of Her Majesty’s Government, since the Minister for India possesses, and has frequently exercised, the power of requiring that the Court of Directors should take any subject into consideration, and prepare a draft despatch for his approval. Her Majesty’s Government are thus in the fullest sense accountable for all that has been done, and for all that has been forborne or omitted to be done. Your Petitioners, on the other hand, are accountable only in so far as the act or omission has been promoted by themselves.
That, under these circumstances, if the administration of India had been a failure, it would, your Petitioners submit, have been somewhat unreasonable to expect that a remedy would be found in annihilating the branch of the ruling authority which could not be the one principally in fault, and might be altogether blameless, in order to concentrate all powers in the branch which had necessarily the decisive share in every error, real or supposed. To believe that the administration of India would have been more free from error had it been conducted by a Minister of the Crown without the aid of the Court of Directors, would be to believe that the Minister, with full power to govern India as he pleased, has governed ill because he has had the assistance of experienced and responsible advisers.
That your Petitioners, however, do not seek to vindicate themselves at the expense of any other dauthority. Theyd claim their full share of the responsibility of the manner in which India has practically been governed. That responsibility is to them not a subject of humiliation, but of pride. They are conscious that their advice and initiative have been, and have deserved to be, a great and potent element in the conduct of affairs in India. And they feel complete assurance that the more attention is bestowed and the more light thrown upon India and its administration, the more evident it will become that the government in which they have borne a part has been not only one of the purest in intention, but one of the most beneficent in act, ever known among mankind; that, during the last and present generation in particular, it has been, in all departments, one of the most rapidly improving governments in the world; and that, at the time when this change is proposed, a greater number of important improvements are in a state of more rapid progress than at any former period. And they are satisfied that whatever further improvements may be hereafter effected in India can only consist in the development of germs already planted, and in building on foundations already laid, under their authority, and in a great measure by their express instructions.
That such, however, is not the impression likely to be made on the public mind, either in England or in India, by the ejection of your Petitioners from the place they fill in the Indian administration. It is not usual with statesmen to propose the complete abolition of a system of government, of which the practical operation is not condemned, and it might be generally inferred from the proposed measures, if carried into effect at the present time, that the East-India Company, having been intrusted with an important portion of the administration of India, have so abused their trust as to have produced a sanguinary insurrection, and nearly lost India to the British empire; and that having thus crowned a long career of misgovernment, they have, in deference to public indignation, been deservedly cashiered for their misconduct.
That if the character of the East-India Company were alone concerned, your Petitioners might be willing to await the verdict of history. They are satisfied that posterity will do them justice. And they are confident that even now justice is done to them in the minds, not only of Her Majesty’s Ministers, but of all who have any claim to be competent judges of the subject. But though your Petitioners could afford to wait for the reversal of the verdict of condemnation which will be believed throughout the world to have been passed on them and their government by the British nation, your Petitioners cannot look without the deepest uneasiness at the effect likely to be produced on the minds of the people of India. To them, however incorrectly the name may express the fact, the British Government in India is the Government of the East-India Company. To their minds the abolition of the Company will, for some time to come, mean the abolition of the whole system of administration with which the Company is identified. The measure, introduced simultaneously with the influx of an overwhelming British force, will be coincident with a general outcry, in itself most alarming to their fears, from most of the organs of opinion in this country as well as of English opinion in India, denouncing the past policy of the Government on the express ground that it has been too forbearing and too considerate towards the natives. The people of India will at first feel no certainty that the new Government, or the Government under a new name, which it is proposed to introduce, will hold itself bound by the pledges of its predecessors. They will be slow to believe that a Government has been destroyed only to be followed by another which will act on the same principles and adhere to the same measures. They cannot suppose that the existing organ of administration would be swept away without the intention of reversing any part of its policy. They will see the authorities, both at home and in India, surrounded by persons vehemently urging radical changes in many parts of that epolicy. Ande interpreting, as they must do, the change in the instrument of government, as a concession to these opinions and feelings, they can hardly fail to believe that, whatever else may be intended, the Government will no longer be permitted to observe that strict impartiality between those who profess its own creed and those who hold the creeds of its native subjects which hitherto characterized it; that their strongest and most deeply-rooted feelings will henceforth be treated with much less regard than heretofore; and that a directly aggressive policy towards everything in their habits, or in their usages and customs, which Englishmen deem objectionable, will be no longer confined to individuals and private associations, but will be backed by all the power of Government.
And here your Petitioners think it important to observe, that in abstaining as they have done from all interference with any of the religious practices of the people of India, except such as are abhorrent to humanity, they have acted not only from their own conviction of what is just and expedient, but in accordance with the avowed intentions and express enactments of the Legislature, framed “in order that regard should be had to the civil and religious usages of the natives,” and also “that suits, civil or criminal, against the natives,” should be conducted according to such rules “as may accommodate the same to the religion and manners of the natives.”7 That their policy in this respect has been successful, is evidenced by the fact, that during a military mutiny, said to have been caused by unfounded apprehensions of danger to religion, the heads of the native states, and the masses of the population, have remained faithful to the British Government. Your Petitioners need hardly observe how very different would probably have been the issue of the late events, if the native princes, instead of aiding in the suppression of the rebellion, had put themselves at its head, or if the general population had joined in the revolt; and how probable it is that both these contingencies would have occurred, if any real ground had been given for the persuasion that the British Government intended to identify itself with fproselytism. Andf it is the honest conviction of your Petitioners that any serious apprehension of a change of policy in this respect would be likely to be followed, at no distant period, by a general rising throughout India.
That your Petitioners have seen with the greatest pain the demonstrations of indiscriminate animosity towards the natives of India, on the part of our countrymen in India and at home, which have grown up since the late unhappy events. They believe these sentiments to be fundamentally unjust; they know them to be fatal to the possibility of good government in India. They feel that if such demonstrations should continue, and especially if weight be added to them by legislating under their supposed influence, no amount of wisdom and forbearance on the part of the Government will avail to restore that confidence of the governed in the intentions of their rulers without which it is vain even to attempt the improvement of the people.
That your Petitioners cannot contemplate without dismay the doctrine now widely promulgated that India should be administered with an especial view to the benefit of the English who reside there; or that in its administration any gadvantageg should be sought for Her Majesty’s subjects of European birth, except that which they will necessarily derive from their superiority of intelligence, and from the increased prosperity of the people, the improvement of the productive resources of the country, and the extension of commercial intercourse. Your Petitioners regard it as the most honourable characteristic of the government of India by England, that it has acknowledged no such distinction as that of a dominant and a subject race; but has held that its first duty was to the people of India. Your Petitioners feel that a great portion of the hostility with which they are assailed, is caused by the belief that they are peculiarly the guardians of this principle, and that so long as they have any voice in the administration of India, it cannot easily be hinfringed. Andh your Petitioners will not conceal their belief that their exclusion from any part in the Government is likely at the present time to be regarded in India as a first successful attack on that principle.
That your Petitioners, therefore, most earnestly represent to your [Lordships] Honourable House, that even if the contemplated change could be proved to be in itself advisable, the present is a most unsuitable time for entertaining it; and they most strongly and respectfully urge on your [Lordships] Honourable House the expediency of at least deferring any such change until it can be effected at a period when it would not be, in the minds of the people of India, directly connected with the recent calamitous events, and with the feelings to which those events have either given rise or have afforded an opportunity of manifestation. Such postponement, your Petitioners submit, would allow time for a more mature consideration than has yet been given, or can be given in the present excited state of the public mind, to the various questions connected with the organization of a government for India; and would enable the most competent minds in the nation calmly to examine whether any new arrangement can be devised for the Home Government of India uniting a greater number of the conditions of good administration than the present; and, if so, which among the numerous schemes which have been, or may be, proposed, possesses those requisites in the greatest degree.8
That your Petitioners have always willingly acquiesced in any changes which, after discussion by Parliament, were deemed conducive to the general welfare, although such changes may have involved important sacrifices to themselves. They would refer to their partial relinquishment of trade in 1813;9 to its total abandonment, and the placing of their Commercial Charter in abeyance, in 1833;10 to the transfer to India of their commercial assets, amounting to £15,858,000, a sum greatly exceeding that ultimately repayable to them in respect of their capital, independent of territorial rights and claims;11 and to their concurrence, in 1853, in the measure by which the Court of Directors was reconstructed, and reduced to its present number.12 In the same spirit, your Petitioners would most gladly co-operate with Her Majesty’s Government in correcting any defects which may be considered to exist in the details of the present system; and they would be prepared, without a murmur, to relinquish their trust altogether, if a better system for the control of the Government of India can be devised. But, as they believe that in the construction of such a system there are conditions which cannot, without the most dangerous consequences be departed from, your Petitioners respectfully iand deferentiallyi submit to the judgment of your [Lordships] Honourable House their view of those conditions; in the hope that if your [Lordships] Honourable House should see reason to agree in that view, you will withhold your legislative sanction from any arrangement for the Government of India which does not fulfil the conditions in question in at least an equal degree with the present.
That your Petitioners may venture to assume that it will not be proposed to vest the home portion of the administration of India in a Minister of the Crown, without the adjunct of a Council composed of statesmen experienced in Indian affairs. Her Majesty’s Ministers cannot but be aware that the knowledge necessary for governing a foreign country, and in particular a country like India, requires as much special study as any other profession, and cannot possibly be possessed by any one who has not devoted a considerable portion of his life to the acquisition of it.
That in constituting a body of experienced advisers to be associated with the Indian Minister, your Petitioners consider it indispensable to bear in mind that this body should not only be qualified to advise the Minister, but also, by its advice, to exercise, to a certain degree, a moral check. It cannot be expected that the Minister, as a general rule, should himself know India; while he will be exposed to perpetual solicitations from individuals and bodies, either entirely ignorant of that country, or knowing only enough of it to impose on those who know still less than themselves, and having very frequently objects in view other than the interests or good government of India. The influences likely to be brought to bear on him through the organs of popular opinion will, in the majority of cases, be equally misleading. The public opinion of England, itself necessarily unacquainted with Indian affairs, can only follow the promptings of those who take most pains to influence it, and these will generally be such as have some private interest to serve. It is, therefore, your Petitioners submit, of the utmost importance that any council which may form a part of the Home Government of India should derive sufficient weight from its constitution, and from the relation it occupies to the Minister, to be a substantial barrier against those inroads of self-interest and ignorance in this country from which the Government of India has hitherto been comparatively free, but against which it would be too much to expect that Parliament should of itself afford a sufficient protection.
That your Petitioners cannot well conceive a worse form of government for India than a Minister with a Council whom he should be at liberty to consult or not at his pleasure, or whose advice he should be able to disregard, without giving his reasons in writing, and in a manner likely to carry conviction. Such an arrangement, your Petitioners submit, would be really liable to the objections, in their opinion, erroneously urged against the present system.13 Your Petitioners respectfully represent that any body of persons associated with the Minister, which is not a check, will be a screen.14 Unless the Council is so constituted as to be personally independent of the Minister, unless it feels itself responsible for recording an opinion on every Indian subject, and pressing that opinion on the Minister, whether it is agreeable to him or not; and unless the Minister, when he overrules their opinion, is bound to record his reasons, their existence will only serve to weaken his responsibility, and to give the colourable sanction of prudence and experience to measures in the framing of which those qualities have had no share.
That it would be vain to expect that a new Council could have as much moral influence, and power of asserting its opinion with effect, as the Court of Directors. A new body can no more succeed to the feelings and authority which their antiquity and their historical antecedents give to the East-India Company, than a legislature under a new name, sitting in Westminster, would have the moral ascendancy of the Houses of Lords and Commons. One of the most important elements of usefulness will thus be necessarily wanting in any newly constituted Indian Council, as compared with the present.
That your Petitioners find it difficult to conceive that the same independence in judgment and act, which characterizes the Court of Directors, will be found in any Council all of whose members are nominated by the Crown. Owing their nomination to the same authority, many of them probably to the same individual Minister, whom they are appointed to check, and looking to him alone for their re-appointment, their desire of recommending themselves to him, and their unwillingness to risk his displeasure by any serious resistance to his wishes, will be motives too strong not to be in danger of exercising a powerful and injurious influence over their conduct. Nor are your Petitioners aware of any mode in which that injurious influence could be guarded against, except by conferring the appointments, like those of the Judges, during good behaviour; which, by rendering it impossible to correct an error once committed, would be seriously objectionable.
That your Petitioners are equally unable to perceive how, if the controlling body is entirely nominated by the Minister, that happy independence of Parliamentary and party influence, which has hitherto distinguished the administration of India and the appointment to situations of trust and importance in that country, can be expected to continue. Your Petitioners believe that in no government known to history have appointments to offices, and especially to high offices, been so rarely bestowed on any other considerations than those of personal fitness. This characteristic, but for which in all probability India would long since have been lost to this country, is, your Petitioners conceive, entirely owing to the circumstance that the dispensers of patronage have been persons unconnected with party, and under no necessity of conciliating parliamentary support; that, consequently, the appointments to offices in India have been, as a rule, left to the unbiassed judgment of the local authorities; while the nominations to the civil and military services have been generally bestowed on the middle classes, irrespective of political considerations, and, in a large proportion, on the relatives of persons who had distinguished themselves by their services in India.
That your Petitioners, therefore, think it essential that at least a majority of the Council which assists the Minister for India with its advice, should hold their seats independently of his appointment.
That it is, in the opinion of your Petitioners, no less necessary that the order of the transaction of business should be such as to make the participation of the Council in the administration of India a substantial one. That to this end, it is, in the opinion of your Petitioners, indispensable that the despatches to India should not be prepared by the Minister and laid before the Council, but should be prepared by the Council and submitted to the Minister. This would be in accordance with the natural and obvious principle that persons chosen for their knowledge of a subject should suggest the mode of dealing with it, instead of merely giving their opinion on suggestions coming from elsewhere. This is also the only mode in which the members of the Council can feel themselves sufficiently important or sufficiently responsible to secure their applying their minds to the subjects before them. It is almost unnecessary for your Petitioners to observe, that the mind is called into far more vigorous action by being required to propose than by merely being called on to assent. The Minister has necessarily the ultimate decision. If he has also the initiative, he has all the powers which are of any practical moment. A body whose only recognized function was to find fault, would speedily let that function fall into desuetude. They would feel that their co-operation in conducting the Government of India was not really desired; that they were only felt as a clog on the wheels of business. Their criticism on what had been decided without their being collectively consulted would be felt as importunate, as a mere delay and impediment; and their office would probably be seldom sought but by those who were willing to allow its most important duties to become nominal.
That with the duty of preparing the despatches to India, would naturally be combined the nomination and control of the home establishments. This your Petitioners consider absolutely essential to the utility of the Council. If the officers through whom they work are in direct dependence upon an authority higher than theirs, all matters of importance will in reality be settled between the Minister and the subordinates, passing over the Council altogether.
That a third consideration, to which your Petitioners attach great importance, is, that the number of the Council should not be too restricted. India is so wide a field, that a practical acquaintance with every part of its affairs cannot be found combined in any small number of individuals. The Council ought to contain men of general experience and knowledge of the world; also men specially qualified by financial and revenue experience, by judicial experience, diplomatic experience, military jexperience. Itj ought to contain persons conversant with the varied social relations and varied institutions of Bengal, Madras, Bombay, the North-Western Provinces, the Punjab, and the native states. Even the present Court of Directors, reduced as it is in numbers by the Act of 1853, does not contain all the varieties of knowledge and experience desirable in such a kbody. Neither,k your Petitioners submit, would it be safe to limit the number to that which would be strictly sufficient, supposing all the appointments to be the best possible. A certain margin should be allowed for failures, which, even with the most conscientious selection, will sometimes occur. Your Petitioners, moreover, cannot overlook the possibility that, if the nomination takes place by Ministers at the head of a political party, it will not always be made with exclusive reference to personal qualifications; and it is indispensable to provide that such errors or faults in the nominating authority, so long as they are only occasional, shall not seriously impair the efficiency of the body.
That while these considerations plead strongly for a body not less numerous than the present, even if only regarded as advisers of the Minister, their other office, as a check on the Minister, forms, your Petitioners submit, a no less forcible objection to any considerable reduction of the present number. A body of six or eight will not be equal to one of eighteen, in that feeling of independent self-reliance which is necessary to induce a public body to press its opinion on a Minister to whom that opinion is unacceptable. However unobjectionably in other respects so small a body may be constituted, reluctance to give offence will be likely, unless in extreme cases, to be a stronger habitual inducement in their minds than the desire to stand up for their convictions.
That if, in the opinion of your [Lordships] Honourable House, a body can be constituted which unites the above enumerated requisites of good government in a greater degree than the Court of Directors, your Petitioners have only to express their humble hope that your endeavours for that purpose may be successful. But if, in enumerating the conditions of a good system of Home Government for India, your Petitioners have in fact enumerated the qualities possessed by the present system, then your Petitioners pray that your [Lordships] Honourable House will continue the existing powers of the Court of Directors.
That your Petitioners are aware that the present Home Government of India is reproached with being a double Government; and that any arrangement by which an independent check is provided to the discretion of the Minister will be liable to a similar reproach. But they conceive that this accusation originates in an entire misconception of the functions devolving on the Home Government of India, and in the application to it of the principles applicable to purely executive departments. The Executive Government of India is, and must be, seated in India itself. The Court of Directors is not so much an executive, as a deliberative body. Its principal function, and that of the Home Government generally, is not to direct the details of administration, but to scrutinize and revise the past acts of the Indian lGovernmentsl ; to lay down principles, and issue general instructions for their future guidance, and to give or refuse sanction to great political measures, which are referred home for approval. These duties are more analogous to the functions of Parliament, than to those of an Executive Board: and it might almost as well be said that Parliament, as that the Government of India, should be constituted on the principles applicable to Executive Boards. It is considered an excellence, not a defect, in the constitution of Parliament, to be not merely a double but a triple Government. An executive authority, your Petitioners submit, may often with advantage be single, because promptitude is its first requisite. But the function of passing a deliberate opinion on past measures, and laying down principles of future policy, is a business which, in the estimation of your Petitioners, admits of, and requires the concurrence of more judgments than one. It is no defect in such a body to be double, and no excellence to be single; especially when it can only be made so by cutting off that branch of it which by previous training is always the best prepared, and often the only one which is prepared at all, for its peculiar duty.
That your Petitioners have heard it asserted that, in consequence of what is called the double Government, the Indian authorities are less responsible to Parliament and the nation, than other departments of the Government of the Empire, since it is impossible to know on which of the two branches of Home Government the responsibility ought to rest. Your Petitioners fearlessly affirm, that this impression is not only groundless, but the very reverse of the truth. The Home Government of India is not less, but more responsible, than any other branch of the administration of the State; inasmuch as the President of the Board of Commissioners,15 who is the minister for India, is as completely responsible as any other of Her Majesty’s Ministers, and in addition, his advisers also are responsible. It is always certain, in the case of India, that the President of the Board of Commissioners must have either commanded or sanctioned all that has been done. No more than this, your Petitioners submit, can be known in the case of the head of any department of Her Majesty’s Government. For it is not, nor can it rationally be supposed, that any Minister of the Crown is without trusted advisers; and the Minister for India must, for obvious reasons, be more dependent than any other of Her Majesty’s Ministers, upon the advice of persons whose lives have been devoted to the subject on which their advice has been given. But in the case of India, such madvisersm are assigned to him by the constitution of the Government, and they are as much responsible for what they advise as he for what he ordains: while in other departments the Minister’s only official advisers are the subordinates in his office—men often of great skill and experience, but not in the public eye; often unknown to the public even by name; official reserve precludes the possibility of ascertaining what advice they give, and they are responsible only to the Minister himself. By what application of terms this can be called responsible government, and the joint government of your Petitioners and the India Board an irresponsible government, your Petitioners think it unnecessary to ask.
That without knowing the plan on which Her Majesty’s Ministers contemplate the transfer to the Crown of the servants of the Company, your Petitioners find themselves unable to approach the delicate question of the Indian Army, further than to point out that the high military qualities of the officers of that army have unquestionably sprung in a great degree from its being a principal and substantive army, holding Her Majesty’s commissions and enjoying equal rank with Her Majesty’s officers, and your Petitioners would earnestly deprecate any change in that position.
That your Petitioners, having regard to all these considerations, humbly pray your [Lordships] Honourable House, that you will not give your sanction to any change in the constitution of the Indian Government during the continuance of the present unhappy disturbances, nor without a full previous inquiry into the operation of the present system. And your Petitioners further pray that this inquiry may extend to every department of Indian administration. Such an inquiry your Petitioners respectfully claim, not only as a matter of justice to themselves, but because, when, for the first time in this century, the thoughts of every public man in the country are fixed on India, an inquiry would be more thorough, and its results would carry much more instruction to the mind of Parliament, and of the country, than at any preceding period.
MEMORANDUM OF THE IMPROVEMENTS IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF INDIA DURING THE LAST THIRTY YEARS
In Memorandum of the Improvements in the Administration of India during the Last Thirty Years, and the Petition of the East-India Company to Parliament (London: Cox and Wyman, 1858), 1-101. On a contents page appear the sections here indicated by sub-titles, plus “Correspondence” and “Petition” (for the latter see the previous item). Appeared also in PP, 1857-58, XLIII, 1-38. Unsigned. Not republished by Mill. Identified in Mill’s bibliography as “A small Volume, entitled ‘Memorandum of the Improvements in the Administration of India during the last Thirty years;’ printed by the E.I. Company and also laid before the House of Commons; of this I was partly the author and partly the Editor, the facts being furnished by the departments of the India House” (MacMinn, 90). There are no corrections in the Somerville College copy. On the title-page of the copy in the Chadwick Tracts, British Library CT 277 (1), Chadwick has written: “Copy of the Minute written by John S. Mill at the suggestion of E. Chadwick” (there seem more likely explanations).
Memorandum of the Improvements in the Administration of India during the Last Thirty Years
at this time, when a calamity unexampled in the history of British India has excited an unusual amount of interest in Indian affairs, while the statements publicly made, and the opinions expressed, concerning the administration of the Indian Government, strikingly manifest the deficiency of correct information on the subject; a brief survey of the principal measures which have been of late adopted for improving the internal government of the country, and the physical and mental condition of its inhabitants, may be serviceable in removing false impressions, and in supplying materials for a deliberate judgment.
It may be thought that this survey would most fitly commence from the last renewal of the powers of the East-India Company, with some modifications, in 1853;1 and it must be said that the years which have since elapsed have been marked by a degree of activity in every description of public improvement, not only greater than that exhibited previously, but unsurpassed, it is believed, in any country and in any age. An interval, however, of only four years is evidently too short to afford an intelligible view of a course of progressive improvement. The foundation of all the great measures which were in active progress during that interval, was laid at an earlier period: and the new measures which have been initiated during that brief term have not yet had time to exhibit tangible results. It is therefore necessary to trace the stream of Indian improvement from a point much higher up in its course; beginning at the origin of the measures which have contributed most, in each department, to give to the administration of India its present enlightened character.
REVENUE ADMINISTRATION, AND RIGHTS OF THE RURAL POPULATION
Connection of the Revenue System with the Rights and Condition of the People
In a country like India, the departments of public business on which the good government of the country, and the security and contentment of the people, principally depend, are the revenue administration and the judicial administration. The importance of a good and easily accessible administration of justice is the same in India as elsewhere; but the manner in which the entire economical condition of nearly the whole population is determined by the management of the revenue department, cannot, by persons unacquainted with India, be understood without special explanations.
Everywhere, indeed, it is of first-rate importance to a people that the taxes should be of moderate amount; that they should be certain, not arbitrary; and that they should be so assessed and levied as neither to favour one person or class at the expense of another, nor to interfere injuriously with industry. These requisites, too, are obviously of more than their ordinary importance, where the bulk of the tax-paying population consists of persons depending for subsistence on their own exertions in tilling the soil. But these general considerations afford only an imperfect conception of the relation of the tax-paying cultivator in India to the revenue system. Throughout the greater part of India, there is no intermediate landlord between the immediate cultivator and the State. The cultivator does not pay rent to one person and taxes to another: his taxes are his rent (or a part of his rent); and his condition is affected by the good or bad quality of the fiscal administration, in every way in which the condition of a European tenantry can be affected by a good or a bad landlord. And there is an additional fact, of greater importance than all the rest. The titles to land, and to all rights issuing out of land, (that is, to all the property of the country, except a small percentage), are in India a branch of the revenue administration. The revenue records, which show who were the persons held responsible for the revenue by the officers of former governments, are the general register of title. They always constitute the principal, and in many cases the sole, reliable evidence of right to the land. While the British Government confined itself, as it necessarily did on the first acquisition of any district, to annual or short settlements, it had no need to look beyond the fact of actual possession; but when it began to grant leases or settlements for long terms of years, it was bound to ascertain that the persons whom it admitted to these engagements were those really entitled to the land. This could only be done by minute local inquiries; and justice required that these should be judicially made, and a full hearing given to all parties on the spot. The revenue officers of Government being thus under the necessity, for revenue purposes, of investigating and ascertaining all titles to land, it has been deemed proper that the adjudication so performed should have the force of a judicial decision; though, if any of the persons interested considers himself aggrieved by the decision, he can seek redress by a suit in the regular courts. It is hence apparent, that in India every revenue officer is also, in the most important sense of the word, a judicial officer. The security of the most important and extensive class of proprietary rights throughout the country, depends upon the manner in which the revenue branch of the Government performs its judicial functions; and the history of the revenue administration of India is the history of its landed property, and of the economical condition of the whole agricultural population.
Permanent Settlement of the Lower Provinces of Bengal
An important mistake, committed with the most generous intentions by the administration of Lord Cornwallis towards the end of the last century,2 has divested the Government, in the oldest and most fertile of its Indian possessions, of this great power of influencing beneficially the condition of the cultivators of the soil. In the provinces of Bengal and Behar, to which were subsequently added Benares, and some districts of the Madras Presidency, the Government gave away its rights over the soil to private landlords, reserving only from each estate an annual payment, which it solemnly bound itself never to increase. It is not necessary here to enter into the disputed questions respecting the original character and rights of these landlords or zemindars. There is no doubt that many of them were persons of hereditary influence and station in the country, and that their connection with the lands, of which they were now recognized as the proprietors, had in general been of a permanent character. But their position was nevertheless essentially that of middlemen; collecting the revenue, not for themselves, but for the Mogul Government; accounting to that Government for their receipts, and remunerated by a percentage (generally ten per cent) of the collections. It is now universally admitted that they never had the power of disposing arbitrarily of the land. There were, everywhere, at least large classes of tenants, whom they could not lawfully eject, except for non-payment of revenue, and from whom they could not lawfully exact more than the customary payments.
These rights of the occupying tenants it was the full intention of Lord Cornwallis to preserve. But the Government demand being now fixed in perpetuity, and claimable from the landlord only, the revenue officers had no longer any power of interposing in favour of the tenantry; and their rights were henceforth left for protection solely to the courts of justice. But the courts of justice could proceed only by regular suit, on the complaint of the injured party. The poverty of the people, their passive character, and the extreme difficulty of proving by legal evidence, before a distant tribunal, what were the customary rates, have rendered this protection illusory; the rights of the Bengal ryots have (as has been said) passed away sub silentio,3 and they have become, to all intents and purposes, tenants at will. These facts are not adverted to for the purpose of casting blame on a generation long gone by, whose mistakes are sufficiently explained and excused by the short experience they had then had of India, and the extreme difficulty which persons nurtured only in English ideas and institutions, have in correctly apprehending a state of facts so entirely unlike anything which ever existed in England, as the whole framework of Indian society presents. But justice to the subsequent Governments of India requires it to be understood, that in the most fertile and valuable portion of the Indian territory, they inherited from their predecessors an agrarian system, consisting of great landlords and cottier tenants, forming as close a parallel as the difference between Europe and Asia will admit, to the condition of Munster and Connaught; and that the Government has had, during the last sixty years, no more power of correcting the evils of this system, than the Government of the mother country had, during the same period, of remedying the evils of a similar system in Ireland. The tenacity, however, of old impressions, which characterizes the Hindoos, has kept alive the idea of a right still existing in the actual cultivator to hold his land at a rent fixed by custom, not by arbitrary will; and this traditionary feeling, from which the landlords themselves are not exempt, must form the basis of anything that can be hereafter done to improve the tenure of the Bengal ryot.
Present Improvements in Bengal
What the Government had it in its power to do, for alleviating the operation of the existing system, it has done. It takes systematic measures for the education of zemindars who are wards of Government. It has made imperative on the landlords to give to every tenant a written engagement, specifying the amount of rent and the conditions of tenure; and it has made these engagements legally binding.4 It has done more. Owing to the hasty and careless mode in which the permanent settlement was in the first instance conducted, the boundaries both of estates and of villages or townships were undefined, and not only the litigation but the affrays, occasioned by boundary disputes, had grown into a public evil. The revenue officers were so ill informed on the subject, that in some cases estates advertised for sale on account of arrears of revenue, were purchased, and possession was demanded, when it was found that the estate existed only in the collector’s books, having been swept away by the changes in the bed of the river, or absorbed by the encroachments of the neighbouring landholders. To remedy these evils, a survey was determined on, and has been for several years in progress, for the purpose of ascertaining what estates are in existence, and determining their boundaries. This survey has already produced very appreciable benefit, and holds out the promise of much more.*
The Governments which have administered Indian affairs in the present generation, have abstained from imitating elsewhere the errors which were committed in the permanent settlement of Bengal. Their object has been, as new provinces were successively brought under British rule, to ascertain accurately the persons, and classes of persons, who by law or usage had a beneficial interest in the land, and the nature and extent of the beneficial interest of each; and having thus determined who were the persons with whom the settlement of the revenue should be concluded, to define the demand of Government on each, and limit it to the smallest amount consistent with the public necessities.
The subsequent revenue administration of India is a succession of conscientious endeavours to fulfil these duties; endeavours which, in a large portion of India, have been rewarded by signal success, and in the remainder are in rapid progress towards it.
Ryotwar System in Madras
Nearly the whole territory of the Madras Presidency became part of the British possessions at a period subsequent to Lord Cornwallis’s permanent settlement; and its revenue system was principally founded by two of the ablest men who have ever taken part in the government of India—Colonel Reade5 and Sir Thomas Munro. Under this system, the land is not made over to great landlords, but the actual cultivator, the peasant himself, is regarded as the proprietor of the soil, subject to the payment of the Government demand. He has the option annually of increasing or diminishing his holding; and, in the words of the Madras Government in their last general report, “has all the benefits of a perpetual lease, without its responsibilities, inasmuch as he can, at any time, throw up his lands, but cannot be ejected as long as he pays his dues.”6 He also receives assistance, by remission of assessment in unfavourable seasons. The practical operation of this, which is known as the ryotwar system, evidently depends on the certainty and moderation of the Government demand. For many years these two conditions were very insufficiently realized. The extreme difficulty, to a European revenue officer, of ascertaining the real capabilities of each petty holding, and his unavoidable dependence, for much of his information, upon native subordinates, made it inevitable that great errors should be committed in the first assessments. Some were unnecessarily low, but a much greater number were too high; and if not so at first, many afterwards became so, when the security which our rule had given from the ravages of war and internal depredation, had produced its natural effect in the extension of cultivation, and consequent lowering of the price of agricultural produce; whereby, notwithstanding the increased well-being of the ryots, the same money rent became a burthensome exaction, which was comparatively little felt when the produce bore a higher price. These circumstances were, as justice required, allowed for, and reductions made, but not always sufficiently early, nor to a sufficient amount. And so long as the Government demand was too heavy, it was also uncertain, owing to the necessity of an annual inquiry to test the justice of claims to remission.
Up to this time, it could not be said that the British Government in India had anywhere succeeded in establishing the revenue administration on a sound basis. But inquiries and discussions of the utmost importance were going on, and knowledge was being acquired, the want of which at former periods had led to all the mistakes. It was in the settlement of the North-western Provinces that the fruits of this increased knowledge were first gathered in.
Settlement of the North-western Provinces
The greater part of what are called the North-western Provinces became part of the British dominions through the consequences of Lord Wellesley’s Mahratta wars, in the first years of the present century.7 For a considerable number of years after the conquest, the revenue arrangements were of necessity provisional. Such serious consequences having been experienced in Bengal from hastening to establish a permanent system, when the knowledge acquired was not sufficient for framing it rightly, there need be no wonder if, in a new field, considerable time was in the first instance devoted to becoming acquainted with the capabilities of the country, and the prescriptive rights of the different classes of its inhabitants. The delay was amply justified by its results. The settlement of the North-western Provinces, commenced and completed between 1834 and 1844, by some of the most distinguished of the Company’s servants, among whom the most conspicuous in merit was Mr. Robert Mertens Bird, is the first great monument which the British rule in India has exhibited, of wise, deliberate, but thorough reform, grounded on complete knowledge of the subject, and equally efficacious in removing present evils and in providing for future improvement.8
It is now known that in the greater part of India, and without doubt originally throughout the whole, the property in the land (so far as that term is applicable at all in India) resides neither in the individual ryot, nor in the great officers who collected revenue for the former native governments, but in the village communities. The village community is not co-extensive with the cultivating inhabitants of the village: it consists of the descendants or representatives of those by whom the village was, at some remote period, conquered, or reclaimed from waste. In most cases these proprietors are a part, and in some the whole, of the agricultural population of the village. When they are only a part, the remainder consists of persons, or the descendants of persons, who have taken up their residence in the village at later periods, and had no other original right than the permission of the proprietors; but some of whom have, by grant or prescription, acquired a fixity of tenure, while others have remained tenants at will. The village proprietors formed prescriptively the municipal government of the village; a fact of great importance, village government being the only institution, properly so called, which the Hindoos possessed.
It was with the village communities, as thus defined, that the settlement of the North-western Provinces was made; with a reservation and definition of all rights which had been acquired by any of the ryots under them. The time occupied in the operation was about ten years, and the expense incurred in it was upwards of £500,000. It comprehended a detailed survey of a country about 72,000 square miles in extent, containing a population of more than twenty-three millions. The difficulty and complication of the process will appear from the appended note.*
The proprietary rights, as ascertained and recorded at the survey, were confirmed in perpetuity; but the Government assessment was fixed, in some cases for twenty, generally for thirty, years. In a few of the districts, the term of settlement has expired, or is on the point of expiring. On resettlement, the assessment is liable to revision, and may be increased if the net produce of the land has augmented, but not proportionally to the increase of the net produce; and a pledge has besides been given, that a liberal consideration will be allowed for “improvements attributable only to the efforts of the tenant himself, and especially with regard to such as are of a comparatively recent date.”9
The effect of the settlement upon the general pressure of the Government demand was to remove irregularities, and in general to lighten the aggregate burthen; the only exceptions being Goruckpore and Azimgurh, in which districts, though they are known to be still lightly taxed, a considerable increase was effected. The beneficial results may be traced in the improved condition of the population, and the ease and punctuality with which a revenue of more than £4,000,000 is collected, as evidenced by the small amount of outstanding balances, and the great diminution in the number of coercive processes for the enforcement of payment.
Settlement of the Punjab
After this great economical and social reform had been for some years in operation, the important territory of the Punjab became, by the event of the Sikh war, a part of British India. This took place in 1849. And now was seen the full value of the superior knowledge of native rights and institutions, which had been acquired since the period of Lord Cornwallis’s settlement. The task of bringing the Punjab under British rule was confided to men wisely selected from the body of public servants who had effected and administered the settlement of the North-western Provinces. The principles of the settlement, being grounded on a correct knowledge of the prescriptive rights of all classes, were found equally applicable to the adjacent territory of the Punjab. In India, as in other countries, great reforms have usually been of slow introduction. Our revenue improvements, so long as they were merely tentative, were necessarily slow. But their authors were now able to proceed with the ease and decision of men who thoroughly understood their work. There is something striking in the rapidity with which the latest and best principles of Indian policy, both in revenue and judicial administration, were at once applied to the Punjab by the consummate administrators to whom the discernment of the Marquis of Dalhousie had committed the government of the province.10 Before a year had elapsed from the first acquisition of the country, great progress had already been made in the introduction of the system of the North-western Provinces, with its most recent improvements. The greater part of the Punjab in extent, and by far the greatest in point of importance, has since been settled for terms of years. The leases were usually shorter than in the North-western Provinces; but the assessment was lowered, as compared with that of the native Government, by Rs. 72,37,244, or £723,724; being not less than twenty-five per cent. It has been ascertained that the Government demand does not exceed one-fifth of the gross value of the produce in rich tracts, and one-sixth, or one-eighth, or even less, in poor tracts. The result has been a peace and security never before known in the province; a rapid increase of cultivation and production; and a contentment with our rule, which has enabled this newly-conquered territory, inhabited by the most warlike population of India, to become the base of our operations for the recovery of our older territories, and has made the Sikhs, so lately in arms against us, an important part of our strength for subduing the general revolt of the Bengal army.
Bombay Ryotwar Reform
While these great improvements were taking place in the north of India, a reform of equal magnitude was being inaugurated in the west and south. The reformed revenue administration of those territories is not grounded on the village, but on the ryotwar principle. The ryotwar system, or that which recognizes the actual cultivator of the soil as its proprietor, and collects the Government revenue directly from him, is the general system of the South of India. Circumstances already mentioned had, during many years, prevented this system, even under the able management of Sir Thomas Munro, from operating beneficially on the prosperity of the people. As, in Northern India, the territories latest acquired were those which first had the benefit of our improved knowledge and experience; so, the earliest example of a successful ryotwar system was in the districts (forming the greater part of the Bombay territories) which came under British government at the close of Lord Hastings’s Mahratta war, in 1818.
The village communities still existed in those territories; and if the village system had been as well understood in 1818 as it was in 1838, the settlement of the Deccan would probably have been made on the same principles as that of the North-western Provinces. Such, however, was not the case: Sir Thomas Munro’s principles were then in the ascendant; the settlement was, for the most part, ryotwar; and until about twenty years ago, little had been done to improve the fiscal administration of these territories, beyond the removal occasionally, as they were brought to notice, of vexatious and oppressive taxes, which had been added to, or incorporated with, the land revenue, during the declining period of the Mahratta power. The assessments which we found in force were generally, even after these reductions, excessive; and large remissions were annually required, which necessitated every year an inquisitorial investigation into the affairs of each ryot who claimed a share in the remissions. The agricultural population, being always liable to be called on for an amount of rent which could only be paid in the most prosperous seasons, were constantly in arrear, and were therefore without any incentive to improve their condition.
To remedy these evils, a survey of the country and general revision of the assessment, were undertaken.11 The operation commenced in the Deccan and Southern Mahratta country, where it is now nearly, if not quite, completed; and it is gradually being extended to the northern districts of the Presidency, as the experienced officers, European and native, who have been trained to this difficult duty, can be spared for the purpose. In the northern districts, however, the progress of the survey has been retarded by the greater complication of the landed tenures there prevalent, and by the existence of various classes of middlemen, who, like the talookdars of Oude, are hostile to our improvements, because, though preserving to them their pecuniary rights, they interfere with their power.
Where any ancient proprietors, either middlemen or village communities, were found in existence, and in possession of their proprietary rights, at the time of the survey, those rights have been respected; but in general, the principle of the reformed Bombay system is ryotwar. The land, cultivated and waste together, is divided into portions called fields, the extent of a field being for the most part fixed at the quantity of land which can be cultivated with one yoke of bullocks. On each field the Government demand is fixed, for a period of thirty years, at a very moderate rate. While the contract is binding on the Government, the ryot, on his side, can throw up the land at pleasure; and he is not required to pay the assessment for any year, on any field which he has not cultivated, or undertaken to cultivate, in that year. The appended note explains the details of the process.*
The fixation of the Government demand for thirty years would have been of little service to the ryot, if the demand had remained so high as to require, almost every year, remissions of uncertain amount. But it has been fixed on a very low scale, the reduction of the assessment generally exceeding considerably the average amount of remissions and balances under the former system. The effect of this reform is visible in the large increase of cultivation which has always taken place after the completion of the survey of a district; in the realization of the revenue, with scarcely any balance remaining in arrear (in some years with absolutely none); and in the fact, that in all the surveyed districts lands are frequently underlet. These important results have been purchased by an immediate sacrifice of revenue; but the encouragement which a fixed and moderate assessment gives to the occupation of waste land, is gradually making up to Government for the loss; and in some of the surveyed districts, the revenue under the new settlement already exceeds that under the old.
The eminent success of the reformed ryotwar system of Bombay has established the fact, which many Indian authorities trained in a different system had doubted, that the ryotwar, or peasant-proprietary system, may be so organized, and so worked, as to be neither oppressive nor arbitrary; and that, when so organized and worked, it brings the motives to exertion, and to the exercise of intelligence, which property gives, to bear upon those on whom the prosperity of agriculture most depends—the actual cultivators of the soil. In all those parts of India, therefore, in which the village communities have been broken up by the distracted state of the country for generations, or in which the exclusive title of the representatives of the old proprietors has been superseded by the prescriptive rights acquired by the actual cultivators, ryotwar is now the recognized system of revenue management.
In the Madras Presidency, considerable improvements in the detail of the revenue system preceded the steps recently taken for a general revision. The most important of these are the two following. In 1837, it was adopted as an universal rule, that no land should be more heavily taxed, in consequence of its being applied to the cultivation of a more valuable description of produce.12 The demand was thenceforth fixed on a general estimate of the productive power of the land, with reference to the staple productions of the country; and the ryot was left perfectly free to cultivate whatever he pleased, without being in any case liable, on that account, to an increased demand. From this time, therefore, there has not been even the semblance of foundation for the statement often made, that the land assessment is a discouragement to the growth of the more valuable products, and, in particular, of cotton. To go any further would be to demand a lower rent from lands on which cotton is grown, than from land devoted to other cultivation: which would be to give a bounty on the production of cotton.
The other great improvement was the establishment of the rule, that no ryot should be required to pay an additional tax (or rent) for his land, in consideration of increased value derived from improvements made by himself.13 If, therefore, a proprietor, by labour or outlay of his own, sinks wells, constructs tanks, or plants valuable trees, he enjoys, not for the duration of any settlement, but in perpetuity, the full benefit of the increased value which he has given to the land; an assurance which no private tenant in any country, even of Europe, has obtained.*
Large reductions of the assessment have also been made in the most heavily-taxed districts, which have in general produced so great an extension of cultivation, that the revenue has scarcely suffered.
Ryotwar Reform in Progress at Madras
In 1855, the present enlightened Governor of Madras submitted a plan for a survey and revised assessment of the whole of the Madras territory, on the Bombay principle, to the consideration of the Governor-General in Council.14 Having obtained the approval of that authority, it was laid before the Court of Directors, and received their formal sanction in a despatch dated the 17th of December, 1856; in which also several improvements were indicated, of which the scheme appeared to be susceptible.15 A commencement has thus been made in removing the last remaining blot in the administration of the land revenue of British India; for the social and economical condition of the Lower Provinces of Bengal is, for reasons already explained, no longer dependent upon the revenue system.
Under both the reformed modes of revenue administration, the village system of the North-west Provinces and the Punjab (the introduction of which into the more recent acquisitions of Nagpore and Oude has been sanctioned) and the ryotwar system of the Bombay and Madras presidencies, the agricultural population either have, or will shortly have, the benefits of tenures and rights perfectly defined and secured, and moderate rents fixed for a sufficient term to afford, in full strength, the natural incentives to improvement. It should be remembered also, that on the expiration of the thirty years settlements, the holders will not be liable to be ejected. They will only be liable to a revision of the amount of the rent paid to Government; and it is the declared intention of the authorities, that not merely the same; but a still greater degree of moderation, shall be observed in the future, than in the past, settlements.
A further exemplification of the manner in which the Indian authorities now take advantage of the latest experience for purposes of improvement, is afforded by recent proceedings in two limited portions of the territory of India. Cuttack is a portion of the Lower Bengal Provinces, to which the permanent settlements of Lord Cornwallis were never extended. The revenue system of Cuttack is ryotwar; but the attempt has latterly been made to combine the advantages of the ryotwar principle, with a portion of those of the system of the North-west Provinces. The assessment is made on each holding, and the payment to be made by each ryot is fixed, by the Government officers; but the collection of it from the individual ryots by native revenue officers, with the opportunities it affords for vexation and corruption, is done away with: the ryots elect a few of their number to represent the rest; these become responsible to Government for the whole revenue of the village, and take on themselves the recovery from the other ryots of their portion of the payment, according to the terms of the settlement; having recourse to the tribunals, if (which is not a common occurrence) such aid is required. This mixed system of ryotwar and village management, having been successful in Cuttack, is in course of introduction into one of our latest acquisitions, the districts made over to our permanent administration by the Nizam; and the plan has been recommended by the home authorities to the attention of the Madras Government, with a view to eventual application to that presidency.
Fiscal System of India
After this review of the present revenue administration of India in its bearing on the social relations, proprietary rights, and economical condition of the mass of the people, it remains to speak of it as a merely fiscal system.
Nearly two-thirds of the revenue of India consist of the rent of land. So far as this resource extends in any country, the public necessities of the country may be said to be provided for, at no expense to the people at large. Where the original right of the State to the land of the country has been reserved, and its natural, but no more than its natural, rents made available to meet the public expenditure, the people may be said to be so far untaxed; because the Government only takes from them as a tax, what they would otherwise have paid as rent to a private landlord. This proposition undoubtedly requires modification in the case of a ryot or peasant cultivating his own land; but even in his case, if the Government demand does not exceed the amount which the land could pay as rent if let to a solvent tenant (that is, the price of its peculiar advantages of fertility or situation), the Government only reserves to itself, instead of conceding to the cultivator, the profit of a kind of natural monopoly, leaving to him the same reward of his labour and capital which is obtained by the remainder of the industrious population.
Any amount whatever of revenue, therefore, derived from the rent of land, cannot be regarded, generally speaking, as a burthen on the tax-paying community. But to this it is of course essential that the demand of revenue should be kept within the limits of a fair rent. Under the native Governments, and in the earlier periods of our own, this limit was often exceeded. But under the British rule, in every instance in which the fact of excessive assessment was proved by large outstanding balances and increased difficulty of realization, the Government has, when the fact was ascertained, taken measures for reducing the assessment. The history of our government in India has been a continued series of reductions of taxation; and in all the improved systems of revenue administration, of which an account has been given in the preceding part of this paper, the object has been not merely to keep the Government demand within the limits of a fair rent, but to leave a large portion of the rent to the proprietors. In the settlement of the North-west Provinces, the demand was limited to two-thirds of the amount which it appeared, from the best attainable information, that the land could afford to pay as rent. The principle which has been laid down for the next settlement, and acted on wherever resettlement has commenced, is still more liberal: the Government demand is fixed at one-half, instead of two-thirds, of the average net produce; that is, of a fair rent. The same general standard has been adopted for guidance in the new assessment of the Madras territory. In Bombay no fixed proportion has been kept in view; but the object has been, that land should possess a saleable value. That this object has been attained throughout the surveyed districts of Bombay, there is full evidence: and as the ryots have been secured from increase of revenue for the space of thirty years, the value of land may be expected, from the progress of improvement, to be constantly on the increase.
It has been shown above, that by far the largest item in the public revenue of India is obtained virtually without taxation, because obtained by the mere interception of a payment, which, if not made to the State for public uses, would generally be made to individuals for their private use. A similar remark though for a different reason, is applicable to the second in amount of the sources of Indian revenue,—that of opium. The opium revenue is not derived from the taxation of any class of her Majesty’s subjects, but is (as far as this can be truly said of any impost) paid wholly by foreigners. It cannot reasonably be contended that this is an improper source of revenue, or that the burthening of an article considered to be noxious, with an amount of taxation which has sometimes caused it to be sold for its weight in silver, can be liable to objection as encouraging the consumption of the article. Whether this revenue, of between four and five millions sterling, should be levied as it is at present in Bengal (though not in Bombay) by a Government monopoly, or in the more usual form of an excise duty, is a question of detail on which opinions differ, and which is open to consideration. The former mode has hitherto been retained, under the belief that the unrestricted production and sale of the article would give such facilities to smuggling, as would render the realization of anything like the present amount of revenue impossible. It might, however, be practicable—though this is doubtful—to maintain the price in the foreign market by restrictions on exportation; but it is matter for serious consideration whether any system involving the free cultivation of the poppy, would not expose India itself, which has hitherto been comparatively free from this kind of hurtful indulgence, to be flooded with the article at a low price.
The third item, in point of amount, of the revenue of India, is that from salt. This is the only considerable tax existing in India which can be regarded as objectionable in principle, and the entire abandonment of which, if financially practicable, would be a benefit to the people at large. It is impossible, however, to look upon this impost in the same light in which it would deserve to be considered if it were levied in addition to other heavy burthens. We must bear in mind, in extenuation of the objections to a tax on salt, that it is, speaking generally, the only tax which the labouring ryot of India pays.
The revenue from salt is commonly said to be obtained by means of a monopoly. This, however (as will be seen by the appended note,* is strictly true only of the Madras Presidency; and even there the monopoly is of a very qualified description, since the importation of the commodity is free, subject to a duty considered equivalent to the profit charged by Government on the salt produced by it. In the Bombay territory there never has been a monopoly, or even a Government manufacture. There is an excise duty, imposed to compensate for other more objectionable taxes, yielding a far greater amount of revenue, which have been abolished. The Government of India, in 1844, fixed this excise duty at one rupee per maund of 82 2/7 lbs.; but before this rate had come into operation, it was reduced by the Court of Directors to twelve annas (three-fourths of a rupee).16 In the same year, and for a similar reason—namely, to compensate for other taxes then abolished—the Government of India fixed the selling price of the monopoly salt in the Madras Presidency, at one and a half rupees per maund; but the Court of Directors immediately reduced it to one rupee.17
In Bengal, up to 1836, there was a real monopoly. In that year, in anticipation of the subsequent recommendation of a Committee of the House of Commons, the Bengal system was fundamentally modified.18 The present system is, to ascertain the actual cost to Government of all descriptions of salt manufactured at the Government works, and to issue it to dealers in any quantity applied for, at a price equal to the cost with the addition of a fixed duty. Importation is free, subject to the payment of the same duty. The duty has been gradually lowered from three sicca rupees per maund (equivalent to 3 1/4 Company’s rupees) to 2 1/2 Company’s rupees (about three farthings per pound); while the Madras duty is only 7/8 of a rupee, and the Bombay only 3/4 (less than a farthing per pound). The reduction in Bengal, not having been attended with the hoped-for increase of consumption, has not been carried further. Even if the revenue derived from salt were not required for the necessary purposes of government, it is still conceived that more good would be done to the people by retaining the tax, and expending its proceeds in roads and works of irrigation, than could possibly be done by its remission.
Within the last three years, the manufacture of salt in the districts round Calcutta has been laid open to all who are willing to engage in it, subject to excise regulations. Very little use, however, has been made of this liberty, the quantity of salt manufactured under license having only amounted to from 20,000 to 25,000 maunds. It is hoped that the quantity will increase, and that private enterprise may in time supersede Government agency. But the small amount of response made to the encouragement held out, is a presumption that the Government arrangements for the manufacture and sale afford as marketable an article, at as low a cost, as could be produced by private manufacturers.
Tobacco Monopoly abolished
The tobacco monopoly which formerly existed in the Malabar provinces of the Madras Presidency, and which yielded an annual revenue of about six lacs of rupees (£60,000), was abolished in 1852, without equivalent:19 and this article is now wholly untaxed.
The customs, in India, are not a very productive source of revenue, the classes who consume any considerable amount of foreign productions being comparatively limited. There is no branch of taxation in which the burthens of the people have been more conspicuously lightened by the British Government. The most important taxes levied on commodities by the native Governments of India, were the inland customs, or transit duties. Every petty chief whose territory was situated on any of the great lines of commerce, made use of his position to extort from traders the largest sums which they could be induced to pay. In the British territories, these duties have been entirely abolished: in the Lower Bengal Provinces as early as the administration of Lord Cornwallis (reimposed in a modified form in 1801, and finally abolished in 1836);20 in the North-western Provinces from 1834 to 1836;21 in the Bombay Presidency in 1837;22 in Madras in 1844;23 and in our other possessions immediately after their acquisition. This was not a small sacrifice of revenue. The transit duties in Madras alone yielded a net revenue of about thirty-one lacs of rupees, or £310,000 sterling. Several of the native princes have, with praiseworthy liberality, followed the example of the British Government, by abolishing, or greatly lowering, their transit duties;24 and the diplomatic influence of our Government is freely used to encourage this policy. In cases in which the duties levied by some particular chief have been an obstruction to important lines of mercantile communication, and in which it was not probable that the chief would be indemnified for their loss by the increase of his other sources of revenue, our Government has even purchased his assent by pecuniary compensation.
Besides these duties, the sale of goods was, under the native Governments, hampered by innumerable exactions, laid on under various pretences, most of which we have, on every occasion of coming into possession of a new territory, abolished or commuted. But some taxes on internal trade still remained even in the British territories. The last of these has been swept away less than two years ago, by an order from the home authorities, bearing date the 5th November 1856, for the abolition of the Mohturfa, or tax on houses, trades, and professions, in the Madras Presidency.25 There are now no internal customs in British India, except, in some cases, town duties; and these, not for general, but for local purposes, and as far as possible under local management; though the exertions of the Indian Governments to foster a municipal spirit, and induce the inhabitants of towns to take an active part in the management of town affairs, are only beginning, and very slowly, to be successful.
There has been similar activity in reducing the duties on the external commerce of India, and extending the principles of free trade. In the recent acquisitions of Sind and the Punjab, the frontier duties have been entirely abolished, and those territories are outside our customs line. On the frontier line between the Punjab and the North-western Provinces, customs are paid on salt and sugar only. In Southern India the land tariff is the same as that on imports by sea. The discriminating duties on goods carried in foreign vessels were abolished in 1848; and in 1850 the coasting trade was thrown open to the ships of all nations.26 In thus abolishing the navigation laws, the Government of India preceded the Imperial Government.27 The three presidencies were formerly, in regard to commerce, treated as distinct settlements, and the trade between them subjected to the same duties as that between India and Great Britain. In 1848 this trade was completely thrown open.28 and the whole of British India treated, for customs purposes, as one empire; and great success has attended the efforts of the Company to obtain for the produce of native states in dependent alliance with us, the privilege of admission into the ports of the United Kingdom at the rates of duty chargeable on goods of British origin. The duty levied on British goods imported into India is five per cent ad valorem. There is still a distinctive double duty on many articles imported from foreign countries; and a general export duty of three per cent (from which however cotton is exempt) on the produce and manufactures of India. These are admitted defects; and the export duties were marked out by the home authorities, in a despatch of 1846, to be dispensed with at the earliest period which financial considerations may permit.29
The post-office in India, as in England, is maintained more for public convenience than as a source of revenue. Its improvement in India has fully kept pace with that in England. Reductions of postage, and the removal of practical impediments and imperfections, may be said to have been constantly in progress; and the great change recently made in the post-office system of this country has been imitated, with equal success, in India.30 The principle of uniform postage, without reference to distance, has been adopted, and letters and newspapers are conveyed from Cape Comorin to Peshawur at the same charge as for the shortest distance. The lowest rate is half an anna, or three farthings, for a letter a quarter of a tola in weight (equivalent to about one-tenth of an ounce); it having been found by experiment that the average weight of native letters is considerably below this limit. There is an ascending scale of charges up to twelve tolas, above which weight letters are not conveyed by the ordinary post; but a parcel post is also maintained by Government, which they are prepared to abandon whenever the duty shall be undertaken by private enterprise. Newspapers are conveyed at a charge of one anna, or three halfpence each. The postage on letters and newspapers must be prepaid by stamps, under penalty of double postage on delivery. There is also a book post, at a minimum rate of one anna per twenty tolas (about half a pound), and an ascending scale up to 120 tolas, or three pounds. Arrangements have been made with her Majesty’s Government for the conveyance of letters, newspapers, and books, from any part of England to any part of India, at low rates of postage, payable in one sum, either on despatch or receipt. The Post-office department for all India is under the control of a Director-General at Calcutta, immediately under the Government of India. The progress of improvements in every branch of the details has been very striking, and it is believed that the department will not suffer by a comparison with that of any other country.
The pecuniary results of the change to a low uniform postage have been as satisfactory as in England. It had been doubted whether such a population as that of India would take advantage of the facilities afforded for correspondence, to the extent necessary to make up, in any considerable degree, to the revenue, for the diminution of the rate. At the close, however, of 1855-56 (the first complete year of the new system), the number of chargeable letters had increased 101 per cent as compared with the preceding year, and 142 per cent as compared with 1849-50. The loss of revenue, which, if there had been no increase of correspondence, would have been Rs. 9,12,000, is only Rs. 3,01,869, and may be expected yearly to diminish.
The general result of all these improvements in administration, combined with the security which our rule has for the first time given to property against the ravages of war and fiscal rapacity, has been a great and rapid growth of general prosperity. Besides the remarkable increase of cultivation and population, the cheapening of agricultural produce, and the recovery of the revenue after great reductions, which have been already commemorated, there has been an enormous increase in the external commerce of India. The exports have risen from £7,993,420 in 1834-5, to £23,039,268 in 1855-6, being 188 per cent. The export of cotton amounted in the former year to 98,320,050 lbs., and in the latter to 237,179,949 lbs., being an increase of 141 per cent; but the quantity exported to England has increased in a much greater ratio, namely from 38,268,402 lbs. to 170,771,510 lbs., or 346 per cent. The export of rice, chiefly from the east coast of the Bay of Bengal, has so vastly increased that labour can scarcely be found to transport it to the coast; the wages of labourers have risen to an unexampled height, and the agricultural population of large districts are, for the first time in memory, out of debt to money-lenders and to their landlords. During the same period of twenty-one years, the imports into India have risen from £4,261,106 to £13,447,027, or upwards of 227 per cent; the great excess of exports above imports being regularly liquidated in silver.
JUDICATURE AND LEGISLATION
Judicial arrangements of Lord Cornwallis
The history of the judicial administration of British India bears a striking analogy to that of the revenue administration. It began with well-intended, but premature and ill-considered measures, which produced many evils, and but a small part of the good which their authors expected from them. When experience had disclosed the faults of the system at first adopted, similar errors were avoided, and a better system introduced into our later acquisitions; while palliatives of great value, though falling short of the full exigencies of the case, were adopted in the older provinces. Last came the plans, now in an advanced stage of their progress, for effecting a complete reform.
At the period at which the judicial arrangements of Lord Cornwallis were made, the ideas of civil judicature entertained in England still partook of an almost barbarous character. The English courts of law were still encumbered with all the technicalities, and disgraced by all the delay and expense, which had descended from the middle ages, or grown up in the attempt to make the institutions of the middle ages suffice for the wants of modern society; and unfortunately these courts, far from being considered defective, were looked upon as the models to be imitated in every other place, departure from which was regarded as an imperfection, in all cases to be regretted, though not always to be avoided. The Legislature, however, had recognized that forms of procedure more simple and expeditious might possibly be necessary in India; and power had been given to the judges of her Majesty’s Supreme Court to modify the procedure of that court, so as to meet the exigency:31 but the power was never acted on. It is, therefore, not surprising that Lord Cornwallis’s courts were greatly infected (though in a far less degree than the courts in England then were) with technicalities of procedure, calculated both to defeat justice, and to obstruct the access to it by needless delay and expense. But the arrangements had a still more fatal defect: the judicial establishment was totally inadequate to the wants of the country. The attempt to administer justice (except in the most trifling cases) wholly by European agency, made it impossible to defray the expense of the number of courts necessary to render justice accessible: and if the benefits of judicature were to be afforded at all to the mass of the people, the intrusting, under proper securities, of the greatest portion of it to native functionaries, was not a question of expediency, but of necessity.
The creation of native courts of justice, and (as the experiment succeeded) the progressive extension of their powers, has been the greatest practical improvement made in the administration of justice in our older provinces during the last and present generation. The foundation for the present extensive employment of uncovenanted and native agency in the judicial department, was laid by the administration of Lord William Bentinck in 1831.32 At present, in the Bengal and Bombay Presidencies, the entire original jurisdiction in civil suits is in the hands of the native judges, the covenanted Europeans being only judges of appeal; and the same thing is true of the Madras Presidency, in regard to all suits below the value of 10,000 rupees. The employment of uncovenanted agency has also been greatly extended in the administration of criminal justice, and in the revenue department. Deputy magistrates (in some instances exercising judicial powers equal to those of the district magistrate) and deputy collectors, discharge important functions, and afford material assistance to the head authorities of the district. Most of these are natives, and some of them natives of high rank and influence.
The movement towards reform in legal affairs generally, also dates from the administration of Lord William Bentinck. At Bombay, indeed, the Regulations of Government, comprising the penal law and the law of procedure actually in force, and as much of the civil law as had been introduced by our own Government, had already, under Mr. Elphinstone’s administration, been consolidated into what is called the Bombay Code.33 But it was on the recommendation of Lord William Bentinck’s Government that, by the Act of 1833, the present ample legislative powers for all India were conferred on the Governor-General in Council; a barrister appointed from England being added to the Council, for the express purpose of aiding the Government in its legislative functions.34 By the Act of 1853, the Legislative Council was further enlarged by the addition of the Chief Justice and one puisne judge of her Majesty’s Supreme Court, two members representing Madras and Bombay, and selected by those Governments, and two representing Bengal and the North-western Provinces, and appointed by the Lieutenant-Governors; to whom the Governor-General has the power of adding two other civil servants of Government, selected at his discretion.35 The Legislative Council now holds its sittings in public, and its debates are regularly reported and published.
Since the first institution of the Legislative Council, few years have passed in which there have not been one or two legislative measures for the improvement of the procedure of the civil courts. The object of some has been to facilitate the progress of suits through their various stages; of others, to secure the correct recording of the judgment, by prescribing that it shall be made by the judge himself; of others, to insure a more speedy and certain execution of judgments; of others, to render more efficient the systems of regular and special appeals. Legislative measures have also been taken for reforming the law of evidence; for the abolition of Persian as the language of record; and for putting the office of native pleader on a more efficient and respectable footing. The defects of the criminal courts have likewise largely engaged the attention of the Legislature, and much has been done for their improvement. But notwithstanding these partial amendments, it cannot be said that the courts, in what are called the Regulation Provinces, have yet been freed from their radical defects. The principal impediments to a good administration of justice, are the complicated and technical system of pleading in the civil courts, and in the criminal courts the character of the police.
The New Codes
By the Act of 1833, a Law Commission was appointed to sit in Calcutta, and inquire into the jurisdiction and procedure of the courts of justice and police establishments, and into the operation of the laws, civil and criminal.36 The declared purpose of Parliament in creating the Law Commission, as well as in the new constitution given at the same time to the Legislative Council, was to facilitate measures for bringing Europeans and natives under the same courts of justice, civil and criminal.37 The machinery constructed for this purpose has been employed to lay the foundation for correcting all the principal defects of the laws and of the tribunals. The Commission prepared a penal code of great merit, and made many reports full of valuable suggestions on other branches of legal administration, some of which have been acted on. But it was important that any new system, before being brought into practical effect, should be well understood by those who would have to apply it, and should be approved by those whose authority would carry the greatest weight. Opinion could not be expected to ripen all at once on so great a subject as the reconstruction of the legal and judicial system of a vast country; and the suggestions of the Law Commissioners, being referred to various authorities, elicited great varieties of judgment. By the Act of 1853, a Commission was appointed to sit in London, for considering and reporting on the recommendations of the Indian Law Commissioners.38 The wants of India as to codes, both of substantive law and of procedure, civil and criminal, have been fully considered by the Commissioners so appointed. They have recorded a strong recommendation in favour of the preparation of a code of civil law for India; and they have prepared complete codes of civil and criminal procedure, grounded on a rare combination of appropriate local knowledge with the matured views of enlightened jurists.39 These codes, together with the penal code passed by the earlier commission,40 are in progress through the Legislative Council of India, and would probably by this time have been law, but for the calamitous events by which the attention of all Indian authorities has of late been engrossed.
These codes, when enacted, will constitute the most thorough reform probably ever yet made in the judicial administration of a country. The code of civil procedure entirely sweeps away the present cumbersome and complicated system of pleading, and substitutes the vivâ voce examination of the parties;41 and in all other respects, as compared with the previous practice, it is of great simplicity, and eminently free from delay and expense. As Mr. Colvin, the Lieutenant-Governor of the North-western Provinces, observed in his last general report,
It is not alone, as the Lieutenant-Governor apprehends, that by the new code of procedure, the practice of the courts will be made more simple and rapid, and the costs of a suit be diminished; it is because, as he hopes, the judges will be brought much more frequently into direct communication with the parties in suits and their witnesses, without any intervention of agents or pleaders, that he looks to the public becoming satisfied that the courts are to be trusted as a means for obtaining substantial justice, and not dreaded as an engine capable of being readily perverted to the working of fraud and wrong under the forms of law. It is not, he fears, to be denied that low classes of practitioners and unscrupulous habits of chicane have grown up about our courts, with their old complex and artificial pleadings and rules: and this being the case, it cannot be matter of surprise that among a population so generally ignorant and helpless, discredit and dislike should have extensively attached to our judicial institutions.42
It was only the Regulation Provinces which stood in need of such a reform; for the Non-Regulation Provinces have had (generally from their first acquisition) the benefit of a cheap, accessible, and expeditious administration of justice, free from all such formalities and technicalities as either defeat justice, or add needlessly to the difficulty and expense of obtaining it. The following are the terms in which the eminent Sir John Lawrence, in his last general report, describes the judicial system of the Punjab, which has been the model of those introduced into all the other recently-acquired territories, as well as into our older possessions of Saugor and Bundelcund:
In former reports it has been shown how the system of civil judicature in the Punjab has been founded and erected; how that no effort has been spared to render justice cheap, quick, sure, simple, and substantial; how every other consideration has been rendered subordinate to these cardinal points. We are, indeed, without elaborate laws, but we have brief rules, explaining, in an accessible form, the main provisions of the several systems of native law on such matters as inheritance, marriage, adoption, testamentary or other disposition of property; and setting forth the chief principles to be observed in other branches of law; such as contracts, sale, mortgage, debt, commercial usage. We have the most open and liberal provisions for the admission of evidence. We have complete arrangements for reference to arbitration, and for the ascertainment of local custom. We have a procedure, without any pretension to technical exactitude; but a procedure which provides for the litigants and their respective witnesses being confronted in open court, for a decision being arrived at immediately after this brief forensic controversy, and for judgment being delivered to the parties then and there. We have a method of executing decrees, which, while it allows no door to be opened for evasion or delay on the part of defendant, and thus renders a decree really valuable to plaintiff, as being capable of ready enforcement, and gives him his right free from lien, encumbrance, or doubt; yet, on the other hand, prevents the defendant from being hastily dealt with, or from being placed at the mercy of his creditor. We have Small-cause Courts scattered all over the country, and several regular courts at every central station; so that everywhere justice is near. Our civil system may appear rough and ready; whether it would be suited to other provinces, in a different stage of civilization and with a different machinery at command, may be a question; but in the Punjab it attains the broad and plain object aimed at, and without doubt gives satisfaction to the people.
But in order to regulate the administration of justice, a complete system of reporting has been established. Month by month, the reports of every court are transmitted to the judicial department at head-quarters, and are there criticised. At the close of each year, these reports, and the figures embodied in them, are collated, averages are struck, division is compared with division, and district with district, and the general result, with a brief critique by superior authority, indicating the defects to be avoided and the reforms to be emulated, is published for the information of all officers concerned. It is believed that many improvements in the working of the courts are traceable to this system. Every court works under a constant sense of supervision, and with the great objects to be aimed at perpetually in view, and standing out in strong relief.
In respect of speed, the average duration of a suit in 1854 was twenty-eight days, and in 1855 twenty-three days. This average has been becoming laudably lower year after year; it is now nearly as low as it can be, consistently with due inquiry and deliberation; and as the above average includes all those cases which for any special cause may be protracted, it is evident that the trial of most suits can only extend over a very few days. In respect to cheapness, the cost averaged only 5r. 0a. 1p. per cent on value of suits during 1854, and 4r. 13a. 3p. per cent during 1855. As a proof of the entire absence of technicalities, it is to be observed that only 5.19 per cent of the suits were nonsuited during 1854, and 5.42 per cent during 1855. The small number of nonsuits which are ordered are probably real and honest ones.43
In the course of the last few years the system of prison discipline in India has undergone a complete and most salutary revolution. The origin of this reform may be dated from the report of a committee appointed in Calcutta in 1838, composed chiefly of the principal members and secretary of the Indian Law Commission.44
Up to this time, those inmates of jails who were under sentence of labour, were employed almost exclusively (in fetters) on the roads: which rendered prison discipline almost impossible, as the prisoners could nearly always, by the connivance of their guards, command intercourse with friends and relations; and the engineer officers, in their anxiety to obtain efficient work, fed them highly, and treated them in other respects with an indulgence entirely inconsistent with the purposes of punishment. At the same time, the mortality from exposure and unhealthy localities was great. The committee showed that the State were absolute losers by employing convict labour on the roads; that it would be a positive saving to keep them in idleness in the jails, as the cost of extra superintendence and guards considerably exceeded the expense at which the work they did could be executed by hired labour. Since this time out-door convict labour has been abandoned, and the prisoners are employed within the jails in various manufactures; and this employment, which commenced in 1843, has every year become more profitable, until, in 1855-56, the profit in the fifty-five jails of the Lower Provinces of Bengal reached the large sum of Rs. 1,11,582 (£11,000). This profit now forms a fund for the execution of the public works formerly performed by the convicts themselves. The jail manufactures, too, are of such improved quality, that some of them have acquired a high character in foreign markets; and public exhibitions of them are now held in the Town Hall of Calcutta.
Prisoners sentenced for long terms of years are now removed to large central jails; and the change has been attended with great improvement in general management and discipline. There is an inspector of jails for each presidency and sub-presidency. These officers are most active in discovering and correcting defects, and increasing the effectiveness of the jails, both as reformatories and as places of punishment.
The reform of the police of India is not yet in so advanced a state; but the present disturbances found the authorities in the very crisis of their deliberations on the subject. The police has hitherto remained the most faulty part of our system in India, and it is the part which it is by far the most difficult to reform effectually. The peculiar difficulty of administering criminal justice in India arises from the character and habits of the people. In most countries, the voluntary and active co-operation of the people may be looked for in bringing criminals to justice. In India, rather than incur the trouble and annoyance of appearing as a prosecutor or as a witness, a man will even forswear himself to screen the man who has robbed him. The injury he has suffered is looked upon as the decree of destiny, and he has no disposition to add to the inconvenience by incurring exertion and expense, and perhaps exposing himself to the further vengeance of the criminal. Among such a people there is only the police who can be looked to for bringing criminals to justice. The great powers which must be intrusted to the police of such a country, and that police necessarily composed principally of natives, give rise, when combined with the passive and slavish character of the people of many parts of India (especially of Bengal), to evils with which the Government has hitherto struggled with very imperfect success.
The police of India, up to a very recent date, consisted of native establishments, under the control and orders of the European magistrate. Each zillah, or judicial district, is formed into subdivisions (more or fewer, according to the size of the district) each of which is under the charge of a local stipendiary police, consisting of a head native officer and his subordinate clerks, sergeants, and constables. The native police in the Bengal Presidency is (with the partial exception of the tehsildars in the North-western Provinces) separate from the body of revenue officers. In the Presidency of Madras, the same officers discharge both revenue and police functions; and, until recently, this was also the case at Bombay.
The recognized defects of the system are, the low rate of pay, and the consequent inferiority of the class of men who enter the police, and also the disproportion of the strength of the force to the density of the population, and to the extent of country committed to their charge. With a view to the correction of these evils in Bengal, higher grades of subdivisional police officers have of late years been created, and their pay has been increased. Deputy magistrates have also been appointed, and invested with the judicial and police charge of subdivisions. The former measure has been productive of some good, by inducing a more trustworthy class to enter the service; the latter has not yet been carried to a sufficient extent to effect any practical improvement of a general character.
The state of the police of the North-western Provinces had deeply engaged the attention of the late Lieutenant-Governor, the lamented Mr. Colvin. That distinguished functionary conducted, through the district commissioners, a general revision of the local police establishments; reducing the number of officers in some of the districts, but increasing the salaries, and holding out the sure prospect of promotion as the reward of good conduct and efficient service. These measures were the best that could be adopted with the then available materials; but they did not at all touch the essential constitution of the police. With regard to the village police, the ancient and indigenous police of the country; in the North-western Provinces, its proper maintenance by the villages themselves is provided for by the conditions of the settlement. In the Lower Provinces, the terms of the permanent settlement have unfortunately deprived the Government of the power of enforcing this obligation. An Act has, however, been passed for the maintenance of an improved city police, by an assessment on the occupiers of houses;45 and this plan has been introduced into several large cities and towns.
It is in the Bombay Presidency that the greatest improvements have been actually effected in police administration. The measures for this purpose were commenced under Sir George Clerk’s administration, in 1848.46 Under the new system, revenue and police functions have ceased to be combined in the same native officers. The powers of punishment previously exercised by police officers have been taken away. To each district has been appointed a European superintendent of police (either a military or an uncovenanted officer), under whose command the police force of the district, both village and stipendiary, is placed, and who exercises the functions of an assistant to the magistrate in his police duties. This functionary, again, has the aid, in each subdivision under his orders, of an officer called joint police amildar, who has the more immediate charge of the preservation of the public peace, and the preliminary investigation into crimes of a serious nature. Active measures have been set on foot for reorganizing the village police, by ascertaining the assignments formerly made in lands and money for the purpose, and requiring that the duties for which these assignments were the remuneration, be really performed. The general control and direction of the police of the whole presidency, except the island of Bombay, is concentrated in one chief officer, under the title of Commissioner of Police. These measures are believed to be already effecting a great improvement in the police of the presidency.
In the Punjab, a police system had to be, not reformed, but created; and this task has been fulfilled with the same efficiency with which every other part of the administration of that territory has been organized. As the Punjab police may not improbably form a model for other parts of India, it is well to note the general features of its constitution.
The police establishments consist of two parts; the preventive police with a military organization, and the detective with a civil organization.
The preventive police consists of foot and horse; each regiment has its own native commandant, and the whole force is superintended by four European officers. Both arms of the service are regularly armed and equipped, and are ready at a moment’s notice to reinforce the civil police.
The civil police consists, first, of a regular establishment, paid by the State; secondly, of the city watchmen, paid from a fund raised by the levy of town duties; and, thirdly, of the village police, nominated by the landholders, confirmed in their offices by the magistrate, and paid by the villagers.
The infantry of the military preventive police furnish guards for jails, treasuries, frontier posts, and city gates, and escorts for treasure. The cavalry are posted in detachments at the civil stations; and smaller parties, stationed at convenient intervals along the grand lines of road, serve as mounted patrols. The general duties of the civil police consist in reporting crimes, tracking and arresting criminals, and procuring evidence against them.
The police of the Punjab have been eminently successful in repressing crimes of a violent nature, in breaking up gangs of murderers and robbers, and in bringing criminals to justice; and in no part of India is the authority of the Government more thoroughly respected than in the Punjab.
In 1856, the Court of Directors, in a despatch which has been laid before Parliament, discussed at some length the defects of the police of India, and the means available for their correction, and proposed for the consideration of the Government of India a plan of thorough reform, grounded on the three principles, of European command, unity of action throughout the country, and complete separation between revenue and police duties.47
This plan has undergone careful deliberation from the Government of India. The various members of that Government, and the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, have individually recorded their sentiments, in minutes characterized by a frank recognition of existing defects, an earnest desire of improvement, a remarkable amount of knowledge and understanding of the subject, and great ability in the statement and discussion of the merits and defects of the various plans advocated.48 For the present, so far as regards the Bengal Presidency (including the North-western Provinces), the recommendations of the Government of India are limited to a better choice and ampler remuneration of the native police, and to the aiding and strengthening them, in certain localities, by police corps of a semi-military character.49 These measures have been sanctioned; and until their effect has been tried, the Court of Directors have consented to put in abeyance the more fundamental changes which they had recommended. But authority has at the same time been given to the Government of India, should the present state of the country in their opinion render it expedient, to organize the police of Bengal on the model of that of the Punjab.50
In the Madras Presidency, the opinion of the local Government was favourable to the Court’s original views; and in September last authority was finally given to that Government for the thorough reorganization of the police system. The leading features of the scheme which has been sanctioned are as follows:
The appointment of a chief commissioner of police for the whole presidency, in whom will be vested, in direct communication with the Chief Secretary to Government, the direction, discipline, and internal economy of the police force;
The appointment in each district of a European deputy commissioner of police, with a sufficient number of subordinate officers and peons or constables;
The entire separation of the police from all connection with the revenue branch of administration, and of the magistrate (who will now be a purely judicial officer) from the properly police duty of the prevention and detection of crime;
And, finally, measures for reorganizing, and, it may almost be said, reviving, the village police, which, from its close connection with the localities, must necessarily constitute the last (and a most important) link in any police system really efficient, or willingly supported by the people.51
Thuggee and Dacoitee Suppression
The imperfections of the general police of India have not prevented some results from being attained in the way of suppression of crime, sufficiently remarkable to have attracted an amount of European notice seldom accorded to Indian affairs. The most memorable of these is the suppression of the Thugs. This singular association, which, though recruited from all castes, and even from Mussulmans, was held together by a religious tie, and a common worship of the Hindoo goddess of destruction, infested all the roads in India; and from their universal practice of murdering all they robbed, it was not only almost impossible to obtain evidence for their conviction, but the extent of their crimes was greatly underrated, and their very existence in many parts of India, disbelieved in. A separate police was organized specially against them. The gangs were broken up in the only manner in which this could possibly have been effected—by encouraging some of them to denounce the rest. From the narratives of these approvers, taken separately from one another and with the utmost precautions against the possibility of concert, lists of all the Thugs in India were obtained, and the particulars of the crimes committed by each. These were then traced to their haunts, identified, tried, and convicted, on the evidence of their accomplices, confirmed by the finding of bodies, the identification of property, or other corroborative evidence. Many suffered death, a much greater number transportation for life, and, in a few years from the commencement of the operations, all India was cleared of these criminals. The pardoned accomplices remain under surveillance at Jubbulpore, in Central India, where they and the children of the captured Thugs have been taught several useful branches of manufacture. The Jubbulpore School of Industry now supplies to Government and the public many valuable carpets and linen cloths, and a great proportion of all the tents used in India.
When the work of the Thuggee Suppression Department was nearly completed as far as regarded the Thugs, its operations were extended to the still more prevalent crime of dacoity, or robbery and burglary on a large scale by organized gangs of professional banditti. The mode of breaking up the gangs by means of approvers, which had been so successful against the Thugs, has been put in practice with equal success against dacoits; and this crime, so far as it was perpetrated by large associations ranging over a wide extent of country, has now been almost as completely rooted out as Thuggee. Dacoitee had been almost entirely suppressed in the North-western Provinces and in Bombay, before the occurrence of the recent disasters. In the Lower Provinces of Bengal the crime has been greatly reduced within the last three or four years. In seven large districts surrounding Calcutta, where it was lamentably prevalent, the number of dacoitees has been progressively reduced from 524 in 1851, to 111 in 1855. In some of the districts of the Madras Presidency, dacoitees of a local character, by small gangs, to which the approver system is not equally applicable, are still frequent; but the improvement in the police, and other measures in contemplation, will, it is hoped, speedily reduce their number.
Suppression of Piracy
The piracies which formerly made the navigation of the Arabian seas unsafe for commerce, have been so effectually suppressed by the East-India Company’s cruisers, that there is now hardly any part of the world in which trading vessels are more secure against depredation. The formerly piratical tribes have been bound by engagements to abstain not only from piracy, but from maritime war, which affords opportunities and pretexts for piracy: and, for the first time probably in history, a perpetual peace, guaranteed by treaties and enforced by superior naval strength, reigns in the Persian Gulf.
Equal vigour has been displayed against many barbarous usages of the natives. Special measures have been carried on during a long series of years for the suppression of female infanticide, a crime which had become a positive custom among several of the higher castes in various parts of India, from motives, not of religion, but of family pride. The co-operation of the native princes has been urgently invited, and to a great extent obtained, for the suppression of this practice. In the places, and among the castes, in which the practice was ascertained to exist, means were taken to obtain an annual census of female children. A report of all births, of all deaths of infants, and of the causes of deaths, was required, under stringent regulations and penalties. Engagements were taken from the influential persons of the castes to preserve their own children, and to aid in enforcing the same conduct on others. Honorary rewards and marks of distinction have been conferred on chiefs and others who have exerted themselves for the promotion of the object. By great efforts of persuasion and address, the heads of castes and tribes have been prevailed on to agree to a limitation of that favourite subject of vanity, marriage expenses; and grants of money are regularly made to poor persons of the castes, in aid of the marriages of their daughters. These efforts have been rewarded by a continual diminution of the number of infanticides, evidenced by a constant increase in the number of females in existence, of the formerly delinquent castes.
Suttee, or the voluntary burning of widows on the funeral piles of their husbands, after having been long discouraged by every means short of positive prohibition, was finally made a criminal offence in all who abetted it, by a legislative Act of Lord W. Bentinck’s administration,52 and has now entirely ceased in the provinces subject to British administration. Unremitting efforts have been used to induce the native princes to follow the example, and have been at last successful with all of them except one, the Maharana of Odeypore,53 the representative of the oldest and proudest dynasty in India: and this prince professes himself willing to abolish the rite, when the cessation of existing differences between himself and his feudatory chiefs shall enable him to obtain their concurrence in the measure. Various other modes of self-immolation practised in India,—by drowning, burying alive, or starvation,—have been, with equal success, prohibited and suppressed.
The pretence of supernatural powers was a source of great evil in India, not only as a means of extortion and intimidation, but also by the numerous murders perpetrated on persons suspected of practising on the lives or health of others by magical arts. These acts of fancied retaliation have been, with a gentle but powerful hand, repressed, and great progress has been made towards their extinction. The fraudulent pretence is now punished as a substantive crime.
The insecurity of rights, and the imperfection of the tribunals, under the native Governments, had introduced, on the part of those who were, or believed themselves to be, injured, a singular mode of extorting redress. They hired a person of one of the religious classes to threaten that unless the demand, whatever it might be, was complied with, he would kill or wound himself or some one else; thereby, it was supposed, entailing the guilt of murder or of wounding on the person whose alleged injustice was the original cause of the act. If the threat proved ineffectual, the honour of the threatener was engaged to carry it into practical effect; and many suicides or murders were committed from this cause. This barbarous practice, known by the name of Tragga, has been almost entirely suppressed, partly by penal laws, and partly by affording more legitimate means of enforcing just claims.
Among the barbarous tribes who occupy the hill tracts of Orissa, on the south-west frontier of Bengal, human sacrifices prevailed until a very recent period. By a well-devised and judicious series of conciliatory measures, worthy of a more lengthened record than can be given to them in this place, the extinction of this enormity has been effected.
Abolition of Slavery
After a full consideration of the subject of slavery in India, by the Indian Law Commissioners and by the Government of India, an Act was passed in 1843, which entirely abolished slavery as a legal status.54 The courts of justice are forbidden to recognize it; no fugitive, claimed as a slave, can be forcibly restored; and every act which would be an offence if done to a free person, is now equally an offence when done to the persons formerly considered slaves.
Wet Begaree, or Forced Labour
One of the most oppressive of the burthens on the agricultural and labouring classes under the native Governments, was compulsory labour, not only for the repair of roads where any existed, but for the purpose of carrying the abundant baggage of Government officers or powerful individuals when journeying from one place to another. This practice has been abolished. The last vestige of it, in a licensed form, is believed to have been in the construction of the Thibet road through the Himalaya Mountains, and orders have recently been issued for its discontinuance there.
Civil Rights of Religious Converts
By an Act passed in 1850, the principle already laid down in a Bengal Regulation of 1832, that change of religion should not involve loss of property or civil rights, was extended to the whole of the territories subject to the British Government of India.55 The religious and civil laws of the Hindoos have in this point been completely set aside; and converts to Christianity have been shielded, as far as law can shield them, against temporal ill consequences from their change of faith.
Re-marriage of Widows
By an Act passed in 1856, another great inroad has been made on Hindoo prejudices, by legalizing the re-marriage of widows.56
Discontinuance of Connection with the Religious Ceremonies of the Natives
An Act passed in 1840 gave effect to instructions issued by the home authorities in 1833, on the subject of pilgrim taxes, and the superintendence of native festivals.57 The instructions directed that the interference of British functionaries in the interior management of native temples, in the customs, habits, and religious proceedings of their priests and attendants, in the arrangement of their ceremonies, rites, and festivals, and generally in the conduct of their interior economy, should cease; that the pilgrim tax should everywhere be abolished; and that in all matters relating to their temples, their worship, their festivals, their religious practices, and their ceremonial observances, our native subjects be left entirely to themselves. Property held in trust for religious uses of course cannot be diverted from them by any act of the Government; but if such trusts are infringed, redress must be sought, as in all other cases, from the tribunals. In 1841 the home authorities sent out further instructions, that no troops or military bands of music be called out, and no salutes fired, in honour of native festivals; and all such acts have since been regarded as strictly prohibited. When any case of infringement of these principles is found to have been overlooked, it is, on being brought to notice, immediately corrected.
IMPROVEMENT OF THE COUNTRY BY PUBLIC WORKS
The measures which have now been briefly described, for fixing and moderating the demands of Government on the tax-paying population, and securing to every one the full enjoyment of the fruits of his industry, are in themselves the most effectual means which could have been adopted for improving the productive resources of the country. In a country like India, however, the direct aid of Government to industry is required, for a variety of purposes which, in more advanced countries, are sufficiently, and even better, provided for by private enterprise. The principal of these are, irrigation, and the means of communication by roads and canals.
The British Government in India has frequently been charged with niggardliness in incurring expense for these purposes. There was some, at least apparent, ground for the charge, in former generations; though even then, the truth fell far short of the current representations. It is often asserted that the country is covered with the remains of tanks and other works of irrigation, which the native rulers constructed, and which the British Government has allowed to decay. The fact is overlooked, that most of these were already in a state of decay before the country came into our possession; long periods of disorder and military devastation having destroyed the funds which should have repaired them, and the security which would have admitted of their repair. Many works which are supposed to have fallen into decay, never were completed: many were allowed to decay by the native sovereigns; for it was only occasionally that a prince, of unusual talents and vigilant economy, had funds to spare for such purposes; and the same prince who would commence new works with which his own name was to be connected, would often neglect to keep up those of his predecessors. Whether it is a just subject of censure, that the restoration of these old works was not commenced earlier, is a question depending on many and various considerations; but the activity in this department for many years past has been exemplary.
The Western and Eastern Jumna canals were of ancient construction, but had fallen into disrepair and become useless to the country, until again brought into activity by the labours of the Company’s officers at a sufficiently early date to admit of a full estimation of the benefits which the country has reaped from their restoration. The main line of the Western Jumna Canal is in length 445 miles. In the famine year, 1837-38, the gross value of the crops saved by the water of this canal was estimated at £1,462,800; of which about one-tenth was paid to Government as land and water rent; while the remainder supported, during a year of devastating famine in other districts, the inhabitants of nearly 500 villages.
The works originally projected for the restoration of the Eastern Jumna Canal were completed in 1830; but considerable improvements have been effected since that date at a large expense. In 1853, the Court of Directors sanctioned an expenditure of £15,276 for improving this canal, so as to economize the water, facilitate its distribution, and correct the malarious state of the country on its banks. It is stated, that on the 1st of May, 1852, the clear profit to Government on this canal had been £9,759.
Up to 1847-48, the expenditure incurred on these and some minor works in the North-western Provinces had amounted to about £557,000, while the amount received in direct canal revenue was in all £546,000. The quantity of land brought under the influence of irrigation was 1,300,000 acres, yielding produce of the annual value of £2,500,000, and supporting a population of 600,000 souls.
The history of the Ganges Canal, the greatest work of irrigation ever constructed, belongs to a more recent period. The employment of the water of the Ganges for irrigation purposes appears to have been first contemplated by Colonel Colvin, who, on delivering charge of his office of superintendent of canals to his successor, the present Sir Proby Cautley, recommended the project to his consideration.58 Colonel Cautley carefully examined the country through which the canal would pass, and the scheme was, in 1841, brought under the consideration of the home authorities, who gave it their cordial support,59 subject to a further examination of the project by a committee of engineer officers. The committee’s report was favourable;60 but various difficulties intervened, and the work cannot be said to have been fairly commenced, on a scale commensurate with its importance, till the year 1848.
The total length of the Ganges Canal and its branches, when completed, will be 898 1/2 miles, and it will furnish abundant irrigation for an area of 4,500,000 acres. The canal, in the words of the Lieutenant-Governor of the North-western Provinces, “presents a system of irrigation unequalled in vastness throughout the world; while the dimensions of the main channel, and the stupendous works of masonry which occur in its course, more particularly in the section between Roorkee and Hurdwar, render the work eminently one of national distinction and honour.”61 The amount expended on it up to the 1st of May 1856, had reached the sum of £1,560,000; and when completed, the total cost will fall little short of £2,000,000. The canal has but just begun to be brought into operation; but it is estimated by Colonel Baird Smith, the director, that the annual produce of the land already watered by it is of the value of from £150,000 to £200,000; and that when the canal is in full operation, the value will ultimately reach the enormous sum of £7,000,000.62
On the 30th April, 1856, the canal had been carried so far that the water flowed continuously through 449 1/2 miles of the main trunk and terminal branches. The extent of main channels of distribution (rajbuhas) completed, was 435 1/2 miles, and 817 miles more were in active progress.
The canal is fitted also for purposes of navigation, but it has not yet been made available to the public for this purpose, although extensively used by the Government for the transport of materials. Colonel Baird Smith states that the canal closes its first year of work (1855-56) with an aggregate revenue, from all sources, of rather more than Rs. 60,000, having watered during the year about 55,000 acres of land, and having placed beyond the risk of serious damage from drought, an area of cultivation extending over about 166,000 acres, distributed among 1,134 villages.
In the Punjab, the canals are of two kinds, inundation canals and permanent canals. The inundation canals are cuts from the rivers, which are empty during the winter, because the water is not then high enough to enter them; but as the water rises in the spring, from the melting of the snows, these channels fill, and remain full until late in autumn. The fertility of the South-western Punjab mainly depends on these canals, and in a former age they appear to have been conducted from all the rivers; their course being traceable by the ruins not only of villages but of cities and public buildings, which depended for existence on their fertilizing influence. Such of these canals as were found in working order at the annexation, have been maintained, improved, and enlarged; and plans and estimates have been formed for the restoration of others. As yet, however, the greater part of the funds which could be spared for the purpose, have been devoted to the construction and improvement of permanent canals. In 1849, the enlargement and extension of the Huslee Canal, stated to be capable of irrigating 70,000 begahs of land, was sanctioned, and it is now in good working order.63 But this will ultimately be superseded by the Baree Doab Canal for irrigation and navigation.64 The length of this new work is about 450 miles; the original estimate of the cost was £530,000; but more extensive works than were at first expected having been found necessary, and the rates of labour having proved much dearer than those calculated, the ultimate cost will fall little short of a million sterling. In May 1856, more than 325 miles had been excavated; and it was hoped that the canal would be opened in 1859. The expected return is 12 lacs of rupees, or £120,000 per annum.
The cultivation of the province of Sind is dependent on the rise of the river Indus, whose waters are distributed over the face of the country by a network of canals of greater or smaller dimensions. About two and a half lacs (£25,000) are annually expended in clearing these canals from the deposits of silt left in them by the receding waters. The principal works which have received special sanction, are the widening and deepening of the Begaree Canal in Upper Sind, at a cost of £13,000 (expected return £11,900 per annum), and the improvement and extension of the Foolalie Canal, at a cost of £15,083.
In the Madras Presidency, the means of artificial irrigation are chiefly obtained by the construction of tanks or reservoirs for preserving the monsoon rains, and storing them up for use in the dry season, and of “anicuts,” or dams across the beds of rivers, by which the waters are maintained at a level higher than that of the country, in order to be from thence conducted over its surface. Of the latter class of works, the most worthy of notice are those which have been constructed on the Coleroon, the Godavery, and the Kistna.
The commencement of the Coleroon works is said to be traceable to the second century of our era. Imperfectly executed in the first instance, they were found, when the country came into our possession in 1801, to be very defective; and notwithstanding the remedial measures adopted, the bed of the river continued to rise, from the deposit of silt; the extent of land which the means of irrigation could reach, diminished; the revenue fell off, and the condition of the people was gradually deteriorating. This state of things appears to have reached its acme about 1829-30. Plans and estimates were then framed, and from 1836 the work was regularly and vigorously prosecuted.65 The total expenditure on the Upper and Lower Coleroon anicuts, up to their completion, amounted, as far as can be ascertained, to upwards of £80,000. In addition to this sum, subsidiary works for conveying irrigation over the districts of Tanjore, and portions of Trichinopoly and South Arcot, were constructed, at a cost of about £100,000.
The average quantity of land watered annually from the Coleroon and Cauvery prior to 1836, is given at 630,613 acres. Since the improvements, the average (up to 1850) was 716,524 acres; being an increase of 85,911. The annual increase of revenue has been about £44,000; and it may be assumed that the agricultural community have benefited to the extent of at least £66,000 per annum, from the extension of the area of irrigation. It is further calculated that at least an equal amount is added to the value of the annual produce, by the better irrigation of the lands which the waters already reached.
An expenditure of £47,575 for the construction of the Godavery anicut was sanctioned in 1846. It was then anticipated that the total cost, with compound interest at 5 per cent, would be recovered in ten years, and that thenceforward a clear profit would be returned of at least £9,000 per annum.66 The work has, however, proved much more costly than was expected. Up to 1852, the amount expended was £130,000, and a further outlay of £110,000 was expected to be required, which, with £24,000 allowed for annual repairs during its completion, would raise the total expenditure on the works (including a system of roads and an important line of inland navigation) to £264,000. The amount expended has, it is stated, been already repaid by the increased receipts; and the Madras Public Works Commissioners of 1852 (to one of whom, Colonel Cotton, the merit of this important work is in a great measure due) estimate that when the works shall be in full operation, the total increase of revenue will not be less than £300,000 per annum, while the gain to the people, by enabling them to cultivate the more valuable products, such as sugar-cane, rice, etc., instead of the ordinary dry crops, will exceed £3,000,000 per annum.67
The anicut across the Kistna river was commenced in 1853. The original estimate of the cost was £155,000;68 but it is probable that this amount will be to some extent exceeded. It is intended, by 290 miles of irrigation channels distributed on both sides of the river, to supply water sufficient for 280,000 acres of rice cultivation, or 350,000 of rice, sugar, and possibly cotton, combined. The results anticipated are, an increase of £60,000 in the revenue of Government, and a gain of £90,000 per annum to the agricultural community.
In 1854, sanction was given to an expenditure of £86,611 for the construction of an anicut across the Palar river, in North Arcot, and of the works subsidiary to it. The expected increase of revenue was stated at £18,470 per annum, or, deducting ten per cent for repairs, £16,623.
Very large sums have in the aggregate been spent in the construction of new, and still more in the repair and restoration of old, tanks and wells, both in the Madras Presidency and in the other parts of India which depend on works of that description for water supply. In some hill districts, ravines have been dammed up, and a head of water obtained for the irrigation of the adjacent valleys or plains. This was the plan of Colonel Dixon’s irrigation works in Mhairwarra;69 and a system of such works had begun to be executed in Bundelcund, when the disturbances broke out.
A disposition has been of late shown to form companies for the execution of profitable works of irrigation, on certain conditions to be granted by the State. In September last, the Indian Governments were directed to take this subject into deliberate consideration, and to frame rules under which the aid of private companies in the construction of such works might most beneficially be employed; and readiness was expressed to give to such companies a guarantee of interest, on the same footing as railway companies.70
Roads and Navigable Canals
Next in importance to irrigation works, are the means of internal communication. Whatever may have been the degree of care bestowed by the Hindoo and Mahomedan Governments on the former object, it has not been pretended that they did anything for the latter. It was never their practice to lay out money in the construction of permanent roads, or in the formation of canals for navigation. The plains of India are traversable by carts, and even by armies, without made roads, throughout the dry season; and neither (in general) military movements, nor commercial transport, were carried on during the rains. Roads, therefore, in India, were not, as in some countries, a matter of absolute necessity; and in this respect, whatever has been done at all, has been done by the British Government.
Grand Trunk Road
The most important line of road in India is the Grand Trunk Road from Calcutta to Delhi, through Hooghly, Burdwan, and Benares, and including either in the main line, or by means of branches, all the principal cities of the North-west Provinces. This road, 837 miles in extent, has been gradually brought to its present state of a thoroughly well-formed road, metalled and bridged, except a few of the larger rivers, which are still crossed by ferries; but over all these (it is believed), except the Ganges and the Soane, bridges are in course of construction. This road, with its continuation to Kurnal (and now to Lahore, which is in course of completion), has been divided into different portions, each under the charge of a separate engineer officer, with an establishment for the purposes of construction, or of maintenance and protection, as the case may be. The cost of the Grand Trunk Road as far as Delhi had been, up to the year 1848, £489,100, and the annual expense of maintaining it was then estimated at £35,000.
Since the annexation of the Punjab, a continuation of the Grand Trunk Road from Lahore to Peshawur, a distance of 275 miles, has been in progress. This road also is to be completely metalled and bridged throughout. The cost was estimated, when the work was sanctioned in 1852, at £154,848. By means of this road a direct line of communication will have been established between Calcutta and the extreme boundary of the British territory to the north-west, a distance of 1,500 miles. Besides this, many other roads in the Punjab, and among them roads from Jullundur to Lahore, and from Lahore to Mooltan, have been undertaken.
The sea has been mainly relied on for communication with Madras; but roads are now in course of formation, which will provide a line of continuous communication by land.
Great Deccan Road
The land communication with Western India is carried on by way of the Grand Trunk Road to Benares, onward by Mirzapore and Jubbulpore to Nagpore, and thence to Bombay. The road beyond Mirzapore, under the name of the Great Deccan Road, was commenced thirty years ago, but was kept up only as a fair-weather road till within the last few years, when arrangements were made for its being thoroughly raised, metalled, and bridged. The distance from Mirzapore to Nagpore or Kamptee, is nearly four hundred miles. Estimates amounting to £11,659 were sanctioned by the Court of Directors in 1856, for bridging the portion of road between Mirzapore and Jubbulpore, which had been already metalled; £25,084 were also sanctioned for raising and metalling the portion between Jubbulpore and Kamptee, and measures were further authorized to bridge this portion of the road.
Agra and Bombay Road
Another great and important line, the Agra and Bombay road, 735 miles in length, was commenced in 1840. In 1854, the Court sanctioned an annual expenditure of £9,880 for the maintenance and improvement of the portion of this road between Agra and the frontier of the Bombay Presidency.
Dacca and Chittagong Road
After the annexation of Pegu, roads were projected by way of Dacca to Arracan, from which province a road was to be carried over the mountains to Prome. Great difficulty was experienced in laying out a road from Calcutta to Dacca, and it is probable that this part of the project will not be carried into effect; the traffic of this district, so intersected by tidal channels, being left to be carried on by water, unless it shall be found practicable to form a railway. A road to Jessore (the line of communication with Assam and Burmah) was however sanctioned, at a cost of £41,720 on a rough estimate. From Dacca to Chittagong, considerable progress has been made in the formation of a road, or rather in the completion, as a first-class road, of the road which, though in a most inefficient state, previously existed. From Arracan into Pegu, the task of forming a road across the mountains by the Toungoop Pass has been most successfully accomplished by Lieutenant Forlong.71
In Pegu itself, no time was lost after the acquisition of the province, in commencing improved means of communication. The sanction of the home authorities was sought and given to roads from Rangoon to Prome, a distance of nearly two hundred miles, at an estimated cost of £160,000, and from Martaban to Toungoo viâ Sitang.
Besides the great lines of communication above enumerated, a multitude of shorter lines have been constructed, at the entire cost of Government, in Bengal, the North-western Provinces, and the Punjab, while considerable sums have annually been expended in the two former divisions of territory from local funds. Among the roads either completed or under construction at the expense of Government, is one from a point on the East-India Railway to Darjeeling (roughly estimated at about £200,000); another from Doobee, on the Grand Trunk Road, to Patna (cost £115,000); numerous roads in the Saugor and Nerbudda territories; and a road from the plains to Simla and the other hill stations, continued through the mountains to Chini in Thibet. The district roads were, until within the last few years, maintained from the profits of the ferries kept up by Government; but there are now also appropriated to this purpose, in Bengal, the surplus tolls on the Nuddea rivers and the Calcutta canals, amounting altogether to £50,000, and the surplus proceeds of various local funds established for other purposes. In the North-western Provinces, one per cent on the land revenue is contributed in equal portions by the Government and by the landowners, for the purpose of district roads; the landowners being thus freed from the obligation which previously lay on them, of keeping in repair the public roads which passed through their lands. In these provinces, as in Bengal, the ferry funds are appropriated to district roads, and they amount to about £20,000.
The first step to the systematic prosecution of road-making in the Madras Presidency was taken in 1845, by the appointment of an officer to the charge of the main or trunk lines of road, and the appropriation to the maintenance and improvement of the roads, of the annual sum of £40,000. The roads under the charge of the superintendent were, the Western Road, to the Mysore frontier towards Bangalore (200 miles); the Southern Road, to Trichinopoly (205 miles); the Northern Road, to the Bengal frontier, with a branch to Cuddapah (785 miles); and the Sumpajee Ghaut Road, from the western frontier of Mysore to Mangalore (105 miles). Up to May 1851, £37, 121 had been expended on the Western Road, exclusive of the cost of superintendence; and the road had been made passable for travelling-carriages at the rate of six miles an hour. Besides the road department under the charge of the superintendent, the Civil Engineers of districts were charged with the improvement of the district roads, under the orders of the Collectors; and the care of roads in some districts was under the officers of the Military Board. The expenditure on roads, bridges, and ghauts, under the Madras Presidency, increased in the five years from 1846 to 1850, from an average of £16,179 to one of £42,076. The expenditure in 1849, 1850, and 1851, was respectively £45,149, £58,197, and £59,680. In the succeeding year the department came under an improved organization; and the outlay in 1855-56, the last year for which it can be ascertained, was £193,930; to which may be added £30,957 for navigable canals,—in all, £224,887.
Among the works in progress in the Madras Presidency for the improvement of the means of communication, is the formation of the East Coast Canal, to be effected by the junction of the various back-waters, and of the local canals which in several places already exist, completed by entirely new channels to be excavated. The expenditure on this work, up to 1855-56, amounted to £14,171.
The made roads in the Bombay Presidency, twenty-five years ago, were almost entirely limited to the presidency town and its immediate neighbourhood; the road from Bombay (or rather Panwell, on the other side of the harbour) to Poonah, being the only road to a distant place on which any considerable expenditure had taken place. This road has since been greatly improved, and supplied with bridges. The Bhore Ghaut, or pass, on this road, formerly accessible only to bullocks, and coolies (or porters), had in 1830, at an expense of about £13,000, been made easy for carriages: the Thull Ghaut, on the Bombay and Agra road, has since been similarly improved; and roads over the Khoonda Ghaut, the Tulkut Ghaut, and the Koomtudee Ghaut, to the southward, have since been put under construction, to facilitate the communications between the coast and the interior of the country.
The portion of the Agra and Bombay road within the jurisdiction of the Bombay Government is 270 miles in length: the expenditure on it had amounted, in 1848, to £75,390; and since that time a considerable outlay has taken place, especially on the improvement of the Thull Ghaut and the road below it.
A system of roads for Sind, at an estimated cost of from £20,000 to £30,000, received the sanction of the home authorities in 1854, and is in progress.
New Organization of Public Works
From the preceding details it will be seen that very considerable sums had been expended on the construction and improvement of roads in India at a much earlier period than is frequently represented. But the extraordinary activity with which these operations have been carried on dates from 1850. In January of that year, the home authorities, being dissatisfied with the progress made in the prosecution of public works throughout India, deliberately reviewed, in a despatch to the Government of India, the system under which such works had, up to that time, been carried on, and found, in the division of responsibility and the absence of unity of action, ground for the opinion that a great change was required.72 In consequence of the orders contained in that despatch, a Commission was appointed in each presidency, to consider and report on the subject. Their investigations have led to the formation of a separate department of Public Works in each presidency, based on one uniform plan, and to the addition of a secretary in the department of Public Works to the secretariat of the Government of India. From this period to the commencement of the present unhappy disturbances, the activity of the department has been incessant; the engineer officers of the three Indian armies supplying the higher order of professional skill, and the subordinate European superintendence being afforded by numerous non-commissioned officers possessing the requisite qualifications, and latterly by a considerable number of civil engineers, engaged in England, who have proved in many cases of the greatest value to the department.
Colleges of Civil Engineering
As a means of supplying well-qualified subordinates for the purpose of public works, a college for instruction in civil engineering was established in 1847. It was fixed at Roorkee, near the head of the Ganges Canal, the works and establishments at that place affording peculiar facilities for combining practical with theoretical instruction. The plan of the college was greatly enlarged in 1852; and its annual charge is about £7,000. The establishment of colleges of civil engineering at Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay, has subsequently been sanctioned.73
The preceding statements relate only to works constructed by public money. The construction of railways is carried on by private capital, with a guarantee of interest by the Government. It is proper to give a brief summary of the railway-works which have been sanctioned and commenced.
Four thousand one hundred and fifty-eight miles of railway have been sanctioned, and measures are being taken for their construction under a guarantee of interest, viz.:
By the East-Indian Railway Company, from Calcutta to Delhi, with branches from Burdwan to Raneegunge, and from Mirzapore to Jubbulpore, 1,400 miles.
By the Eastern Bengal Railway Company, from Calcutta to the Ganges at Koostree, near Pubnah (130 miles), being the first section of a line to Dacca, with a branch to Jessore; which, when completed, will form the basis of a system of railways for Eastern Bengal.
By the Madras Company, from Madras to the western coast at Beypore, 430 miles; and
From Madras, viâ Cuddapah and Bellary, to meet a line from Bombay at or near the river Kistna, 310 miles.
By the Great Indian Peninsula Company, from Bombay to Callian, thirty-three miles, with extensions,
North-east to Jubbulpore, to meet the line from Mirzapore, with a branch to Oomrawuttee and Nagpore, 818 miles; and south-east, viâ Poonah and Sholapore, to the Kistna river, to meet the line from Madras, 357 miles.
By the Sind and Punjab Company, from Kurrachee to a point on the Indus, at or near to Kotree, 120 miles; and from Moultan to Lahore and Amritsir in the Punjab, 230 miles.
By the Bombay, Baroda, and Central India Company, from Bombay to Surat, Baroda, and Ahmedabad, 330 miles.
The following statement shows the amount of capital which, it is estimated, will be required for the above extent of lines, and the amount of capital already issued:
In addition to this assistance by way of guarantee, the land for the railways (including compensation for all buildings thereon), and for their termini, has been given by Government. The value of this may be estimated at more than £1,000,000 for the above extent of line.
The lines in course of construction have been chosen for commercial, quite as much as for military and political, objects. In every case the existing channels of trade have been followed. The chief cotton-producing districts are provided with railway accommodation; and in one or two instances, such as the railway which connects the great cotton-field of Berar with Bombay, and the railway through Surat and Guzerat, the principal object is to develop the agricultural resources of those districts, and to bring their produce into communication with the sea.
At present only a small section is open in each Presidency, making about 400 miles in all; but 3,600 more are being constructed almost simultaneously. The following statement will show the sections now open, the periods at which other sections are to be opened, and at which the whole will be completed: [See pp. 138-9.]
The works for the trunk lines above described have been made suitable for locomotive engines, and are of a solid and permanent character, so that an uninterrupted communication will be maintained throughout the year.
The mileage cost of the lines which have been completed has been:
East Indian.—Calcutta to Raneegunge, 121 miles (including double line to Burdwan, and terminal stations), about £12,000 per mile.
Madras.—Madras to Arcot, sixty-five miles, about £5,500 per mile.
The data in respect to the line now open in the Bombay Presidency, constructed by the Great Indian Peninsula Railway Company, are not sufficiently complete to enable the actual mileage cost to be ascertained.
It is, perhaps, premature to judge of the success of Indian railways as commercial undertakings; but the line from Calcutta to Raneegunge is already
earning a profit of nearly seven per cent, being two per cent beyond the guaranteed rate of interest. The following table will show the extent of traffic on the East-Indian Railway for the year ending 31st December, 1856:
It may be observed that these are the results of the traffic on a line where the amount of merchandise conveyed is very small, compared with what it will become when the railway is continued to the Ganges at Rajmahal.
The numbers stated under the head of “Third Class,” in the above table, will in some degree indicate the extent to which the natives use the railway. The receipts from this class are nearly four times as great as from the two higher classes combined; the receipts from passenger traffic in the half-year ending 30th June 1856, having been:
In addition to the lines specified above, the Court have sanctioned the construction of one by the Calcutta and South-eastern Railway Company, from Calcutta to the Mutlah river, upon the same terms as to the provision of land, but without any guarantee of interest.
Even more important as a means of communication than railways, is the electric telegraph; the use of which, at the commencement of the late disturbances, may be said with scarcely any exaggeration to have saved our empire. Having already, in a wonderfully short space of time, connected the seats of the different Governments by lines of telegraph upwards of three thousand miles in length, the Government of India is now engaged in establishing additional lines of about the same extent, through which the most important places will be brought into communication with each other by alternative routes.
The lines established, and in course of construction, are:
1st. From Calcutta, viâ Benares, Cawnpore, Agra, Meerut, Delhi, Umritsir, and Lahore, to Peschawur; with a branch to Lucknow.
2nd. From Bombay to Agra, viâ Indore and Gwalior.
3rd. From Bombay to Madras, viâ Sattara, Bellary, and Bangalore.
4th. From Bombay along the coast, by Vingorla and Mangalore, to Cananore.
5th. From Bangalore to Ootacamund and Mahableshwar.
6th. From Benares, through the centre of the Peninsula, by Mirzapore, Jubbulpore, Nagpore, and Hyderabad, to Bellary.
7th. From Bombay, by Surat and Baroda, to Kurrachee.
8th. From Kurrachee, by Hyderabad (Sind) and Moultan, to Lahore.
9th. From Calcutta, by Dacca, Akyab, and Prome, to Pegu and Rangoon.
10th. From Calcutta to Madras, by the coast; and—
11th. From Madras, along the coast, by Pondicherry, Tranquebar, and Ramnad, to Ceylon.
The lines already established have cost, upon an average, about £50 per mile. Besides their inappreciable value to the Government for political and military purposes, they are freely used by the mercantile community. Though the charges are very moderate, the revenue, in the first year of working the lines, exceeded the expenses, and since then the receipts have been steadily increasing.
Early Educational Proceedings
The first measures of the English Government for aiding education in India were directed to the preservation of Oriental learning from decay; and several institutions, supported or endowed by Government, were maintained for that special purpose. A secondary object was the training for the service of Government, of men acquainted with the systems of law followed by the various religious communities, and constituting on certain subjects the rule binding on our tribunals.
The views of the Government, however, gradually underwent a great change; and, partly from the spontaneous action of the Government and its officers, partly by directions from home, the basis of the Government measures for promoting education was greatly widened, on the one hand by introducing the study of English into all the higher places of instruction under Government influence, and on the other by giving a much wider range and greater practical utility to the studies carried on in the vernacular or other Oriental languages.
All the Government educational institutions in Bengal have been either gradually brought within the scope of these principles, or were originally founded on them. Those institutions consisted, previously to 1854, of the Hooghly, Dacca, and Kishnaghur provincial colleges, with the schools attached to them: to these has since been added a college at Berhampore. At Calcutta itself, the Government contributed to the funds for the support of the Hindoo College and of the Mahomedan Madrissa, but there was no institution at the Presidency town open to all classes and creeds, at which an education of a high order was imparted. This deficiency was supplied in 1854, an arrangement being made by which the Hindoo College, as an exclusive institution, was abolished, and a Presidency College established, calculated to afford an education of the highest order, and open without restriction to all sections of the community.74 The cost of this institution will amount to above £10,000, when all the arrangements shall be complete. It amounted in 1855-56 to between £7,000 and £8,000. In addition to general education, provision is made in this institution for instruction in law and jurisprudence: medicine and civil engineering are otherwise provided for.
The Government colleges in the North-western Provinces consisted, in 1854, of those at Benares, Agra, Delhi, and Bareilly. In these, as at the Bengal colleges, education was imparted through the medium both of English and of the vernacular. The education given was of a very efficient character, and the students generally obtained employment in the service of Government, in which many of them fill situations of responsibility.
For a considerable period, the direct aid of Government to education, both in Bengal and in the North-western Provinces, was principally confined to the Government colleges, and to the schools which were attached or affiliated to them for the purpose of supplying them with students. In 1846, however, Mr. Thomason, the Lieutenant-Governor of the North-western Provinces, proposed a plan for the establishment throughout those provinces of a system of village schools, by means of an assignment of land by Government for the support of a schoolmaster in each village.75 In 1848 Mr. Thomason submitted amended proposals, confined to the establishment by Government of one school in each tehseel, as a model for the village schools, and the institution of a visiting agency, which, with a visitor-general at its head, should not only superintend the Government schools, but visit the village schools generally, for the purpose of assisting and aiding the masters, and rewarding the most deserving.76 The cost of this scheme, for all the districts of the North-western Provinces, was estimated at upwards of £20,000; but it was considered best to introduce the plan experimentally in eight districts, at a cost of £3,600 per annum (exclusive of the salary of the visitor-general): and this measure proved so successful in the selected districts, that its extension to all the thirty-one districts of the North-western Provinces was subsequently sanctioned, at a total cost of £17,207.77
Hulkabundee or Circle Schools
But valuable as were the general results of this scheme, and useful as were the tehseel schools to the inhabitants of the towns, the village schools (though the numbers attending them had considerably increased) did not improve as had been hoped; and a new plan was accordingly devised, with the best prospects of success, to meet the wants of the agricultural population. This is the establishment of hulkabundee or circle schools. Several villages conveniently situated for the purpose are grouped together, and in a central situation a school is established, at the joint cost of all the villages, none of which is more than two miles from the central school. For the support of these schools, the consent of landowners was sought to the appropriation of a small percentage on the amount of the Government revenue (one per cent being the amount fixed), of which half is contributed by Government and half by the landowners. The assent of the landowners to this plan has been obtained in many districts; and it will be made a condition of all future settlements, and has been so made as resettlements have taken place. It is estimated that when all the districts shall have been resettled (which will not be till 1874), £40,000 per annum will be thus available; of which £20,000 will be at the expense of Government, and £20,000 at that of the landowners.
In Bengal, the establishment of 101 vernacular schools had been authorized by the Government in 1844,78 shortly before the first proposals of Mr. Thomason. The schools were established at the places where they were thought most likely to succeed; but, except in a very few cases, they failed to attract scholars, the old indigenous schools, where nothing worthy of the name of education was afforded, proving more popular. In 1853 and 1854, accordingly, this system was superseded, in favour of the plan already adopted in the North-western Provinces, of a visitorial staff, model schools, and aid and encouragement to indigenous schools. The estimate for the plan, on the experimental scale proposed, amounted to about £7,000 per annum.79
Schools for Teachers
There was a normal school for the masters of vernacular schools at this time at Agra, which was working very well. At Calcutta, the Sanscrit College furnished a considerable number of masters suited for village schools.
Thus stood the arrangements of the Government for native education in India, when a new impulse was given to the subject by the orders from home in 1854.80 Before adverting to these, something must be said of what had previously been done in the two subordinate presidencies.
The history of education at Madras, up to a recent period, presents little beyond a record of failures. A plan was proposed by Sir Thomas Munro in 1822, and approved by the home authorities, for the establishment of provincial, district, and tehseel schools, throughout the Presidency, at an estimated cost of £5,000 per annum.81 Schools were established, but they proved failures, and were abolished. The University of Madras was nominally established by Lord Elphinstone’s Government;82 but in the only department of it which was really proceeded with—the lower department, or “High School”—the success was by no means great, and the number of pupils was quite disproportionate to the expense. The whole subject of education came under reconsideration in 1852, when a plan was laid down by the Government, which provided for the education of all classes in a way very much in accordance with that which has since been laid down for adoption throughout India; comprising a central institution at the Presidency, provincial colleges or high schools, zillah and tehseelee schools, with a system of inspection or visitation, and grants in aid.83 The University at Madras was at once remodelled; but little progress had been made, up to 1854, in carrying out the other parts of the plan, beyond the establishment of provincial schools at Cuddalore and Rajahmundry.
Colleges and Schools in Western India
The principal places of education in the Bombay Presidency are the Elphinstone Institution at Bombay, and the College at Poonah. These institutions, partly founded by native subscriptions and partly by the Government, were designed to afford a collegiate education of a high class, through the medium of the English language, a staff of professors being maintained for giving instruction in mathematics, English literature, natural philosophy, logic, mental and moral philosophy, political economy, etc. A high school was attached to the Elphinstone Institution, and a Sanscrit department to the Poonah College. In 1854-55 there was only one district of the Presidency in which there was not a Government English school. Vernacular schools had been established in many places at the expense of Government, but as the plan had not long been adopted of requiring any part of the cost to be defrayed from local resources, operations in this direction had been much limited by want of funds. Under a plan brought into operation shortly before 1854, the establishment of a school by Government was made conditional on a portion of the expense being defrayed by the inhabitants;84 and under this rule vernacular education was in course of steady extension up to 1854. A normal class for masters of Mahrattee schools existed at Poonah, and one for masters of Guzerattee schools at Surat.
Education Despatch of 1854
It is now time to advert to the despatch from the home authorities of the 19th of July 1854, which was designed to give as great an additional impulse to the operations of Government in the promotion of education, as had already been given to the department of Public Works. This despatch directed that the previous Boards of Education, which consisted of private persons and of Government officers in their private capacity, should be abolished, and that a department of Education, under a director, should be appointed in each Presidency and sub-Presidency. The limits which had previously been placed upon the total expenditure of each Government for educational purposes, were removed. The establishment of universities at the Presidency towns was directed, and minute instructions were given respecting the mode of their constitution. A great extension of vernacular education was contemplated, and orders were given for introducing the system of grants in aid to private institutions, dependent on the quality of the secular instruction given, as ascertained by a Government inspection.
Directors of Public Instruction
Effect was immediately given to these instructions, so far as regards the formation of the controlling establishments. Directors of Public Instruction were appointed in Bengal, the North-western Provinces, Madras, Bombay, and the Punjab, and under them inspectors and sub-inspectors of different grades, and in numbers proportioned to the territories to be superintended.
Grants in Aid
Rules for regulating grants in aid have been laid down,85 and considerable grants have been made under all the Governments. The amount of these grants was at first limited by the authorities in India to a certain percentage on the expenditure on Government institutions; but this limit has been taken off by instructions from home.86
Universities have been constituted, under acts of the Legislature of India, at Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay.87 Measures are also in progress for carrying out the objects of the despatch of 1854, as regards vernacular education in Bengal, Madras, and Bombay. In the North-western Provinces it has only been necessary to give greater extension, as had been previously intended, to the measures already introduced.
Medical Schools and Colleges
In addition to the institutions for giving a general education to the different classes of the community, either through English or the vernacular, colleges or schools for several branches of professional education are maintained at the different presidencies. Of the engineering colleges mention has already been made. Medical schools had from an early period been maintained at all the presidencies, to train persons for employment in the subordinate branches of the medical service, as compounders, dressers, native doctors, etc. These institutions were gradually raised in character, and for many years past have held the rank of colleges, in which medical education of a first-class character is afforded. They have, in consequence, received the “recognition” of the College of Surgeons in London; and the graduates of these colleges are entitled to all privileges which are conferred by the College of Surgeons on the members of the colonial medical institutions recognized by them.
Native Medical Service
The graduates almost invariably enter the service of Government, though some few, especially at Bombay, prefer private practice. To afford encouragement to the graduates of the colleges, and meet the want of well-qualified medical officers for the service of Government, a special native medical service has been created, under the title of Sub-Assistant Surgeons, for which a degree in one of the medical colleges of India is a necessary qualification. These officers are divided into three grades, promotion being regulated by the joint consideration of length of service and professional qualification, as ascertained by special examination. The principal use which has been made of this class, has been in connection with the Government dispensaries; but some few have been appointed to the charge of the smaller stations. Their professional qualifications are, in many cases, of a high order; and the triumph which has been effected over the religious prejudices of the natives, in popularizing the dissection of dead bodies, is a proof that this indirect mode of correcting their superstitions, by the influence of useful knowledge, is a highly effectual one.
The important subject of school books has been for many years attended to. In the North-western Provinces a very large number of vernacular books, either originals or translations, have been prepared under the auspices of the Director of Education; and a highly efficient system is in force for their sale and distribution among the schools of all classes. At Calcutta and Bombay, much has also been done; and arrangements have more recently been made for the supply of school books in the difficult vernacular languages of the Madras Presidency.
Educational Test for Public Employment
As a powerful stimulus to the general population to avail themselves of the means of education now placed so generally within their reach, rules have been laid down absolutely requiring a certain amount of education in all persons employed in the public service, except in situations of the lowest class.88 Even for those lower employments, the officers intrusted with the appointments are expected to select persons capable of reading and writing, provided they are qualified in other respects; and returns are required, under most of the Governments, of appointments made, with special reference to this point.
An inroad has begun to be made upon native prejudices even in the department of female education. The late Mr. Drinkwater Bethune89 benevolently established a school for Hindoo girls at Calcutta, which, after his death, was adopted by the Marchioness of Dalhousie,90 supported by the Marquis of Dalhousie until he left India, and is now maintained as a Government institution under the special orders of the home authorities.
A highly satisfactory commencement of female education in the North-western Provinces was made in 1856, by the exertions of a meritorious native functionary, the sub-inspector of schools, Pundit Gopal Sing.91 By his influence ninety-seven female schools were established in the city and district of Agra, and each school was attended on an average by twenty pupils. The good example has been followed by the formation of female schools in the zillahs of Muttra and Mynpooree. In the Bombay Presidency, schools for females have been established by natives at Poonah, which are stated to be in satisfactory operation; and some native ladies of wealth and influence at Ahmedabad have lately endowed a female school at that city.
Female education is included within the operations of the enlarged Government scheme of education, and it is hoped that progress will be gradually made in its diffusion.
Various important measures have been adopted within the last twenty years, both for the improvement of the productions of India and for the introduction of new products.
In 1840, ten experienced cotton-planters from the United States were engaged, and proceeded to India to conduct, on account of Government, the experimental cultivation of superior kinds of cotton. In the majority of the districts the experiment failed from unsuitability of climate, but in parts of South-western India it was successful, and a large cultivation of American cotton in those districts now takes place. It is to be remarked that these districts are near the coast, and united with it by improved roads; and, indeed, with the exception of Berar (into the heart of which a line of railway will shortly be carried), all the principal cotton districts of India have ready access to water-carriage, and are not materially impeded by the remaining imperfections of the internal communications.
A most complete body of information on the cotton cultivation of India, and on the suitableness of the various local soils and climates to the cultivation both of the native and the foreign varieties of the plant, has been obtained through the exertions of the American planters and of the servants of Government, and has been condensed and made public in the two works entitled, On the Culture and Commerce of Cotton in India, and Review of the Measures which have been adopted in India for the improved Culture of Cotton, by an eminent officer of the East-India Company, the late lamented Dr. Royle;92 so distinguished as a man of science, and whose thorough knowledge and understanding both of the Indian climates, and of general climatology in its relation to vegetable productions, has never been excelled, if equalled.
Indian Fibrous Productions
The same eminent authority, in his work entitled, The Fibrous Productions of India, has made known an amount of internal resources, of the greatest value to this country (especially in the contingency of a Russian war), of which no one, even of those who had the strongest private interest in the subject, had a suspicion.93 The collection of raw products, brought together from all parts of India for the Paris Exhibition of 1855, has vastly extended the knowledge accessible to manufacturers and merchants, of the numerous articles suited to the European market, and capable of being imported in any quantity, which only await the necessary attention and the necessary funds on the part of enterprising individuals. An Industrial Museum has recently been formed at the India House for the reception of these and other choice specimens of Indian produce and manufactures.
The Assam tea has been brought into regular cultivation; and the teas of China have been introduced as a staple product of agriculture, at the expense of Government, into the parts of the Himalayas which are suitable in point of climate. Mr. Fortune was employed in China to obtain a large quantity of the best seeds, and to engage Chinese experienced in the growth and preparation of the article.94 There is already a considerable production of the higher qualities of tea in these mountains; large tracts of waste land suited to the cultivation are now placed at the disposal of persons desirous of engaging in it, and seeds and plants are given largely and gratuitously from the Government experimental establishments, to all who apply for them with a view to cultivation.
Hospitals and Dispensaries
The Indian Governments have long been active in placing the means of medical relief within reach of the population. The rules in force provide for the establishment of a civil hospital or a dispensary, in every town the inhabitants of which have shown their appreciation of the benefit by either providing funds for the erection of a building, or contributing towards the support of the necessary establishments, or by having for some time actually supported a dispensary on a limited scale from their own resources. These institutions are mostly managed by natives trained at the medical colleges; a general superintendence resting with the civil surgeons of the different stations. Their success has been very great. The number of hospitals and dispensaries, and of the patients treated in them, during the last year for which returns have been received, was as follows:
Measures have also been taken for many years, and with much success, for the diffusion of vaccination, not only in the British territories, but also in the native states.
Of late years, the establishment of public libraries in the provincial towns has been commenced. The assistance of Government is usually given in the form of a donation of books, and a regular supply of the publications issued by Government, which now include all the most interesting and important papers on the public records, relating to the condition and administration of the country.
Improvement of Native States
Independently of what has been done for the benefit of our own subjects, much has also been effected, through the influence of the British Government and its diplomatic officers, to improve the administration of native states. It is hardly possible to exaggerate the disorder and confusion in which most of these were plunged at the time when they first became connected with the British Government. Those among the Mahratta states which had any considerable military strength, made annual expeditions, called Mooluckgheery circuits, for the purpose of conquering or devastating the possessions of their weaker neighbours; and hordes of undisciplined adventurers, known by the name of Pindarries, ranged with fire and sword from one end to the other of the part of India which was under native rule, occasionally invading and ravaging even the British possessions. All this is at an end. The native states are as safe from one another, and from invaders and plunderers from without, as the British dominions. The princes and chiefs are bound by treaties to refer to our arbitration all their differences;95 and experience has given them the fullest reliance on our impartiality and justice. Boundary disputes between villages of different states, and complaints from the subjects of one against those of another for robberies or other injuries, are adjudicated either by a British officer, or by Courts of Vakeels, composed of representatives of the neighbouring chiefs, presided over by a British functionary. In some parts of India, and particularly of Guzerat, which are divided among a great number of petty chiefs, too weak or too little civilized to control effectually their turbulent subjects, Criminal Courts have been established, consisting of a British diplomatic officer and assessors selected from among the native chiefs or nobles, for the trial of offences against the general peace of the country. These courts are a powerful agent of civilization. They are gradually weaning a very backward portion of the natives of India from their barbarous usages. They have nearly suppressed all the classes of crimes which arose out of a generally disturbed state of society; and in dealing with offences which originate in real or supposed grievances, they make due allowance for provocation, and redress the wrongs even of those whom they are obliged to punish for seeking justice by unlawful means. In the more considerable native states, our influence is exerted on the side of good, in every mode permitted by positive engagement. Not only have the British representatives incessantly, and to a great degree successfully, incited native princes to prohibit and suppress the barbarous usages which we have ceased to tolerate in our own territories; but defects have been pointed out, and improvements suggested, in their revenue and judicial administrations. Financial disorder and general misgovernment have been the subject of grave remonstrance, followed up by such positive marks of displeasure as were consistent with the respective treaties. The minorities, which so often occur in native states, have been made use of to appoint capable ministers, to reform abuses, and restore the country in an improved condition to the young chiefs; who, having been in the mean time for the most part educated in European knowledge, and initiated into public business under the eye of a British officer, are often grateful for the care taken of their interest, and continue, after their accession to power, the improved systems commenced during their minority. The present Scindia and Holkar, and the Rao of Kutch, as well as many others, may be cited as instances.96 One native ruler, the late Nuwab of Rampore, had actually been a deputy-collector in the service of the British Government.97 Another, the Rao of Ulwur, on his accession, invited some of our native functionaries to conduct his administration, and reform it after the English model.98 The Rajpoot states, formerly almost in a state of chronic anarchy, have been rendered peaceful and prosperous, by judicious mediation between the princes and their feudatories, and judicious guidance of both, through advice and influence.
Protection and Improvement of the Oppressed Races
There still remain to be commemorated a set of proceedings, among the most interesting and the most honourable to our Government, which have distinguished the present century—the measures for raising and civilizing the oppressed races.
There are numerous hill tribes in various parts of India, known under the names of Bheels, Coolies, Goands, Mhairs, Meenas, Mhangs, Ramoosees, and others, who are believed to have been the aboriginal population of the country, driven from the plains by the invasion of the Hindoos. These people had been treated like wild beasts by the native Governments, and, by a natural consequence, had become the scourge of the country. Whenever the Government was weak, they destroyed all security in the neighbouring plains by their depredations, and had universally acquired the character of irreclaimable robbers.
The first person who is known to have tried the effect of justice and conciliation on any of these tribes, was Mr. Cleveland, an officer high in the civil service of the Company, in the latter part of the last century.99 The scene of his benevolent exertions was the Bhaugulpore Hills, in the north-east of Bengal; and the feelings which he left behind him among the rude people of the district were such, that they long continued to pay religious honours to his tomb. The example thus set has been largely followed in the present generation. One of the first signal instances of success was in the case of the Mhairs, who inhabit a hill district near Ajmere. Colonel Hall, now on the Company’s retired list, originated the movement, and it was worthily carried on by Colonel Dixon, recently deceased.100 In Western India, the honour of the initiative belongs to Mr. J.P. Willoughby, then a very young officer, who by similar means established peace and order among the Bheels of Rajpeepla, a wild district of Guzerat.101 The next instance was that of the Bheels of the Adjuntee range, in Southern Candeish, through the agency chiefly of Colonel Ovans, and of the present Sir James Outram;102 and the measures which proved successful with these Bheels, were successively extended to many similar tribes in different parts of Central India. Another example is that of the Khoonds in Orissa, among whom a policy of the same general character was carried into practice by Major Macpherson.103 This was the tribe who, as mentioned in a previous part of the present paper, have been induced to abolish human sacrifices.
The mode in which these objects were accomplished was in all cases fundamentally the same. They were effected by the admirable power of individual character. Into fastnesses, through which bodies even of disciplined troops had vainly endeavoured to force their way, these officers penetrated, in some cases almost unattended. They trusted themselves to the people. By their courage and frankness they gained their confidence. They made them understand that they were not considered as wild animals to be hunted down; that nothing but their good was intended; and the object which had for years been vainly sought by force, was accomplished by explanation and persuasion. The robber tribes were induced to settle as peaceful cultivators. Lands were assigned to them, tools supplied, and money advanced, for cultivation. In Mhairwarra the Government also constructed important works of irrigation. The more daring spirits were formed into irregular corps, under British officers, and employed to preserve the peace of the districts of which they had once been the principal disturbers. In no single instance has this policy failed. The agricultural colonies composed of these people have all prospered, and the districts which they formerly devastated have become, and remained, among the most free from crime to be found in India. In the late disturbances, not one of the corps composed of these people is known to have mutinied. The Mhairwarra battalion has not only remained faithful, but is, in the present crisis, a valuable part of our local military strength; and there has been no disturbance whatever in that district. Among the Bheels of Candeish there has been a rising, which, by showing that the predatory spirit is not yet thoroughly extinct, enhances the merit of the system of measures by which, for nearly a quarter of a century, it has been kept dormant. But the corps formed from among these very people by Sir James Outram has done useful service to Government in the present emergency.
The last great example of the success of this policy was given by Colonel John Jacob in Sind, and only differs from the others because the tribes with whom he had to do were not oppressed aborigines, but the proud and warlike mountaineers of the Afghan and Beloochee frontier.104 The success has been among the most striking yet experienced. For some time after the conquest of Sind, the frontier forays of these tribes kept the country in a perpetual state of disturbance. The attempts to retaliate on them in their hills had been failures, sometimes almost disasters, but had laid the foundation of that knowledge of our power, which enabled subsequent conciliatory measures to have their full effect. Colonel Jacob applied to these people the principles of Mhairwarra and Candeish. He settled on land those who were willing to cultivate, and organized from among the remainder a local military police. The effect is, that in the frontier districts, what was lately a desert waste, is now in great part a thriving agricultural country, yielding a rapidly increasing revenue. For some years there has been scarcely a crime of magnitude on the entire Sind frontier; and the corps which was raised partly from the former devastators of the country, is the celebrated Jacob’s Horse.
The preceding review of the improvements in Indian administration, completed or commenced during the present generation, cannot more properly terminate than with this interesting piece of history. It is not pretended that the enumeration approaches to completeness. The instances given are merely some of the most important achievements of a Government, of which perpetual striving towards improvement is the vital principle. But it is believed that even so imperfect a summary is sufficient to justify the assertion, that few governments, even under far more favourable circumstances, have attempted so much for the good of their subjects, or carried so many of their attempts to a successful and beneficial issue. A Government of foreigners, over a people most difficult to be understood, and still more difficult to be improved,—a Government which has had all its knowledge to acquire, by a slow process of study and experience, and often by a succession of failures (generally, however, leading to ultimate success)—has a right to take pride to itself for having accomplished so much; and most certainly cannot be justly reproached, by any existing Government or people, with not having effected more.
In answer to inquiries made by the Court of Directors in 1854 respecting the effects hitherto produced by the survey on litigation, crime, and the value of landed property, the Sudder Court say, in regard to “those classes of offences which would be likely to be influenced by the completion of the survey,” that “it is satisfactory to observe” the “concurrent testimony” of the criminal judges “to the diminution which has taken place in this description of crime.” This result is partly attributed to the successful operation of Act IV of 1840, which enables the magistrate to give an effectual remedy in cases of dispossession or ejectment;105 but, they add, “the evidence of the survey papers must have greatly facilitated the proceedings of the magistrate, whose proceedings under the Act in question are determined solely by possession.”
In regard to the effect on litigation, the judges say, “The ordinary result of the survey has been to elicit many local differences and disputes which were lying dormant, until the survey award presented an opportunity to gain an advantage over his adversary;” “but as, under Act XIII of 1848,106 such suits must be instituted within three years from the final award of the revenue authorities, the litigation thus incidentally raised is afterwards almost entirely brought to an end.”
On the question as to the “result of the survey in giving further security to the titles of estates, and generally increasing the value of landed property, the opinions of the local officers are, on the whole, satisfactory. The testimony of all is strongly in favour of the additional security now given to title; and the judge of Shahabad observes, that on the whole the survey is felt to be a blessing to the community.”
The Board of Revenue, Lower Provinces, state that “it is quite clear that the value of the survey records as a basis for butwarrah and settlement proceedings is generally acknowledged. In some districts, butwarrah is applied for without any new measurement, solely on the data furnished by the survey. Their utility in the decision of boundary disputes, also, is universally admitted.” In regard to the effect of the survey on the repression of affrays, the Board quote the opinion of Mr. Elliott, Commissioner of Burdwan,107 that, “by removing the cause of affrays, the survey cannot fail to produce an effect greater even than the most stringent legislation.”
In the province of Cuttack (not permanently settled) the survey and settlement operations were combined, and there “the improvement is very perceptible. In Cuttack the value of landed property is said to have increased twenty-five per cent, and fifty per cent in Balasore; but Pooree,* owing to frequent droughts and inundations, is an exception.” “The survey,” the Commissioner (of Cuttack) remarks, “is worth much more to Government and the people than it has cost.”108
SURVEY AND ASSESSMENT OF THE NORTH-WESTERN PROVINCES
The objects of the survey were, first, to fix on each mehal or estate an assessment “calculated so as to leave a fair surplus profit;” and “for the punctual payment of that sum, the land is held to be perpetually hypothecated to the Government;” secondly, to determine who are the “person or persons entitled to receive this surplus profit. The right thus determined is declared to be heritable and transferable, and the persons entitled to it are considered the proprietors of the land, from whom the engagements for the annual payment of the sum assessed by Government on the mehal are taken.”109 The proprietors, when there are more than one, being jointly and severally responsible for the sum assessed on each mehal, it also became necessary to determine the rule according to which they should share the profits, or make good the losses on the estate. When the proprietors were numerous, as was generally the case, engagements were taken only from a few of the body (lumberdars) who, for themselves and their co-proprietors, undertook to manage the mehal, and pay the sum assessed on it.
The first step in the process was to adjust the boundaries of each mouzah, or village, and to prepare a map, showing each field comprised in the mouzah. This being completed, the settlement officer proceeded to determine the assessment to be fixed on the land, by estimating, with as near an approach to accuracy as the means at his disposal would permit, what might be expected to be the net produce* to the proprietor during the period of settlement; and of this amount about two-thirds was fixed as the demand of Government. The village was then offered on these terms to the proprietors, and if they considered them too high, and declined to engage, the Government either leased the estate to a farmer, or collected the rents direct from the cultivators; the excluded proprietors being entitled to a percentage (called malikana) at not less than five per cent on the revenue, and also having the right, at the expiration of twelve years, of claiming to be readmitted to the management.
The fiscal operation of fixing the amount of revenue to be paid by the village being completed, the next process was to ascertain and record the rights possessed by all parties, whether called proprietors or not. When discordant claims were put forward, the question at issue was determined judicially on the spot. Provision is also made for maintaining the “Record of Rights” in a correct condition, by causing registers of all changes in the village to be kept by the putwarree, or village accountant, copies of which are annually forwarded to the collector’s office.110
SURVEY AND ASSESSMENT OF THE BOMBAY TERRITORY
The first step in the process is to determine the boundaries of the village. The area is then measured and mapped off into survey-fields. If the land is unoccupied, no division of a field is afterwards permitted. When a survey-field actually occupied is owned by several proprietors or sharers, no joint responsibility is admitted, but the sharers of each are separately shown in the map, and the separate proprietorship continues until one of the sharers dies without heirs, or otherwise vacates his share; on which event the vacated share must be taken up by the remaining sharers, or, on their refusal, the whole field must be relinquished. The object of these rules is to consolidate the small holdings, and set limits to the minute subdivision of landed property naturally arising from the Hindoo law of inheritance. But it is believed that, in practice, no difficulty has in such cases been found in inducing the remaining sharers to undertake the responsibility.
The fields of the village being thus measured and mapped, the next process is that of classification, for the purpose of determining the relative values of the fields into which the land is divided. After a minute examination of the physical characters of the soil, its depth, composition, etc., the following considerations are taken into account as regards the fields of the same village; viz. “their natural productive capabilities; their position with respect to the village, as affording facilities or otherwise for agricultural operations; and, in the case of garden or rice lands, the supply of water for irrigation.”111
The measurement of the fields having been completed, and their classification determined, the amount of the assessment is next to be fixed. This operation is not performed by inquiring into the actual produce of the fields, but rather by an examination into the previous fiscal history of such groups of villages as are distinguished by similar physical characteristics. The statements of former collections, remissions, and balances, are collated, and compared with the existing rates of assessment. The “climate, position with respect to markets, agricultural skill, and the actual condition of the cultivators,”112 are taken into account; and from a consideration of these combined circumstances, rates are determined for each class of land; the object being to keep those rates within the limit of the natural rent.
The rates, being thus fixed, have only to be applied to the surveyed fields. Thus a field of eight acres, in a class rated at twelve annas an acre, is assessed at six rupees. The assessment thus fixed is declared to be not liable to increase for “thirty years, during which period the full benefit of every improvement, such as the conversion of dry into irrigated land by the digging of wells and tanks, the planting of fruit-trees, etc., will be secured to the incumbent of the land, and no extra assessment levied on that account.”113
The registered occupiers of fields are held to be the proprietors, so long as they pay the fixed assessment. They have full liberty annually to resign any portion of their holdings, or to increase them by the occupation of waste fields, on giving due notice, and are thus enabled to extend or contract their cultivation according to their means of tillage. In either case, they are responsible only for the assessment of the fields which they actually hold, those relinquished by them being at the disposal of Government, to assign to any one willing to engage for them.
The annual settlement, as it is called, which still takes place in the surveyed districts of the Bombay Presidency, is now limited to an inspection of the fields by the village officers, to ascertain how many are cultivated and how many not. All those that are engaged for, whether cultivated or not, are liable to the payment of the assessment, and those not engaged for, if cultivated, are also liable. The plan of giving remissions for failure of crops, for lands taken but unsown, etc., is abolished; and it is now expressly made known that remissions are not claimable in individual cases, and will never be allowed unless under circumstances of calamity affecting whole districts.
EXEMPTION OF LANDS IMPROVED BY THE RYOTS FROM EXTRA ASSESSMENT
The general rule in force for many years in the Madras Presidency, was to make, in each case of a ryot improving his lands by digging a well or otherwise, an arrangement under which no increase of assessment was imposed until the expiration of a term sufficiently long, not only amply to compensate, but liberally to reward him for the labour and expenditure he might have applied.
After considerable correspondence, however, the Court of Directors determined (2nd June 1852) “to allow to the ryots the full benefit of their own improvements; the lands so improved being subjected to no additional assessment on that account, so long as the general rates of the district remain unaltered.”114
The Circular Order of the Madras Government, publishing this rule, and announcing that in any general revision of the rates, “any modification in the assessment of lands so improved will be irrespective of the increased value conferred upon them by their holders,”115 was approved by the Court on the 20th April 1854.
A rule proposed by the Board of Revenue, requiring ryots proposing to sink wells, to give notice to the collector, was disallowed, as tending “to cause delay and obstruction, and to give an opening for exaction to the native servants.”116
The system actually in operation throughout India is as follows, viz.:
Lower Provinces of Bengal. Rate of duty 2 1/2 rupees per maund of 82 2/7 lbs. avoirdupois; Government salt sold to the people at cost price added to the duty; importation unrestricted, and facilities given to persons willing to manufacture salt under excise regulations.
North-western Provinces. Manufacture (from saliferous earths) prohibited. Duty on passing the frontier line, Rs. 2 per maund, and 8 annas additional on crossing the Allahabad special line of chokeys.
Punjab. Salt-mines worked by the Government, and the salt sold at the mines at Rs. 2 per maund.
Fort St. George. The manufacture of salt a Government monopoly, the price charged to purchasers being one rupee per maund. Importation permitted, on payment of a duty of 14 annas (seven-eighths of a rupee) per maund, supposed to be equivalent to the profit obtained on the monopoly of salt.
Bombay. No manufacture on the part of Government. An excise duty of 12 annas per maund levied on home-made salt, and a customs duty of equal amount on imported salt.
REPORT TO THE GENERAL COURT OF PROPRIETORS, DRAWING ATTENTION TO THE TWO BILLS NOW BEFORE PARLIAMENT RELATING TO THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
London: Printed for the Court of Directors of the East India Company by Cox and Wyman, 1858. Published also under the heading, “Return to an Order of the House of Lords, dated 29th April 1858,” in Sessional Papers of the House of Lords, 1857-58, XI, 449-54. The text is preceded by this explanation:
At a Court of Directors of the East-India Company, held on Tuesday, the 6th April, 1858:
The Chairman, drawing the Court’s attention to the two Bills now before Parliament relating to the Government of India, submitted the Draft of a proposed Report to the General Court of Proprietors on the subject; Whereupon,
It was agreed, that the same be referred to the consideration of a Committee of the whole Court.
The Court being resumed, and a Report from the Committee being read:
Resolved,—That this Court approve the said Draft of a Report, as altered by the Committee; and that the same be laid before the General Court of Proprietors to be held to-morrow.
At a Special General Court of the East-India Company, held at the East-India House, on the 7th April, it was ordered, That the said Report be printed.
The two bills referred to are “A Bill for the Better Government of India,” 21 Victoria (12 Feb., 1858), PP, 1857-58, II, 267-86, and “A Bill to Transfer the Government of India from the East India Company to Her Majesty the Queen,” 21 Victoria (26 Mar., 1858), PP, 1857-58, II, 287-312. Unsigned. Not republished by Mill. Identified in his bibliography as “A report to the General Court of the E.I. Company from the Court of Directors upon the Two Bills Now before Parliament, relating to the Government of India; printed by the E.I. Company and also laid before the House of Lords and forming No. 87 of the Lords Papers of the Session of 1858” (MacMinn, 91).
Report to the General Court of Proprietors, Drawing Attention to the Two Bills Now before Parliament Relating to the Government of India
it is the duty of your Directors to lay before the Proprietors the two Bills which have been introduced into Parliament by the late and by the present Ministry, for divesting the East-India Company of all participation in the government of India, and framing a new scheme of administrative agency.1
On former occasions when the Ministers of the Crown have submitted measures to Parliament for altering, in any manner, the constitution of the Indian Government, the substance of the measures has been officially communicated to the Court of Directors, and an opportunity allowed to them of offering such remarks as their knowledge and experience in Indian affairs might suggest. The correspondence being afterwards laid before the Court of Proprietors, formed the most appropriate report which the Directors could make to their constituents on the measures under consideration by the Legislature. In the present instance, this opportunity not having been afforded to them, it appears desirable that they should adopt the present mode of laying before the proprietary body the observations which it is entitled to expect from its executive organ, on the Bills now before Parliament, and on the present posture of the Company’s affairs.
The Directors cannot but advert with feelings of satisfaction to the altered tone which public discussion has assumed in regard to the character of the East-India Company, and the merits of the administration in which the Company has borne so important a part. The intention of proposing the abolition of the Company’s government was announced in the midst of, and it may be surmised, in deference to, a clamour, which represented the government of India by the Company as characterized by nearly every fault of which a civilized Government can be accused, and the Company as the main cause of the recent disasters.2 But in the parliamentary discussions which have lately taken place, there has been an almost universal acknowledgment that the rule of the Company has been honourable to themselves and beneficial to India; while no political party, and few individuals of any consideration, have alleged anything seriously disparaging to the general character of the Company’s administration. So far, therefore, the stand made by the Company against the calumnies with which they have been assailed, may be considered to have been successful.
But the admission generally made, and made explicitly by the proposers of both the Bills, that the existing system works well, has not had the effect of inducing doubt of the wisdom of hastily abolishing it. Neither does it seem to have been remembered, that if the system has worked well, there must be some causes for its having done so, and that it would be worth while to consider what these are, in order that they might be retained in any new system. If the constitution which has made the Indian Government what it is, must be abolished, because it is thought defective in theory, what is substituted should at least be theoretically unobjectionable. But the constitution of the East-India Company, however anomalous, is far more in accordance with the acknowledged principles of good government than either of the proposed Bills.
The nature of the case is, indeed, itself so anomalous, that something anomalous was to be expected in the means by which it could be successfully dealt with.
All English institutions and modes of political action are adapted to the case of a nation governing itself. In India, the case to be provided for is that of the government of one nation by another, separated from it by half the globe; unlike it in everything which characterizes a people; as a whole, totally unacquainted with it; and without time or means for acquiring knowledge of it or its affairs.
History presents only two instances in which these or similar difficulties have been in any considerable degree surmounted. One is the Roman Empire; the other is the government of India by the East-India Company.
The means which the Bills provide for overcoming these difficulties consist of the unchecked power of a Minister. There is no difference of moment in this respect between the two Bills. The Minister, it is true, is to have a Council. But the most despotic rulers have Councils. The difference between the Council of a despot and a Council which prevents the ruler from being a despot is, that the one is dependent on him, the other independent; that the one has some power of its own, the other has not. By the first Bill, the whole Council is nominated by the Minister; by the second, one-half of it is nominated by him.3 The functions to be intrusted to it are left, in both, with some slight exceptions, to the Minister’s own discretion.4
The Minister is indeed subject to the control of Parliament and of the British nation. But though Parliament and the nation exercise a salutary control over their own affairs, it would be contrary to all experience to suppose that they will exercise it over the affairs of a hundred millions of Hindoos and Mahomedans. Habitually, they will doubtless be hereafter, as they have been heretofore, indifferent and inattentive to Indian affairs, and will leave them entirely to the Minister. The consequence will be, that in the exceptional cases in which they do interfere, the interference will not be grounded on knowledge of the subject, and will probably be for the most part confined to cases where an Indian question is taken up from party motives, as the means of injuring a Minister; or when some Indian malcontent, generally with objects opposed to good government, succeeds in interesting the sympathies of the public in his favour. For it is not the people of India, but rich individuals and societies representing class interests, who have the means of engaging the ear of the public through the press, and through agents in Parliament. And it is important to remark, that by the provisions of either of the Bills the House of Commons will be rendered even less competent, in point of knowledge of Indian affairs, than at present, since by both Bills all the members of the Council of India will be excluded from it.
The government of dependencies by a Minister and his subordinates, under the sole control of Parliament, is not a new experiment in England. That form of colonial government lost the United States, and had nearly lost all the colonies of any considerable population and importance. The colonial administration of this country has only ceased to be a subject of general condemnation since the principle has been adopted of leaving all the important colonies to manage their own affairs,—a course which cannot be followed with the people of India. If the control of Parliament has not prevented the habitual mismanagement of countries inhabited by Englishmen like ourselves, who had every facility for representing and urging their grievances, it is not likely to be any effectual protection to Musselmans and Hindoos.
All governments require constitutional checks; but the constitutional checks applicable to a case of this peculiar kind, must be found within the governing body itself.
Though England as a whole, while desiring nothing but to govern India well, is necessarily ignorant of India, and feels, under ordinary circumstances, no particular interest in its concerns, there are in England a certain number of persons who possess knowledge of India, and feel an interest in its affairs. It seems, therefore, very desirable, for the sake of India, that England should govern it through, and by means of, these persons. This would be the case if the organ of government principally consisted of persons who have passed a considerable portion of their lives in India, or who feel that habitual interest in its affairs which is naturally acquired by having aided in administering them; and if this body, or a majority of it, were periodically elected by a constituency composed of persons in England who have served the Government for a certain length of time in India, or whose interests are connected with that country by some permanent tie. It would be an additional advantage if this constituency had the power of requiring information, and compelling a public discussion of Indian questions. These are conditions which, to a considerable extent, the existing constitution of the East-India Company fulfils.
The other great constitutional security for the good government of India lies in the forms of business. This is a point to which sufficient importance is not generally attached. The forms of business are the real constitution of India.
From the necessity of the case, recognized in both the proposed measures, the administration must be shared, in some proportion, between a Minister and a Council. The Council may consist of persons possessing knowledge of India. The Minister, except in very rare cases, can possess little or none. He is placed in office by the action of political party, which is governed by considerations totally unconnected with India, and, in the common course of politics, he is removed from office by the time he has been able to learn his duty. Even in the unusual case, of which present circumstances are an example, when the Minister has made himself acquainted with India through the discharge of high functions in India itself,5 his knowledge is but the knowledge of one man; and one man’s knowledge of a subject like India, until corrected and completed by that of other men, is, it may safely be affirmed, wholly insufficient, and if implicitly trusted, even dangerous. The good government, therefore, of India, by a Minister and a Council, depends upon the amount of influence possessed by the Council; and their influence depends upon the forms of business.
However experienced may be the Council, and however inexperienced the Minister, he will have the deciding voice. The power will rest with one who may know less of the subject than any member of the Council, and is sure to know less than the Council collectively, if they are selected with ordinary judgment. The Council will have no substantive power, but only moral influence. It is therefore all important that this influence should be upheld. Unless the forms of business are such as to insure that the Council shall exercise its judgment on all questions; that all matters requiring decision shall be considered by them, and their views recorded in the initiatory stage, before the Minister has committed himself to an opinion, they will possess no more weight or influence than the same number of clerks in his office (whom also he can consult if he pleases), and the power of the Minister will be practically uncontrolled.
In both the Bills these considerations are entirely disregarded. The first Bill does not establish any forms of business, but leaves them to be determined by the Minister and his Council; in other words, by the Minister.6 Even, therefore, if the Minister first appointed should be willing to establish forms which would be any restraint upon himself, a subsequent Minister would have it in his power to alter the forms in any manner he pleased.
The second Bill, unlike the first, does establish forms of business; but such alone as would effectually prevent the Council from being a reality, and render it a useless pageant.
To make the Council a merely consultative body, without initiative, before whom subjects are only brought after the Minister has made up his mind, is already a fatal inroad upon its usefulness. But by the second Bill the Council are not even a consultative body. The Minister is under no obligation to consult them. They are not empowered to hold any regular meetings. They are to meet only when the Minister convenes them, or on a special requisition by six members. He may send orders to India without their knowledge when the case is urgent, of which urgency he is the sole judge. When it is not urgent, his orders must be placed in the council-room for the perusal of the members for seven days, during which they are not required, but permitted, to give their opinion, not collectively, but individually. Their only power, therefore, is that of recording dissent from a resolution not only taken, but embodied in a despatch. And as if this was not enough, provision is made that an office always invidious, shall be incapable of being fulfilled in any but the most invidious manner. The members of Council must come forward individually in declared opposition to the Minister, by volunteering a protest against his announced intentions, or signing a requisition for a meeting of Council to oppose them.7 Such a Council is fitted to serve as a shield for the Minister’s responsibility when it may suit him to seek, and them to accord, their adhesion, rather than as a restraint on his power to administer India according to his individual pleasure.
The Directors are bound to admit, that the first of the Bills contains several provisions indicative of a wish to assure to the Council a certain, though small, amount of influence. The administration is to be carried on in the name of the President in Council, and not, as by the second Bill, in that of the Secretary of State alone.8 The Council, as well as the President, has a voice in the appointment of the home establishment; while in the second Bill all promotions and all appointments to the principal offices under the Council, rest with the Secretary of State, exclusively, a provision which divests the Council of all control or authority over their own establishment.9 Again, by section XII of the first Bill, no grant involving increase of expenditure, and no appointment to office or admission to service, can be made without the concurrence of half the Council. This, as far as it goes, is a real power, but its value is much diminished by the consideration that those by whom it is to be exercised, are the nominees of the Minister, dependent on him for their continuance in office after a few years.
In some other points the provisions of the second Bill seem to have the advantage. Its Council is more numerous;10 to which, however, little importance can be attached, if the Council has no substantial power. It also recognizes that the whole of the Council ought not to be nominated by the Minister, and that some part of it should be elected by a constituency specially qualified by a knowledge of India.11 But even in these, the best points of the Bill, it is, in the opinion of the Directors, very far from unexceptionable. The nomination of even half the Council by the Minister, takes away all security for an independent majority. It may, indeed, be doubted whether there is any sufficient reason for the Minister’s nominating any portion, except the supposed reluctance of some eligible persons to encounter a canvass. The proportion of one-third, whom the Minister now nominates to the Court of Directors, seems the largest which, consistently with full security for independence, can be so appointed.
The provision that each of the members nominated by the Crown shall be selected as the representative of some particular branch of the service in India, is still more objectionable. Not only would it preclude the nomination of the most distinguished man, if the seat in Council appropriated to the department in which he had served were not at the time vacant, but it would introduce a principle which cannot be too strongly deprecated,—that of class legislation. The Council should comprise the greatest attainable variety of knowledge and experience, but its members should not consider themselves as severally the representatives of a certain number of class interests.
The clause which continues to the Proprietors the power of electing some portion of the Council is, so far, deserving of support; and the principle of enlarging the constituency by the addition of persons of a certain length of Indian service and residence, is, in itself, unexceptionable;12 but unless guarded by provisions, such as have never yet been introduced into any electoral system, so large and scattered a constituency as that proposed would greatly add to the inconvenience of canvass, especially as it is not certain that the new electoral body would adopt, from the old, the salutary custom of re-electing, as the general practice, whoever has been once chosen, and has not, by misconduct or incapacity, deserved to forfeit their confidence. The duties of a Member of Council would be entirely incompatible with a continually-recurring canvass of the constituency.
Respecting the proposition for giving the choice of five Members of Council to the Parliamentary constituencies of five great towns,13 the Court of Directors can only express a feeling of amazement. It is not the mere fact of election by a multitude that constitutes the benefits of the popular element in government. To produce those benefits, the affairs of which the people are enabled to control the management must be their own affairs. Election by multitudinous bodies, the majority of them of a very low average of education, is not an advantage of popular government, but, on the contrary, one of its acknowledged drawbacks. To assign to such a constituency the control, not of their own affairs, but of the affairs of other people on the other side of the globe, is to incur the disadvantages of popular institutions without any of the benefits. The Court of Directors willingly admit the desirableness, if not necessity, of some provision for including an English element in the Council of India; but a more objectionable mode than the one proposed of attaining the object, could scarcely, in their opinion, be devised.
Besides the provisions which relate to the organ of Government in England, the Bills contain provisions relating to India itself which are open to the strongest objection.
The appointments to the Councils at Calcutta and at the subordinate Presidencies, which are now made by the Court of Directors, with the approbation of the Crown, are transferred by both Bills to the Governor-General, and to the Governors of Madras and Bombay.14 The Court of Directors are convinced that this change would greatly impair the chances of good government in India. One of the causes which have most contributed to the many excellences of Indian administration, is that the Governor-General and Governors have always been associated with Councillors selected by the authorities at home from among the most experienced and able members of the Indian service, and who, not owing their appointments to the head of the Government, have generally brought to the consideration of Indian affairs an independent judgment. In consequence of this, the measures of a Government, necessarily absolute, have had the advantage, seldom possessed in absolute Governments, of being always preceded by a free and conscientious discussion; while, as the head of the Government has the power, on recording his reasons, to act contrary to the advice of his Council, no public inconvenience can ever arise from any conflict of opinion. These important officers, who, by their participation in the Government, form so salutary a restraint on the precipitancy of an inexperienced, or the wilfulness of a despotically-tempered, Governor-General or Governor, are henceforth to be appointed by the great functionary whom they are intended to check. And this restraint is removed, when the necessity for an independent Council will be greater than ever, since the power of appointing the Governor-General, and of recalling him, is taken away from the Company, and from the body which is to be their substitute.15 It may be added, that the authorities at home have had the opportunity of being acquainted with the conduct and services of candidates for Council from the commencement of their career. The Governor-General or Governor would often have to nominate a councillor soon after their arrival in India, when necessarily ignorant of the character and merits of candidates, and would be entirely dependent on the recommendation of irresponsible advisers.
Another most objectionable provision demands notice, which is to be found only in the second Bill. A commission, appointed in England, is to proceed to India, for the purpose of inquiring and reporting on the principles and details of Indian finance, including the whole revenue system, and, what is inseparably involved in it, the proprietary rights and social position of all the great classes of the community.16 The Court of Directors cannot believe that such a project will be persisted in. It would be a step towards the disorganization of the fabric of government in India. A commission from England, independent of the local government of the country, deriving its authority directly from the higher power to which the local government is subordinate, and instructed to carry back to the higher power information on Indian affairs which the local government is not deemed sufficiently trustworthy to afford, would give a most serious shock to the influence of the local authorities, and would tend to impress all natives with the belief that the opinions and decisions of the local government are of small moment, and that the thing of real importance is the success with which they can contrive that their claims and objects shall be advocated in England. Up to the present time it has been the practice of the Home Government to uphold in every way the authority of the governments on the spot; even when reversing their acts, to do so through the governments themselves, and to employ no agency except in subordination to them.
From this review of the chief provisions of the Bills, which embody the attempts of two great divisions of English statesmen to frame an organ of government for India, it will probably appear to the Proprietors, that neither of them is grounded on any sufficient consideration of past experience, or of the principles applicable to the subject; that the passing of either would be a calamity to India; and that the attempt to legislate while the minds of leading men are in so unprepared a state, is altogether premature.
The opinion of your Directors is, that by all constitutional means the passing of either Bill should be opposed; but that if one or the other should be determined on for the purpose of transferring the administration, in name, from the East-India Company to the Crown, every exertion should be used in its passage through committee to divest it of the mischievous features by which both Bills are now deformed, and to maintain, as at present, a really independent Council, having the initiative of all business, discharging all the duties, and possessing all the essential powers of the Court of Directors. And it is the Court’s conviction, that measures might be so framed as to obviate whatever may be well founded in the complaints made against the present system, retaining the initiative of the Council, and that independence of action on their part which should be regarded as paramount and indispensable.
A CONSTITUTIONAL VIEW OF THE INDIA QUESTION
London: Penny, 1858. No running titles. Unsigned. Not republished. There are no emendations in the Somerville College copy. Identified in Mill’s bibliography as “A Constitutional View of the India Question,” the first item under the heading: “The following short pamphlets on the India Bills and Resolutions of the Session of 1858 viz:” (MacMinn, 91).
A Constitutional View of the India Question
the proposal to extinguish the East-India Company,1 and to place the whole administration of India in the hands of a Minister and a Council, without any substantial power, is an ominous advance in that centralisation of all the functions of Government in the hands of the Cabinet, so justly deprecated by the soundest thinkers, whether of Liberal or Conservative opinions.
Next to a national representation, the most important of all political principles is, that the only affairs directly administered by the Imperial Government should be the general affairs of the nation; and that all local affairs, whether they be those of any particular part of the United Kingdom or of any foreign dependency, should, if possible, be administered by some intermediate body, constituted expressly for the purpose.
The general concerns of the empire are sufficient to occupy the whole time and thoughts of her Majesty’s Ministers. They cannot possibly make themselves properly acquainted with the affairs of every separate locality or dependency of the empire. They are not, and cannot be, appointed to office on account of their knowledge of the affairs of localities or dependencies.
Besides, it is admitted that the only security for the good conduct of any portion of the national affairs which is entrusted to Ministers, lies in the control of Parliament. And with regard to the general affairs of the empire, this control is efficacious. But Parliament, no more than Ministers, has time either to study or to deliberate on local affairs; and it is not in the nature of things that more than a few members of Parliament should be well acquainted with, or feel any strong interest in, the affairs of any particular locality. Local affairs, therefore, unless when private interests were concerned, would generally be left entirely to Ministers; and not only would they be almost sure to be mismanaged, but the power and patronage which their management would confer, and the habit engendered of looking entirely to the Ministers of the Crown as the source of all authority, would be dangerous to the liberty and safety of the nation.
These are not new doctrines, but the acknowledged principles of the Constitution. All sound thinkers in other countries are sensible of their value, and declare with one accord that the power which the central Governments of the Continent exercise in local affairs, and the dependence upon the Government of every intermediate body which discharges important administrative functions, are the great cause why the principal nations of the Continent, among all their revolutions, have never yet succeeded in acquiring liberty.2
In England this evil has hitherto been avoided. The English people have always managed their local affairs for themselves, without the interference of the Government. Almost all the British Colonies have, from their first foundation or acquisition, enjoyed in a great degree the same advantage. They have had local Parliaments for their domestic administration; and though a Minister in London long continued to control and thwart the action of those local bodies, each colony as it advanced in prosperity showed such a determination to emancipate itself from the interference of the Imperial Government in affairs not of Imperial interest, that they at last succeeded in attaining their object.
The greatest dependency of the Crown, India, is, by general admission, not capable of administering its own affairs by a representative system. This, however, does not diminish, but increases, the mischief and danger of its administration by the unchecked power of a Cabinet Minister. There is far more danger in India than in any Colony, of the ignorant or corrupt misuse of Ministerial power; because India is less understood than any Colony, because its people are less capable of making their voice heard, and because it is more difficult for Parliament to interfere in its administration with adequate knowledge, than in the affairs of any Colony.
India has hitherto been administered, under the general control of Parliament, by a body, who holding aloof from the party conflicts of English politics, devoted their whole time and energies to Indian affairs. The great Corporation, which gained India for this country, has hitherto been considered the best qualified to conduct its administration, under the authority of the Crown, subject, when necessary, to the veto of the Board of Control.
It is now proposed to abolish this intermediate body, and to impose upon India the exclusive government of a Cabinet Minister, which every important Colony has found it impossible to bear. The yoke of the old Colonial Office, which the Colonies, one after another, have rejected and thrown off, is to be laid upon India.
The reason assigned is, the supposed evil of double government and divided responsibility.
Without discussing what is the value of these objections in the case of India, it is sufficient to observe that they are applicable to every British institution, under which any of the affairs of the public are administered by an authority independent of the Cabinet.
Already the management of the Light-houses of Great Britain by the Corporation of the Trinity-House, a management which is the admiration of Europe, is assailed as a “double government,” by (among others) a member of the late Administration.3 The Trinity-House is apparently marked out as the next victim.
The management of the poor, and the control of the poor-rates, are shared between a Government Board and the local Boards of the various Poor Law Unions.4 Double government; divided responsibility. Abolish the Boards of Guardians. Concentrate all power in the Central Board. Let the Crown appoint all overseers; and let them, under the Board’s orders, fix the parochial rates, and exclusively control their expenditure.
The sanitary administration of towns is shared between a Government Board, and the Corporations and other local authorities.5 Double government; divided responsibility. Give all the power to the Board of Health; allow the Board to construct works and establish sanitary regulations at its pleasure, and to tax the inhabitants of the towns for defraying the expense.
The popular education of the country is partly administered by the Committee of Council for Education, and partly by private trustees or voluntary associations.6 The schools of the country are mostly supported by the one authority, and inspected by the other. Double government; divided responsibility. Let no trustees or voluntary associations have anything to do with schools. Place the whole responsibility on the Committee of Council: let them maintain schools for the whole country, levy school-rates to pay their expenses, appoint the teachers, and fix the course of instruction.
There was lately a Railway Board; and its powers still exist, though transferred to the Board of Trade.7 The general Government interferes largely in the affairs of railway companies. Parliament sanctions the lines, and fixes a maximum of rates. A Government officer inquires into all accidents, and no line can be opened until declared safe by a Government engineer. Double government; divided responsibility. Let the Government take possession of all the railways; or let it appoint the chairman of every railway company, and let him govern, consulting or not the directors and proprietors, as he pleases.
The highways, the gaols, the county rates, and the administration of justice at sessions, are conducted by intermediate bodies—the Justices of Peace. These are already nominated by the Minister (on the recommendation of the Lord Lieutenant), and removable by him; but as it is not usual to remove them except for proved misconduct, they are practically independent, and in the exercise of their functions they are not obliged to be the instruments of a Minister. This, in the opinion of the enemies of double government, must be a great evil. Why should not magistrates be appointed for six years only? Why should not the chairman of sessions be appointed by the Crown, and all county business be transacted by him and a few clerks; the other magistrates being only summoned when he thinks fit, and, when summoned, their opinion being only attended to if he chooses?
The general administration of justice is shared between a judge appointed by the Crown, and a jury of citizens. Double government; divided responsibility. Let the judge alone decide: if he pleases, he may consult a jury; and if he pleases, he may adopt their verdict.
It is superfluous to carry the illustration further. If the cry of Double Government is to prevail, none of the free institutions of this country, except perhaps the House of Commons, are safe; and we may be thankful if the principle is not applied to Parliament too. All government, except the single government of one man, is double government, or treble government, or quadruple government; and if the people of England, in a case of such magnitude as India, allow this plea to be successful, and the intermediate body which administers that country under the Crown to be superseded by the undivided power of a Minister and his subordinates, they will sanction a principle and establish a precedent which they may before long have reason to regret.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE PROPOSED COUNCIL OF INDIA
London: Penny, 1858. No running titles. Unsigned. Not republished. There are no emendations in the Somerville College copy. Not listed in Mill’s bibliography, but clearly part of the series of pamphlets by Mill, located with the others in his library, and reflecting his approach (see the reference to Bentham on the first page) and manner. Perhaps the superficial similarity to the next title led the copyist to omit this one.
Observations on the Proposed Council of India
the house of commons has virtually decided that the home administration of India shall be carried on by a Minister of the Crown with the assistance of a Council.
It is still to be determined in what manner the Council shall be composed.
The three principal leaders of sections in Parliament, have proposed as many different plans for the composition of the Council.
Lord Derby proposes that it should be partly nominated by the Minister, and partly elected by a constituency.1
Lord Palmerston proposes that it should be wholly nominated by the Minister, and that each member should hold office for only six years, unless reappointed.2
Lord John Russell proposes that it should be wholly nominated by the Minister, but that the members should hold office, like the judges, during good behaviour, that is, virtually for life.3
Which of these is the preferable scheme?
The answer depends on whether it is intended that the Council to be associated with the Minister, should be a check, or a screen.4 It will necessarily be either the one or the other.
If it is intended to be a screen, Lord Palmerston’s plan deserves the preference. The Council should be selected by the Minister, and should be dependent on him for remaining in office.
But if it is to be anything else than a screen, independence must be secured to it. For this purpose it is best of all, that either every member of Council, or a preponderant majority, should be elected. But if nominated, then it ought not to be in the power of any Minister to remove them.
If any one thinks that it is a matter of small importance whether the Council is independent or not, he must think that it is of small consequence whether there is a Council or not. For it is better there should be no Council at all, than a sham Council.
But to suppose that the existence and the independence of the Council are of little importance, is to overlook all the essential circumstances of the case. The good government of India will entirely depend upon the Council. If India is well governed, it will be because the Council will be capable of well governing it: for the Minister, as distinguished from the Council, usually will not.
All the requisites for the good government of India will be found in the Council, if rightly composed. None of the requisites are likely to be often found in the Minister to whom the tactics of party may transfer the Indian Department.
The members of Council may be, and are intended to be, chosen for their knowledge of India. The Minister is chosen because he has a Parliamentary position, either from his rank, or from his powers of speaking, which are more likely to have been exercised on any other subject whatever than on India.
The Minister, before he has had time to learn his business, is out of office. The Council may be, and ought to be, a permanent body.
Even while the Minister is in office, India will be one of the smallest of his concerns. The maintenance in power of the Ministry and the party to which he belongs, and the support of the general policy of the Ministry and of the party, will be at all times his principal objects. And these objects will not be much promoted by good government in India, nor much impeded by bad; because neither the English Parliament, nor the English public, will generally know anything either of the one or of the other.
There is one point in which the Minister’s position is supposed to be more favourable to good government than the position of the Council; responsibility. But there cannot be a greater error. The sort of responsibility to which the Minister is subject, is no security at all for good government. The only way to make responsibility of any use, is to impose the responsibility on the Council.
The Council, in the first place, has nothing to do with the general business of the empire. It is concerned with India, and India only. All its thoughts must be given to India. All the credit it can hope for, must be derived from India only.
The Council, moreover, is or ought to be a permanent body. Its interest, then, is identified with the permanent results of the mode in which India is governed. Its estimation, its position in opinion, perhaps its tenure of office, depend on permanent results. This is not the case with the Minister. He will have ceased to be in office long before the permanent results of his policy can disclose themselves; and when they do disclose themselves, it will hardly be remembered, and perhaps will hardly be distinguishable, whether his acts, or those of his predecessors or successors, are accountable for them.
The responsibility of the Minister, therefore, will not depend on the general results of his policy. He will seldom have either the credit of them if they are good, or the discredit if bad. What is called his responsibility to Parliament, will not be of the kind which would maintain him in well-doing. It will operate in a totally different manner. Its principal tendency will be, to make him afraid of doing anything which any person who has the ear of the House of Commons, opposes; or of opposing anything which any such person demands. His responsibility will not be to Parliament, but to a few speakers in Parliament. It will mean, liability to a debate in the House of Commons. To get rid of a debate, by every sort of concession, will be the course to which his responsibility will prompt him; for he will have no reason to expect that he will be the person to answer for the ultimate consequences of the concession. And on these occasions, it is always the people of India who will be sacrificed. The people of India have no means of interesting any one in standing up for them; while all who prey upon the people of India have. It may be said, the Minister may be a man of principle; he may disregard these considerations, and follow his own conviction of right. But if he does so, it will not be in consequence of his responsibility. It will be in spite of his responsibility. It will be because he cares less for his responsibility than for his duty.
It is believed that an examination of several recent instances in which the responsibility for measures has been transferred from a Board out of Parliament, to a Minister in it, would show, that the result has been not to accelerate, but on the contrary, to arrest improvement. The permanent Boards were identified with the general success of their administration. The Minister is only responsible for keeping on good terms with all individuals and all interests powerful enough to give him trouble.
PRACTICAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE FIRST TWO OF THE PROPOSED RESOLUTIONS ON THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
London: Penny, 1858. No running titles. Unsigned. Not republished. There are no emendations in the Somerville College copy. Identified in Mill’s bibliography as “Practical Observations on the first two of the proposed Resolutions on the Government of India,” the second item under the heading: “The following short pamphlets on the India Bills and Resolutions of the Session of 1858 viz:” (MacMinn, 91). For the Resolutions, see “Government of India. Resolutions to be Proposed by Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer in Committee of the Whole House upon the government of India, on Friday, the 30th of April ,” PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 149, Appendix.
Practical Observations on the First Two of the Proposed Resolutions on the Government of India
1. that, as the territories under the government of the East-India Company are by law to remain under such government only until Parliament shall otherwise provide;
from the terms of this resolution it might be supposed that the renewal of the Company’s powers in 1853 was a mere temporary arrangement, and that the phrase “until Parliament should otherwise provide,”1 was the expression of an intention on the part of Parliament to provide otherwise, at some not remote period. But this is not the fact. As is well known, the words were only used to show that the powers of the Company were renewed for an indefinite period, and not, as on former occasions, for a definite period of twenty years.
It is no peculiarity of the East-India Company’s authority, that it exists only until Parliament shall otherwise provide. This is the case with all our institutions; and is no more a reason for abolishing the East-India Company, than for abolishing the courts of justice, or trial by jury.
The first clause of the resolution thus appears to have for its object to excuse the proposed change, by giving to be understood that its expediency was duly considered and affirmed by a former Parliament, though no such consideration or affirmation took place.
this House is of opinion that it is expedient that the transfer of such government to the Crown should now take place,
The transfer of the “government” of India to the Crown is an improper expression. The government of India, like that of all the rest of the empire is already in the Crown. The power of the Crown, when actually exercised, is more absolute in India than in any other part of the British dominions, except perhaps Gibraltar, or some other mere military position without any local institutions.
It is the administration, not the government of India, which is carried on by the East-India Company; and the Company conducts it for and under the Crown. It is the administration of India which it is proposed should be taken from the Company, and made over bodily to a Minister of the Crown; contrary to the whole practice of the Constitution, according to which direct administration by the cabinet is limited to the general affairs of the empire, all local affairs being, wherever possible, administered by some intermediate body, constituted for the purpose, and exclusively devoted to it.
in order that the direct superintendence of the whole empire may be placed under one executive authority.
The superintendence of the empire by the Crown, so far as concerns India, is as direct and complete already, as any change could make it. The proposal is, that the superintendence should cease to be “superintendence,” and should become direct administration. The word superintendence, as used in the Resolution, only serves to shelter the substitution of one idea for another totally distinct from it.
Is it true that the direct administration of all the affairs even of England, is “under one executive authority”? On the contrary, it is shared by a multitude of authorities.
The currency and paper credit of the country are, like all other great national concerns, under the superintendence of the Crown. But they are administered by the Bank of England.
The protection of the navigation of the country, by lighthouses, buoys, etc., is a matter of far too great national importance not to be superintended by the Crown; but it is administered by the corporation of the Trinity House.
The civil and criminal justice of the country is superintended by the Crown, and in part even administered by judges whom the Crown nominates, but whom it cannot remove. Justice however is also administered, not only by the county magistrates, but by independent juries, in whose appointment the Crown has no voice.
The public provision for the poor, and the levy and expenditure of the poor-rates, are superintended by a Commissioner who is one of her Majesty’s Cabinet Ministers; but they are administered by the Boards of Guardians throughout the country, and by the parochial officers, under the orders of the Boards of Guardians.
The railway communication of the country is superintended by her Majesty’s Board of Trade; but it is administered by the Boards of Directors of the various railway companies, under the provisions of their several Acts of Parliament.
Finally, the colonies are superintended by the governors appointed by the Crown; but, with some insignificant exceptions, they are administered by local cabinets virtually chosen by the parliaments of those colonies, and responsible to them, in the same manner as the Cabinet of the British empire is responsible to, and is virtually chosen by, the British Parliament.
So far therefore is the administration of India for and under the Crown by an independent body, from being an exception to the general practice, and an anomaly in the Constitution, that the exception and the anomaly would lie in its being administered in any other manner. There is scarcely a single department of the business of the empire, except the army and navy, in which the authority of the cabinet is not shared and in some degree checked, by some intermediate body. To establish the authority of a Cabinet Minister single and unchecked, over so vast a country as India, will be the introduction of a new practice, dangerous in the extreme to the stability of our free institutions, and subversive of the existing securities for the good government of the empire.
2nd. That for this purpose it is expedient to provide, that her Majesty, by one of her Principal Secretaries of State, shall have and perform all the powers and duties relating to the government of India, which are or may be now exercised and performed by the East-India Company, or by the Court of Directors or Court of Proprietors of the said Company, either alone or with the approbation of the Commissioners for the Affairs of India.
This Resolution asserts two distinct propositions as if they were one and the same. One is that her Majesty, by one of her Secretaries of State, should have all the powers now held by the East-India Company. The other is, that the Secretary of State should perform all the duties now performed by the Company.
The first proposition is nothing new, and requires no new legislation. The President of the Board of Control already has, with a few exceptions, all the powers of the East-India Company. Whatever act the Company can do, he also can do, except, in some cases, to incur expense; and whatever act the Company does, can only be done with his assent, except the recall of a Governor-General.
But, from possessing all the powers of the Company, to performing all its duties, there is a wide interval. The duties of the Company consist in initiating all Indian business, appointing all the highest functionaries in India, and preparing all orders and despatches to India for the approval of the Indian Minister. If Parliament resolves that these duties ought to be performed by the Crown, it resolves that the Minister of the Crown shall have the initiative, in addition to (what he already possesses) the ultimate decision. It resolves that there shall be no intermediate body which shall have any responsible share in the administration of India. It reduces the council which is provided for in the succeeding Resolutions, to a body of mere assessors, who may be consulted or not, as the Indian Minister pleases, and who will, at most, have no power but that of recording an unavailing dissent.
The great and fatal change in the government of India, from a government of constitutional checks to the autocracy of a Minister, will thus be effected by the first two Resolutions. If these pass, whether the remaining twelve are passed or not, will make very little practical difference.
These considerations forcibly suggest the propriety of postponing the first two Resolutions, until the other Resolutions shall have been discussed. The first two pledge the House to transfer the whole duty of administering India to an officer of the Crown. By the other Resolutions, the House will be asked to provide aids, and frame rules, to guide the officer of the Crown in the performance of the duty thus intrusted to him. Would it not be wise in the House to begin by assuring itself that these aids and rules are sufficient, before pledging itself to confide the entire administration of a great portion of the British empire to a single Minister?
The preamble of a Bill is usually the last part voted. In the present case, the first two Resolutions are virtually a preamble; except that if passed they would be binding on the House even if all the other Resolutions were rejected; whereas the preamble of a Bill which does not pass, is never considered binding.
The first Resolution will pledge the House to abolish the present organ of Indian administration, before the House has begun to consider whether it can frame any new organ preferable to the present. The House will have bound itself to destroy the existing structure, before it has been asked to decide what shall be the plan of the new.
The second Resolution will decide that the new scheme of administration shall be the centralization of all functions in one man; before the House has had an opportunity of considering whether by any subsidiary organization, it can be made possible for one man to fulfil all these functions, or safe to intrust them to him.
The postponement therefore of the first two Resolutions, until the House shall have discussed every provision of the new organization proposed by the remaining Resolutions, seems called for by every consideration of good sense and prudence.
THE MORAL OF THE INDIA DEBATE
London: Penny, 1858. No running titles. Unsigned. Not republished. There are no emendations in the Somerville College copy. Identified in Mill’s bibliography as “The Moral of the India Debate,” the fourth item under the heading: “The following short pamphlets on the India Bills and Resolutions of the Session of 1858 viz:” (MacMinn, 91).
The Moral of the India Debate
the proceedings at home, consequent on Lord Canning’s proclamation,1 have a most important bearing on the intended changes in the mode of administering India. They are a timely warning, how a Minister governs India, when he is under no check but responsibility to Parliament, and how Parliamentary responsibility, when really enforced, is likely to work.
In writing his despatch, Lord Ellenborough was in the position, in which the Minister for India will always be, under the proposed new constitutions.2 He was without a Council: or rather, he passed over his Council. The despatch was in the Secret Department, that is to say, it was not brought before the Court of Directors. There was no compulsion on Lord Ellenborough to write on this subject in the Secret Department. It would have been perfectly regular to lay the papers before the Directors, and allow, or if necessary require them, to prepare a despatch to the Governor-General on the proposed proclamation. But no such despatch as Lord Ellenborough’s could have passed the Court of Directors; nor could such a despatch have been substituted for theirs by his authority as President, without giving rise to remonstrances and protests which no Minister would have liked to see produced in Parliament.
This despatch is therefore a fair specimen of what a Minister may do, when he is at liberty to disjoin himself from his Council. Let us now for a moment consider the despatch itself.
Observe, that it is the production of a man who is a favourable specimen of an Indian Minister. He is not such a man as we may generally expect, ignorant of India, appointed because a Cabinet office must be found for him, and because public opinion will not allow him to be placed in any other than that of Indian Minister. Again, the despatch was written with the very best intentions. Not only was its purpose good, but its principles were sound. Its principles were, to stigmatize confiscation, and condemn vindictive severity against a conquered enemy.
Wherein then did the despatch err? Its epigrammatic style was a minor fault, to which importance was only given by the publication of the despatch. Its errors were substantial and serious.
In the first place it gave Lord Canning no benefit from his well-ascertained and dearly-earned character for mercy. It did not allow the presumption drawn from the whole of his past conduct, to count in explanation of the particular act incriminated. If instead of firmly resisting the ravenous cry for blood, which by its effects has nearly rendered the good government of India impossible for a generation to come, Lord Canning had implicitly yielded to that savage howl, a worse interpretation could scarcely have been put on his intentions, than Lord Ellenborough hastened to put upon a single unexplained act of the man who had merited the designation of “Clemency Canning.”
But the despatch had another fault no less grave, and which would have been equally a fault, even if Lord Canning had been less deserving of consideration. In a time of emergency, it arrested a policy in mid-course. There could be no doubt that Lord Canning had made a deliberate choice among several modes of action, each of which had its peculiar advantages. Lord Ellenborough might think that he had not chosen the best; but unless he was totally unfit to be Governor-General, the course he selected must have had some considerable recommendations, some chances, to say the least, of attaining the object. To have instructed him beforehand not to adopt that course, would have been one thing, which might have been either wise or foolish. But to stop him when he had adopted it, and committed himself to it, but before it had produced its results, was to throw away the chances of good which that course held out, without gaining those of any other. It was as if the Minister, under the belief that it would have been better to clear Rohilcund before attacking Oude, had by telegraph recalled Sir Colin Campbell from the gates of Lucknow.3
Contrast with this the conduct of the Court of Directors.
A few days after the date of Lord Ellenborough’s despatch, but without being aware of it, they framed instructions to Lord Canning respecting the treatment of the Oude insurgents, which have been laid before Parliament, and which embodied all the sound and humane principles of the despatch, without its irritating language.4 As soon as they were made acquainted with the unmerited censure passed on Lord Canning, they recorded a vote of undiminished confidence in his merciful intentions.5 They thus combined the inculcation of what is admitted to be the right rule of conduct, with full justice to the functionary who was prematurely charged with having infringed it.
This is what took place under the calumniated double government. Lord Ellenbourgh’s despatch exemplifies the single government of a Minister responsible only to Parliament.
Let us now consider the second lesson to be derived from these proceedings; the light which they throw on the natural working of the boasted Parliamentary responsibility. For, through the rare accident that a Ministry is in office which does not possess a majority in the House of Commons, the present has happened to be the one case in a thousand in which the responsibility is real. The Minister really has lost office in consequence of his despatch.6 Now see at what price this result has been obtained.
In the first place, the greatest practical evil of the despatch arose from the publicity given to it. As long as its existence was a secret between Lord Canning and the Minister, it might have tied his hands in an emergency, but it could not have impaired his influence in India, and his justification might have arrived in time to change the reproof into approbation. But the publication of the despatch, which the Government itself condemns, and which all agree in regarding as the worst part of what has taken place, is the direct consequence of the accountability to Parliament. But for that accountability, Mr. Bright would not have asked for the despatch,7 nor would Lord Ellenborough have produced it. Neither was this premature publicity a casual consequence. It will be a natural and frequent one, when there is no check upon the administration of India except the control of Parliament. If the Minister is to be called to account there for the mistakes he commits in governing India, it must be done immediately. What Minister ever was censured by Parliament for the part he took in events long past and gone? His party opponents will seize on the subject while the public mind is intent on it; and unless he is strong enough to defy responsibility, all he has done or written will be published then, and will then become the text of criminatory or defensive declamation; while the effect of the publicity on the interests of India, or on the security of our empire there, will be secondary to the important question, whether one man, or another much the same as he, shall sit for a while on the Treasury bench.
The accountability of Ministers to Parliament was carried into effect in this instance by a debate of one night’s duration in the House of Lords, and three nights in the House of Commons.8 A full half of the discussion, and the whole of the result, turned not upon India, but upon whether Members of Parliament desired, for English purposes, that Lord Derby’s Government should or should not continue in office. Had it been known beforehand which of these was the desire of the majority, the issue of the debate could have been predicted. It issued in nothing at all, because neither party knew, and both shrunk from having it brought to the test of a division, whether there was a majority or not for turning Lord Derby out of office. This fortunate uncertainty has prevented great mischief. For if the debate had ended in any vote, that vote would have been understood in India either as a condemnation of clemency, or as a condemnation (followed probably by the resignation) of Lord Canning, the patron of clemency. Even as it is, the mischief is not trifling. On those great questions relating to the future government of India on which it was of the utmost importance that England should seem to be unanimous, she has been held forth as divided. Our enemies in Europe have been supplied with a fresh stock of calumnies against us from our own lips; while all Indian malcontents have had arguments put into their mouths which they themselves would never have dreamt of, and have been encouraged to hope that they may make or find a party in Parliament. All respect and fear of England as a nation will be materially weakened in the East; for, that there may be firm action notwithstanding divided councils, or that a government can be really formidable which allows itself to be bearded and its acts railed at to its face, is a truth which it requires a much higher civilization than that of Orientals to understand or credit.
All these things are necessary results of the play of the machinery through which Parliamentary responsibility operates. And if all other checks are taken away, these results may be expected more and more. No one denies it to be necessary that Parliamentary responsibility should exist in reserve; but the object should be, to dispense as much as possible with the need of actual recourse to it, by providing another restraint; a restraint acting before the mischief is done, not after, and producing its effect not by acrimonious controversy in the face of the world, but by peaceful discussion in a council-room. This can only be done by giving the Minister an independent Council, having the initiative of business, and by making it impossible for him to take any important measure without first listening to their advice.
A PRESIDENT IN COUNCIL THE BEST GOVERNMENT FOR INDIA
London: Penny, 1858. No running titles. Unsigned. Not republished. There are no emendations in the Somerville College copy. Identified in Mill’s bibliography as “A President in Council the best Government for India,” the third item under the heading: “The following short pamphlets on the India Bills and Resolutions of the Session of 1858 viz:” (MacMinn, 91).
A President in Council the Best Government for India
there are two political functions devolving on the British nation. It has to provide for its own government; and for the government of the much more extensive and populous countries which are dependent on it.
The majority however of its dependencies it has, wisely and necessarily, divested itself of the duty of governing; having found, after long trial, that it was unable to govern them satisfactorily. The only great outlying possession of the British Crown which is not now left substantially to its own government, is India.
The question is, in what manner Great Britain can best provide for the government, not of three or four millions of English colonists, but of 150 millions of Asiatics, who cannot be trusted to govern themselves. This is evidently a far more difficult task, than the one which the British nation acknowledges itself to have failed in. It is not likely that the very plan which has failed everywhere else, should be perfectly sufficient and satisfactory in the case in which the difficulties are the greatest. One would say, even before the subject is considered, that if success can be attained in such a case, it must be by some arrangement much more carefully and nicely adapted to the purpose.
Consider in what way the government of England itself is conducted. The English people may be supposed to know something of their own affairs. It may also be reasonably presumed that they feel an interest in them. They have every possible means of making their necessities, their grievances, and their opinions, known. When they have any wish in regard to their own Government, they usually demonstrate the wish in a thousand channels, by the press, petitions, and public meetings, before the Government takes the first step on the subject. And if the Government adopts any measure which the people, or even any fraction of the people, consider injurious to their interest, the first announcement causes it to be at once questioned in the press and in the House of Commons, and if general opinion is unfavourable there is time for the measure to be stopped before it has come into practical effect. These securities, as we know and lament, do not always prevent bad measures; but they do, for the most part, suffice to prevent inconsiderate ones. No Government feels it safe, in the home affairs of England, to take any step likely to lead to serious consequences, without previous weighing and deliberation. The checks do not operate so quickly in foreign affairs, and therefore it is generally felt that foreign, much more than home affairs, are conducted according to the individual and private preferences of the Minister, and much less according to either the interests or the wishes of the nation.
But in the government of India by a Parliamentary Minister, none of the checks exist at all. The public are never likely to hear of what is meditated, until actually done. When done, they seldom hear of it until the mischief, if there be mischief, is in part accomplished, and its reversal may be attended with greater evils than that of allowing it to subsist. Even when they do hear of it, they scarcely ever obtain, until long afterwards, the materials for judging whether the measure was right or wrong. There would be all these difficulties in controlling the Minister, even if the public and Parliament were deeply interested and intent on Indian affairs. But, on the contrary, all except a few are in general entirely without interest in the subject, because they have no knowledge of it, and because their time and attention are taken up by things nearer at hand. Among the few who do attend to the subject, neither the public nor Parliament have the means of distinguishing those who, from character and knowledge, have the best claim to be followed as guides. A Minister, probably very little acquainted with the questions which he is to decide, has nothing to compel him either to study them and deliberate on them in his own mind, or to attend to the suggestions of those who have already studied them, except a nominal responsibility to a body who have no means of accurate knowledge, and who are in general too indifferent to the subject to apply to it even such knowledge as they might obtain.
It is in circumstances like these that Parliament is asked to give over India to the sole government of a Minister, usually altogether ignorant of it when first appointed, and changed every two or three years. And it is gravely said that we need not fear to confide absolute power to absolute ignorance, in reliance that if the natural effects follow, Parliament will punish the Minister for his misconduct.
As it cannot be desired that the policy of the Indian Government should be a policy of ignorance, or that it should be changed every time a Minister is promoted or turned out; and as there is no public or Parliament to supply knowledge of Indian affairs, as knowledge of English affairs is in some measure supplied, the knowledge must be furnished to the Minister in his own office. There must be in the department itself a body which knows India, and is the guardian and conservator of the principles of administration which experience has approved, or which knowledge sanctions. Those who object to a Council constituted for the purpose, must intend that the clerks in the office should be this body. But the proposal to confide the habitual Government of India to persons whom the public generally do not know even by name, and never know whether their advice is taken or not, is rather remarkable as coming from the zealots for responsibility. The real friends of responsibility are those who would have this function exercised by a Council, who can be made responsible.
But a Council which the Minister need not consult, will be little better, if not worse, than leaving him with no other competent advisers than the clerks in his office. He cannot shelter his own responsibility behind the clerks. They cannot serve him as a screen. The Council may. And if it is left to him to determine their functions, that is the chief use to which he will probably apply them. In no one of the three plans brought before the House of Commons by its accustomed leaders,1 is there any inducement given to the Minister for consulting the Council, if he has reason to expect that they will differ from him in opinion. Lord Ellenborough has very truly and laudably said, that the Minister will want their support, to protect India from the mistakes of Parliament and of English opinion.2 But India needs protection also against the Minister’s own mistakes. Parliament, however misled, can only exert its power slowly, and after discussion: the Minister, in half an hour, may issue a despatch, the evil consequences of which years may not suffice to cure. If the Council is fit to support the Minister when he is right, it will be fit to check him when wrong. And its support is not likely to carry any weight when it agrees with him, if it is not allowed to differ, or is not asked its opinion unless willing to agree.
To make the Council a real security for good government, all business which requires deliberation, or admits of difference of opinion, ought to be transacted by the Minister in Council. It is on this principle that the British Government in India itself is constructed, and it works most effectively. The Governor-General, or the Governor of a Presidency, performs his manifold duties in conjunction with Councillors, not of his own nomination. They are appointed, theoretically, by the same authority which appoints himself; but practically by a different authority, the Governor-General or Governor being in fact selected by the Queen’s Minister, the Members of Council by the Court of Directors. As an ordinary rule, all questions are decided in Council according to the opinion of the majority; but their opinion is not binding on the head of the government. When he pleases, he can, recording his reasons, set aside the opinion of the Council, and act on his own sole responsibility; but he must go through a particular form for that purpose, which gives a deliberate, and in some degree a solemn, character to the act. On this system the members of Council feel themselves a real and substantial element in the government; their best thoughts are given to every question which presents itself, their opinion is recorded and has its just weight, while they have no power of authoritatively opposing themselves to the deliberate opinions and purposes of the head of the government.
The same principle, applied to the home administration, would give probably the best organ of Government for India, which circumstances admit of. The authority should be that of the President, but of the President in Council. The deliberation should be as much that of the whole body, as if the body and not the head had the power of deciding in the last resort. The general practice in that case would probably be, to decide, (as at Calcutta,) according to the sense of the majority, the President’s vote only counting for one. But he would have the power, after he had consulted his Council, on declaring his intention in a prescribed form, and recording his reasons, to act on his own separate opinion in opposition to theirs. According to this plan, the ordinary conduct of business falls by the natural working of things, without any special provision for the purpose, into the hands of those who know most of the subject; and the minds which really determine what is done, are associated, as they ought to be, in the responsibility. Yet the Minister’s responsibility, even for the ordinary business, would never be felt to be impaired, no more than the responsibility of Lord Wellesley or Lord Dalhousie was impaired by the advisers with whom they were associated; while the Minister would be subjected to an additional and special responsibility, when he chose to set aside his Council. And this is surely right. If there be any case whatever in which deliberation, and a sense of responsibility, are peculiarly necessary, it is when one man, often not qualified by special training, assumes to be a better judge of a subject, than a body of men expressly selected for their knowledge of it, and their competency to advise on it.
LETTER FROM THE EAST INDIA COMPANY TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF CONTROL
Supplement to Votes, 1858, pp. 269-72. Headed: “Letter from the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Honourable East India Company to the President of the Board of Control. Presented to the Honourable House of Commons by Command of Her Majesty, 24th June, 1858.” The letter is addressed “Lord Stanley,” dated “East India House, / 23rd June, 1858,” and concludes, “We have the honour to be, my Lord, / Your Lordship’s most obedient humble Servants, / F. Currie, / Wm. J. Eastwick.” (Frederick Currie, 1799-1875, was Chairman, and William Joseph Eastwick, 1808-89, Deputy Chairman, of the East India Company.) The Somerville College copy of the version in the Supplement to Votes contains inked corrections of punctuation, apparently by Mill. Also printed in PP, 1857-58, XLIII, 41-4, with the same heading and address. Several, but not all, of the changes in punctuation appear in the PP version, which also includes two other changes in punctuation here adopted (other accidental variants are ignored); see the list in App. G for details. Not otherwise republished. Identified in Mill’s bibliography as “The letter from the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Court of Directors to Lord Stanley, respecting the third India Bill, dated 23rd June 1858, presented to the House of Commons 24th June” (MacMinn, p. 92).
Letter from the East India Company to the President of the Board of Control
1. Although the Bill which has been newly brought in by Her Majesty’s Ministers “for the better government of India”1 has not yet been formally communicated to the Court of Directors, the Court, influenced by the desire which they have already expressed to give all aid in their power towards rendering the scheme of government which it is the pleasure of Parliament to substitute for the East India Company as efficient for its purposes as possible, have requested us to lay before your Lordship, and through you before Her Majesty’s Government, a few observations on some portions of the Bill.
2. Having in documents which have been presented to Parliament expressed their sentiments fully on all the general features of the subject,2 the Court refrain from offering any further arguments on points upon which the Government and the House of Commons seem to have pronounced a decided opinion. The joint government of a minister and a council, composed in majority of persons of Indian experience, deriving their appointments only partially from ministerial nomination, and all of them holding office on a tenure independent of the minister, is a combination which fulfils, to a considerable extent, the conditions of a good organ of government for India. The Court would have much preferred that in the constitution of the Council more extensive recourse had been had to the elective principle. But if they cannot hope that this course will be adopted, they see many advantages in the provision by which one-half the number, instead of being named by the Government, will be selected by a responsible body, intimately connected with India, to whom the qualifications of candidates will in general be accurately known, and who will be under strong inducements to make such a choice as will tend to increase the credit and consideration of the body.3
3. With regard to the qualifications prescribed for members of council, the Court desire to offer a suggestion. Her Majesty’s present Government have, on many occasions expressed a desire to secure the Crown appointments against the evils of abuse of patronage. The security against such abuse has hitherto consisted in the strict limitation of the appointments to persons who have served a considerable number of years in India. While the Court fully agree with Her Majesty’s Government in recognising the desirableness of an English element, it does not seem to them advisable that this element should extend to nearly half the Council, only a bare majority being reserved for persons of Indian experience. Knowledge of India is, after all, the most important requisite for a seat in the Indian Council: while it is chiefly in the English nominations that there is any present danger lest appointments should be obtained through political or parliamentary influence; from which influence, unless introduced through that channel, the Council, like the Court of Directors, may be expected to be altogether free. The Court, therefore, recommend that the qualification of ten years’ Indian service or residence4 be made imperative on at least two-thirds instead of a mere majority of the fifteen members of council. They also think it questionable if the interests of India will be promoted by the exclusion of the whole of the Members of the Council from seats in Parliament.5 These are the only modifications which we are requested to suggest in the provisions respecting the composition of the Council.
4. But we lament to see that the clauses which define its functions are liable to far greater objections. From the sentiments which have been publicly expressed both by your Lordship6 and by other Members of the Administration, as well as from the terms of clause 19, which declare that the Council, under the direction of the Secretary of State, is to “conduct the business transacted in the United Kingdom in relation to the Government of India and the correspondence with India,” the Court are persuaded that Her Majesty’s Government regard the Council, not as a body without regular functions or duties, whom the Minister is at full liberty habitually to disregard, but as a substantive part of the working organ of government. It is therefore incumbent on the Court to represent to your Lordship that the details of the Bill not only do not carry out this conception, but would appear to be inconsistent with it.
5. It is hardly necessary to remark that the Council cannot “conduct the business transacted in the United Kingdom in relation to the Government of India and the correspondence with India,” unless provision be made for their meeting regularly at short intervals to dispose of the business as it arises. The Bill, however, makes no provision for any regular or periodical meetings of the Council, but leaves the time of convening it, and even the convening it at all, to the entire discretion of the Secretary of State, saving the case necessarily exceptional of a requisition in writing by five members, which would impose on the requisitionists the necessity of appearing to place themselves in a posture of opposition to him.7
6. By the 16th clause the Council are denied all power over the establishment, beyond the first appointments to junior clerkships and inferior offices, all promotions being made by the Secretary of State alone, and the appointment of secretaries or assistant secretaries and heads of departments being wholly reserved to him. While the officers, including those whose duty it is to prepare drafts of despatches, are thus entirely withdrawn from the control of the Council; the Bill does not even provide that the drafts, when prepared, shall, as a matter of necessity, be considered and discussed in Council. It only provides that they shall, seven days before being sent to India, be placed in the Council room for inspection by the Members, to afford them an opportunity for the invidious office of recording objections; and this power of dissent from a measure or a document already sanctioned by the Minister, is the only positive function which the Bill secures to the Council.8 It is obvious that the same comments which, if made in the early stage of the proceedings, before the Minister has made up his mind, have the character of cordial and zealous co-operation, will, if delayed until his intentions have been declared, assume the aspect of opposition or remonstrance, and are therefore much less likely either to be made at all, or if made, to be of any efficacy, unless by way of a protest.
7. The Court submit that the only mode by which the direct action of the Minister and the substantive existence of the Council as a co-operating body, can be brought into complete harmony, would be by enacting that all ordinary business, and as far as possible all business, shall be transacted by the Minister in Council. A perfect and most successful example of this mode of transacting business is afforded by the Local Government of India. All business is as a matter of course transacted by the Governor-General, or Governor in Council, and, as a general rule, the decision is according to the vote of the majority. But the Governor-General, or Governor, has the power of setting aside the decision, on assuming the formal responsibility and recording his reasons. No inconvenience of any kind has ever been experienced from this arrangement; it has never been found either to hamper the discretion, or in any degree impair the responsibility of the head of the Government. It cannot be doubted that the Minister for India would find the same advantage from this principle in superintending the Administration, which a Wellesley and a Dalhousie found in conducting it in all its complicated details.
8. The Court see no reason for withdrawing from the deliberation and knowledge of the Council even such subjects as are at present disposed of through the Secret Committee. It is their conviction that the power of carrying into effect measures of the highest importance without the advice, or even the knowledge of the Court of Directors, has been the source in times past of some of the greatest errors, and of the greatest calamities, which are recorded in our Indian history; and they earnestly recommend that a barrier be raised against the future exercise of this dangerous power, and that since it may be presumed that the Council will possess the confidence of Her Majesty’s Ministers, the right and duty of advice be vested in the Council on all subjects of Indian administration, without excepting, as hitherto, from their cognizance, some of the most important of all.
9. The Court are of opinion that, on all questions regarding expenditure, the Council should have more than a consultative voice, and that these questions should be an exception to the power which the Secretary of State will in all other cases possess, of setting aside their opinion. The disposal of the entire revenues of India by the mere fiat of a minister, freed from the necessity of the assent of any co-ordinate authority, would, the Court conceive, be neither consistent with the principles of the constitution, nor conducive to the good administration of the Indian finances. The propriety of allowing to the Council in this one department a negative voice, was recognised in one of the Bills introduced into Parliament,9 and the omission to include such a provision in the present Bill is, the Court hope, only the effect of inadvertence.
10. The Court think it of great importance that the Council should be associated with the Minister in deciding on appointments to the higher as well as the inferior situations of the establishment, and on the position and the remuneration of the officers. They deem this important, both for securing the due influence of the Council over the establishment, and for promoting the legitimate interests of the officers themselves, with whose merits and services the Council, being a permanent body, is likely to possess a more intimate and detailed acquaintance than will generally be possessed by the Secretary of State.
11. The Court would also suggest that the Vice-President, who is to preside over the Council in the absence of the Secretary of State, should be chosen periodically by the Secretary of State in Council, but not by the Minister alone, it being of importance that this officer should possess the confidence of the Council, and should be their representative with the Minister in the intervals of their sittings.
12. There are other provisions not connected with the functions of the Council which the Court greatly regret to see transferred from the former into the present Bill. By one of these, forming clause 29, the Governments in India itself are radically altered in constitution, and their most characteristic excellence destroyed. Instead of a Governor-General or Governor and an independent Council, appointed by the authority to which he is himself responsible, the Government is now to consist of the Governor-General or the Governor, and advisers selected by himself. The Court have reason to believe that this proposal has met with unanimous reprobation in India, and they would regard its adoption as one of the most fatal blows which could be struck against good government in that country. The association of the head of the government with advisers not of his own choice, but chosen for him by superior authority, has given to a government, necessarily absolute, an advantage rarely possessed by absolute governments, and the absence of which in India would be peculiarly mischievous; that of free, unrestrained, and conscientious discussion and deliberation. This advantage would be entirely sacrificed if the head of the government selected his constitutional advisers. Advisers who will merely echo his own opinions he can never want; what he is in need of are advisers who will think for themselves; who by the collision of judgments will cause subjects to be examined in a variety of lights; who will correct his mistakes, complete what is imperfect in his information, and whose very errors will be useful by being of a different kind from his own. Such are not the colleagues whom, even with the best intentions, that high functionary can safely be relied on for selecting; not to mention that for some time after his first arrival he will not be in a condition to distinguish such persons, even if he looks out for them.
13. The 48th clause proposes the appointment by the Crown of an auditor of the home accounts; a provision which, if carried into effect, must materially interfere with the independent action of the new government, and the necessity of which is completely obviated by the existing system both of pre-audit and post-audit, which is recognised and apparently approved in the 47th clause of the Bill, and which system would be greatly weakened by the introduction of a distinct auditor, acting under another authority.
14. The Court regret that it should be contemplated by the 50th clause to send a Commission to India to inquire and report to Her Majesty, on many important branches of Indian administration, passing over the local governments. It is impossible that such persons, however judiciously chosen, should collect in three years a tithe of the information which already exists so abundantly on the records of the Home Government, and is daily added to by the labours of the ablest functionaries in India; while their appearance in the country will be considered as opening up for re-consideration all the vital questions included in “the collection, receipt, and management of the revenues,” as well as “the application of such revenues and public moneys in India:”10 the first, embracing the whole subject of the landed tenures and proprietary and possessory rights of the agricultural population, the other, the entire economy of the public resources, whether in relation to civil or military administration, public works, the contraction or liquidation of debt, or any other of the multifarious matters which require to be decided by a finance minister. The Court are as desirous as Her Majesty’s Government that all practicable and well devised improvements should be made in these branches of administration, and many such have been, and are even now being, made; but they are convinced that the proper mode of making these improvements is through the Governments on the spot, by whose instrumentality alone India can be governed or held, and whose ascendancy it is of the utmost importance to maintain, by making all orders and all benefits which proceed from the supreme authority, flow through them as the intermediate channel.
15. The Court are also apprehensive that the effect of clause 34 may be to remove from the Military College at Addiscombe the education of cadets for the engineers and artillery. That College has, during a long course of years, been most successful in training highly qualified cadets for the scientific branches, a result greatly attributable to the earnest competition for engineer and artillery appointments which exists within the College amongst the cadets appointed to it; and the Court would consider any change which involved the transfer of the education for these branches from the Military College to private establishments as being injurious to the public service.
16. These are the observations which, by the desire of the Court, we take the liberty of submitting to your Lordship, and we hope to be favoured with a communication from your Lordship of the intentions of Ministers on the several points hereinbefore adverted to, at a sufficiently early period to admit of their taking any further measures which may be necessary for bringing their views before Parliament.
MAINE ON VILLAGE COMMUNITIES
Fortnightly Review, n.s. IX (1 May, 1871), 543-56. MS (frag.), Library of Congress (Miscellany of the Andrew Carnegie Papers, Box 259), is signed “J.S. Mill” and inscribed in Mill’s hand: “Proof to be sent to J.S. Mill, Blackheath Park, S.E.”; and in Andrew Carnegie’s: “MSS. presented to / me by my friend / John Morley / Andrew Carnegie.” There are compositors’ stint signatures in the manuscript. Titled in Fortnightly: “Mr. Maine on Village Communities”; title footnoted: “Village-Communities in the East and West: Six Lectures Delivered at Oxford. By Henry Sumner Maine [1822-88], Corpus Professor of Jurisprudence in the University, formerly Law Member of the Supreme Government of India, author of Ancient Law. London [: Murray], 1871.” Running titles: “Maine on Village Communities.” Signed “J.S. Mill.” Republished (posthumously) in Dissertations and Discussions, Vol. IV (London: Longmans, et al., 1875), 130-53. Identified in Mill’s bibliography as “A review of Maine on Village Communities in the Fortnightly Review for May 1, 1871” (MacMinn, 100). In the footnoted variants, “MS” signifies the manuscript, “D&D” Dissertations and Discussions.
Maine on Village Communities
this book is an important contribution to a branch of knowledge in which the author is as yet unrivalled—the philosophy of the history of institutions. It pursues into ulterior developments (at least in one great department, that of property) the line of research and speculation so brilliantly commenced in Ancient Law: its Connection with the Early History of Society, and its Relation to Modern Ideas.1 It is superfluous at this time of day to say anything either in the way of information or of recommendation, concerning a treatise which has already become classical; but we may remark that its title indicates the double aspect of the important vein of thought which it has opened—the historical aspect, and the practical: the light which it throws on the ancient condition of mankind, and the intimate connection which it establishes between “the early history of society” and “modern ideas,” through the connection of both of them with “ancient law,” the great transmitter (next to religion) of influences from a barbarous age to a civilised one. Political thinkers, who at one time may have been over-confident in their power of deducing systems of social truth from abstract human nature, have now for some time shown a tendency to the far worse extreme, of postponing the universal exigencies of man as man, to the beliefs and tendencies of particular portions of mankind as manifested in their history. But if so much weight is attached to these historical characteristics, it is most essential to inquire how they came to be what they are; which of them are grounded in permanent necessities of humanity, and which are but relics of facts and ideas of the past, not applicable to the present. In this point of view, the historical truths brought into so strong a light by Mr. Maine have more than an historical value. Though assuredly not written with a view to any such purpose, his Ancient Law is a most powerful solvent of a large class of conservative prejudices, by pointing out the historical origin not only of institutions, but also of ideas, which many believe to be essential elements of the conception of social order.
The lesson is not less instructive, when the result of the researches is to prove, not that institutions and ideas belonging to past times have been unduly prolonged into an age to which they are unsuitable, but that old institutions and ideas have been set aside in favour of others of comparatively modern origin. For this result, as much as the other, strikes at the tendency to accept the existing order of things as final—as an indefeasible fact, grounded on eternal social necessities. The question is opened whether the older or the later ideas are best suited to rule the future; and if the change from the one to the other was brought about by circumstances which the world has since outgrown—still more if it appears to have been in great part the result of usurpation—it may well be that the principle, at least, of the older institutions is fitter to be chosen than that of the more modern, as the basis of a better and more advanced constitution of society. A question of this nature in regard to property in land is raised by Mr. Maine’s new work; which has clearly shown that the absolute ownership, which constitutes the idea of landed property as commonly conceived in England, is both modern as to time and partial as to place.
Having been called, subsequently to the publication of Ancient Law, to take part in legislating for a country far less widely removed than civilised Europe from that early state of society which it is usual to call “primitive,” Mr. Maine found that the state of things in regard to landed property which exists in India wherever it has not been disturbed by British legislation, is strikingly in accordance with that which recent historical investigations prove to have once existed in what are now the most advanced communities. The obstinate persistence of custom in India makes that country “the great repository of verifiable phenomena of ancient usage and ancient juridical thought” (p. 22), well worth studying, therefore, by all students of human nature and history, and by all English lawyers who consider “the study of historical and philosophical jurisprudence” not alien to their pursuit. The value of Mr. Maine’s book for this purpose is the greater, since much of his materials has not yet found its way into books, but is derived from the “large and miscellaneous official literature” in the records of the Indian Government, and from “the oral conversation of experienced observers who have passed their maturity in administrative office.”
The inferences suggested [says Mr. Maine] by the written and oral testimony would perhaps have had interest for few except those who had passed, or intended to pass, a life in Indian office; but their unexpected and (if I may speak of the impression on myself) their most startling coincidence with the writers who have recently applied themselves to the study of early Teutonic agricultural customs, gives them a wholly new value and importance.2 It would seem that light is pouring from many quarters at once on some of the darkest passages in the history of law and of society. To those who knew how strong a presumption already existed that individual property came into existence after a slow process of change, by which it disengaged itself from collective holdings by families or larger assemblages, the evidence of a primitive village system in the Teutonic and Scandinavian countries had very great interest; this interest largely increased when England, long supposed to have had since the Norman Conquest an exceptional system of property in land, was shown to exhibit almost as many traces of joint ownership and common cultivation as the countries of the north of the Continent; but our interest culminates, I think, when we find that these primitive European tenures and this primitive European tillage constitute the actual working system of the Indian village communities, and that they determine the whole course of Anglo-Indian administration.
The ancient Teutonic cultivating community, as it existed in Germany itself, appears to have been thus organised. It consisted of a number of families, standing in a proprietary relation to a district divided into three parts. These three portions were the Mark of the Township or Village, the Common Mark or waste, and the Arable Mark or cultivated area. The community inhabited the village, held the Common Mark in mixed ownership, and cultivated the Arable Mark in lots appropriated to the several families.
Of these the Village Mark was the only one of which the several portions were individual property in the modern English sense. The ownership of the Common Mark was “a strict ownership in common, both in theory and in practice. When cattle grazed on the common pasture, or when the householder felled wood in the common forest, an elected or hereditary officer watched to see that the common domain was equitably enjoyed.” (P. 79.) But it will be more of a surprise to many readers to learn that the arable land also was held and cultivated on the same principle of common ownership. The Arable Mark “seems always in theory to have been originally cut out of the Common Mark, which, indeed, can only be described as the portion of the village domain not appropriated to cultivation” [p. 79]; and the Arable Mark “was occasionally shifted from one part of the general village domain to another” (p. 81).
The cultivated land of the Teutonic village community appears almost invariably to have been divided into three great fields. A rude rotation of crops was the object of this threefold division, and it was intended that each field should lie fallow once in three years. . . . Each householder has his own family lot in each of the three fields, and this he tills by his own labour, and that of his sons and his slaves. But he cannot cultivate as he pleases. He must sow the same crop as the rest of the community, and allow his lot in the uncultivated field to lie fallow with the others. Nothing he does must interfere with the right of other households to have pasture for sheep and oxen in the fallow and among the stubbles of the fields under tillage.
The evidence seems to show “that the original distribution of the arable area was always into exactly equal portions, corresponding to the number of free families in the township. Nor can it be seriously doubted, upon the evidence, that the proprietary equality of the families composing the group was at first still further secured by a periodical redistribution of the several assignments.” (P. 81.) This periodical redistribution has continued to our own day in the Russian villages, and “there appears to be no country inhabited by an Aryan race” in which traces of it do not remain [p. 82].
It is to “the school of German writers, among whom Von Maurer is the most eminent” (p. 21), that we are indebted for the establishment of this important portion of the ancient history of society in relation to the Teutonic countries. Its extension to England is mainly the work of Professor Nasse, of Bonn, whose valuable treatise is about to be made, by translation, conveniently accessible to the ordinary English reader.3 But the simple statement of the ancient practice of Teutonic cultivation brings at once to the mind of any one acquainted with English rural usages, the traces of a similar village constitution in England. The remains of the former collective ownership of the lands of a village still linger among us under the denominations of Common Fields and Lammas lands.
Our law books trace all landed tenures in England to a feudal grant. From such grant, either actual or presumed, they all technically proceed; and the law writers seldom trouble themselves with anything anterior. But there were landed possessions and landed rights in England before there was feudality. The feudal lords were the successors of former holders; and in order to know what the lord could either claim for himself or grant to others, it is necessary to know whose rights he succeeded to. In this there is now no obscurity. The feudal lord took the place of the collective village community; the Mark system passed by transformation into the Manorial. The rights which had belonged to the village as a collective body, became the rights of the lord; the customary rights which the several households of the village could claim from the collective body, were not lost, but remained valid against the lord. The Common Mark became the lord’s waste; but the village families retained their rights of pasture and of turf or wood cutting over it. Of the Arable Mark, a great though a gradually decreasing portion continued to be cultivated under much the same rules as before.
The lands which represent the cultivated portion of the domain of the ancient Teutonic village communities are found more or less in all parts of England, but more abundantly in some counties than in others. They are known by various names. When the soil is arable, they are most usually called “common,” “commonable,” or “open” fields, or sometimes simply “intermixed” lands. When the lands are in grass, they are sometimes known as “lot meadows,” sometimes as “Lammas lands,” though the last expression is occasionally used of arable soil. The “common fields” are almost invariably divided into three long strips, separated by green baulks of turf. The several properties consist in subdivisions of these strips, sometimes exceedingly minute; and there is a great deal of evidence that one several share in each of the strips belonged originally to the same ownership, and that all the several shares in any one strip were originally equal or nearly equal, though in progress of time a good many have been accumulated in the same hands. The agricultural customs which prevail in these common fields are singularly alike. Each strip bears two crops of a different kind in turn, and then lies fallow. The better opinion seems to be that the custom as to the succession of crops would not be sustained at law; but the right to feed sheep or cattle on the whole of one strip during the fallow year, or among the stubbles of the other two strips after the crops have been got in, or on the green baulks which divide the three fields, is generally treated as capable of being legally maintained. This right has in some cases passed to the lord of the manor, but sometimes it is vested in the body of persons who are owners of the several shares in the common fields. The grass lands bear even more distinct traces of primitive usage. The several shares in the arable fields sometimes, but very rarely, shift from one owner to another in each successive year; but this is frequently the rule with the meadows, which, when they are themselves in a state of severalty, are often distributed once a year by casting lots among the persons entitled to appropriate and inclose them, or else change from one possessor to another in the order of the names of persons or tenements on a roll. As a rule, the inclosures are removed after the hay harvest; and there are manors in which they are taken down by the villagers on Lammas day (that is, Old Lammas day) in a sort of legalised tumultuary assembly. The group of persons entitled to use the meadows after they have been thrown open is often larger than the number of persons entitled to inclose them. All the householders in a parish, and not merely the landowners, are found enjoying this right. The same peculiarity occasionally, but much more rarely, characterises the rights over common arable fields; and it is a point of some interest, since an epoch in the history of primitive groups occurs when they cease to become capable of absorbing strangers. The English cultivating communities may be supposed to have admitted new-comers to a limited enjoyment of the meadows, up to a later date than the period at which the arable land had become the exclusive property of the older families of the group.
The minutely exact agreement of this description with what has been ascertained by quite independent evidence to have been the ancient custom of village communities in the countries from which our ancestors came, leaves no doubt that originally ownership of land was conceived in the same manner in both cases. And the rights which still survive in our own country over the lands which were once the collective property of the village—the rights of commoners over the common land, and of those who are entitled to the joint use of Lammas lands or common fields—are older than any manorial rights, older than any grants from a feudala superior, and can claim more of the sacredness which the friends of existing land institutions consider to attach to prescription.
How dear these rights were to the people is strikingly shown by their persistency through many centuries, notwithstanding the powerful causes which have been at work during the whole time for their destruction. Beneficent and noxious influences conspired to favour the conversion of collective into individual property. On the one hand, the rigid customs which prevailed in the cultivation of the common fields provoked opposition by their tendency to perpetuate a bad system of agriculture; and as to the waste, then occupying so large a portion of the soil of the island, it was thought to be for the public good to promote almost any arrangement by which it could be brought into cultivation. This was the honourable side of the movement. There is a deeply disgraceful side which remains to be mentioned. The great landed proprietors, and owners of manorial rights, were the rulers of the country. From 1688 downwards they ruled it through the Parliament; but before the Parliament became absolute ruler of the State, each of them ruled his own neighbourhood with a power almost above legal control. Among the consequences were perpetual encroachments by the great landholders, not only on the customary rights of the people in the land, but even on their separate properties: encroachments sometimes by abuse of the processes and forms of law, sometimes altogether lawless. bIn the words of the great Sir Thomas More, tenants were “got rid of by force or fraud, or tired out by repeated injuries into parting with their property.” Bishop Gilpin “complained that the great landowners scrupled not to drive people from their property, alleging that the land was theirs, and turning them out of their shelter like vermin .”* When even the separate properties of the peasantry were thus treated, no wonder that their rights of common were taken from them, in many cases without any compensation.b This dreary history is not to be found in Mr. Maine’s work, but it has been related in other books, and recently by Mr. Cliffe Leslie, in his instructive volume on the Land Systems of England, Ireland, and the Continent.
Yet, notwithstanding the constant tendency of these customary rights to extinction, sometimes by usurpation and sometimes by voluntary agreement, the great extent of them as late as the early part of the present century is attested by Marshall, a writer of that period, of high authority on the statistics of agriculture, and whose facts have been largely used in the work of Professor Nasse. According to Marshall, “In almost all parts of the country, in the Midland and Eastern counties particularly, but also in the west—in Wiltshire, for example—in the south, as in Surrey, in the north, as in Yorkshire,” there were still, in his time, “extensive open and common fields. Out of 316 parishes in Northamptonshire, 89” were in this condition; “more than 100 in Oxfordshire; about 50,000 acres in Warwickshire; in Berkshire, half the county; more than half of Wiltshire; in Huntingdonshire, out of a total area of 240,000 acres, 130,000 were commonable meadows, commons, and common fields.” (Maine, pp. 88-9.)4 Mr. Maine adds: “The extent of some of the fields may be inferred from the fact, stated to me on good authority, that the pasturage on the dividing baulks of turf, which was not more than three yards wide, was estimated in one case at 80 acres” (p. 89). Since that time the commonable and common lands have undergone constant and rapid diminution, first by private Acts of Parliament, and at a still more accelerated pace since 1836, by inclosure, agglomeration, and exchange, under the Common Fields Inclosure Act of that year,5 and under the general powers of the Inclosure Commissioners;6 “but both common fields and common meadows are still plentiful on all sides of us. Speaking for myself personally,” says Mr. Maine, “I have been greatly surprised at the number of instances of abnormal proprietary rights, necessarily implying the former existence of collective ownership and joint cultivation, which comparatively brief inquiry has brought to my notice.” (Pp. 87-8.)
It was not Mr. Maine’s business, in a purely historical and jurisprudential work, to deduce practical inferences from these facts; nor have we any knowledgec whether he would coincide in the inferences which we ourselves draw from them. But there are certain truths, of a very important character, which the facts we have abridged from Mr. Maine’s work seem to us to support and illustrate very impressively.
They show, first, that even in our own history property in land has not been, and is not, one simple idea, one conception of rights always the same; but that different systems of property in land have existed, and even coexisted, both in this and in other countries; and that, by an operation not sudden, but extending over our entire history since the Norman Conquest, we have been gradually transforming one of these systems into another:
That the system under which nearly the whole soil of Great Britain has come to be appropriated by about thirty thousand dfamilies—the far greater part of it by a few thousands of these—d is neither the only nor the oldest form of landed property, and that there is no natural necessity for its being preferred to all other forms:
That if the nation were to decide, after deliberation, that this transmutation of collective landed ownership into individual shall proceed no further, and that the various rights of the public or of particular neighbourhoods which in many cases still limit the absolute and exclusive control of the land by the proprietor—rights generally of older date than his—shall no longer be allowed to be extinguished, to the detriment of posterity; the nation, in so deciding, would not overpass the limits of its moral right. Nay, further, that if the nation thought proper to reverse the process, and move in the direction of reconverting individual property into some new and better form of collective, as it has so long been converting collective property into individual, it would be making a legitimate use of an unquestionable moral right; subject to the moral obligation which arises whenever rights sanctioned by established law are annulled by an act of authority, of satisfying all just claims to compensation:
That, having thus a full right to retrace the steps which it has taken under the predominant influence of the class of large landed proprietors, the nation ought to take into serious consideration which among the many footings on which the right of landed ownership might be placed, is the one most beneficial to the whole community, with a view to adopting, with the precautions justly demanded by vested interests, that most beneficial system. And, in the meantime, it should absolutely suspend all further proceedings in the old direction—all further conversion into the absolute property of individuals, of land which is now only their limited or qualified property, or which is not the private property of individuals at all. In particular, the inclosure of commons should be absolutely discontinued, until the principles on which it can rightly take place have been deliberately reconsidered, the classes who have been the chief sufferers by what has hitherto been done being included in the deliberation.e
This is the moral which we deduce from that part of Mr. Maine’s researches which relates to the ancient landed institutions of England. The part which relates to India gives a practical warning of an even more urgent nature; since it shows that we have done, and are still doing, irreparable mischief, by blindly introducing the English idea of absolute property in land into a country where it did not exist and never had existed, and into which its introduction could only be effected by trampling upon the rights of all except some one of the classes which, by the customs of the country, shared among them the right of using and disposing of the soil. This injustice has been done by the English rulers of India, for the most part innocently, from sheer inability to understand institutions and customs almost identical with those which prevailed in their own country a few centuries ago.
In the purely native governments of India, property in land has never emerged from that primitive state in which absolute and unconditional ownership by individuals had no existence. Various beneficial interests existed in the soil. There was, first, the interest of the sovereign, who had at least one attribute of an universal proprietor; he was an universal receiver of rent. The share of the produce to which he was entitled, and which formed the bulk of the public revenue, was nominally limited by custom, but practically, in most cases, only by the impossibility of extracting more. Whether we call it rent or land-tax, it was usually of such an amount as to leave no surplus to constitute rent in the hands of any private individual, except those to whom, by a not uncommon act of favour, the sovereign made a grant of the revenues of a village or district. At the opposite extremity of the social scale were the actual cultivators. In some cases the whole of these, in others only certain classes of them, had a right to retain their holdings as long as they paid the Government demand. Between these co-proprietors (as they may be called), the sovereign and the cultivator, there were intermediate classes who had rights, of greater or less extent, and who were often extremely different in different places. But there was nobody who could be called a proprietor in the absolute sense of English law. The English, however, when they came into possession of the Bengal provinces, assumed, as indisputable, that there must be an absolute proprietor of all land, the only question being how to find him; and the indication of ownership by which they were at first guided was the collection of rent. In the provinces over which the British dominion was first extended, this attribute was exercised by officers of Government, each of whom, at the head of an armed force, collected the rents of a particular district; and who were mostly hereditary, for all things tend to become hereditary in the East. In these officers the English rulers thought they had found the proprietors of the soil. It was not considered, that these collectors of rent were bound to pay over the whole of their collections to the State, except a commission of ten per cent deducted as their own remuneration. In spite of this, they were declared absolute owners of the land, and received a pledge that the Government demand of revenue from them should never be increased. The cultivating classes became their tenants. A reservation was made of the right of the tenants to be protected against eviction while they paid the customary rents; but the distance and expensiveness of the only courts of justice which for a long time were provided, put it out of the power of the cultivators to enforce this right. In the words used many years later by a British-Indian judge, the rights of the Bengal ryots (or peasants) passed away sub silentio.7 They sank generally into the miserable condition of Irish cottiers—rack-rented tenants-at-will. What little respect was anywhere paid to their rights or interests resulted solely from the still partially surviving influence of custom on the minds of persons whom the law had exempted from any necessity of observing it.
By degrees India began to be better known, and its English administrators came to be aware of the error which they had at first committed. They found that, in mistaking the collectors of revenue for the landed proprietors, they had overlooked the village communities; which, indeed, in the provinces first acquired, had almost become extinct, but in many of the more recently acquired British possessions still retained a substantial existence, and whose rights in the land could not without great injustice be ignored. The conclusion which was come to by the administrators of these later acquisitions was that the village communities were the real proprietors. And it is certain that, in adopting this opinion, they were nearer to the truth than they would have been in supposing absolute ownership to reside anywhere else. Further experience, however, made them aware that village communities were of very various composition, and that they, no more than any other persons or bodies, were absolute proprietors. Their rights, like those of all others in a country in which custom for the most part decides what is the law, were limited and hemmed in by the equally positive customary rights of other people. When this truth dawned on the most eminent Indian administrators, it taught them at first the proper lesson. They made it their business to ascertain, by oral and documentary evidence on the spot, not who was proprietor of the soil—a question idle and unmeaning in the country with which they had to deal—but who were all those who had any rights over it, and what those rights were. When they had, with more or less completeness, ascertained this, they endeavoured to give equal protection to all these rights. These rational opinions and rational practices prevailed in the counsels of the Indian Government for about two generations. But of late official opinion has taken an unfortunate turn in the opposite direction.
In England, for some time past, the idea of absolute property in land has been sensibly weakened, and the tendency of the time is progressively inclining towards the opinion that proprietary rights in the mere raw material of the globe should not be absolute, but limited. While, however, English opinion has thus been advancing, official opinion in India, which had been much ahead of it, has retrograded. The change may be roughly dated from the time of the Mutiny. The feeling engendered by that calamitous event, of the unstable foundation on which our power in India rested, produced a strong impression of the necessity of conciliating the natives; and, as usual in such cases, “the natives” were taken to mean those small classes who were most conspicuous, who had the greatest opportunitites of making themselves heard, and the greatest power of being troublesome. Before the Mutiny it had been the policy of our Government, not certainly to ignore or disregard the rights or vested interests of the so-called higher classes, but to construe them strictly, when they conflicted with the interests of the mass of the cultivating population, towards whom, it was rightly thought, were the first and most binding duties of our Government. Since the Mutiny a reaction has set in, which cannot be better illustrated than by the instance of Oude. We had taken this province from its Mahomedan Government and annexed it to British India,8 in consequence of the anarchy occasioned by the lawless usurpations and disorderly excesses of the Talookdars—a class of functionaries of very various origin, who collected the Government dues from large districts, and entertained for that purpose bodies of undisciplined mercenaries, which made them practically uncontrollable by the feeble native government. By means of these troops the country was kept in a state of bloodshed and warfare, the most high-handed violence was practised towards the people of the country, and the landed possessions of the Talookdars were swelled by the dispossession, and sometimes the extermination, of entire families of landholders. These Talookdars were naturally exasperated by the annexation, which deprived them of their misused position; they joined, and they were the only powerful class or body in all India that did join, with the mutineers. We subdued them, and what did we then proceed to do? We admitted these rebellious oppressors to engage with our Government for the revenue; we declared them proprietors of the soil, and delivered over the cultivating classes into their hands: and it is with great difficulty that, some years after, an Act was got passed, making some small reparation to a portion of the dispropertied classes, by giving to tenants who could prove a certain number of years’ possession a guarantee against eviction.9 In other parts of Upper India, those to whom the absolute ownership has been conceded are the village communities; but there has been a growing disposition to restrict, instead of enlarging, the number of the inhabitants who are considered entitled to communal privileges. Even at an earlier period, single families from which by custom the headman of the village had been taken, had not unfrequently been recognised by our Government as sole owners. The remainder of the cultivators, including many who at the first settlement had been admitted, as proprietors, to enter into engagements for the Government revenue, have been reduced to the condition of tenants-at-will. There is great danger that if this tendency of opinion continues, the whole of the northern provinces* will be possessed, for the first time in India, by a comparatively small body of absolute owners, many of them peasants, with a vast population under them of tenants-at-will. And this—one of the greatest social revolutions ever effected in any country, with the evil peculiarity of being a revolution not in favour of faf majority of the people, but against them—its supporters defend in the name of civilisation and g political economy; though if there is a truth emphatically taught by political economy, and from which no one who has the smallest tincture of the knowledge of it withholds his assent, it is that the status of an agricultural tenant-at-will is intrinsically vicious, and in a really civilised community ought not to exist.
The exposition given by Mr. Maine of the real nature and history of agricultural customs in India, read, as it is sure to be, by all intelligent Indian administrators, and, we trust, by those who are in training for Indian administration, is well adapted to check this baneful reaction. We quote, both as a characteristic specimen of this part of the work, and for the important lessons it affords, his exposition of the manner in which, even in the absence of positive intention on our part, the introduction of our Government conferred upon those whom we recognised as representatives of the locality, powers and rights which enabled them to override those who were their co-partners in the land.
Let us suppose a province annexed for the first time to the British Indian Empire. The first civil act of the new Government is always to effect a settlement of the land revenue; that is, to determine the amount of that relatively large share of the produce of the soil, or of its value, which is demanded by the sovereign in all Oriental states, and out of which all the main expenses of government are defrayed. Among the many questions upon which a decision must be had, the one of most practical importance is, “Who shall be settled with?” With whom shall the settlement be made? What persons, what bodies, what groups, shall be held responsible to the British Government for its land revenue? What practically has to be determined is the unit of society for agrarian purposes; and you find that, in determining it, you determine everything, and give its character finally to the entire political and social constitution of the province. You are at once compelled to confer on the selected class powers coextensive with its duties to the sovereign. Not that the assumption is ever made that new proprietary powers are conferred on it; but what are supposed to be its rights in relation to all other classes are defined; and in the vague and floating order of primitive societies, the mere definition of a right immensely increases its strength. As a matter of fact, it is found that all agrarian rights, whether superior or subordinate to those of the person held responsible to Government, have a steady tendency to decay. . . . Do you, on entering on the settlement of a new province, find that a peasant proprietary has been displaced by an oligarchy of vigorous usurpers, and do you think it expedient to take the Government dues from the once-oppressed yeomen? The result is the immediate decline, and consequently bitter discontent, of the class above them, who find themselves sinking to the footing of mere annuitants on the land. Such was the land-settlement of Oudh, which was shattered to pieces by the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, and which greatly affected its course. Do you, reversing this policy, arrange that the superior holder shall be answerable to Government? You find that you have created a landed aristocracy which has no parallel in wealth or power except the proprietors of English soil. Of this nature is the more modern settlement of the province of Oudh, only recently consummated; and such will ultimately be the position of the Talookdars, or Barons, among whom its soil has been divided. Do you adopt a policy different from either of those which I have indicated, and make your arrangements with the representative of the village community? You find that you have arrested a process of change which was steadily proceeding. You have given to this peculiar proprietary group a vitality which it was losing, and a stiffness to the relations of the various classes composing it which they never had before.
Whether the Indian village communities had wholly lost their capacity for the absorption of strangers when the British dominion began, is a point on which I have heard several contradictory opinions; but it is beyond doubt that the influence of the British Government, which in this respect is nothing more than the ordinary influence of settled authority, has tended steadily to turn the communities into close corporations. The definition of rights which it has effected through its various judicial agencies—the process of law by which it punishes violations of right—above all, the money value which it has given to all rights by the security which it has established from one end of India to another—have all helped to make the classes in possession of vested rights cling to them with daily increasing tenacity. To a certain small extent this indirect and unintended process of shutting the door to the acquisition of new communal rights has been counteracted by a rough rule introduced by thee English, and lately engrafted on the written law, under which the cultivator of the soil who has been in possession of it for a period of years is, in some parts of India, protected against a few of the extreme powers which attach to ownership of the modern English type. But the rule is now in some discredit, and the sphere of its operation has of late been much curtailed. And my own opinion is that even if the utmost effect were given to it, it would not make up for some of the inequalities of distribution between classes actually included in the village group, which have made their way into it through the influence of economical ideas originating in the West. On the whole, the conclusion which I have arrived at concerning the village communities is, that, during the primitive struggle for existence, they were expansive and elastic bodies, and these properties may be perpetuated in them for any time by bad government. But tolerably good government takes away their absorptive power by its indirect effects, and can only restore it by direct interposition.
These passages, greatly as space has made it necessary to curtail them, will help to show to the intelligent reader (over and above the example they afford of the singularly artificial and variable nature of the idea of ownership) what great difficulties the English Government has to encounter in endeavouring to do justice to each and all in India: and how great injustice may be, and has been, caused by the fact that its mere appearance on the scene destroys the balance of existing social relations; that “when an official appointed by a powerful Government acts upon the loose constitution of a primitive society, he crushes down all other classes, and exalts that to which he himself belongs” (p. 151).
Our desire to profit, as much as our space permits, by the practical lessons derivable from Mr. Maine’s book, has led to our doing but scanty justice to its remarkable merits, both as a literary work and as a series of investigations of the ancient history of human society. But we must at least not omit to call attention to the concluding lecture;10 in which, from the facts of Indian experience, a flood of light is thrown upon the ideas of an early state of society respecting commercial transactions between man and man, and especially respecting prices and rents; and upon the widespread and long-enduring influence of custom in the determination of payments, as well as upon the particular points at which competition, as a rival principle, first comes in. Our space does not admit of our giving a summary of this lecture, and we can only refer the reader to the original, confidently promising to any one who studies it a rich reward.
The same hindrance prevents us from doing more than merely referring to the very few points on which we find ourselves dissenting in any respect from Mr. Maine, and which are questions of definition and classification rather than of fact. Did space permit, we should have something to say in behalf of Bentham and Austin11 (of whose extraordinary merits as philosophic jurists Mr. Maine shows a full appreciation) on a point on which Mr. Maine differs from them (pp. 67-8);12 and again, in defence of political economists generally, hagainsth a charge brought against them in the concluding lecture (p. 196), which we do not think will stand examination.13 But these small differences of opinion, though worth noting, are not, at least on the present occasion, worth entering into; and we will conclude by once more congratulating our readers and ourselves on the appearance of a second highly instructive work (to be followed, we hope, by many others) from an author so eminently qualified for the department of philosophical history which he has made his especial domain.
[* ]See Times, May 16. [William Wolryche Whitmore (1787-1858), Motion for a Committee to Inquire into the Trade between Great Britain and India, PD, 2nd ser., Vol. 17, cols. 814-15, reported on 16 May in The Times, p. 2, and in the Morning Chronicle, p. 2. The report in The Times does not contain the passages Mill cites below; that in the Morning Chronicle bears some resemblance to the quotations, but obviously Mill was using another, unidentified source.]
[1 ]Quoted in the report in the Morning Chronicle, but not in either The Times or PD.
[2 ]William Smith (1756-1835), Speech on Trade with India (15 May, 1827), PD, 2nd ser., Vol. 17, cols. 836-8.
[3 ]Quoted in the report in the Morning Chronicle.
[4 ]The reports of the Speech on Trade with India (15 May, 1827) by William Huskisson (1770-1830) in PD, The Times, and the Morning Chronicle, do not contain this passage.
[5 ]53 George III, c. 155 (1813) had (like the other Charter Acts) a twenty-year term.
[6 ]See Charles Wentworth-Fitzwilliam (1786-1857), Lord Milton, later 3rd Earl Fitzwilliam, Speech on Trade with India (15 May, 1827), The Times, 16 May, p. 2, and cf. Charles Ross (ca. 1800-60), Speech on Trade with India (15 May, 1827), PD, 2nd ser., Vol. 17, col. 836.
[7 ]Huskisson, speech of 15 May, The Times, 16 May, p. 2.
[9 ]Whitmore, motion of 15 May, Morning Chronicle, 16 May, p. 2.
[10 ]Huskisson, speech of 15 May, The Times, 16 May, p. 2.
[1 ]See “Penal Code for India” below.
[2 ]Edward Ryan (1793-1875), chief justice of Bengal since 1833.
[1 ]Code Napoléon, formulated in 1803-04, appears in Bulletin 154 bis., No. 2653 bis (3 Sept., 1807), Bulletin des lois de l’empire français, 4th ser., Numéros bis.
[2 ]Jean Domat (1625-96), Les lois civiles (1689-94) and Le droit public (1697), reprinted in Oeuvres, 9 vols. (Paris: Kleffer and Tenré, 1821-25); and Robert Joseph Pothier (1699-1772), Traité des obligations (1761) and Contrat de vente (1762), reprinted in Oeuvres, 13 vols. (Paris: Beaucé, 1817-20), and in three other eds. before 1825.
[3 ]By Clause 53 of 3 & 4 William IV, c. 85 (28 Aug., 1833); the five Commissioners initially appointed were George William Anderson (1791-1857), Charles Hay Cameron (1795-1880), Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-59), John Macleod (1792-1881), and Frederick Millett (d. 1856), who was Secretary.
[4 ]“Report of Charles H. Cameron, Esq., One of His Majesty’s Commissioners of Inquiry, upon the Judicial Establishments and Procedure in Ceylon” (31 Jan., 1832), PP, 1832, XXXII, 119-52.
[5 ]Of the relevant works by Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), the one best known to Mill was the one he had edited, The Rationale of Judicial Evidence, 5 vols. (London: Hunt and Clarke, 1827). The fascicles of Bentham’s Works, ed. John Bowring, had just begun to appear.
[6 ]The letter is printed in PP, 1837-38, XLI, 465-72. The Governor-General of India 1836-42 was George Eden (1784-1849), Earl of Auckland.
[7 ]“General Explanations” (pp. 473-6), “Of Punishments” (pp. 476-8), “General Exceptions” (pp. 479-82), and “Of Abetment” (pp. 483-6).
[8 ]Ibid., pp. 473-5.
[* ]The cases of justifiable homicide are not defined in this chapter, having been provided for in the chapter of General Exceptions [Clauses 74-6, p. 481].
[* ]Who are to be considered public servants has been stated in the chapter General Explanations [Clause 14, p. 474].
[† ]The right of private defence has been defined, and the necessary provisions made for it, in the chapter General Exceptions [Clauses 74-84, pp. 481-2].
[* ]Injury, defined in the chapter General Explanations [Clause 29, p. 477].
[† ]Grievous hurt, defined in a subsequent section of the Code. The right of private defence extends to the voluntary causing of death in cases in which there is danger of “grievous hurt” [Clause 315, p. 509].
[* ]See Clause 50 [p. 477], “Where no sum is expressed to which a fine may extend, the amount of fine to which the offender is liable is unlimited.” The reasons for not fixing (in general) a maximum of fine are excellently stated in one of the Commission’s notes [Note A, pp. 536-7].
[† ]The two descriptions of imprisonment, simple and rigorous, are defined in the chapter Of Punishments [Clause 40; see also Note A, p. 535].
[* ]Previously abets by aid: for the definition, see the chapter Of Abetment [Clauses 86-8, p. 483].
[9 ]Pp. 506-9.
[10 ]Pp. 469-70.
[11 ]For the Commission, see “First Report from His Majesty’s Commissioners on Criminal Law” (24 June, 1834), PP, 1834, XXVI, 117-77. It issued a “Second Report” in 1836 (ibid., 1836, XXV, 183ff.), and continued with reports almost annually.
[12 ]Then Lord John Russell (1792-1878).
[13 ]Pp. 534-88.
[14 ]Clause 470, p. 531.
[15 ]Note R, pp. 581-6.
[16 ]See, e.g., “Mr. T.B. Macaulay,” Calcutta Englishman, 13 Jan., 1838, reprinted in The Times, 6 Apr., 1838, p. 3; a leading article on the Penal Code, The Times, 2 Apr., 1838, p. 4; and a letter to the editor, signed “Buz Hum,” The Times, 4 Apr., 1838, p. 5.
[17 ]“Act No. XI of 1836 of the Governor and Council of India” (9 May, 1836), PP, 1840, XXXVII, 31. See pp. 11-15 above.
[18 ]I.e., by 3 & 4 William IV, c. 85, Sect. 53.
[19 ]Henry George Ward (1797-1860) had on 26 January, 1838, presented to Parliament a petition against the Black Act (PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 40, col. 543), and spoke against it on 22 March, 1838 (ibid., Vol. 41, cols. 1134-45).
[1 ]Pratap Singh (d. 1847) had been made head of state by the British in 1819, and was deposed in 1839. For the official account, see “Copies or Extracts of Correspondence and Papers Relating to, and Explanatory of, the Deposition of the Raja of Sattara, and the Appointment of His Brother as His Successor,” PP, 1843, XXXVIII, Pt. 1, 109-Pt. 2, 675. The resident (referred to below) was Charles Ovans (ca. 1793-1858), who was instrumental in dethroning the Raja, and then was impeached before the Court of Directors. The Governor of Bombay 1838-41 was James Rivett Carnac (1745-1846); members of Council who expressed opinions included William Wilberforce Bird (d. 1857) and Thomas Campbell Robertson (1789-1863).
[2 ]For dissents in this case, by Directors John Cotton (1784-1860), John Forbes (1801-40), John Shepherd (d. 1859), and Henry St. George Tucker (1771-1851), see ibid., pp. 604-19.
[3 ]Henry Dundas (1742-1811), 1st Viscount Melville, was a member of the Board of Control from 1784 and, although not President until 1793, had effective control of Indian affairs until 1801.
[4 ]Charles Forbes (1774-1849), an active member of the Court of Proprietors of the East India Company, had been head of Forbes and Co. in Bombay, and Tory M.P. 1812-32; his son (who died in 1840) was John Forbes (see n2 above).
[5 ]The relevant figures are given in “Return (in Part) to an Order of the House of Lords, dated 29th April 1852, Relative to the Affairs of the East India Company,” Sessional Papers of the House of Lords, 1852, XI, 264.
[6 ]Of the 413, 311 had two votes, 60 had three, and 42 had four, for a total of 970, rather than 910 (ibid.).
[7 ]Charles Watkin Williams Wynn (1775-1850), M.P. 1797-1850, long-time Member of the Board of Control, and its President 1822-28, Speech on the East-India Company’s Charter (13 June, 1833), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. XVIII, cols. 741-51, esp. 744.
[8 ]I.e., 3 & 4 William IV, c. 85 (1833).
[9 ]Act 14 of 1843, “An Act for Regulating the Levy of Customs Duties, and the Manufacture of Salt in the North-western Provinces of the Presidency of Bengal” (5 Aug., 1843), PP, 1845, XXXIV, 111-13.
[10 ]The three Presidencies of Fort William in Bengal (Calcutta), Madras, and Bombay then formed the leading provincial governments in British India. Established by the end of the seventeenth century, each Presidency government originally consisted of a Governor and Council, with the Governor of Fort William, designated as Governor-General under the Regulating Act of 1773, exercising supervisory powers over the other two Presidencies. Under the Charter Act of 1833 the Governor-General was appointed Governor-General of India with increased powers, while continuing for the time being to act as Governor of the Presidency of the Lower Provinces of Bengal (the Upper Provinces being formed into a separate administration later known as the North-Western Provinces). Within each Presidency the most important unit of administration was the Zillah (Zila) or District, usually headed by an official known as the Collector and Magistrate.
[11 ]Sessional Papers of the House of Lords, 1852, XI, 264, gives the number of voters as 1,765; of these 93 had seen civil and 160 military service in India, for a total of 253.
[12 ]The practice was instituted by Sect. 1 of 13 George III, c. 63 (1773).
[13 ]The Committee adjourned, to resume at 1 p.m. on the next day.
[14 ]See the evidence of William Wilberforce Bird and of James Cosmo Melvill (1792-1861), Secretary to the East India Company 1836-58, PP, 1852-53, XXX, 95-124 (esp. 98), and 7-72 (esp. 68).
[15 ]See “Dispatch Accompanying the Government of India Act, 1833 (3 & 4 William IV, c. 85), No. 44 (10 Dec., 1834),” printed in Courtenay Peregrine Ilbert, The Government of India (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1898), pp. 492-532, esp. 493-4 (Sects. 4-5) and 497-8 (Sects. 15-16). Attributed to James Mill by tradition in the East India House.
[16 ]Richard Colley Wellesley (1760-1842), Marquess Wellesley, was Governor-General 1798-1805. His advocacy of freer trade between India and Britain and his educational projects brought him into repeated conflict with the Court of Directors.
[17 ]William Pitt (1759-1806) was Prime Minister 1783-1801 and 1804-06; his government was especially strong during the wars with France following the French Revolution.
[18 ]When in 1832 the King of Oudh was pressed by money-lenders, the Board of Control obtained a mandamus from the Court of King’s Bench to compel the Court of Directors to send a despatch insisting that the debts be repaid, but in the face of the Directors’ continued opposition, the Board did not persist. Mill refers to the matter in his “India Bill, I” (July 1853), CW, Vol. XXIV, p. 1191.
[19 ]By 5 & 6 William IV, c. 52 (1835) the North-West Provinces were established as a Sub-Presidency, at Agra, under a Lieutenant-Governor, subordinate to the Governor-General at Bengal.
Charles Beckett Greenlaw (1784-1844), Secretary to the Bengal Marine Board at Calcutta from 1829 to 1844, and a well-known advocate of steam navigation.
[21 ]Henry Montgomery Lawrence (1806-57), who had served with distinction in the Kabul campaign and the Sikh wars, was the President of the Board of Administration in the Punjab 1849-53. Thomas Munro (1761-1827), after service in the first Mahratta war, spent some years in civil administration, and after further military and civil service, was Governor of Madras 1820-27.
[22 ]Henry Pottinger (1789-1856), who served during the Mahratta wars, became Collector at Ahmadnagar (and eventually Governor of Madras); Robert Barnewall (d. 1848), who rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Bombay Army in 1831, was Assistant Collector of the Eastern Zillah north of Mahi in 1819, and Political Agent in Kathiawar from 1821 to 1832; Archibald Robertson (d. 1847), after an Indian military career beginning in 1800, became Collector of the Eastern Zillah north of Mahi in 1817, Collector of Khandesh 1823-26, and, after his return to England, a Director of the East India Company from 1840.
[23 ]By Sect. 87 of 3 & 4 William IV, c. 85.
[24 ]Haileybury College, Hertford, was founded in 1805 to train the nominees for the Indian Civil Service, who were required to spend two years there studying mathematics, natural history, classical and general literature, law and jurisprudence, history, political economy, and one Indian language and its literature.
[25 ]Warren Hastings (1732-1818), the first Governor-General of Bengal 1774-85, had defeated the Rohillas in 1773. After Fyzoolla (Faizulla) Khan, the Rohilla chief, died in 1794, there was a struggle between his sons for the succession; eventually his grandson, Ahmad Ali, succeeded with British aid. He died childless, and was succeeded in 1840 by his cousin, Muhammad Saiyid Khan (d. 1855).
[26 ]James Thomason (1804-53), Lieutenant-Governor of the North-Western Provinces (of which Agra was capital) 1843-53.
[27 ]By Sect. 7 of 13 George III, c. 63 (1773).
[28 ]For the Commission and the Commissioners, see “Penal Code for India,” above; the code they proposed had still not been enacted.
[29 ]See p. 33 above.
[30 ]Edward Law (1790-1871), Earl of Ellenborough, was President of the Board of Control 1828-30 (and 1834-35, 1841, and 1858; he was Governor-General 1842-44); the instruction is in “Letter from the Board of Control to the Court of Directors” (13 Oct., 1829), India Office Library and Records, Letters from the Board of Control to the Company, E/2/35, pp. 370-9.
[31 ]Addiscombe, the military equivalent of Haileybury, was founded in Surrey in 1809; the two-year course, initially for artillery and engineering cadets (and after 1816, infantry cadets as well), who were nominated by the East India Company’s Directors, included mathematics, fortifications, military and civil drawing, and surveying.
[1 ]By Sects. 1-5 of 24 George III, c. 25 (1784).
[2 ]Following on 33 George III, c. 52 (1793), which lasted until 1813, a parliamentary committee was set up which reported five times (see the “Reports of the Select Committee on the Affairs of the East India Company,” PP, 1808, III; 1810, V; 1810-11, VII; 1812, VI.1; and 1812, VII.1). The result was the Charter Act of 1813, 53 George III, c. 155. Committee reports were also made as the period of that Act came to an end (see PP, 1830, V; and 1831-32, VIII-XIV), resulting in the Charter Act of 1833 (3 & 4 William IV, c. 85).
[3 ]For the Reports of the Committee before which Mill gave evidence (see “The East India Company’s Charter,” above) see PP, 1852-53, XXX-XXXIII; the result was the Charter Act of 1853, 16 & 17 Victoria, c. 95.
[4 ]For the “intimation,” see “Correspondence between the First Lord of the Treasury and the Directors of the East India Company Respecting Legislative Measures to be Proposed for the Future Government of Her Majesty’s Dominions in India,” Sessional Papers of the House of Lords, 1857-58, XI, 445-8. The measure was “A Bill for the Better Government of India,” 21 Victoria (12 Feb., 1858), PP, 1857-58, II, 267-86.
[b-b]D spot; and
[5 ]See “Letter from the Court of Directors to the Governor-General of India in Council, Military Department,” 25 Nov. (No. 236), 1857, PP, 1857-58, XLIV, Pt. 1, 48-9.
[6 ]Though the subject was often debated in both Lords and Commons, there was no Select Committee on the Mutiny. See, however, “Papers Relative to the Mutinies in the East Indies,” PP, 1857 (Sess. 2), XXX; and 1857-58, XLVI, Pts. 1-4.
[c-c]D Government; for
[d-d]D authority: they
[e-e]D policy; and
[7 ]Provisions in Sects. 18 and 19 of 21 George III, c. 70 (1781), which amended 13 George III, c. 63.
[f-f]D proselytism; and
[h-h]D infringed; and
[8 ]For varied proposals that illustrate the public agitation on the subject, see, e.g., Richard Congreve, India (London: Chapman, 1857); Francis William Newman, “English Policy in India,” The Times, 3 Dec., 1857, p. 5; “Hadjee,” “Indian Home Government,” ibid., 31 Dec., 1857, p. 9; “Indophilus,” “The Government of India,” ibid., 21 Jan., 1858, p. 10; and Harriet Martineau, Suggestions towards the Future Government of India (London: Smith, Elder, 1858).
[9 ]By Sects. 11 and 24 of 53 George III, c. 155.
[10 ]By Sects. 3 and 4 of 3 & 4 William IV, c. 85.
[11 ]Sect. 4 of 3 & 4 William IV, c. 85, required the Company to sell its commercial assets after 22 April, 1834.
[12 ]By Sect. 2 of 16 & 17 Victoria, c. 95.
[13 ]The objection to “double government” was raised by Henry John Temple (1784-1865), Lord Palmerston, in his speech asking leave to introduce the Bill on the government of India (12 Feb., 1858), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 148, col. 1279.
[14 ]The image (one of Mill’s favourites) comes from Jeremy Bentham, Letter to Lord Granville on the Proposed Reform in the Administration of Civil Justice in Scotland (1807), in The Works of Jeremy Bentham, ed. John Bowring, 11 vols. (Edinburgh: Tait, 1843), Vol. V, p. 17.
[j-j]D experience; it
[k-k]D body; neither
[15 ]I.e., the Board of Control.
[m-m]D advices [printer’s error?]
[1 ]By 16 & 17 Victoria, c. 95.
[2 ]Charles Cornwallis (1738-1805), Earl and then Marquis Cornwallis, was Governor-General 1786-93.
[3 ]See Francis Rawdon-Hastings (1754-1826), Marquis of Hastings, previously Earl of Moira, “Minute by the Right Hon. the Governor-General on the Revenue Administration of the Presidency of Fort William, dated the 21st September 1815,” App. 9 in Minutes of Evidence Taken before the Select Committee of the House of Commons on the Affairs of the East India Company, III: Revenue, PP, 1831-32, XI, 450.
[4 ]By Regulation VIII (1 May) of 1793, in Regulations of the Government of the Presidency of Fort William in Bengal, 1793-1834.
[* ]See Appendix A [pp. 155-6 below].
[5 ]Alexander Read (d. 1804) served in the Madras Army, rising to the rank of Colonel in 1804. He won repeated commendations for his revenue settlement work as Collector of Baramahal and Salem between 1792 and 1799.
[6 ]“Report on the Administration of Public Affairs in the Madras Presidency.” General Report on the Administration of the Several Presidencies and Provinces of British India during the Year, 1855-56, Pt. I (Calcutta: Calcutta Gazette Office, 1857), p. 11.
[7 ]Wellesley’s great talents were displayed in the second Mahratta war of 1803-05.
[8 ]Robert Merttins Bird (1788-1853), an expert on land tenure, was appointed to the Board of Revenue (Allahabad) in 1832, and then was in charge of the revision of settlement in the North-western Provinces 1834-41.
[* ]See Appendix B [pp. 156-7 below].
[9 ]“Despatch of the Court of Directors, 13 August, 1851, on the Settlement of the North-western Provinces,” in “Selection of Papers Relating to the Revenue Survey and Assessment (India),” PP, 1852-53, LXXV, 304.
[10 ]James Andrew Broun Ramsay (1812-60), Marquis of Dalhousie, was Governor-General of India 1848-56.
[11 ]See “Official Correspondence on the System of Revenue Survey and Assessment Best Adapted for, and More or Less Completely Carried into Effect in the Collectorates of Poona, Sholapoor, Ahmednuggur, Belgaon and Dharwar, in the Bombay Presidency,” in “Selection of Papers Relating to the Revenue Survey and Assessment (India),” PP, 1852-53, LXXV, 312-402.
[* ]See Appendix C [pp. 157-9 below].
[12 ]“Circular Order of 13 Nov., 1837,” in John Maskell, The Circular Orders of the Board of Revenue from 1820 to 1850 (Madras: Christian Knowledge Society’s Press, 1851), pp. 243-6.
[13 ]“Circular Order of 25 Nov., 1852,” in John Maskell, The Circular Orders of the Board of Revenue Issued during the Years 1851-1852-1853 (Madras: Christian Knowledge Society’s Press, 1854), pp. 110-19.
[* ]See Appendix D [p. 159 below].
[14 ]George Francis Harris (1810-72), Lord Harris, Governor of Madras 1854-59, “Minute of the Right Honourable Lord Harris, on the Proposed General Survey and Assessment” (26 Oct., 1854), in “Papers Relating to the Revised Survey and Assessment of the Madras Presidency, and on the Godavery and Kistna Annicuts,” PP, 1857, Sess. 2, XXIX, 173-85.
[15 ]“Letter from Court of Directors to Government of Fort St. George,” ibid., pp. 186-93.
[* ]See Appendix E [p. 160 below].
[16 ]The duty was fixed by Act XVI of 1844 (27 July), PP, 1845, XXXIV, 67. The reduction was ordered on 3 July; see “Extract of a Despatch in the Separate Revenue Department, from the Court of Directors to the Governor-General in Council,” ibid., p. 79 (Sect. 14).
[17 ]The price was fixed in Act VI of 1844 (16 Mar.), PP, 1846, XXXI, 36-48. The reduction was ordered on 3 July in the despatch cited in the previous note, pp. 78-9 (Sect. 10).
[18 ]Act XIV of 1836 (30 May), PP, 1840, VII, 414-20, in anticipation of “Report from the Select Committee on Salt, British India” (2 Aug., 1836), PP, 1836, XVII, 1-371, esp. p. 3.
[19 ]Court of Directors’ Revenue Despatch to Madras, No. 14 of 22 Sept., 1852, India Office Records [IOR]: E/4/977, pp. 517-37.
[20 ]Initially on 20 June, 1788, confirmed by Bengal Regulation XLII of 1793 (1 May). The duties were reimposed in principal towns by Bengal Regulation XI of 1801 (6 Aug.), and abolished by Sect. 1 of Act XIV of 1836.
[21 ]The transit duties were formally abolished by India Act XIV of 1836 (30 May), although administrative orders directed against them began in 1833.
[22 ]By Act XVII of 1837 (24 July), PP, 1840, XXXVI, 65-9.
[23 ]By Act VI of 1844.
[24 ]See, e.g., “Engagements within the Raja of Biccaneer and the Nawab of Bahawulpore, Respecting Transit Duties,” PP, 1845, XXIV, 70-1.
[25 ]See “Letter from the Court of Directors to the Governor-General of India in Council, Revenue Department, 5 Nov. (No. 17), 1856,” in “Correspondence Relating to East India Affairs,” PP, 1857, Sess. 2, XXIX, 412-14.
[26 ]By, respectively, Act VI of 1848, PP, 1851, XLV, 115, and Act V of 1850, PP, 1852, XXXVI, 39.
[27 ]The parallel Imperial enactment was 12 & 13 Victoria, c. 29 (1849), which, in Sect. 6, threw open the Indian coasting trade to all nations starting in 1850.
[28 ]Again by Act VI of 1848.
[29 ]See “Letter from the Court of Directors to the Governor-General of India in Council, Separate Revenue Department, 22 Apr. (No. 3), 1846,” Sessional Papers of the House of Lords, 1847-48, XXX, 462.
[30 ]In England, by 2 & 3 Victoria, c. 52 (1839); in India, by Act XVII of 1854 (not in PP).
[31 ]By 21 George III, c. 70 (1781).
[32 ]William Cavendish Bentinck (1774-1839), Lord Bentinck, was Governor-General 1828-35; the provision is seen in “Extract Public Letter to Bengal, 18 Feb., 1829,” in “Correspondence Relative to the Employment of the Natives in the Civil Department of the Service, 1821-32,” PP, 1831-32, IX, Appendix, 374-5.
[33 ]Mountstuart Elphinstone (1779-1859) was Governor at Bombay 1819-27; for the Bombay Code (also known as Elphinstone’s Code), see Regulation I of 1827 (1 Jan.), PP, 1829, XXIII, 251-4.
[34 ]By Sects. 43 and 40, respectively, of 3 & 4 William IV, c. 85.
[35 ]By Sect. 22 of 16 & 17 Victoria, c. 95.
[36 ]By Sect. 53 of 3 & 4 William IV, c. 85.
[37 ]Also in Sect. 53. For the Commission and its proposals, see “Penal Code for India,” above.
[38 ]By Sect. 28 of 16 & 17 Victoria, c. 95.
[39 ]See “Reports of Her Majesty’s Commissioners Appointed to Consider the Reform of the Judicial Establishments, Judicial Procedure, and Laws of India,” PP, 1856, XXV, esp., for the Code of Civil Law, “Second Report,” p. 269; for Civil Procedures, “First Report,” pp. 21-88, “Third Report,” pp. 291-346, and “Fourth Report,” pp. 451-506; and for Criminal Procedures, “First Report,” pp. 94-184, “Third Report,” pp. 350-428, and “Fourth Report,” pp. 510-89.
[40 ]Finally enacted by Act XLV of 1860 (6 Oct.).
[41 ]See “Reports,” PP, 1856, XXV, 43 (Clause 87 in “First Report”).
[42 ]John Russell Colvin (1807-57), Lieutenant-Governor of the North-western Provinces 1853-57, “Report on the Administration of Public Affairs in the North-Western Provinces,” General Report on the Administration of the Several Presidencies and Provinces of British India during the Year 1855-56, 2 pts. (Calcutta: Calcutta Gazette Office, 1857), Pt. I, pp. 12-13.
[43 ]John Laird Mair Lawrence (1811-79), Baron Lawrence, Chief Commissioner for the Punjab from February 1853, “Report on the Administration of Public Affairs in the Punjaub Territories,” ibid., Pt. II, pp. 3-5.
[44 ]Report of the Committee on Prison-Discipline to the Governor General of India in Council, 8 January, 1838 (Calcutta: Baptist Mission Press, 1838).
[45 ]Act XX of 1856 (14 Nov.).
[46 ]The criticisms and proposals of George Russell Clerk (1800-89), Governor of Bombay 1847-48 and 1860-62, are in “Minute by the Honourable Sir George Clerk (28 Apr., 1848),” Sessional Papers of the House of Lords, 1852-53, XIII, 176-90. They led in part to the reforms in appointment and punishment laid out in Acts XXVII and XXVIII of 1852 (2 July).
[47 ]“Despatch from the Court of Directors to the Governor-General of India in Council, Judicial Department, 24 Sept. (No. 41), 1856,” PP, 1857, Sess. 1, XI, 127-32.
[48 ]See, e.g., Charles John Canning, “Minute by the Right Honourable the Governor-General (18 Feb., 1857),” in “Papers Relating to the System of Police in the Bengal Presidency,” PP, 1857, Sess. 2, XXIX, 363-73; John Peter Grant (1807-93), a Member of Council, “Minute by the Hon. J.P. Grant (9 Apr., 1857),” ibid., pp. 374-87; and Frederick James Halliday (1806-91), appointed first Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal in 1854, “Minute by the Hon. the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal (30 Apr., 1856),” ibid., pp. 327-53.
[49 ]See “Letter from the Government of India to the Hon. Court of Directors, Home Department, Judicial, 14 May (No. 18) of 1857,” ibid., pp. 287-8.
[50 ]The sanctions and authority are given in “Despatch from the Court of Directors to the Governor-General of India in Council, Judicial Department, 4 Nov. (No. 61), 1857,” in “Despatches Relating to Police (East India),” PP, 1857-58, XLIII, 413-15.
[51 ]“Despatch from the Court of Directors to the Governor at Madras, Judicial Department, 30 Sept. (No. 13), 1857,” ibid., pp. 415-16.
[52 ]By Regulation XVII of 1829 (4 Dec.).
[53 ]Maharana Sarup Singh (d. 1861), ruler 1842-61.
[54 ]See “Report of the Indian Law Commissioners on Slavery” (15 Jan., 1841), PP, 1841, Sess. 1, XXVIII, 279-873; and “A Copy of the Letter from the Governor-General of India in Council, in the Legislative Department, 10 May (No. 8), 1841, and of the Minute of the Governor-General Enclosed therein, on the Subject of Slavery in the East Indies,” PP, 1841, Sess. 2, III, 109-14; both leading to Act V of 1843 (7 Apr.).
[55 ]By Act XXI of 1850 (11 Apr.), PP, 1852, XXXVI, 65-6, Sect. 9 of Regulation VII of 1832 (10 Oct.) was extended to the whole of the British territories in India.
[56 ]By Act XV of 1856 (13 June).
[57 ]“Revenue Department Despatch No. 3, 20 Feb., 1833, to Our Governor-General in Council at Fort William, Bengal,” PP, 1837, XLIII, 190-9, given legislative effect by Act X of 1840 (20 Apr.).
[58 ]John Colvin (1794-1871), who held the position of Superintendent of Canals in the Delhi Territory and adjoining districts for most of the period from September 1825 to December 1836, was succeeded by Proby Thomas Cautley (1802-71).
[59 ]See “Letter from the Court of Directors to the Governor-General of India in Council, Revenue Department, 1 Sept. (No. 12), 1841,” in “Copies of the Correspondence Respecting Works of Irrigation, &c., in India,” Sessional Papers of the House of Lords, 1851, XVI, 66-7.
[60 ]The engineers included William Erskine Baker (1808-81) and Henry Yule (1820-89).
[61 ]John Russell Colvin, “Report on the Administration of Public Affairs,” pp. 83-4.
[62 ]Richard Baird Smith (1818-61) was in charge of the Jumna Canal 1843-50; he became superintendent of canals in the North-Western Provinces 1854-59. The figures cited here and two paragraphs below are in Revenue Reports of the Ganges Canal for the Year 1855-56 (Rorkee: Thomason College Press, 1856), p. 43.
[63 ]See “Letter from the Court of Directors to the Governor-General of India in Council, Revenue Department, 5 Dec. (No. 11), 1849,” PP, 1851, XLI, 723-4.
[64 ]See “Letter from the Court of Directors to the Governor-General of India in Council, Revenue Department, 25 Apr. (No. 5), 1851,” ibid., pp. 724-5.
[65 ]Some account of the plans and estimates for the Coleroon works is given in “First Report of the Commissioners Appointed to Inquire into and Report upon the System of Superintending and Executing Public Works in the Madras Presidency, 23 Dec., 1852,” PP, 1852-53, LXXIV, 40-460.
[66 ]Arthur Thomas Cotton (1803-99), then Captain of Engineers, “Extracts from the Report on the Godavery Anicut (17 Apr., 1845),” PP, 1852-53, LXIX, 234-40.
[67 ]See “Report of the Commissioners of Public Works in the Madras Presidency (23 Dec., 1852),” Sessional Papers of the House of Lords, 1852-53, LXV, 160. Mill here mistakes Major Frederic Conyers Cotton (1807-1901), the Madras Public Works Commissioner, for Colonel A.T. Cotton, the engineer (see n66).
[68 ]See “Letter from the Court of Directors to the Governor in Council in Fort St. George, Revenue Department, 8 Jan. (No. 1), 1851,” PP, 1851, XLI, 726-7.
[69 ]Charles George Dixon (1795-1857), a Colonel in the East India Company’s army, author of Sketch of Mairwara; Giving a Brief Account of the Origin and Habits of the Mairs (London: Smith, Elder, 1850), which includes descriptions of the irrigation works in Ajmeer-Merwara.
[70 ]See “Despatch in the Public Works Department of the Court of Directors to the Governor-General of India in Council, 9 Sept. (No. 13), 1857,” summarized in “Papers Relating to Irrigation Works, India,” PP, 1861, XLIII, 308.
[71 ]James George Rorke Forlong (1824-1904) was head of the Public Works Department at Pegu.
[72 ]See “Letter from the Court of Directors to the Government of India, Public Department, 30 Jan. (No. 2), 1850,” in “Papers Relating to Public Works, India,” PP, 1852-53, LXXV, 1-10.
[73 ]See “Despatch from the Court of Directors of the East India Company to the Governor-General in Council, 19 July (No. 49), 1854,” PP, 1854, XLVII, 160.
[74 ]Court of Directors’ Public Despatch to the Governor General in Council, No. 62 of 13 Sept., 1854: E/4/977, pp. 517-37.
[75 ]See “Plan No. 80a Annexed to Letter No. 1089 (18 Nov., 1846), from the Government of the North-western Provinces to the Government of India,” in Selections from the Records of the Government, North Western Provinces: Mr. Thomason’s Despatches (Agra: Secundra Orphan Press, 1856), Vol. I, pp. 329-33.
[76 ]Ibid., pp. 397-402.
[77 ]Letters from the Court of Directors to the Government of the North-Western Provinces, 7 May (No. 24) and 8 May (No. 26), 1856; see PP, 1859 (II), XXIV, Pt. 1, 5, for extracts.
[78 ]Letter from the Undersecretary to the Government of Bengal, to the Secretary to the Sudder Board of Revenue, 18 Dec., 1844,” in General Report on Public Instruction in the Lower Provinces of the Bengal Presidency, for 1844-45 (Calcutta: Sanders and Cones, 1845), App. No. 2, pp. clxix-clxxiii.
[79 ]See “Report of the Council of Education, dated the 3rd October, 1853, Reviewing the State of Vernacular Education and Proposing the Establishment of Model Vernacular Schools,” in Selection from the Records of the Bengal Governments. No. 22: Correspondence Relating to Vernacular Education in the Lower Provinces of Bengal (Calcutta: Jones, 1858), pp. 27-40.
[80 ]I.e., the Despatch of 19 July, 1854; see n73 above.
[81 ]For Munro’s plan, see his Minutes of 25 June, 1822, and 10 Mar., 1826, in PP, 1831-32, IX, 531-2, and 536-7; for the approval, see “Extract Letter, in the Revenue Department, from the Court of Directors to the Governor in Council of Fort St. George, dated 18th May, 1825,” ibid., p. 536.
[82 ]John Elphinstone (1807-60), Baron Elphinstone, was Governor of Madras 1837-42 (and then Governor of Bombay 1853-59).
[83 ]For the details, see “Minute, Board of Governors of the Madras University, dated 2nd July, 1852,” in Selections from the Records of the Madras Government, No. 2: Papers Relating to Public Instruction (Madras: Male Asylum Press, 1855), App. C.C.C., pp. ccxcvii-ccciv.
[84 ]See “Bombay. Notification, Dated 16th May, 1854, Relative to the Establishment of Vernacular Schools,” in Report of the Board of Education, Bombay, from 1st May 1854, to 30th April, 1855 (Bombay: Bombay Education Society’s Press, 1855), App. XV, pp. 117-18.
[85 ]See “Correspondence Relating to the Education Despatch of 19 July, 1854,” PP, 1857-58, XLII, 354-9.
[86 ]See “Extract Public (Education) Letter to India, dated 15 July (No. 96), 1857,” ibid., pp. 371-2.
[87 ]By, respectively, Acts II (24 Jan.), XXVII (5 Sept.), and XXII (18 July) of 1857.
[88 ]See “Resolution of 10 Oct., 1844,” PP, 1845, XXXIV, 133-4.
[89 ]John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune (1801-51), Member of the Governor-General’s Council from 1848, and President of the Council of Education.
[90 ]Susan Georgiana Ramsay (1817-53).
[91 ]Not otherwise identified.
[92 ]John Forbes Royle (1799-1858), botanist, doctor in India 1819-31, Professor at King’s College from 1837, who supervised a new department of correspondence concerning vegetable productions at the East India House from 1838 till his death: On the Culture and Commerce of Cotton in India and Elsewhere (London: Smith, Elder, 1851), and Review of the Measures Which Have Been Adopted in India for the Improved Culture of Cotton (London: Smith, Elder, 1857).
[93 ]The Fibrous Plants of India, Fitted for Cordage, Clothing, and Paper (London: Smith, Elder, 1855).
[94 ]Robert Fortune (1813-80), who travelled to collect plants for the Royal Horticultural Society, went to China in 1848 to gather tea plants and seeds for the East India Company, and successfully introduced tea cultivation to the Himalayan region in 1851.
[95 ]For examples, see Charles Umpherston Aitchison (1832-96), A Collection of Treaties, Engagements, and Sunnuds, Relating to India and Neighbouring Countries, 8 vols. (Calcutta: printed Savielle and Cranenburgh, 1862-65).
[96 ]Respectively, Jiaji Rao Sindia (1835-86), Maharaja of Gwalior; Takoji Rao Holkar II (1832-86), Maharaja of Indore; and Maharaja Mizra Rao Dessuljee (1815-60), Rao of Kutch.
[97 ]See p. 64 above.
[98 ]Maharao Raja Banni Singh (d. 1857), Rao of Alwar.
[99 ]Augustus Cleveland (1755-84), Collector of Bnagalpur.
[100 ]Henry Hall (1789-1875) of the Bengal Army; for Dixon see n69 above.
[101 ]John Pollard Willoughby (1798-1866), who became Chief Secretary to the Bombay Government in 1835, was a Member of the Council in Bombay 1846-51, and became a Director of the Company in 1854.
[102 ]For Charles Ovans, see p. 34 above. James Outram (1803-63) was agent for the North-eastern portion of the Bheel agency who, after defeating the Bheels, enrolled many of them in a light infantry corps under native officers.
[103 ]Samuel Charteris Macpherson (1806-60) became principal assistant to the Collector of Ganjam, Orissa, in 1842.
[104 ]John Jacob (1812-58) was political superintendent and commandant of the frontier of Upper Sind from 1847 till his death.
[105 ]Act IV of 1840 (17 Feb.).
[106 ]Act XIII of 1848 (10 June).
[107 ]William Henry Elliott (1811-70), Officiating Commissioner of Revenue and Circuit for Burdwan Division 1854-56, and Commissioner 1856-59.
[* ]The three collectorates of the province of Cuttack proper.
[108 ]The passage has not been located, and so not dated: the Commissioner January-May 1854 was Binney James Colvin (b. 1809), who was succeeded by Edward Alexander Samuells (1813-60).
[109 ]“Directions for Revenue Officers in the North-Western Provinces of the Bengal Presidency, Regarding the Settlement and Collection of the Land Revenue, etc.” (1 Nov., 1849), PP, 1852-53, LXXV, 20-1.
[* ]By net produce is meant the surplus which the estate may yield after deducting the expenses of cultivation, including the profits of stock and wages of labour. [Ibid., p. 35.]
[110 ]Ibid., p. 39.
[111 ]“Official Correspondence,” PP, 1852-53, LXX, 321.
[112 ]Ibid., p. 326.
[113 ]Ibid., p. 331.
[114 ]“Circular Order of 25 Nov., 1852,” p. 113 (cf. pp. 110 and 114-15). Approved in Court of Directors’ Revenue Despatch to Madras, No. 7 of 2 June, 1852.
[115 ]Ibid., p. 117.
[116 ]Ibid., p. 118.
[1 ]The first bill was introduced by Henry John Temple, Lord Palmerston, in his speech of 12 February, 1858, and debated on that day, and on the 15th and 18th of February (PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 148, cols. 1276-1359, 1372-1457, and 1607-1718). The second, after the change of government on 21 February, was introduced by Benjamin Disraeli (1804-81) on behalf of the Ministry led by Edward George Geoffrey Smith Stanley (1799-1869), 14th Earl of Derby, on 26 March, 1858, and debated on that day (ibid., Vol. 149, cols. 818-46).
[2 ]See “Correspondence between the First Lord of the Treasury and the Directors of the East India Company Respecting Legislative Measures to be Proposed for the Future Government of Her Majesty’s Dominions in India,” Sessional Papers of the House of Lords, 1857-58, XI, 445-8.
[3 ]In Clause 10 in both Bills.
[4 ]In Clause 18 of the first, and Clauses 25 and 26 of the second.
[5 ]Edward Law, Earl of Ellenborough.
[6 ]See Clause 14.
[7 ]The points mentioned in this paragraph are dealt with in Clauses 28, 31, and 33.
[8 ]Clause 5 of the first; Clause 3 of the second.
[9 ]Clause 7 of the first; Clause 3 of the second.
[10 ]By Clause 9 (18 as opposed to 8 members).
[11 ]By Clause 11; the first Bill provided in Clause 10 that all members be appointed by the Crown.
[12 ]By Clause 11 of the second Bill.
[13 ]By Clause 12 of the second Bill.
[14 ]By Clause 4 of the first; Clause 36 of the second Bill.
[15 ]By Clause 4 of the first; Clause 36 of the second.
[16 ]By Clause 55 of the second.
[1 ]By the legislation then before Parliament, “A Bill to Transfer the Government of India from the East India Company to Her Majesty the Queen,” 21 Victoria (26 Mar., 1858), PP, 1857-58, II, 287-312.
[2 ]Authorities on this question cited by Mill elsewhere are Joseph Fievée (1767-1839), Correspondance politique et administrative, 3 vols. (Paris: Le Normant, 1815-19), Vol. I, Pt. 2, and Vol. III, Pt. 9; and Alexis Clérel de Tocqueville (1805-59), De la démocratie en Amérique, 2 vols. (Paris: Gosselin, 1835), Vol. I, Chaps. v and xvi.
[3 ]Robert Lowe (1811-92), then M.P. for Kidderminster, who had been Paymaster of the Forces and Vice-President of the Board of Trade in Lord Palmerston’s government, Speech on Lighthouses (15 Apr., 1858), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 149, col. 1130.
[4 ]By Sects. 2 and 28 of 4 & 5 William IV, c. 76 (1834).
[5 ]By Sects. 4 and 12 of 11 & 12 Victoria, c. 63 (1848).
[6 ]The Council was established in 1839 as a Committee of the Privy Council, with government grants to oversee and promote public education; it allowed private agencies to continue to support and administer schools.
[7 ]9 & 10 Victoria, c. 105 (1846), which established the Railway Board, was superseded by 14 & 15 Victoria, c. 64 (1851), which transferred its powers to the Board of Trade.
[1 ]The plan of the Conservatives, led by Edward Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, was laid before the Commons by Disraeli in his speech of 26 Mar., 1858.
[2 ]Temple, speech of 12 Feb., 1858, in introducing the India Bill of that date.
[3 ]Russell, Speech on the Government of India Bill (26 Apr., 1858), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 149, cols. 1695-1701.
[4 ]The image comes from Jeremy Bentham (see p. 84 above).
[1 ]The first words of Clause 1 of 16 & 17 Victoria, c. 95.
[1 ]Charles John Canning (1812-62), Viscount Canning, Governor-General of India 1856-58 and then Viceroy, “Proclamation” (18 Mar., 1858), in “Papers Relating to the Proclamation Ordered to be Published in Oude,” PP, 1857-58, XLIII, 409-10. This proclamation, issued after the reconquest of Lucknow, thanked those who remained loyal, confiscated the lands of the insurgents, and threw them on the mercy of the British government.
[2 ]See “The Secret Committee of the Court of Directors of the East India Company to the Governor-General of India in Council” (19 Apr., 1858), ibid., pp. 410-11. Ellenborough criticized Canning’s proclamation, and requested that its severity be mitigated.
[3 ]Colin Campbell (1792-1863), Baron Clyde, became Commander-in-Chief during the Mutiny; he began the attack on Lucknow in November 1857, though the city was not finally relieved for four months.
[4 ]See “Copy of a Letter from the Court of Directors of the East India Company to the Governor-General of India in Council” (5 May, 1858), PP, 1857-58, XLIII, 113-16.
[5 ]See ibid., pp. 117-20.
[6 ]Following the debate in the Lords on 7 May (PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 150, cols. 228-47), reported in “The Revolt of Oude,” The Times, 8 May, p. 9, Ellenborough resigned on 10 May.
[7 ]John Bright (1811-89), Question on Confiscation of Land in Oude (6 May, 1858), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 150, col. 181.
[8 ]In the Lords on 7 May (see n6 above); in the Commons on 14, 17, and 20 May (ibid., cols. 674-761, 764-857, and 931-1059).
[1 ]For the first two Bills, introduced by Lord Palmerston and Disraeli, see pp. 162-3 above. The third was “A Bill for the Better Government of India,” 21 Victoria (17 June, 1858), PP, 1857-58, II, 313-36; it was introduced by Henry Fitzroy (1807-59) on 17 June (PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 150, cols. 2253-4), but one of the “accustomed leaders” of the Conservatives, Edward Henry Stanley (1826-93), Lord Stanley (later 15th Earl of Derby), gave the first major speech on 24 June (ibid., Vol. 151, cols. 315-30).
[2 ]Law, Speech on the Government of India (29 Apr., 1858), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 149, cols. 1962-8.
[1 ]“A Bill for the Better Government of India,” 21 Victoria (17 June, 1858), PP, 1857-58, II, 313-36.
[2 ]Including “The Petition of the East-India Company,” and “Report to the General Court of Proprietors, Drawing Attention to the Two Bills Now before Parliament Relating to the Government of India,” above.
[3 ]By Clause 8 of the Bill.
[4 ]By Clause 10.
[5 ]By Clause 12.
[6 ]Stanley, Speech on the Government of India (7 June, 1858), PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 150, cols. 1673-8.
[7 ]By Clause 22.
[8 ]The drafting of despatches is detailed in Clauses 25-8.
[9 ]By Clause 12 of the Bill of 12 February (the first Bill).
[10 ]Clause 50.
[1 ]London: Murray, 1861.
[2 ]Maine mentions below Erwin Nasse (1829-90), of Bonn University, author of Ueber die mittelalterliche Feldgemeinschaft und die Einhegungen des sechszehnten Jahrhunderts in England (Bonn: Marcus, 1869), and Georg Ludwig von Maurer (1790-1872), of Munich University, author of Geschichte der Markenverfassung in Deutschland (Erlangen: Enke, 1856), Geschichte der Fronhofe, der Bauernhofe und der Hofverfassung in Deutschland (Erlangen: Enke, 1862-63), and Geschichte der Dorfverfassung in Deutschland (Erlangen: Enke, 1865-66).
[3 ]It appeared later in 1871 as On the Agricultural Community of the Middle Ages, and Inclosures of the Sixteenth Century in England, trans. H.A. Ouvry (London: Macmillan).
[a][the manuscript fragment, which runs to the end of the essay, begins here]
[b-b]-MS [one of JSM’s characteristic marks for insertion appears, but the passage is lacking]
[* ]Land Systems and Industrial Economy of Ireland, England, and Continental Countries [London: Longmans, Green, 1870], by Thomas Edward Cliffe Leslie [1826-82], p. 216 [quoting from Thomas More (1478-1535), Utopia (in Latin 1516), trans. Ralph Robinson (London: Vele, 1551), not paged; and Bernard Gilpin (1517-83), “A Sermon,” in George Carleton, The Life of Bernard Gilpin (London: W.I. and T.P., 1636), p. 292.]
[4 ]The statistics from William Marshall (1765-1818), A Review (and Complete Abstract) of the Reports to the Board of Agriculture; from the Midland Department of England (York: Longman, et al., 1815) and idem, . . . from Southern and Peninsular Departments of England (idem), are taken by Maine (in his own translation) from Nasse, Ueber die mittelalterliche Feldgemeinschaft, p. 4.
[5 ]6 & 7 William IV, c. 115.
[6 ]Established by 8 & 9 Victoria, c. 118 (1845).
[d-d]MS families, and the . . . these,
[e][below this JSM has written (white line) to signal the line space]
[7 ]Francis Rawdon-Hastings; see p. 95 above.
[8 ]See “Draft of Treaty between the East India Company and the King of Oude,” PP, 1856, XLV, 597-9 (never signed by the King of Oude, but acted on by the British).
[9 ]Act X of 1859 (29 Apr.).
[* ]The statement is limited to the northern provinces, because in the south of India, with the exception of certain districts, a different system of land revenue has been adopted, and a different interpretation given to landed rights. “In the southern provinces of the peninsula the English Government” early “began to recognise nothing between itself and the immediate cultivators of the soil, and from them it took directly its share of the produce. The effect was to create a peasant proprietary. This system, of which the chief seat was the province of Madras,” but of which the most improved form is to be found in the Presidency of Bombay, “has in my opinion,” says Mr. Maine, “been somewhat unjustly decried. Now that it has been modified in some details, and that some mistakes first committed have been corrected, there is no more prosperous population in India than that which has been placed under it; but undoubtedly it is not the ancient system of the country.” (Pp. 105-6.)
[10 ]“The Early History of Price and Rent,” pp. 173-201.
[11 ]John Austin (1790-1859), early teacher and friend of Mill, and disciple of Bentham.
[12 ]Maine holds that the customary law of Indian village communities does not fit Bentham and Austin’s definition of law as a command by a political sovereign enforced by a sanction.
[h-h]D&D in regard to
[13 ]Maine argues against the universality of the law of markets, asserting that it began to operate only when people met to trade at arm’s length rather than as members of a unified group.