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In order to elucidate the position of the several masters, into whose hands, after this date, Kànhpur successively fell, it will be necessary to trace briefly the relations, which subsisted between the Nawab Wuzirs and the British Government.
When Mir Kasim Ali, whom the English Company had seated on the Musnud of Múrshedabad, broke with his commercial lords, under Mr. Vansittart's Government, and fled for the purpose of making open war, he was received by Suja-udDowlah, then Nawab Wuzir of Oudh, who agreed to aid him in meeting the British in the field. The wretched representative of Delhi's imperial line (some times a pauper, often a fugitive, nominally an Emperor, but seldom master even of his own person) joined the confederacy. This was the combination, which was utterly broken and defeated at the battle of Buxar in A. D. 1764. Immediately after the battle, the Emperor joined the camp of his conquerors. The victorious British took the fortresses of Chunargurh and Allahabad, and routed the Nawab Wuzir's forces in another pitched battle at Korah. The conquered sovereign sued for any terms which the victors might offer. In the meanwhile Lord Clive had come out as Governor. The late successes in this quarter had left two questions open for His Lordship's decision, namely, what was to be done with the Emperor-and what with the Nawab Wuzir ?* It was clear that the former could claim much mercy and consideration, and that the latter deserved none at all. Lord Clive did not deem it advisable to confiscate the Nawab Wuzir's dominions to the British Government, nor yet to make them over to the Emperor, because then a weak frontier would be opposed to the Mahrattahs and Affghans; so he adopted the third available course, and restored them with certain limitations to the Nawab Wuzir. The territory, north of the Ganges, namely, Oudh Proper, was confirmed to him. That, south of the Ganges, namely, the country round Korah and Allahabad, was given to the Emperor. Thus the Sirkars of Korah and Allahabad passed once more into the possession of the Great Mogul. Half of the present district of Kànhpur was included in Korah; the other half, belonging to the Sirkar of Kanouj, remained under the Nawab Wuzir.
The childish Emperor had an extraordinary wish to re-visit Delhi, for the purpose of indulging in the empty pageantry of royalty. But he required an escort to help him to get
* Vide Malcolm's Life of Clive, vol. 2, chap. xiv.
there. This kind office the Mahrattahs offered to undertake, if he would give them his lately acquired districts. The Emperor accepted their proposal, and made over Korah and Allahabad to them. The British Government decidedly objected to this, the Mahrattahs being their most dreaded foes; and, in A. D. 1772, one of the first acts of Warren Hastings's administration was to resume the grant, wrest the two districts from the Mahrattahs, and sell them back again to the Nawab Wuzir for fifty lacs of rupees. Shortly afterward the Nawab Wuzir obtained the assistance of the Governor-General in his invasion of the Robilla country.
The results of that war known. Immediately after its conclusion, in 1773, a fresh treaty was made with the Nawab Wuzir, in virtue of which a brigade of British troops was to be kept in his territory and at his expence.
The brigade was soon after stationed at Kànhpur, which has been, ever since that time, a considerable military cantonment. These points, together with the questions relating to the appointment of the Resident and the amount of subsidy, were re-considered and modified, in A. D. 1781, on the occasion of Hastings's expedition to Benares-an expedition rendered for ever memorable by the transactions with the Rajah Cheyte Sing and the Oudh Begums. The next treaty was that concluded in A. D. 1798 by Sir J. Shore, then Governor-General, on the occasion of Saadut Ali being placed on the throne of Asuf-ud-Dowlah, the deceased Nawab Wuzir. By this treaty the annual amount of subsidy and the numbers of the British force were fixed, and the fortress of Allahabad surrendered. Saadut Ali was the last native potentate that possessed Kànhpur. He appointed, as his minister, one of the most powerful and intriguing of his subjects, named Ulmas Ali Khan, whose influence had been most conspicuous in the events which preceded his (Saadut Ali's) elevation to the throne. The inain features of this minister's rule will be noticed presently. The Nawab Wuzir failed, in manifold respects, to fulfil his engagements with the British Government; and, at length, in A. D. 1801, a treaty was concluded with Lord Wellesley, by virtue of which, in satisfaction of all claims and arrears, were ceded the territories, south and west of the Ganges, among which, of course, was the country round Kànhpur. The Governor-General's brother, the Hon'ble H. Wellesley, was appointed to settle the ceded provinces. Thus Kànhpur was incorporated in the British Empire. We shall henceforth call it by its English name of Cawnpore. But before describing its condition under the new Government,
we will briefly survey the theory and practice of the Govern ment, from which it had now been alienated.
At the present day, “ prostrate Oudh” is a bye-word for anarchy and misrule ; nor was it in much better repute towards the close of the last century.
We hear now-a-days of little but standing armies kept by individuals to baffle the King's officers-of captured forts-of beleaguered villages of robbery, pillage, and destruction. But it would be scarcely correct to infer from all these sad premises, that there exists no theoretical form of polity, capable of being happily reduced to practice by a vigorous hand. The constitution of the State may be outlined as follows : over each province is placed a Nazim, charged with all branches of the administration, fiscal, criminal, and civil. The sub-divisions of the provinces are presided over by Chukladars, under whom again are Tuhsildars ruling over single pergunnahs. To the establishment of these functionaries are attached a Mufti and Pandit, to interpret the Shareh and the Shastras (i. e. the Hindu and Muhammadan codes) respectively. In each territorial division are located Kazis, holding royal patents to act as registers and to solemnize marriages among the Mussulmans. Under the command of the Nazim is stationed a detachment of “His Majesty's" troops—for so the Nawab Wuzir is now styled besides a body guard, personal attendants, &c. The Chukladars and Tuhsildars have also parties of armed men about them for purposes of coercion.
There were three Supreme Courts established at the capital, presiding over the three departments indicated above. The king himself might hear appeals in the criminal and fiscal departments, and death warrants would be signed by him; but he could not interfere with the Supreme Court of civil judicature. Criminal and fiscal functions were generally united. There existed no Police whatever, apart from the revenue establishments. English administrators have never been able to find any vernacular expression for the European idea of Police. The ancient Hindu notion of village Punchayets, invested with criminal jurisdiction, and guided by the head men among the landholders, the Potails, and Gram and Des Adhikars, had been soon abandoned. The Muhammadan criminal code had been everywhere introduced by the Mussulman conquerors ; though, in civil matters, each denomination of the people was allowed to follow its own laws. Thus, in the criminal department, petty offences would be summarily disposed of by the landholders; heinous offences would be investigated by the Tuhsildars, and referred to the Chuk. ladar, who would himself pass sentence on some
cases and transmit others to the Nazim.
He again could sentence in all, except capital offences, which latter cases must be submitted to the central authorities. Appeals of course lay from the subordinate to the superior court.
In the same manner, civil causes would be tried by the Nazims and Chukladars in consultation with the Muftis and Pandits.
But the working of all this machinery entirely depended on the success of the land revenue administration-which we proceed to notice. This is the experimentum crucis of all Eastern Governments. In Oudh, the Nazim might either contract with the sovereign for the revenues of his province, and pay himself from the profits of his lease ; or else he might collect a fixed demand, and receive a regular salary. The former expedient was usually adopted. In either case, his civil and criminal powers remained the same. The settlement of the revenue, payable by the landholders, was made annually. A rough estimate would be drawn up at the sowing season, and would be carefully revised at the reaping season, in order that the Government might extract all it could from the land. The people being without capital, the State was obliged to furnish them with means for carrying on the cultivation. Immense pecuniary advances were made for seed, cattle, implements, food, clothing, and even house-room. Upon these loans, interest at 25 or 30 per cent. would be gathered in with the harvest. Security was generally demanded from every person, who contracted with the authorities for land revenue : and the richer portion of the landed community would be, en masse, sureties for the poorer. But the main security was of course the produce of the ground and the person of the husbandman. Watchmen were set to guard the ripening crops, and defaulters were freely visited with corporal punishment, and even with torture. In one pergunnah of Cawnpore, it is said that the tax-payers tied up their money in three knots, and opened one at each Aagellation. Private property was not much respected. Such estates, as might invite competition, would be put up every year for the highest bidder. A landholder, who had been all along in possession of his property and paid his revenue regularly, might suddenly find himself supplanted by a stranger, who had offered the Nazim a higher bid for the village. Rajput fraternities of course generally managed to retain their holdings, as no speculator, who did not wish to burn his fingers, would bid for such estates : and, as old Ayodha (modernized
into Oudh) had once been a glorious Rajput kingdom, ruled by Suryavansas, * and second only to Kanouj, there were numerous Rajput brotherhoods interspersed over the country.
But, besides the land-tax, there were the Sayer duties. This most undefined tax extended to all products, manufactures, trades, and professions, and pressed heavily on the nonagricultural portion of the community; and the worst of it was, that the unfortunate payers had two masters. village, one set of collections was made for the Government, and another for the Zemindar. At the period of the Cession, much of the distress in Cawnpore was attributed to the operation of this tax; but the chief source of all mischief was this, that the Government was not strong enough to command the obedience of the powerful and refractory landholders. The country was studded with forts and strongholds, all of them nests of crime and rebellion. The Nazims and Chukladars, instead of attending to the civil Government, were constantly doing battle with the Zemindars, and taking by storm the villages of defaulters. When an interregnum of this kind once set in, a kind of Pandora's box was opened, and crime and misery went forth to desolate the country. For some years previous to the cession, Cawnpore, however, had not suffered so much from this latter scourge.
Saadut Ali was one of the ablest and most business-like of all the Nawab Wuzirs; and Ulmas Ali Khan, who farmed the revenue and exercised the powers of Nazim, was not a bad specimen of a native Governor-intelligent, energetic, just, when his own interests or those of his Government were not concerned, and exacting, where they were. He was smartly resisted in other divisions of his province; but we are unable to learn that his authority was ever set at nought in Cawnpore. In collecting the land revenue, he and his Amils were said to have “ taken the utmost, which the stock and produce would afford.” He was in the habit of anticipating the revenue, by realizing the instalments before they fell due. He appears also to have impoverished and depressed the non-agricultural population, by a vigorous and searching exaction of custom duties. “Let the face of the country be examined," writes Mr. Welland in 1802, “ and there will hardly be a manufacture, or an individual, found in such circumstances, as to afford the payment of a tax.”
The foregoing sketch may suffice to convey some idea of the Oudh Government, as it was in theory and in practice. In the former respect it was complete enough, and not very un
• Todd's Rajasthan, chaps, iv. and vii.