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ART. 1.-1. Scinde Blue Book. 2. Bombay Times. 1843-1850.
We purpose in the present article to present to our readers & brief review of the working of the administration in Scinde, subsequent to the annexation of that Province; not contenting ourselves with a bare recital of rules and regulations promulgated for the guidance of those entrusted with the manugement of its affairs, but enquiring, as far as our materials and limits will permit, into the extent to which those rules and regulations were carried out, and their effects upon the classes of subjects affected by them. In the prosecution of this design, we shall avoid the theoretical, and adhere to the practical working of the system. In all uncontrolled Governments, that is to say, where the Governor or Administrator acts alone and unaided, there is a natural tendency to confound the scheme as devised with its practical fulfilment. The former is given to the world, which showers down its laudations on the skilful administrator; the latter is given to the people, who too often receive it with a passive sullenness, mistaken for grateful acquiescence. Open remonstrance on their part is the work of time. This is the case even in single departments : how much greater then must be the chances of its existence, when the whole administration is in the hands of one man, who, from the multifarious nature of his duties, cannot possibly do more than lay down the general plan, leaving its details to be filled in by subordinate instruments, who thus themselves acquire a larger share of independence than is judicious. Under such circumstances, the head of the Government can but rarely acquire a faithful knowledge of the working of his system. There are few men to be found, who will voluntarily come forward with timely warning against measures eagerly upheld by a superior, though they see them to be practically pernicious. Some are callous, or with blind devotion play the game of " follow my leader : " others, foreseeing the results, either deem it beyond their province to utter a remonstrance, or care not to enter on what (experience teaches them) will probably be a futile waste of labor ; for, when the warning voice is raised,
means are readily. Forthcoming to drown it by arguments of plausibility, or; those failing, by the more irresistible voice of dictatorial-authority. So general has now become this powerful mode of retort, that a silent acquiescence in ill-conceived and worse-matured measures is dignified by the name of prudence and thus, under the garb of that virtue, stalk forth pusiltanimity, cringing, adulation, and inconsistency. But fortunatbly the public at large does not rest satisfied with the inapifesto of this or that Governor, and requires something more than the mere perusal of a judicious code drawn up in the closet, whereby to judge of the merits of an administration. It is not that the public doubts a man, when he asserts that he has introduced such a measure, or carried out such a reform : but it knows the frailty of human nature, and the strong inclination of men placed in situations of uncontrolled power, and accustomed to look upon their will as law, to think that the expression of that will is tanta'mount to the execution of its decrees. All theories require the support of facts to give them value. It must be certified how and to what extent they were acted upon; and, if carried out, whether the benefits anticipated were realized or not. A code, or a manifesto, may "prima facie" demonstrate a man's general abilities and knowledge of the theoretical points in question : but what in theory might seem sound, may on further examination appear unsuited to the circumstances of the country, and uncongenial to the wants and tastes of the people, for whose benefit it was intended. It is necessary therefore, in order to arrive at a just conclusion regarding any form of Government, or its Acts, to examine that form, and to measure those Acts, by a local standard, throwing aside all pre-conceived opinions based on European principles, and confining ourselves to the one great point-their suitableness, or the reverse, to the state of the country, and the genius of the people, who are affected by them. It is evident that for this purpose our attention must be directed to details to the mode in which the several parts of the great machine are linked together-to the security wbich exists for the due performance of the various duties in each branch-and to the checks created to restrain abuses and preserve the unanimity of the whole. Eloquence and verboseness are not required to ensure the favourable reception of just and liberal measures, fraught with good to the people : and no amount of seemingly plausible argument, or high-flown declamation, can avert the ultimate censure, which must be passed, sooner or later, upon narrow-minded, ill-judged expedients, teeming with error and evil.
We therefore again eschew all reliance on paper Government, and shall proceed to the less captivating but more useful review of the real merits of Sir Charles Napier's administration in Scinde, as observable in the details of its working. And here we would strongly repudiate all party feeling. We are not blind, on the one hand, to the many points of excellence appearing in Sir Charles Napier's administration; nor, on the other hand, are we prepared to assert that it is wholly faultless, and, as such, worthy of more general adoption. Seven years have now elapsed since the Province of Scinde became an integral portion of the British Indian Empire. It boots not for our purpose to enquire into the circumstances leading to that result: the “great fact” is before us; and it is with the consequences, not the causes, of that fact that we have to do. The events, immediately preceding, had followed each other in such rapid succession that the finale was unexpected and unlooked for ; and the Hero of Meaní found himself on a sudden called on to administer the affairs of the province he had conquered. For a time indeed, some little interest attached to this new corner of the empire; but it gradually ceased; and the General was left unheeded to frame and execute what system of Government he pleased. During the last seven years, nothing, or next to nothing, has been made known of the details of that system in any branch or department. No reports --no returns-have been given to the public, from which could be gathered any real information of the mode in which matters were administered in our new Province. This silence does not seem to have attracted notice, and may have tended to continue that indifference to matters connected with Scinde, which has been observable so long. Several other reasons for it however existed.; the strongest of which was perhaps the personality, which marked all the publications connected with it. Two parties arose, contending, for a length of time, with much acrimony and illfeeling, on points of by-gone policy, and leaving in their wordy warfare no breathing time or room for the discussion of more material points, bearing on the present and future wellbeing of the country. The question was not, whether this or that measure, emanating from the new Government, was politic and just, or the reverse—but whether Napier had, or had not, forced the Amírs to a war: for such, on fair reasoning, appears to be the pith of the celebrated controversy, apart from the personal recriminations and retorts, which lie scattered on the surface. This bitter and fruitless antagonism absorbed such share of interest as the public were willing to bestow on Scinde ; and the press, joining in the struggle, served only to urge champions on, and embitter the strife. And so passed by the first years of the Government, amid party turmoils injurious in many respects to the country, inasmuch as they distracted attention from more important matters.
At last men grew sick of the contest, and withdrew from the witnessing of å struggle, in which both parties claimed the victory. By this time events had happened and were happening in the north, of intense interest to India generally, wbicb, with few intermissions, have, nearly up to the present time, absorbed the attention of the public.
We have already observed that the data connected with Scindian affairs are few and scattered; nor has the local Press done anything towards collecting them. An attempt has been made ; but freedom of speech was not a characteristic of Scinde; and without it the Press is no longer a "mighty engine." It is with a desire to collect and condense these hidden data, that we now venture on this hitberto untrodden ground.
It may be as well to preface our remarks by noting the general state of the country at the time of the conquest. In the first number of this Review, we gave a brief account of the Amírs of Scinde and their predecessors. The historical records of the country are scanty: but we can trace with tolerable accuracy the more important events, which bave occurred since the Arab Muhammadan invasion under Muhammad Ahmed Ben Kasim, in the eighth century, at which time Scinde was a much larger province than it is now. We pass over the many years, which followed between that event and the rise of the Kalorabs, during the latter part of which period the country was governed by the vicegerents of the Mogul emperors, possessing more or less independence, according to the circumstances which rendered invasion more or less likely. The Kalorahs were originally a religious tribe from Central Asia, who entered Scinde under one Adam Shah, and gradually obtained influence there and landed possessions, until one of his descendants, Nur Múbammad, obtained from the Delhi emperor the government of the country. Under the princes of this dynasty, Scinde continued in a flourishing state; agriculture and commerce increased : and the fine canals, now intersecting the length and breadth of the land, though mostly out of repair and disregarded, are lasting memorials of their beneficent rule. But after a dominion of little more than half a century, quarrels arose between the Kalorahs and a family, which, at the time, held high office in the State, and from its position, had_obtained great influence. The neighbouring hill tribes of the Brahús joined in the strife; and, after a succession of bloody and cruel murders, the Talpúrs, in 1779, overthrew their masters and usurped the Government. The Talpúrs were a Belúch tribe, and are said to have derived their name from the circumstance of their having, on their first descent into Scinde, settled themselves in villages, or camps, composed of date leaves. They appear, on the whole, to have governed with ability and justice: but the various divisions of the country amongst the members of the family very much tended to diminish their power, as, in the absence of a foreign enemy, their internal disputes were frequent. The result of this territorial division must soon have been the usurpation of the whole by one individual of the brotherhood, possessed of a greater share of ability and daring than the others; but this was prevented by the occurrence of the only other probable event--the stepping in of a foreign power to ease them of the burden: and this power was the Honourable Company. It does not appear that these several ch of the Government affected, in any general degree, the peace of the country. Vicegerents of whatever power, Kalorahs, or Talpúrs, were alike usurpers, were equally without claims to supremacy, and owed their power to their mercenary bands of retainers, and their own individual abilities. The Scindians meanwhile, for centuries divested of nationality and common interests, received without hesitation or regret each succeeding race of rulers, looking no further than their fields and pastures; and, as their agricultural interests seem to have been, for the most part, left undisturbed, and their possessions secured to them by the new powers, they experienced no inducement to resist the change.
Under the Talpúrs, besides the natural wish of avoiding internal disquiet under a new rule, depending for its stability upon their personal retainers alone, there existed another reason for respecting the interests of the large body of landed proprietors and cultivators : and this arose from the above-mentioned anomalous division of territory amongst the Amírs, which, injurious as it was to their own interests, and in a great measure conducive to their final downfall, yet acted beneficially in some respects on the cultivating portion of their subjects : for undue exactions and overbearing imposts on the part of any Amír led to desertion from the territory of that Amír to the lands of his more politic neighbour-thus increasing the revenues and consequent power of the one, at the expense of the other. The same general peacefulness, and readiness to accept of the new foreign power, prevailed amongst the Scindians, when the victories of Meaní and Hyderabad placed the country in the hands of the victors. From what we have stated above, this is in no way attributable to their dislike of the former reigning