« PreviousContinue »
lost much of their religious scruples, and are lax in the observance of their rites ; they wear beards, adopt the Belúch head-dress, eat flesh and fish, and drink wine !
The best calculations, which have been made, seem to indicate the following proportions :
Scindian Agriculturists and Fishermen.....................
T On looking at the Map, we are led to estimate too highly the nature and extent of country, which is under the British Government. On the left bank of the Indus, a strip of land from Ghotkí to Rorí is British ; but it is very narrow.
The country, south of Rorí to near Hyderabad, forms the territories of Mir Alí Morad-together with some very fertile districts between Ghotki and Subzalkot, which were made over to him by Sir Charles Napier, in exchange for a barren and troublesome tract on the right of the Indus. The country south of Hyderabad is also British, as far as Cutch. On the right bank, the strip of land between the river and the west range of hills is British : but it must be remembered that this is not all well inhabited and cultivated. A desert tract runs between the hills and the cultivated strip by the river-very broad to the north, but diminishing as it proceeds towards Sehwan. Including this desert, the Province does not exceed in area 35,000 square miles : and, estimating the population at fifteen per square mile, their number does not exceed 525,000 souls.
Such was the country which General Napier found himself called on to govern; and it may not be uninteresting to compare its state with that of the country, since annexed to our Empire, by the conquest of the Punjab. In the latter, we had to encounter the firm national and religious bond, which bound the chiefs and army so closely together-a general odium towards the new power-the disaffected and turbulent state of the whole country—and the difference between men fighting for all they held dear and sacred, and those fighting as mere task work. In the one case, the army finished its work by the capture of the reigning Princes: in the other, it found in the ranks of the enemy a numerous and able body of chiefs, ready to succeed each other in the command and respect of their troops. In the Punjab, we found hostility and treachery on every side, fierce foes and dangerous friends; and, instead of a people, coming wil. lingly forward to do what was required of them, and who had never joined in arms against us, we had a mixed and turbulent population-Sikhs, Afghans, and Hindús—all lately our enemies, and all hating and keeping aloof from their conquerors. Here obviously caution was required at every step, and sound practical measures were demanded, with a stern disregard of all theoretical experiment, or pre-conceived prejudices. As might be expected therefore, the first measures taken by the two Governments were entirely different.
From the state in which Scinde was found at the conquest, we have shown that its future prospects and welfare were parti. cularly liable to be affected, by the kind of officers selected at first to carry out the views of Government-their aptitude and capacity being sure to produce good effects, which subsequent misrule would not entirely or speedily remove ; whilst their errors or incapacity would produce evils, which no after sound measures could easily eradicate. Let us then briefly enquire who those officers were. The Governor and Chief Magistrate was the conqueror of the country: and probably a more despotie, independent, and uncontrolled authority has never been vested in any other individual in India, or elsewhere. Most important and various were his duties. As the commander of a large division of the Army-and a commander too, who was not only so in name, but under whose keen eye passed all the minutest details of the Adjutant General's, Quarter Master General's, Commissariat, and Ordnance, departments-nay, even all the workings of regimental routine-everywhere his regulating hand was observable. In his Military capacity, however, his power was limited : he was still subordinate to higher authority. But it was not so in his civil capacity. On him alone devolved, in addition to a large Military command, the absolute conducting of the civil department in all its branches of the revenue, of civil and criminal jurisprudence, of the police, and of our relations with neighbouring powers. The weight of responsibility, which these multifarious and arduous labours imposed upon that one man, will better appear as we proceed. But we may here enquire what qualifications he professed to bring to this Herculean task.
Sir Charles Napier was a man of vast and varied experience. Early trained to arms, he had in many quarters of the globe ob. tained an acknowledged eminence and a well deserved fame, though hitherto rewarded with comparatively slight honours. He was a man too of undoubted general ability, of keen perception, of unwearied energy and application, of great firmness and decision, and with a peculiar act of ingratiating bimself with those placed in subordination to him. Filled with boundless ambition, he was brought, late in life, for the first time into a position, which held out to him the prospect of feeding that ambition to the utmost. With a pre-conceived and deeply-rooted aversion to every thing that originated, or had any connection, with the members of the Civil Service, he struggled, and certainly not without success, to render his Government as unlike any hitherto known in India, as possible. With no revenue experience to guide him, he yet paused not in attempting to hurl down, and to re-build upon European theories, systems and customs, whose venerable antiquity claimed and required at least a careful and experienced hand to remodel. If we consider the great difference, obseryable throughout India, in local customs and institutions in different districts and even villages, which renders a perfect experience in one part insufficient to guide & man in another, we must admit that a total inexperience is not likely to render any man competent as a Civil administrator.
That errors have been made in the earlier periods of our Indian rule by Civil administrators is a notorious fact : but the Acts, passed at the commencement of the present century, must not be looked upon as the standard of subsequent enactments. These acts now stand out as warnings, while the steps, which have been since taken in the right direction, serve as strong encouragements : and no impartial person could view without admiration, what is perhaps the greatest improvement of all, the settlement of the North West Provinces. This work of many years--calling forth such a vast fund of talent, zeal, and benevolence-has resulted in the establishment of a system of revenue administration, which is not surpassed in any country, European or Asiatic, whether we look to it, as having reference to the general peace and prosperity of the country-the individual happiness of the people the security of private rights-or the stability and benefit of the Government. In Scinde both the warning and encouragement were overlooked. They were the acts of a civil Government; and therefore the new Government would none of them.
Let us now turn to the subordinate officers of Government. Sir Charles Napier neither desired, nor sought for, in his secretary, one, who could counsel or warn him in revenue matters ; and his choice fell upon one, who, in every other way, was suited for his office. Industrious, clever, and, what is called, “ a good office man,” the late Captain Brown deservedly obtained much credit in the discharge of his duties, and possessed the entire and expressed confidence of his chief. But the men of most importance, as being those through whom the orders of Government were to be carried out, and who were to be in direct communication with the governed, were the collectors and their deputies. These were all military men, taken from their regiments without a day's experience of civil duties in any department, the greater part of whom had even, when in charge of districts, to learn the difference between the Rubbi and Khurif. Thrown upon their own resources, the deputies had none to instruct or encourage them ; for the collectors, their immediate superiors, were as ignorant as themselves: and those perhaps succeeded best, who followed their great master's ex. ample, made the most of theory, and cut, instead of unravelling, the Gordian knot of each difficulty, which presented itself. Some doubtless, both collectors and deputies, were not content with such summary proceedings, but set themselves to work to teach themselves, and, in the course of time, obtained some insight into the nature of their duties : but the process was slow, even when this was the case, and the result but slightly advantageous to the people, or to themselves. A suggestion, or a hint, was replied to by the remark, that " His Excellency had not called for, or required, their suggestions." One would have supposed that the Governor of a newly-acquired territory, himself without the means of a personal communication with the people, would rather have encouraged than checked such suggestions; for, though most may have been crude or fanciful, some may be supposed to have arisen from careful observation and natural ability; and, it may be asked, why men, whose suggestions were not considered worthy of notice, were yet left in charge of districts with scarcely any check? But the evils, arising from the want of experience of all the officers of Government, were increased by other circumstances, unavoidable under the constitution of the Government, but traceable to that constitution. These were the want of leisure for inquiry, and the multifarious nature of the duties imposed on all. We find the Governor leaving his desk at the close of the year 1844, not eighteen months from his assumption of the Government, again to wield the sword, and at the head of a force to march against the mountain tribes, and carry on a difficult and arduous hill campaign-and this too at a period when his presence was so urgently required in establishing his new Government. It is true, that this could not be completed until the turbulent robbers were repressed : but, with two general officers under his command, it is strange that he himself should have been compelled to move; and, if every military undertaking was to be carried on by the Governor in person, the civil administration should, in common justice to the people, have been committed to other hands. The hot weather of 1845 was setting in, when Sir Charles returned to his Head Quarters, and had again leisure to draw up his measures of reform. But not long was this quiet allowed him. We find him in the next cold weather again leaving his province to join Lord Hardinge at Lahore, delegating his powers in Scinde, civil and military, to Major General Simpson, his second-in-command. In the early part of 1846, he returned to Scinde, and remained at Kurrachí till his final departure in October 1847. Nor was this want of leisure confined to His Excellency; it extended also to the collectors and their deputies. The moving of the troops through the country required them to use their utmost exertions to collect and forward supplies: and this, it may truly be said, occupied the greatest share of their time and attention to the exclusion of more important matter.
Another great evil was the constant change of officers. There were five collectors of Upper Scinde in the first eighteen months, succeeding the annexation of the country! Instances occurred in some districts of seven deputy collectors within five years (two of whom were acting only)--and even of seven within four years, all of whom were permanently appointed. When we remember that these were all inexperienced, and had no systematic rules to guide them in revenue, civil or criminal matters, we may imagine the confused state of affairs, which must have arisen as the result; and we shall the less wonder at the cases of embezzlement, &c. which will presently come under our notice. It seems to been the intention of Lord Ellenborough to adopt the arrangement, since pursued in the Punjab, of uniting the members of the civil and military services in the administration of the country, for which purpose he placed at Sir Charles' disposal three young officers of the former branch. But their stay was not long: they were soon returned in ap. parent disgrace, and met with a signal mark of the disapprobation of Government. It is supposed that the immediate cause of their removal originated in a complaint, that they were wanting in industry, and (puffed up with their own importance) refused to consider themselves as the mere writers of their immediate superior. That they were not wanting in ability, industry, or subordination, their subsequent career has abundantly proved; and if (as is said) the principal duties of themselves and their successors consisted in the copying of letters, the least that can be said is, that it was very expensive penmanship, when the work would have been done far better probably for 100 rupees per mensem. We will now turn from the officers, to the details, which they were to carry out in the different branches of the administration. Let us look first to the revenue.
For the first two years, no alterations were made in the mode of assessment, or of collecting the revenue. This, under the