« EdellinenJatka »
allowances of two or three hundred rupees to each, that is to say, less than half the present salaries and emoluments, it would soon be found that the Natives are fit for the office of Judge. We should have a respectable class of Natives, who would, in some degree, assimilate with us, and would form a link of connexion between us and the body of the people."
The repugnance universally entertained by the Natives of India, both Mohammedan and Hindoo, to the taking of a judicial oath, is well known, though the grounds of their objection have never been clearly stated. Their total want of power to bind the conscience and extract true evidence is as generally acknowledged; and ineffectual attempts have been made to correct the evil by enacting severer punishments for perjury, and by seeking for more impressive forms of administering them. The true remedy, in conjunction with, and in subordination to, the slow effects of religious instruction, seems to be by permitting all classes to give evidence unsworn, to remove, or at least greatly diminish, the objection which respectable persons now have to appearing as witnesses in a court of justice. Mr. Edward Strachey has supported the proposition with irresistible arguments. "Such is the terror of the oath," he observes, "that no respectable person will appear in our courts as a witness, if he can help it. My own little experience enables me to say that it is common for families, sometimes even whole villages, to fly at the apprehension of being named as witnesses. I have often known men cry and protest against the injustice of others who have accused them of being witnesses to a fact; and they declare that they are innocent of the charge with as much anxiety as if they were accused of felony. Some men refuse to swear from conscience and others from pride. Whatever may be the orthodox opinion of the Hindoo theologians, the people at large do certainly consider that the taking of an oath on the Ganges water, is a spiritual offence of the most horrid nature, which consigns them and their families, for many generations, to damnation. With respect to those persons who do not make it a point of conscience, it must be admitted that to appear in one of our courts as a witness, is, in the highest degree, disgraceful. In short, the very fact of a Native having taken an oath in one of our courts, is a presumption against the respectability of his character, or the purity of his conscience. If any doubt is entertained of the truth of these facts, I can only say that I assert them on the grounds of my own experience, and of the best information which I have been able to collect from Natives as well as Europeans. I suppose that the evils are acknowledged to exist to their fullest extent, but that they are considered to be necessary evils. The courts have now authority, in certain cases, to exempt persons from swearing. This is something, but it does not appear to be sufficient. If the corporal oath, in the form now used, does tend to banish truth from our courts,
and if it is liable to the objections I have stated, I know no reason why it should not be banished altogether.-The imposition of an oath on a man, who believes that by taking it he brings damnation on himself and his family for many generations, appears to me to be a mode of finding out truth not very different from torture."
Improvements in the text of the law, and in the training of the Judges, cannot well precede, but will certainly follow, the general progress in wealth and intelligence.
On the Exclusion of British Subjects from the Right of holding Land in India.
'That English settlers in India would be found altogether unmanageable was maintained by all the Company's witnesses examined by Parliament in 1813. Warren Hastings apprehended the greatest possible evils, "plunder," and "ruin to the peace of the country, and to the interest of the Company," from "letting loose hordes" of Englishmen, and from "an irruption of British adventurers into India;" yet, if a few favoured individuals were permitted, by special license, to reside in the interior, he predicted still greater mischiefs than if all men indiscriminately were allowed to possess the same privilege. "They would go armed with power and an influence which no man would dare to resist; and those are the men that I should apprehend more danger from than an indiscriminate rabble let loose upon the country. In opposing the attempts of such men, every man would think that he was acting in opposition to their patron."
The following answer, by Lord Teignmouth, is incontrovertible : "If there were an unrestrained intercourse between such persons and the Natives, that is, an intercourse which could not be restrained, it would imply a defect in the superintending powers of the Government, that would, in fact, amount to a suspension of its functions; and, in that case, an unrestrained multitude would certainly be dangerous in many points of view."
Nothing more exquisite can be imagined than the following passage from the evidence of Mr. Cowper, which reminds one of the debates in the cabinet of Lilliput, respecting the restraints to which Gulliver should be subjected :-" The question supposes the British merchant sends his agent there, and forms an establishment to carry on business there supposing he should have a misunderstanding with the Natives, how far with the enactment in his hands, allowing him to have free scope for his enterprise and commerce, would the magistrate have the means of settling that dispute? It might so happen, supposing the plan now in agitation to have full effect, and to answer expectation, a THOUSAND EUROPEANS might be found, within a small extent of country, which might outnumber, tenfold, all the force the Company could bring against them in the form of police, unless their police were so large as
would consume their whole revenue; but I cannot possibly suppose such an occurrence would happen: I do not suppose such an enormous influx of adventurers is likely to take place; the inconvenience of restraining them would always be in proportion to the numbers!"
'Sir John Malcolm said, "I am of opinion, from what I have observed, that the power vested in the local Governments of India, of sending a British subject to Europe, and that given to a magistrate, of sending him away from a district, is much seldomer exercised than it should be. It is quite impossible that any person educated in England, and whose breast is filled with the principles of British freedom, can dismiss those from his mind so far as to exercise, without feelings of great compunction, very absolute power, however necessary such may be on the grounds of general policy."
The following passage is from the evidence of Mr. Charles Buller:"It has occurred to me, in two instances, in the course of two months, to recommend to Government that two gentlemen might be sent out of the district where they resided. Now these came accidentally [and ex parte ?] before me in my official capacity, as I had nothing to do with the superintendence of those gentlemen, or with the general police of the country; but, when any question arose whether they held lands directly or indirectly, such questions were always sent to the Board of Revenue to report upon, and, in these two instances, the acts of oppression committed against the Ryots were so great, that I believe we suggested to Government whether it was proper that people of that kind should be allowed to remain in that country; and I believe they were removed in consequence; I know they were ordered." Of the oppression of Ryots by Zemindars, the public records are full. Of the cases of Mr. Buller's two gentlemen, we know nothing; but his cursory notice of them affords one instance of the facility and indifference with which the blind and often cruel remedy of removal from the interior, or from India, is applied. Doubtless, the benefits derivable from the operations of European agriculturists cannot be expected from those who engage in them clandestinely and are treated like poachers.
'As Mr. Hastings and other witnesses predicted that the Englishmen, not in the service of the Company, who proceeded to India, would immediately turn robbers; so Mr. S. R. Lushington apprehended that many of the crews of private ships would turn pirates, and that "the number of ships of war necessary to repress their depredations would be so expensive as not to make the country worth possessing!" Both predictions are of equal value, and rest on equally solid grounds; but the circumstances in which the former would be put to the test have not yet occurred. With respect to the latter, there has not been one instance of piracy committed by a European, but, on the contrary, the resources of Native pirates
have been curtailed, and the extension of commerce consequent on colonisation will abate the nuisance altogether.
The substance of Sir John Malcolm's objections to colonisation, seems comprised in the following passages of his Political History:' "We may and ought to impart such improvement as will promote their happiness and the general prosperity of the country; but we are bound by every obligation of faith, (and it would be a principle of imperative policy, even if we had given no pledge,) not to associate with our improvement any measures of which the operation is likely to interfere with their interests, to offend their prejudices, or to outrage their cherished habits and sentiments. That colonisation, on any extended scale, would have this effect, no man can doubt, who is acquainted with the nature of the property in the soil, and the character of the population.* The different rights which are involved in every field of cultivated land in India, have been particularly noticed; and those who have studied that subject will be satisfied that, in many of our provinces, there is no room for the English proprietor.""The danger of offence to the prejudices, usages, or religion of the Native, from the settlement of British agricultural Colonists, would be great, and this danger, it is to be remarked, would not spring so much from the acts of the latter as from the apprehensions and impressions of the former, who would believe any such settlement to be the commencement of a system for the subversion of the existing order of society. They would view the settlers as invaders of their right, and no benefit they could derive from the introduction of capital, or the example of industry and enterprise, would reconcile any to such a change, except the very lowest of the labouring classes: all others would either shrink from a competition with what they would deem a higher and more favoured class, or be irritated to a spirit of personal hostility, which, in whatever way it might show itself, would be most injurious to the public interests."
Upon this I observe, first, the above statement does not relate to mere facts respecting which Sir John Malcolm's experience may entitle his testimony to attention; it does not relate to political arrangements with which his whole life has been conversant; nor even to questions of detail respecting the military, fiscal, or judicial systems of India; but it relates to the application of the principles of politico-economical science, with which neither his duties nor his studies have made him familiar. We have seen how much witnesses of the highest rank and reputation were deceived
* Three_pages further on, this form of begging the question is repeated: "That the colonisation of some scattered English families would have this effect, [i. e. that they would degenerate and bring the English character into disrepute,] no one can doubt who knows the country and its inhabitants.
respecting the effect of throwing open the trade to India. They are the same witnesses who say that the introduction of European capital and skill into the agriculture of India, and a more intimate association of the Natives of both countries, will not reduce but widen the distance which now separates the two classes of inhabitants in respect to knowledge, habits, and affections. It is further to be considered that the proposed measures, against which these witnesses testify, are restrictive of powers which they had exercised, or in the exercise of which they had participated, or expected to participate; and there are few instances of limitations of power, of whatever description, originating with its possessor, few in which they have not been extorted, as from a reluctant and struggling adversary.
'Secondly, with respect to the want of room in "the cultivated lands, because they are occupied, and in the waste lands, because they have claimants who can produce strong title to the eventual occupation of them," it is not required that any Native should be compelled to cede his land, his rights, or his claims; but that, since letting and sale of land are transactions of daily occurrence, Natives should not be prevented from letting and selling to Europeans and their descendants. Paris is a crowded city, yet room can be found in it at any time for 30,000 English travellers. So, in London, myriads of strangers from all points of the compass contrive to live without invasion of the rights, or disturbance of the convenience, of the original inhabitants. The redundant population of Ireland has never suggested the idea of a law to prevent the transference thither of English capital, or the settlement in that country of English agriculturists and manufacturers.
Thirdly, that foreigners should appropriate to their own use. nine-tenths of the net produce of the land and labour of their country, and exclude the Natives from all share in the Government, and from all respectable ministerial offices, is a condition of things well calculated to make them look with aversion on what they must "deem a higher and more favoured class, and be irritated to a spirit of personal hostility, which, in whatever it might show itself, must be most injurious to the public interests." But English agriculturists and manufacturers NOT "favoured" by the possession of any peculiar privileges, amenable to the same courts of justice, living on the fruits of their industry, under the protection of the same laws, and subject to the payment of the same taxes as their Native brethren, would diffuse a spirit of industry, improvement, and emulation, which could not but make the sources from which it flowed, objects of esteem, gratitude, and attachment. This consequence is admitted by some of the opponents of colonisation, who found on it a most unreasonable objection, that the Natives, coalescing with the Colonists, would aspire to be put on a footing with them in respect to civil and criminal judicatures: as if it were not