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HINTS ON INDJA REFORM.
(FROM A CORRESPONDENT.) Civilians' Rank.—The commercial functions of the India Company having ceased, it might be advisable to abolish the titles of senior merchant, junior merchant, factor, and writer, by which civilians of different standing in the service have hitherto been distinguished. The appellations were objectionable before, and are now unmeaning and absurd.
In the event of a civil servant being out of employ, an allowance may be made him according to the number of years he has been in the service, or so much might be given to those who have served under ten years, and so much to those who have served above that time.
Lotteries.- Of these I shall say no more than that, though they have been censured as an expedient to raise a small revenue by a large sacrifice of virtue, such a mode of taxation is at least voluntary; and from the way in which lotteries are managed in India, they are not by much so detrimental to public morals as they were in this country; and that, therefore, with a large debt and financial difficulties, they may be allowable.
Mint and Currency.- In this department, great saving might be effected by establishing an uniformity of currency throughout India, abolishing the mints of Madras and Bombay, and maintaining only that of Calcutta. The place of mint-master alone at Madras was considered worth Rs. 3,500 a-month : add to this the whole expenses of the establishment. And what do they produce?-a very ill-executed rupee. The same at Bombay. Now what can be easier than to send the supplies of coin necessary for the Madras presidency down from Calcutta per steamer, during the fine weather ? The same may be done for Bombay; or they may go overland. Two direct and palpable advantages may be calculated from this plan: one, an uniformity of rupee, &c., whereby great justice to the community and the services would be secured, giving great facilities to trade, and preventing much envy, hatred, and malice; and the other, a great saving of expense to the government. The office of mint-master at one presidency has been nearly a sinecure; the onerous part of the office falling on the assay-master and his assistant.
Courts.- Circuit Registers.—It might be advisable to abolish the Sudder Adawlut (a court more expensive than that of the king's judges), as a court of appeal from the provincial courts, and make the appeal lie to the Supreme Court, barring all ultimate appeal to the King in Council in this country. The proceedings in the Sudder Adawlut are tedious, expensive, and unsatisfactory the decisions being given by people not more learned in the law than the judges and officers of the provincial courts. A collector of revenue, suddenly transformed into a judge of appeal, cannot be supposed the fittest person to decide on an intricate question of law. The benefits from the abolition of this court would be, great saving of expense and of unnecessary and unsatisfactory litigation.
With regard to the registers of circuit courts, they might be dispensed with without detriment to any person but themselves. These registers are not to be confounded with the registers of zillah courts, who are judges in a less degree, and hold a court of their own, thereby despatching all the civil cases of a certain amount which come into the zillah court, and any criminal ones : being thus assistants to the judge, but in a separate court. The provincial circuit registers have no jurisdiction in court, and are, in fact, but the organs for delivering the decrees of the circuit judges, and the keepers of the records of their court. There is nothing in their office which might not be as effectually done by a native. So useless did Sir Thomas Munro consider this appointment, that at one time they were all done away with. Subsequent governors, or orders from home, have, however, re-established the situation: their pay is Rs. 700, a-month, and no fees.
Introduction of Writers into the Service.—Nothing, I incline to think, would be more beneficial to young civilians, on arriving in India, than being attached at once to the secretary's office, where they might learn the routine of business, of which they are quite ignorant when they leave England, and at the same time have abundance of leisure for perfecting themselves in Hindustani. It would teach them subordination, and keep them occupied, and therefore more out of the way of dissolute and extravagant courses, which have arisen in great measure from the quantity of idle time young men have on their hands, and from not knowing what to do with themselves. At the same time, it would at once be putting their talents to profit, and would give them a better standing in society than an idle writer has hitherto had. Nothing is so desirable as to get off the greenness of the boy as soon as possible, and make a useful servant and member of society of him. There would be no more heard of the enormous accumulation of debts by young civilians at Calcutta, were this done: they would be taught their proper place, and made to know that they came out there to be efficient servants, and not dissolute spendthrifts of other people's money. It is too late when they are appointed to situations up the country; the evil is already done: the bad beginning is irremediable, and thus we hear of defaulters and peculations.
The Roads.—The bad state of the roads, in every part of India, is too well known to need comment. It would be desirable to appoint an inspector-general of roads for each presidency, taking the business entirely out of the hands of the collectors, who can neither devote the requisite time thereto, nor bring all the modern improvements into action, from not having made a study of them. No country in the world ought to have such fine roads as India, from the abundance of granite and cheapness of labour there.
Police. This system of generalization might also be most beneficially extended to the police, which is in a lamentable state from the want of some uniform plan. An officer of police should wear such outward sign as should enable every one to recognize him at sight. A prefect of police, or directorgeneral, should be appointed, under whose orders, touching that department only, magistrates and collectors of districts should be bound to act.
ANECDOTE OF THE CALIPH MĀMŪN. The Caliph Māmūn, who is celebrated as the most virtuous and generous prince of his race, appointed his brother, Muatasim, to succeed him on the throne, although he had a son of his own still living, whose name was Abbās. But he had strong doubts of his son's fitness to reign; and made frequent trials of his talents and capacity. For this purpose, he went one day to his son's apartments, to find out how he employed his leisure hours; and while he was yet at the door of his chamber, heard him talking to his steward, and giving some orders about a trifling purchase of vegetables that he had seen in coming. back from the mosque. Upon this the caliph entered, and reproaching him for his parsimony and meanness, told him that such littleness of mind was unworthy of his birth. And this, they say, is the reason why he passed over his son, and left the empire to his brother.
MR. HOLMAN'S TRAVELS.* This is the first of a series of volumes, containing an account of the extensive travels, into all the grand divisions of the earth, of a gentleman, whom a distressing calamity, the privation of sight, had apparently disqualified, both for the gratification which travel imparts to persons of curiosity, and for the task of describing to others the places and objects met with in his journies. With respect to both these points, however, Mr. Holman abundantly satisfies us, that those who think a blind man incapable of feeling a gratification in travelling, and of giving an accurate delineation of the natural and moral history of the countries he traverses, labour under
The desire of visiting foreign parts appears to be almost inherent and innate in some persons.
When Mr. Holman entered the naval service, he felt this desire very strongly, and determined not to rest satisfied till he had completed the circumnavigation of the globe. At the age of twenty-five, his affliction came upon him, but it did not extinguish his eagerness to accomplish the object he had had in view; on the contrary, it seems to have supplied fresh motives and incitements. “ To those who inquire what pleasures I can derive from the invigorating spirit of travelling, under the privation I suffer, I may ask, who could endure life without a purpose, without the pursuit of some object, in the attainment of which his moral energies should be called into healthful activity? I can confidently assert that the effect of travelling has been beneficial to me in every way." The following passage explains the other difficulty, namely, how it is that a blind traveller can describe the objects met with in his travels:
I am constantly asked, and I may as well answer the question here once for all, what is the use of travelling to one who cannot see? I answer, does every traveller see all that he describes ?—and is not every traveller obliged to depend upon others for a great proportion of the information he collects ? Even Humboldt himself was not exempt from this necessity. The picturesque in nature, it is true, is shut out from me, and works of art are to me mere outlines of beauty, accessible only to one sense; but perhaps this very circumstance affords a stronger zest to curiosity, which is thus impelled to a more close and searching examination of details than would be considered necessary to a traveller who might satisfy himself by the superficial view, and rest content with the first impressions conveyed through the eye. Deprived of that organ of information, I am compelled to adopt a more rigid and less suspicious course of inquiry, and to investigate analytically, by a train of patient examination, suggestions and deductions which other travellers dismiss at first sight; so that, freed from the hazard of being misled by appearances, I am the less likely to adopt hasty and erroneous conclusions. I believe that, notwithstanding my want of vision, I do not fail to visit as many interesting points in the course of my travels as the majority of my contemporaries : and by having things described to me on the spot, I think it is possible for me to form as correct a judgment as my own sight would enable me to do.
These remarks appear extremely sound and just. * A Voyage round the World, including Travels in Africa, Asia, Australasia, America, &c. &c., from 1827 to 1832. By JAMES HOLMAN, R.N., F.R.S., &. &c. Vol. I. London, 1834. Smith, Elder,
The places visited by our author, in the portion of his travels to which the present volume is devoted, are Madeira, the Canary and Cape De Verd Islands, Sierra Leone and various places on the west coast of Africa, the Island of Ascension and Rio Janeiro. As we shall have occasion to accompany
Mr. Holman in his travels through portions of the East more within our province, we must content ourselves with a slight analysis of this part of his work, which is, upon the whole, more calculated to provoke than to gratify curiosity.
The particulars which Mr. Holman gives of various places on the west coast of Africa, from Sierra Leone southward to the Line, afford a sad picture of the state of society there, which seems to retrograde in the scale of morals, under the influence of that pernicious traffic, which the united efforts of Christian and even Mohammedan states seem incompetent effectually to put down. He appears to entertain no hopes of moral improvement in the rising generation of free blacks at Sierra Leone, by means of schools, which, he says, owing to the example of ignorant parents, “ merely sharpen the natural cunning of youth, and give them an increased power of evil by the fragments of information they thus acquire." He has added a specimen of the morals of the settlement, in an action against a black preacher of an independent chapel, at Freetown, for seducing the wise of one of his congregation, which, it is proper to mention, is stated to be the first cause of the kind ever tried in this colony: whether because of the rarity of such offences, or because “morality is not so highly appreciated there as in some countries of Europe," Mr. Holman does not clearly intimate. The plaintiff's counsel in this cause was a black gentleman, whose speech, if genuine, does no discredit to the forensic eloquence of Africa. Elsewhere, in his visit to the villages established for the liberated Africans, he found “ morality at a very low ebb, and infidelity in the married state a common occurrence;” and he speaks of the “disgraceful scenes of profligacy so frequently witnessed in the streets of Sierra Leone."
The aggregate population of the colony and its outlying villages is represented at about 15,000, of which number only 110 are Europeans, two-thirds of whom are under thirty years of age. The sickness and mortality amongst European settlers and visitors are truly lamentable. This constitutes, we fear, an insuperable obstacle to the civilization of Africa through European instrumentality. The settlement might, however, have been rendered more healthy by clearing the forest-land in the vicinity, which, besides promoting the salubrity of the place, would have afforded the means of cultivating valuable tropical productions, which thrive successfully in this soil. Immense sums and many lives have been wasted in the vain attempt to engraft upon the savage mind the valuable knowledge of Christianity, before its temporal recommendations could be seen, in the benefits of our civilization. When will our religious societies see the policy of imitating the Moravian missionaries, who do not impiously look for miracles to save them the labour of conversion, but who transform the savage to the civilized man by,the help of those arts which teach him sensibly to appreciate the benefit of the change ?
The history of the settlement of Liberia, founded by the American Colonization Society, and of its vicissitudes, is perhaps the most interesting part of the volume. This colony, it is stated, “ is daily adding strength and respectability to its character, and if even now all patronage were withdrawn, the colonists are fully capable of sustaining and defending themselves from any assaults of the natives, and regulating their own concerns in such a manner as to secure the prosperity of the colony." Mr. Holman considers that the example of the colony of Liberia might be followed with great advantage and success.
The following trait in the history of the Kroomen, or natives of the Kroo country, upon
part of the coast called the Grain Coast, is curious :The Kroomen, that is, the Kroo and Fish men, for they all come under the general denomination of Kroomen in Sierra Leone, are almost the only people on the coast who voluntarily emigrate, to seek for labour out of their own country. They come to Sierra Leone, to work in any capacity in which they can obtain employment, until they are possessed of sufficient property to enable them to purchase several wives. The object they propose to themselves in this increase of their domestic establishments differs in some respects from the indulgences of the East. The Kroomen compel their women to perform all the field-work, as well as the necessary domestic duties, in conformity with the usages of savage life, and when they can purchase a sufficient number of wives to fulfil all these employments, they pass the remainder of their days in ease and indolence. Before they are able to accomplish this object, they are obliged to make several visits to Sierra Leone, as they do not like to be absent more than two or three years at a time from their own country. The average duration of this voluntary banishment is perhaps about eighteen months. A sketch of the progress of the Kroomen, from their first visit to Sierra Leone to the final consummation of their wishes, in the attainment of their paradise of idleness, will fully illustrate the peculiar character of a tribe, one of whose usages is that of seeking abroad, during the vigorous years of life, the means of dwelling with ease and comfort in old age at home.
When they have arrived at healthy boyhood, they first come to Sierra Leone in the capacity of apprentices to the old hands, who are considered as headmen or masters: these headmen, according to their influence or station in their own country, have a proportionate number of apprentices attached to them, fluctuating from five to twenty, to teach them what they call “white man's fashion.” . The profit of the labour of the youths is always received by the headman, who returns them a small portion of it. When an apprentice goes back to his own country, after his first trip, he is considered to have passed through the period of initiation, and when next he visits Sierra Leone, he comes upon his own account. The amount of the gains of this visit (a great part of which consists of what they have been able to steal) is delivered up to the elders of his family, who select and purchase a wife for him. A short time is now spent in marriage festivities with the respective relatives of the parties, and then a fresh venture to Sierra Leone is undertaken, on which occasion he leaves his wife with her relations. The proceeds of the third visit are dedicated to the building of a hut, and the purchase of another wife. But he does not remain long at home, before he prepares to set out again for the purpose of making fresh accessions to his wealth, so that he may increase his household up to the desired point, where his own personal labour will be rendered unnecessary to his support. In this way he continues to visit Sierra Leone, accumulate