"The truth, sir, is seldom told in these Courts. There they think of nothing but the number of witnesses, as if all were alike; here, sir, we look to the quality. When a man suffers wrong, the wrong-doer is summoned before the elders, or most respectable men of his village or clan; and if he denies the charge and refuses redress, he is told to bathe, put his hand upon the peepul-tree, and declare aloud his innocence. If he refuses, he is commanded to restore what he has taken, or make suitable reparation for the injury he has done; and if he refuses to do this, he is punished by the odium of all, and his life becomes miserable. A man dares not, sir, put his hand upon that sacred tree and deny the truth—the gods sit in it and know all things; and the offender dreads their vengeance. In your adawluts, sir, men do not tell the truth so often as they do among their own tribes, or village communities—they perjure themselves in all manner of ways, without shame or dread; and there are so many men about these Courts, who understand the 'rules and regulations,' and are so much interested in making truth appear to be falsehood, and falsehood truth, that no man feels sure that right will prevail in them in any case. The guilty think they have just as good a chance of escape as the innocent. Our relations and friends told us, that all this confusion of right and wrong, which bewildered them, arose from the multiplicity of the 'rules and regulations,' which threw all the power into the hands of bad men, and left the European gentlemen helpless!"
"But you know that the crime of murdering female infants, which pervades the whole territory of Oude, and brings the curse of God upon it, has been suppressed in the British territory, in spite of these 'aens and kanoons?'"—"True, sir, it has been put down in your bordering districts; but the Rajpoot families who reside in them manage to escape your vigilance, and keep up the evil practice. They intermarry with Rajpoot families in Oude, and the female infants, born of the daughters they give in marriage to Oude families, are destroyed in Oude without fear or concealment; while the daughters they receive in marriage, from Oude families, are sent over the border into Oude, when near their confinement, on the pretence of visiting their relations. If they give birth to boys, they bring them back with them into your districts; but if they give birth to girls, they are destroyed in the same manner, and no questions are ever asked about them." "Do you ever eat or drink with Rajpoot parents who destroy their female infants?"—"Never, sir! we are Brahmins, but we can take water in a brass vessel from the hands of a Rajpoot, and we do so when his family is unstained with this crime; but nothing would ever tempt us to drink water from the hands of one who permitted his daughters to be murdered." "Do you ever eat with the village or family priest who has given absolution to parents who have permitted their daughters to be murdered, by eating in the room where the murder has been perpetrated?"—"Never, sir; we abhor him as a participator in the crime; and nothing would ever induce one of us to eat or associate with him: he takes all the sin upon his own head by doing so, and is considered by us as an outcast from the tribe, and accursed! It is they who keep up this fearful usage. Tigers and wolves cherish their offspring, and are better than these Rajpoots, who out of family or clan pride, destroy theirs. As soon as their wives give birth to sons, they fire off guns, give largely in charity, make offerings to shrines, and rejoice in all manner of ways; but when they give birth to poor girls, they bury them alive without pity, and a dead silence prevails in the house; it is no wonder, sir, that you say that the curse of God is upon the land in which such sins prevail!"
The quality of testimony, no doubt, like that of every other commodity, deteriorates under a system, which renders the good of no more value in exchange than the bad. The formality of our Courts here, as everywhere else, tends to impair, more or less, the quality of what they receive. The simplicity of Courts, composed of little village communities and elders, tends, on the contrary, to improve the quality of the testimony they get; and in India, it is found to be best in the isolated hamlets of hills and forests, where men may be made to do almost anything rather than tell a lie. A Marhatta pandit, in the valley of the Nerbudda, once told me, that it was almost impossible to teach a wild Gond of the hills and jungles the occasional value of a lie! It is the same with the Tharoos and Booksas, who are, almost exclusively the cultivators of the Oude Tarae forest, and with the peasantry of the Himmalaya chain of mountains, before they have come much in contact with people of the plains, and become subject to the jurisdiction of our Courts. These Courts are, everywhere, our weak point in the estimation of our subjects; and they should be, everywhere, simplified to meet the wants and wishes of so simple a people.
That the lands, under the settled Government of the Honourable East India Company, are becoming more and more deteriorated by overcropping is certain; and an Indian statesman will naturally inquire, what will be the probable consequence to the people and the Government? To the people, the consequence must be, a rise in the price of land produce, proportioned to the increased cost of producing and bringing to market what is required for consumption. The price in the market must always be sufficient to cover the cost of producing, and bringing what is required from the poorest and most distant lands to which that market is at any time obliged to have recourse for supply; and as these lands deteriorate in their powers of fertility, recourse must be had to lands more distant, or more cost must be incurred in manure, irrigation, &c., to make these, already had recourse to, to produce the same quantity, or both. The price in the market must rise to meet the increased outlay required, or that outlay will not be made; and the market cannot be supplied.
As men have to pay more for the Land produce they require, they will have less to lay out in other things; and as they cannot do without the land produce, they must be satisfied with less of other things, till their incomes increase to meet the necessity for increased outlay. People will get this increase in proportion as their labour, services, talents, or acquirements are more or less indispensable to the society; and the price of other things will diminish, as the cost of producing and bringing them to market diminishes, with improvements in manufactures, and in the facilities of transport. No very serious injury to the people of our territories is, therefore, to be apprehended from the inevitable deterioration in the natural powers of the soil, under our settled Government, which gives so much security to life, property, and character, and so much encouragement to industry.
The consequence to the Government will be less serious than might at first appear. Under a system of limited settlements of the land- revenue, such as prevail over all our dominions, except in Bengal, the Government is in reality the landlord; and our land-revenue is in reality land-rent.* We alienate a portion of that rent for limited periods in favour of those with whom we make such settlements, and take all the rest ourselves. On an average, perhaps, our Government takes one-sixth of the gross produce of the land; and the persons, with whom the settlements are made, take another sixth. The net rent, which the Government and they divide equally between them, may be taken, on an average, at one-third of the gross produce of the land. The cultivator would, I believe, always be glad to take and cultivate land, on an average, on condition of giving one-third of the gross produce, or the value of one-third, to be divided between the Government and its lessee; and the lessee will always consider himself fortunate if he gets one-half of this third, to cover the risk and cost of management.
* I believe our Government committed a great political and social error, when it declared all the land to be the property of the lessees: and all questions regarding it to be cognizable by Judicial Courts. It would have been better for the people, as well as the Government, had all such questions been left to the Fiscal and Revenue Courts. There is the same regular series of these Courts, from the Tuhseeldar to the Revenue Sudder Board, as of the Judicial Courts, from the Moonsiff to the Judicial Sudder Board; and they are all composed of the same class of persons, with the same character and motives to honest exertion. Why force men to run the gauntlet through both series? It tends to make the Government to be considered as a rapacious tax-gatherer, instead of a liberal landlord, which it really is; and to foster the growth of a host of native pettifogging attorneys, to devour, like white ants, the substance of the landholders of all classes and grades.
Where the soil of a particular village in a district deteriorates, an immediate reduction in the assessment must be given, or the lands will be deserted. If the Government does not consent to such a reduction, the lessee must sustain the whole burthen, for he cannot shift it off upon the cultivators, without driving them from the lands. The lessee may sustain the whole burthen for one or two years; but if the officers of Government attempt to make him sustain it longer, they drive him after his cultivators, and the land is left waste. I have seen numerous estates of villages and some districts made waste by such attempts in India. I have seen land in such estates, which, when unexhausted, yielded, on an average, twelve returns of the seed, without either manure or irrigation, and paid a rent of twenty shillings an acre, become so exhausted by overcropping in a few years as to yield only three or four returns, and unable to pay four shillings an acre—indeed, unable to pay any rent at all. The cultivator, by degrees, ceases to sow the more exhausting and profitable crops, and is at last obliged to have recourse to manure, or desert his land altogether; but no manure will enable him to get the same quantity of produce as he got before, while what he gets sells at the same rate in the market. He can, therefore, no longer pay the same rate of rent to Government and its lessee. He has got a less quantity of produce, and it has cost him much more to raise it, while it continues to sell at the same price in the market.
But when the lands of a whole country, or a large extent of country, deteriorate in the same manner, and all cultivators are obliged to do the same thing, the price of land produce must rise in the markets, so as to pay the additional costs of supply. All but the poorest and most distant to which these markets must have recourse for supply, at any particular time, will pay rent, and pay it at a rate proportioned to their greater fertility or nearer proximity to the markets. Such Markets must pay for land produce a price sufficient to cover the costs of producing and bringing it from the poorest and most distant lands, to which they are obliged at any particular time to have recourse for supply. All land produce of the same quality must, at the same time and place, sell in the market at the same price; and all that is over and above the cost of producing and bringing it to market will go to the proprietors of the land, that is, to the Government and its lessees. The poorest and most distant land, to which any market may have recourse at any particular time, may pay no rent, because the price is no more than sufficient to pay the cost of producing and bringing their supply to that market; but all that is less poor and distant will pay rent, because the price which their produce brings in that market will be more than sufficient to pay the cost of producing and bringing their supply to that market.
The increase in the price of land produce which must take place, as the lands become generally exhausted by overcropping, will, probably, prevent any great falling off in the money rate of rents and revenues, from the land in our Indian possessions; and with the improvements in manufactures, and in the facilities of transport, which must tend to reduce the price of other articles, that money will purchase more of them in the market; and the establishments which have to be maintained out of these rents and revenues may not become more costly. Government and its lessees may have the same incomes in money, and the greater price, they and their establishments are obliged to pay for land produce may be compensated by the lesser price they will have to pay for other things.
As facilities for irrigation are extended and improved in wells and canals, new elements of fertility will be supplied to the surface, in the soluble salts contained in their waters. The well-waters will bring these salts from great depths, and the canal-waters will collect them as they flow along, or percolate through, the earth; and as they rise, by capillary attraction, they will convey them to the surface, where they are required for tillage. The atmosphere, in water, ammonia, and carbonic-acid gas will continue to supply plants with the oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon which they require from it; and judicious selection and supply of manure will provide the soil with those elements in which it happens to be deficient. Peace, security, instruction, and a due encouragement to industry, will, it may be hoped, secure to the people all that they require from our Government, and to our Government all that it can fairly require from the people.
The soil of Mahomdee is as fine as that of any part of Oude that I have seen; and the soil of Oude, generally, is equal to the best that I have seen in any part of India. It is all of the kinds above described—muteear (argillaceous), doomuteea (light), bhoor (sandy), and oosur (barren), as far as I have seen. In some parts, the muteear is more productive than in others, and the same may be said of all the other denominations of soil. In the poorer parts of the muteear, the stiff clay, devoid of decayed vegetable and animal matter, seems to superabound, as the sand does in the lightest or poorer portions of the soil, called doomuteea, which runs into bhoor. The oosur, or soil rendered unproductive by a superabundance of substances not suitable to the growth of plants, seems to be common to both kinds. In all soils, except the oosur, fine trees grow, and good crops are produced under good tillage; but in the muteear, the outlay to produce them is the least. It is an error to suppose that a soil, even of pure sand, must be absolutely barren. Quartz-sand commonly contains some of the inorganic substances necessary to plants— silica, lime, potash, alumina, oxide of iron, magnesia, &c.—and they are rendered soluble, and fit for the use of plants by atmospheric air and water, impregnated with carbonic-acid gas, as all water is more or less. The only thing required from the hand of man, besides water, to render them cultivable, is vegetable or animal substances, to supply them, as they decay or decompose, with organic acids.
The late Hakeem Mehndee, took the contract of the Mahomdee district, as already stated, in the year A.D. 1804, when it was in its present bad state, at 3,11,000 rupees a-year; and he held it till the year 1819, or for sixteen years. He had been employed in the Azimgurh district, under Boo Allee Hakeem, the contractor; and during the negotiations for the transfer of that district, with the other territories to the British Government, which took place in 1801; he lost his place, and returned to Lucknow, where he paid his court to the then Dewan, or Chancellor of the Exchequer, who offered him the contract of the Mahomdee district, at three lacs and eleven thousand rupees a-year, on condition of his depositing in the Treasury a security bond for thirty-two thousand rupees. There had been a liaison between him and a beautiful dancing-girl, named Peeajoo, who had saved a good deal of money. She advanced the money, and Hakeem Mehndee deposited the bond, and got the contract. The greater part of the district was then, as now, a waste; and did not yield more than enough to cover the Government demand, gratuities to courtiers, and cost of management. The Hakeem remained to support his influence at Court, while his brother, Hadee Allee Khan, resided at Mahomdee, and managed the district. The Hakeem and his fair friend were married, and lived happily together till her death, which took place before that of her husband, while she was on a pilgrimage to Mecca. While she lived, he married no other woman; but on her death he took to himself another, who survived him; but he had no child by either. His vast property was left to Monowur-od Dowlah, the only son of his brother, Hadee Allee Khan, and to his widow and dependents. The district improved rapidly under the care of the two brothers; and, in a few years, yielded them about seven lacs of rupees a-year. The Government demand increased with the rent-roll to the extent of four lacs of rupees a-year. This left a large income for Hakeem Mehndee and his family, who had made the district a garden, and gained the universal respect and affection of the people.
In the year 1807, Hakeem Mehndee added, to the contract of Mahomdee, that of the adjoining district of Khyrabad, at five lacs of rupees a- year, making his contract nine lacs. In 1816, he added the contract for the Bahraetch district, at seven lacs and seventy-five thousand; but he resigned this in 1819, after having held it for two years, with no great credit to himself. In 1819, he lost the contract for Mahomdee and Khyrabad, from the jealousy of the prime minister, Aga Meer. In April 1818, the Governor-General the Marquess of Hastings passed through his district of Khyrabad, on his way to the Tarae forest, on a sporting excursion, after the Marhatta war. Hakeem Mehndee attended him during this excursion, and the Governor-General was so much pleased with his attentions, courteous manners, and sporting propensities, and treated him with so much consideration and kindness, that the minister took the alarm, and determined to get rid of so formidable a rival. He in consequence made the most of the charge preferred against him, of the murder of Amur Sing; and demanded an increase of five lacs of rupees a-year, or fourteen lacs of rupees a-year, instead of nine. This Hakeem Mehndee would not consent to give; and Shekh Imam Buksh was, in 1819, sent to supersede him, as a temporary arrangement.
In 1820, Poorun Dhun, and Govurdhun Dass, merchants of Lucknow, took the contract of the two districts at twelve lacs of rupees a-year, or an increase of three lacs; and from that time, under a system of rack-renting, these districts have been falling off. Mahomdee is now in a worse state than Khyrabad, because it has had the bad luck to get a worse set of contractors. Hakeem Mehndee retired with his family, first to Shajehanpoor, and then to Futtehgurh, on the Ganges, and resided there, with his family, till June 1830, when he was invited back by Nusseer-do Deen Hyder, to assume the office of prime minister. He held the office till August 1832, when he was removed by the intrigues of the Kumboos, Taj-od Deen Hoseyn, and Sobhan Allee Khan, who persuaded the King that he was trying to get him removed from the throne, by reporting to the British Government the murder of some females, which had, it is said, actually taken place in the palace. Hakeem Mehndee was invited from his retirement by Mahomed Allee Shah, and again appointed minister in 1837; but he died three months after, on the 24th of December, 1837.
During the thirty years which have elapsed since Hakeem Mehndee lost the contract of Mahomdee, there have been no less than seventeen governors, fifteen of whom have been contractors; and the district has gradually declined from what it was, when he left it, to what it was when he took it—that is from a rent-roll of seven lacs of rupees a-year, under which all the people were happy and prosperous, to one of three, under which all the people are wretched. The manager, Krishun Sahae, who has been treated as already described, would, in a few years, have made it what it was when the Hakeem left it, had he been made to feel secure in his tenure of office, and properly encouraged and supported. He had, in the three months he had charge, invited back from our bordering districts hundreds of the best classes of landholders and cultivators, who had been driven off by the rapacity of his predecessor, re-established them in their villages and set them to work in good spirit, to restore the lands which had lain waste from the time they deserted them; and induced hundreds to convert to sugar-cane cultivation the lands which they had destined for humbler crops, in the assurance, of the security which they were to enjoy under his rule. The one class tells me, they must suspend all labours upon the waste lands till they can learn the character of his successor; and the other, that they must content themselves with the humbler crops till they can see whether the richer and more costly ones will be safe from his grasp, or that of the agents, whom he may employ to manage the district for him. No man is safe for a moment under such a Government, either in his person, his character, his office, or his possession; and with such a feeling of insecurity among all classes, it is impossible for a country to prosper.*
[* Krishun Sahae has been restored, but does not feel secure in his tenure of office.]
I may here mention one among the numerous causes of the decline of the district. The contract for it was held for a year and half, in A.D. 1847-48, by Ahmed Allee. Feeling insecure in his tenure of office, he wanted to make as much as possible out of things as they were, and resumed Guhooa, a small rent-free village, yielding four hundred rupees a-year, held by Bahadur Sing, the tallookdar of Peepareea, who resides at Pursur. He had recourse to the usual mode of indiscriminate murder and plunder, to reduce Ahmed Allee to terms. At the same time, he resumed the small village of Kombee, yielding three hundred rupees a-year, held rent-free by Bhoder Sing, tallookdar of Magdapoor, who resided in Koombee; and, in consequence, he united his band of marauders to that of Bahadur Sing; and together they plundered and burnt to the ground some dozen villages, and laid waste the purgunnah of Peepareea, which had yielded to Government twenty-five thousand rupees a-year, and contained the sites of one hundred and eight villages, of which, however, only twenty-five were occupied.
During the greater part of the time that these depredations were going on, the two rebels resided in our bordering district of Shajehanpoor, whence they directed the whole. Urgent remonstrances were addressed to the magistrate of that district, but he required judicial proof of their participation in the crimes, that were committed by their followers, upon the innocent and unoffending peasantry; and no proof that the contractor could furnish being deemed sufficient, he was obliged to consent to restore the rent-free villages. The lands they made waste, still remain so, and pay no revenue to Government.
Saadut Allee Khan (who died in 1814), when sovereign of Oude, was fond of this place, and used to reside here for many months every year. He made a garden, about a mile to the east of the town, upon a fine open plain of good soil, and planted an avenue of fine trees all the way. The trees are now in perfection, but the garden has been neglected; and the bungalow in the centre, in which he resided, is an entire ruin. He kept a large establishment of men and cattle, for which sixty thousand rupees a-year were regularly charged in the accounts of the manager of the district, through his reign and those of Ghazee-od Deen, Nuseer-od Deen Hyder, Mahomed Allee Shah, and Amjud Allee Shah, and the first year of the reign of his present Majesty, Wajid Allee Shah; though, with the exception of two bullocks and two gardeners, the cattle had all disappeared, and the servants been all discharged some thirty years before.
In October last, when six guns were required from the great park of artillery at Lucknow, to be sent out on detached duty with the Gungoor Regiment, an inspection of the draft-bullocks took place, and it was found, that the Court favourite who had charge of the park had made away with no less than one thousand seven hundred and thirty of them, and only twenty could be found to take the guns. He had been charging for the food of these one thousand seven hundred and thirty for a long series of years. On mentioning this fact to a late minister, he told me of two facts within his own knowledge, illustrative of these sort of charges. This same Court favourite, in the reign of Nuseer-od Deen Hyder, in 1835, received charge of sixteen bullocks, of surpassing beauty, which had been presented to the King, and he was allowed to draw, from the Treasury, a rupee a- day, for the food of each bullock.
In the reign of Mahomed Allee Shah, his prudent successor, a muster of all the bullocks was called for, and Ghalib Jung, to whom the muster was intrusted, to spite the favourite, called for these sixteen bullocks. The favourite had disposed of them, though, he continued to draw the allowance; and, to supply their place, he sent to the bazaar and seized sixteen of the bullocks which had that day brought corn to market. They were presented to Ghalib Jung for muster. He pretended to be very angry, declared that it was disgraceful to keep such poor creatures on the King's establishment, and still more so to charge a rupee a-day for the food of each, and ordered them to be sold forthwith by auction. Soon after they had been sold, the poor men to whom they belonged came up to claim them, but could never get either the bullocks or their price, nor could the favourite ever be persuaded to refund any portion of the money he had drawn for the sixteen he had sold.*
[* The favourite, in both these cases, was Anjum-od Dowlah.]
In the early part of the reign of Ghazee-od Deen Hyder, a fine dog from the Himmalaya Hills was presented to him, and made over to the charge of one of the favourites, who drew a rupee a-day for his food. Soon after his Majesty became ill and very irritable, and one day complained much of this dog's barking. He was told that the only way to silence a dog of this description was to give him a seer of conserve of roses to eat every day, and a bottle of rose-water to drink. His Majesty ordered them to be given forthwith, and his repose was never after disturbed by the dog's barking. A rupee a-day continued to be drawn for these things for the dog for the rest of the long reign of Ghazee-od Deen Hyder, and through that of his successor, Nuseer-od Deen, which lasted for ten years, and ended in 1837, though the animal had died soon after the order for these things was given, or in 1816, and he believed it continued to be drawn up to the present day.
The cantonment at Mahomdee stands between this garden of Saadut Allee's and the town, and this is the best site for any civil or military establishments that may be required at Mahomdee. The Nazims usually reside in the fort in the town.
February 2, 1850.—Halted at Mahomdee. The spring crops around the town are very fine, and the place is considered to be very healthy. There is, however, some peculiarity in the soil, opposed to the growth of the poppy. The cultivators tell me that they have often tried it; that it is stunted in growth, whatever care be taken of it, and yields but little juice, and that of bad quality, though it attains perfection in the Shahabad and other districts around. The doomuteea soil is here esteemed better than the muteear, though it requires more labour in the tillage. It is said that mote and mash, two pulses, do not thrive in the muteear soil so well as in the doomuteea.
February 3, 1850.—Poknapoor, eight miles. We crossed the Goomtee about midway, over a bridge of boats that had been prepared for us. The boats came up the river thus far for timber, and were detained for the occasion. The stream is here narrow, and said to flow from a basin (the phoola talao) in the Tarae forest, some fifty miles to the north, at Madhoo Tanda. There is some tillage on the verge of the stream on the other side; but from the river to our tents, four miles, there is none. The country is level and well studded with groves and fine single trees, bur, peepul, mhowa, mango, &c., but covered with rank grass.
Near the river is a belt of the sakhoo and other forest trees, with underwood, in which tigers lodge and prey upon the deer, which cover the grass plain, and frequently upon the bullocks, which are grazed upon it in great numbers. Several bullocks have been killed and eaten by them within the last few days; and an old fakeer, who has for some months taken up his lodging on this side the river under a peepul- tree, in a straw hut just big enough to hold him, told us that he frequently saw them come down to drink in the stream near his lodging. We saw a great many deer in passing, but no tigers. The soil near the river is sandy, and the ground uneven, but still cultivable; and on this side of the sandy belt it is all level and of the best kind of doomuteea. Our tents are in a fine grove of mango-trees, in the midst of a waste, but level and extensive, plain of this soil, not a rood of which is unfit for the plough or incapable of yielding crops of the finest quality. It is capable of being made, in two or three years, a beautiful garden.
The single trees, which are scattered all over it, have been shorn of their leaves and small branches by the cowherds for their cattle, but they would all soon clothe themselves again under protection. The groves are sufficiently numerous to furnish sites for the villages and hamlets required. All the large sakhoo-trees have been cut down and taken away on the ground we have come over, which is too near the river for them to be permitted to attain full size. Not an acre or a foot of the land is oosur, or unfit for tillage. Poknapoor is in the estate of Etowa, which forms part of the pergunnah of Peepareea, to which Bahadur Sing, the person above described, lays claim. He holds a few villages round his residence at Pursur; but the pergunnah is under the management of a Government officer, under the Amil of Mahomdee. The Rajah, Syud Ashruf Allee Khan, of Mahomdee, claims a kind of suzerainty over all the district, and over this pergunnah of Peepareea among the rest. From all the villages tilled and peopled he is permitted to levy an income for himself at the rate of two rupees a-village. This the people pay with some reluctance, though they recognise his right.
The zumeendars of Poknapoor are Kunojee Brahmins, who tell me that they can do almost everything in husbandry save holding their own ploughs: they can drive their own harrows and carts, reap their own crops, and winnow and tread out their own corn; but if they once condescend to hold their own ploughs they sink in grade, and have to pay twice as much as they now pay for wives for their sons from the same families, and take half of what they now take for their daughters from the same families, into which they now marry them. They have, they say, been settled in these pergunnahs, north-east of the Goomtee River, for fifty-two generations as farmers and cultivators; and their relatives, who still remain at Aslamabad, a village one koss south-east of Mahomdee, which was the first abode of the tribe in Oude, have been settled there for no less than eighty- four generations. They form village communities, dividing the lands among the several members, and paying over and above the Government demand a liberal allowance to the head of the village and of the family settled in it, to maintain his respectability and to cover the risk and cost of management, either in kind, in money, or in an extra share of the land.
The lands of Poknapoor are all divided into two equal shares, one held by Dewan and the other by Ramnath, who were both among the people with whom I conversed. Teekaram, who has a share in Dewan's half, mentioned that about thirteen years ago the Amil, Khwaja Mahmood, wanted to increase the rate of the Government demand on the village from the four hundred, which they had long paid, to four hundred and fifty; that they refused to pay, and Hindoo Sing, the Rajpoot tallookdar of Rehreea, one koss east of Poknapoor, offered to take the lease at four hundred and fifty, and got it. They refused to pay, and he, at the head of his gang of armed followers, attacked, plundered, and burnt down the village, and killed his, Teekaram's, brother Girdharee, with his two sons, and inflicted three severe cuts of a sabre on the right arm of his wife, who is now a widow among them. Hindoo Sing's object was to make this village a permanent addition to his estate; but, to his surprise, the Durbar took serious notice of the outrage, and he fled into the Shajehanpoor district, where he was seized by the magistrate, Mr. Buller, and made over to the Oude authorities for trial. He purchased his escape from them in the usual way; but soon after offered to surrender to the collector, Aboo Torab Khan, on condition of pardon for all past offences.
The collector begged the Brahmins to consent to pardon him for the murders, on condition of getting from Hindoo Sing some fifty beeghas of land, out of his share in Rehreea. They said they would not consent to take five times the quantity of the land among such a turbulent set; but should be glad to get a smaller quantity, rent- free, in their own village, for the widow of Girdharee. The collector gave them twenty-five beeghas, or ten acres, in Poknapoor; and this land Teekaram still holds, and out of the produce supports the poor widow. A razenamah, or pardon, was given by the family, and Hindoo Sing has ever since lived in peace upon his estate, The lease of the village was restored to the Brahmin family, at the reduced rate of two hundred and fifty, but soon after raised to four hundred, and again reduced to two hundred and fifty, after the devastation of Bahadur Sing and Bhoder Sing.
These industrious and unoffending Brahmins say that since these Rajpoot landholders came among them, many generations ago, there has never been any peace in the district, except during the time that Hakeem Mehndee held the contract, when the whole plain that now lies waste became a beautiful chummun (parterre); that since his removal, as before his appointment, all has been confusion; that the Rajpoot landholders are always quarrelling either among themselves or with the local Government authorities; and, whatever be the nature or the cause of quarrel, they always plunder and murder, indiscriminately, the unoffending communities of the villages around, in order to reduce these authorities to their terms; that when these Rajpoot landholders leave them in peace, the contractors seize the opportunity to increase the Government demand, and bring among them the King's troops, who plunder them just as much as the rebel landholders, though they do not often murder them in the same reckless manner. They told me that the hundreds of their relatives who had gone off during the disorders and taken lands, or found employment in our bordering districts, would be glad to return to their own lands, groves, and trees, in Oude, if they saw the slightest chance of protection, and the country would soon become again the beautiful parterre which Hakeem Mehndee left it thirty years ago, instead of the wilderness in which they were now so wretched; that they ventured to cultivate small patches here and there, not far from each other, but were obliged to raise small platforms, upon high poles, in every field, and sit upon them all night, calling out to each other, in a loud voice, to keep up their spirits, and frighten off the deer which swarmed upon the grass plain, and would destroy the whole of the crops in one night, if left unprotected; that they were obliged to collect large piles of wood around each platform, and keep them burning all night, to prevent the tigers from carrying off the men who sat upon them; that their lives were wretched amidst this continual dread of man and beast, but the soil and climate were good, and the trees and groves planted by their forefathers were still standing and dear to them; and they hoped, now that the Resident had come among them, to receive, at no distant day, the protection they required. This alone is required to render this the most beautiful portion of Oude, and Oude the most beautiful portion of India.
February 4, 1850.—Gokurnath, thirteen miles, north-east, over a level plain of the same fine muteear soil, here and there running into doomuteea and bhoor, but in no case into oosur. The first two miles over the grass plain, and the next four through a belt of forest trees, with rank grass and underwood, abounding in game of all kinds, and infested by tigers. Bullocks are often taken by them, but men seldom. The sal (alias sakhoo) trees are here stunted, gnarled, and ugly, while in the Tarae forest they are straight, lofty, and beautiful. The reason is, that beyond the forest their leaves are stripped off and sold for plates. They are carried to distant towns, and stored up for long periods, to form breakfast and dinner plates, and the people in the country use hardly anything else. Plates are formed of them by sewing them together, when required; and they become as pliable as leather, even after being kept for a year or more, by having a little water sprinkled over them. They are long, wide, and tough, and well suited to the purpose. All kinds of food are put upon them, and served up to the family and guests. The cattle do not eat them, as they do leaves of the peepul, bur, neem, &c. The sakhoo, when not preserved, is cut down, when young, for beams, rafters, &c., required in building. In the Tarae forest, the proprietors of the lands on which they stand preserve them till they attain maturity, for sale to the people of the plains; and they are taken down the Ghagra and other rivers that flow through the forest to the Ganges, and vast numbers are sold in the Calcutta market. The fine tall sakhoos in the Tarae forest are called "sayer"; the knotted, stunted, and crooked shakoos, beyond the forest, are called "khohurs." There are but few teak (or sagwun) trees in this part of the Tarae forest. The country is everywhere studded with the same fine groves and single trees, and requires only tillage to become a garden. From the belt of jungle to our camp at Gokurnath, seven miles, the road runs over an open grass plain, with here and there a field of corn. The sites of villages are numerous, but few of them are occupied at present. All are said to have been in a flourishing state, and filled by a happy peasantry, when Hakeem Mehndee lost the government. Since that time these villages and hamlets have diminished by degrees, in proportion as the rapacity of the contractors and the turbulence of the Rajpoot landholders have increased.
The first village we passed through, after emerging from the belt of jungle, was Pureylee, which is held and occupied by a large family of cultivating proprietors of the Koormee caste. Up to the year 1847, it had for many years been in a good condition, and paid a revenue of two thousand rupees a-year to Government. In that year Ahmud Allee, the collector, demanded a thousand more. They could not pay this, and he sold all their bullocks and other stock to make up the demand; the lands became waste as usual; and Lonee Sing, of Mitholee, offered the next contractor one thousand rupees a-year for the lease, and got it. The village has now been permanently absorbed in his estate, in the usual way; and, as the Koormees are a peaceful body, they have quietly acquiesced in the arrangement, and get all the aid they require from their new landlord. Before this time they had held their lands, as proprietors, directly under Government. From allodial* proprietors they are become feudal tenants under a powerful Rajpoot chief.
[* By allodial, I mean, lands held in proprietary right, immediately under the crown, but liable to the land-tax.]
Lonee Sing, of the Ahbun Rajpoot tribe—Dispute between Rajah Bukhtawar Sing, and a servant of one of his relatives—Cultivation along the border of the Tarae forest—Subdivision of land among the Ahbun families—Rapacity of the king's troops, and establishments of all kinds—Climate near the Tarae—Goitres—Not one-tenth of the cultivable lands cultivated, nor one-tenth of the villages peopled— Criterion of good tillage—Ratoon crops—Manure available—Khyrabad district better peopled and cultivated than that of Mahomdee, but the soil over-cropped—Blight—Rajah Ajeet Sing and his estate of Khymara—Ousted by collusion and bribery—Anrod Sing of Oel, and Lonee Sing—State of Oude forty years ago compared with its present state—The Nazim of the Khyrabad district—Trespasses of his followers—Oel Dhukooa—Khalsa lands absorbed by the Rajpoot barons—Salarpoor—Sheobuksh Sing of Kuteysura—Bhulmunsee, or property-tax—Beautiful groves of Lahurpoor—Residence of the Nazim— Wretched state of the force with the Nazim—Gratuities paid by officers in charge of districts, whether in contract or trust—Rajah Arjun Sing's estate of Dhorehra—Hereditary gang-robbers of the Oude Tarae suppressed—Mutiny of two of the King's regiments at Bhitolee— Their rapacity and oppression—Singers and fiddlers who govern the King—Why the Amils take all their troops with them when they move— Seetapoor, the cantonment of one of the two regiments of Oude Local Infantry—Sipahees not equal to those in Magness's, Barlow's, and Bunbury's, or in our native regiments of the line—Why—The prince Momtaz-od Dowlah—Evil effects of shooting monkeys—Doolaree, alias Mulika Zumanee—Her history, and that of her son and daughter.
Lonee Sing, who visited me yesterday afternoon with a respectable train, has, in this and other ways less creditable, increased his estate of Mitholee from a rent-roll of forty to one of one hundred and fifty thousand rupees a-year, out of which he pays fifty thousand to Government, and he is considered one of its best subjects. He is, as above stated, of the Ahbun Rajpoot clan, and a shrewd and energetic man. The estate was divided into six shares. It had formed one under Rajah Davey Sing, whose only brother, Bhujun Sing, lived united with him, and took what he chose to give him for his own subsistence and that of his family. Davey Sing died without issue, leaving the whole estate to his brother, Bhujun Sing, who had two sons, Dul Sing and Maun Sing, among whom he divided the estate.* Dul Sing had six sons, but Maun Sing had none. He, however, adopted Bhowanee Sing, to whom he left his portion of the estate. Dul Sing's share became subdivided among his six sons; but Khunjun Sing, the son of his eldest son, when he became head of the family, got together a large force, with some guns, and made use of it in the usual way by seizing upon the lands of his weaker neighbours. He attacked his nephew, Bhowanee Sing, and took all his lands; and got, on one pretence or another, the greater part of those of his other relatives.
[* Mitholee contains the sites of one thousand four hundred and eighty-six villages, only one-third of which are now occupied.]
He died without issue, leaving his possessions and military force to Lonee Sing, his brother, who continued to pursue the same course. In 1847 he, with one thousand armed men and five guns, attacked his cousin, Monnoo Sing, of Mohlee, the head of the family of the fourth son of Dul Sing, killed four and wounded two persons; and, in collusion with the local governor, seized upon all his estate. Redress was sought for in vain; and as I was passing near, Monnoo Sing and his brother Chotee Sing came to me at Mahomdee to complain. Monnoo Sing remained behind sick at Mahomdee; but Chotee Sing followed me on. He rode on horseback behind my elephant, and I made him give me the history of his family as I went along, and told him to prepare for me a genealogical table, and an account of the mode in which Lonee Sing had usurped the different estates of the other members of the family. This he gave to me on the road between Poknapoor and Gokurnath by one of his belted attendants, who, after handing it up to me on the elephant, ran along under the nose of Rajah Bukhtawur Sing's fine chestnut horse without saying a word.
I asked the Rajah whether he knew Lonee Sing? "Yes," said he; "everybody knows him: he is one of the ablest, best, and most substantial men in Oude; and he keeps his estate in excellent order, and is respected by all people."—"Except his own relations," said the belted attendant; "these he robs of all they have, and nobody interposes to protect them, because he has become wealthy, and they have become poor!" "My good fellow," said the Rajah, "he has only taken what they knew not how to hold, and with the sanction of the King's servants."—"Yes," replied the man, "he has got the sanction of the King's servants, no doubt, and any one who can pay for it may get that now-a-days to rob others of the King's subjects. Has not Lonee Sing robbed all his cousins of their estates, and added them to his own, and thereby got the means of bribing the King's servants to let him do what he likes?" "What," said the Rajah, with some asperity, "should you, a mere soldier, know about State affairs? Do you suppose that all the members of any family can be equal? Must there not be a head to all families to keep the rest in order? Nothing goes on well in families or governments where all are equal, and there is no head to guide; and the head must have the means to guide the rest."—"True," said the belted attendant, "all can't be equal in the rule of States; but in questions of private right, between individuals and subjects, the case is different; and the ruler should give to every one his due, and prevent the strong from robbing the weak. I have five fingers in my hand: they serve me, and I treat them all alike. I do not let one destroy or molest the other." "I tell you," said the Rajah, with increasing asperity, "that there must be heads of families as well as heads of States, or all would be confusion; and Lonee Sing is right in all that he has done. Don't you see what a state his district is in, now that he has taken the management of the whole upon himself? I dare say all the waste that we see around us has arisen from the want of such heads of families."—"You know," said the man, "that this waste has been caused by the oppression of the King's officers, and their disorderly and useless troops, and the strong striving to deprive the weak of their rights."
"You know nothing about these matters," said the Rajah, still more angrily. "The wise and strong are everywhere striving to subdue the weak and ignorant, in order that they may manage what they hold better than they can. Don't you see how the British Government are going on, taking country after country year after year, in order to manage them better than they were managed under others? and don't you see how these countries thrive under their strong and just Government? Do you think that God would permit them to go on as they do unless he thought that it was for the good of the people who come under their rule?" Turning to me, the Rajah continued: "When I was one day riding over the country with Colonel Low, the then Resident, as I now ride with you, sir, he said, with a sigh, 'In this country of Oude what darkness prevails! No one seems to respect the right of another; and every one appears to be grasping at the possessions of his neighbour, without any fear of God or the King'—'True, sir,' said I; 'but do you not see that it is the necessary order of things, and must be ordained by Providence? Is not your Government going on taking country after country, and benefiting all it takes? And will not Providence prosper their undertakings as long as they do so? The moment they come to a stand, all will be confusion. Sovereigns cannot stand still, sir; the moment their bellies are full (their ambition ceases), they and the countries they govern retrograde. No sovereign in India, sir, that has any regard for himself or his country, can with safety sit down and say that his belly is full (that he has no further ambition of conquest): he must go on to the last.'"*
[* The Rajah's reasoning was drawn from the practice in Oude, of seizing upon the possessions of weaker neighbours, by means of gangs of robbers. The man who does this, becomes the slave of his gangs, as the imperial robber, who seizes upon smaller states by means of his victorious armies, becomes their slave, and, ultimately, their victim, The history of India is nothing more than the biography of such men, and the Rajah has read no other.]
The poor belted attendant of Chotee Sing was confounded with the logic and eloquence of the old Rajah, and said nothing more; and Chotee Sing himself kept quietly behind on his horse, with his ears well wrapped up in warm cloth, as the morning was very cold, and he was not well. He looked very grave, and evidently thought the Rajah had outlived his understanding. But the fact is that the Rajah has, by his influence at Court, taken all the lands held by his two elder nephews, Rughbur Sing and Ramadeen, and made them over to their youngest brother, Maun Sing, whom he has adopted, made his heir, and the head of the family. He has, in consequence, for the present a strong fellow-feeling with Lonee Sing; and, in all this oration at least, "his wishes were father to his thoughts."
The sharpest retort that I remember ever having had myself was given to me by a sturdy and honest old landholder of the middle class, whom I had known for a quarter of a century on the bank of the Nerbudda, in 1843. During the insurrection in the Saugor and Nerbudda territories, which commenced in 1842, I was sent down by the Governor-General Lord Ellenborough to ascertain if possible the causes which had led to it. I conversed freely with the landholders, and people of all classes in the valley, who had been plundered by the landed aristocracy of the jungles on the borders, and had one afternoon some fifty in my tent seated on the carpet. After a good deal of talk about the depredations of the jungle barons upon the people of the cultivated plains, and remonstrance at the want of support on their part to the Government officers, I said to Umrao Sing, one of the most sturdy and honest among them, "Why did you withhold from the local officers the information which you must have had of the movements and positions of the rebels and their followers, who were laying the country waste? In no part of India have the farmers and cultivators been more favoured in light assessments and protection to life and property; but there are some men who never can be satisfied; give them what you will, they will always be craving after more."—"True, sir," said Umrao Sing, looking me steadily in the face, and with the greatest possible gravity, "there are some people who never can be satisfied, give them what you will. Give them the whole of Hindoostan, and they will go off to Kabul to take more!"
There was a pause, during which all looked very grave, for they thought that the old man had exceeded the bounds of the privilege he had long enjoyed of expressing his thoughts freely to European gentlemen; and Umrao Sing continued: "The fact is, sir, that after you had, by good government, made us all happy and prosperous, and proud to display the wealth we had acquired on our persons, and in our houses and villages, you withdrew all your troops from among us, and left us a prey to the wild barons of the hills and jungles on our borders, whose families had risen to wealth, distinction, and large landed possessions under former misrule and disorder, and who are always longing for the return of such disorders, that they may have some chance of recovering the consequence and influence which they have lost under a settled and strong Government: they saw that your troops had been taken off for distant conquests, and heard of nothing but defeats and disasters, and readily persuaded themselves that your rule was at an end; for what could men, born and bred in the jungles, know of your resources to retrieve such disasters?
"After the Mahratta war, in 1817, you prohibited the people of your newly-acquired districts from carrying arms, not dreaming that the only persons who would obey or regard your order were the peaceful landholders and peasantry of the plains, who were satisfied with your Government, and anxious for its duration, but exposed to the envy and hatred of the Gond and Lodhee chiefs, who occupied the hills and jungles on their borders.
"When they came down upon us, you had no means left to protect us; and having no longer any arms or any experience of the use of them, after a quarter of a century of peace, we were unable to defend our villages, our houses, or our families; if we attempted to defend them, we and our families were killed; if we did not, we were robbed and threatened with death, if we gave you information to their prejudice. We saw that they could carry their threats into execution, for your local officers had not the means to protect us from their vengeance, and we suffered in silence; but you must not infer from this that we were tired of your rule, or pleased with their depredations; all here can testify that we longed for the return of your strength and their downfal. It is true, however," added he, "that the new European officers placed over us did not treat us with the same courtesy and consideration as the old ones, or seem to entertain the same kindly feeling towards us; and our communion with them was less free and cordial."
All approved of my old friend's speech, and declared that he had given expression to the thoughts and feelings of all present, and of all the people of the plains, who lived happily under our rule, and prayed earnestly for its duration. The portion of the estate of Mitholee, held by Lonee Sing, now contains the sites of six hundred and four villages, about one-half of which are occupied; four hundred and eighty-four of these lie in the Mahomdee district, and one hundred and twenty in that of Khyrabad. The number and names of the villages are still kept up in the accounts.
February 5, 1850.—Kurrunpoor Mirtaha, ten miles over a plain of fine muteear soil, scantily cultivated, but bearing excellent spring crops where it is so. Not far from our last camp at Gokurnath, we entered a belt of jungle three miles wide, consisting chiefly of stunted, knotty, and crooked sakhoo trees, with underwood and rank chopper grass. This belt of jungle is the same we passed through, as above described, between Poknapoor and Gokurnath. It runs from the great forest to the north, a long way down south-east, into the Khyrabad district. From this belt to our present ground, six miles, the road passes over a fine plain, nine-tenths of which is covered with this grass, but studded with mango-groves and fine single trees. The forest runs along to the north of our road—which lay east—from one to three miles distant, and looked very like a continued mango- grove. The level plain of rich soil extends up through the forest to the foot of the hills, and is all the way capable of the finest cultivation. Here and there the soil runs into light doomuteea; and in some few parts even into bhoor, in proportion as the sand abounds; but generally the soil is the fine muteear, and very fertile. The whole plain is said to have been in cultivation thirty years ago, when Hakeem Mehndee held the contract; but the tillage has been falling off ever since, under the bad or oppressive management of successive contractors.
The estate through which we have been passing is called Bharwara, and contains the sites of nine hundred and eighty-nine villages, about one-tenth of which are now occupied. The landholders are all of the Ahbun Rajpoot tribe; but a great part of them have become Musulmans. They live together, however, though of different creeds, in tolerable harmony; and eat together on occasions of ceremony, though not from the same dishes. No member of the tribe ever forfeited his inheritance by changing his creed. Nor did any one of them, I believe, ever change his creed, except to retain his inheritance, liberty, or life, threatened by despotic and unscrupulous rulers. They dine on the same floor, but there is a line marked off to separate those of the party who are Hindoos from those who are Musulmans. The Musulmans have Mahommedan names, and the Hindoos Hindoo names; but both still go by the common patronymic name of Ahbuns. The Musulmans marry into Musulman families, and the Hindoos into Hindoo families of the highest castes, Chouhans, Rathores, Rykwars, Janwars, &c. Of course all the children are of the same religion and caste as their parents. They tell me that the conversion of their ancestors was effected by force, under a prince or chief called "Kala Pahar." This must have been Mahommed Firmally, alias Kala Pahar—to whom his uncle Bheilole, King of Delhi, left the district of Bahraetch as a separate inheritance a short time before his death, which took place A.D. 1488. This conversion seems to have had the effect of doing away with the murder of female infants in the Ahbun families who are still Hindoos; for they could not get the Musulman portion of the tribe to associate with them if they continued it.
The estate of Bharwara is divided into four parts, Hydrabad, Hurunpoor, Aleegunge, and Sekunderabad. Each division is subdivided into parts, each held by a separate branch of the family; and the subdivision of these parts is still going on, as the heads of the several branches of the family die, and leave more than one son. The present head of the Ahbun family is Mahommed Hussan Khan, a Musulman, who resides in his fort in the village of Julalpoor, near the road over which we passed. The small fort is concealed within, and protected by a nice bamboo-fence that grows round it. He holds twelve villages rent free, as nankar, and pays revenue for all the rest that compose his share of the great estate. The heads of families who hold the other shares enjoy in the same manner one or more villages rent free, as nankar. These are all well cultivated, and contain a great many cultivators of the best classes, such as Koormees, Lodhies, and Kachies.
We passed through one of them, Kamole, and I had a good deal of talk with the people, who were engaged in pressing out the juice of sugar- cane. They told me that the juice was excellent, and that the syrup made from it was carried to the district of Shajehanpoor, in the British territory, to be made into sugar. Mahommed Hussan Khan came up, as I was talking with the people, and joined in the conversation. All seemed to be delighted with the opportunity of entering so freely into conversation with a British Resident who understood farming, and seemed to take so much interest in their pursuits. I congratulated the people on being able to keep so many of their houses well covered with grass-choppers; but they told me, "that it was with infinite difficulty they could keep them, or anything else they had, from the grasp of the local authorities and the troops and camp-followers who attended them, and desolated the country like a flock of locusts; that they are not only plundered but taxed by them—first, the sipahees take their choppers, beams, and rafters off their houses— then the people in charge of artillery bullocks and other cattle take all their stores of bhoosa, straw, &c., and threaten to turn the cattle loose on their fields, if not paid a gratuity—the people who have to collect fuel for the camp (bildars) take all their stores of wood, and doors and windows also, if not paid for their redemption— then the people in charge of elephants and camels threaten to denude of their leaves and small branches all the peepul, burgut, and other trees most sacred and dear to them, near their homes, unless paid for their forbearance; and—though last, not least—men, women, and children are seized, not only to carry the plunder and other burthens gratis for sipahees and servants of all kinds and grades, and camp- followers, but to be robbed of their clothes, and made to pay ransoms to get back, while all the plough-bullocks are put in requisition to draw the guns which the King's bullocks are unable to draw themselves. In short, that the approach of King's servants is dreaded as one of the greatest calamities that can befal them."
I should here mention, that all the Telinga regiments, fourteen in number, are allowed tents and hackeries to carry them. The way in which the bullocks of such carts are provided with fodder has been already mentioned; but no tents or conveyance of any kind are allowed for the Nujeeb corps, thirty-two in number. Whenever they move (and they are almost always moving), they seize whatever conveyance and shelter they require from the people of the country around. Each battalion, even in its ordinary incomplete state, requires four hundred or five hundred porters, besides carts, bullocks, horses, ponies, &c. Men, women, and children, of all classes, are seized, and made to carry the baggage, arms, accoutrements, and cages of pet birds, belonging to the officers and sipahees of these corps. They are stripped of their clothes, confined, and starved from the time they are seized; and as it is difficult to catch people to relieve them along the road, they are commonly taken on two or three stages. If they run away, they forfeit all their clothes which remain in the hands of the sipahees; and a great many die along the road of fatigue, hunger, and exposure to the sun. Numerous cruel instances of this have been urged by me on the notice of the King, but without any good effect. The line of march of one of these corps is like the road to the temple of Juggurnaut! When the corps is about to move, detachments are sent out to seize conveyance of all kinds; and for one cart required and taken, fifty are seized, and released for a donation in proportion to their value, the respectability of the proprietors, and the necessity for their employment at home at the time. The sums thus extorted by detachments they share with their officers, or they would never be again sent on such lucrative service.
It appears that in this part of Oude the people have not for many years suffered so much from the depredations of the refractory landholders as in other parts; and that the desolate state of the district arises chiefly from the other three great evils that afflict Oude—the rack-renting of the contractors; the divisions they create and foster among landholders; and the depredations of the troops and camp-followers who attend them. But the estate has become much subdivided, and the shareholders from this cause, and the oppression of the contractors, have become poor and weak; and the neighbouring landholders of the Janwar and other Rajpoot tribes have taken advantage of their weakness to seize upon a great many of their best villages. Out of Kurumpoor, within the last nine years, Anorud Sing, of Oel, a Janwar Rajpoot, in collusion with local authorities, has taken twelve; and Umrao Sing, of Mahewa, of the same tribe, has taken eighteen, making twenty villages from the Kurumpoor division. These landholders reside in the Khyrabad district, which adjoins that of Mahomdee, near our present camp.
The people everywhere praise the climate—they appear robust and energetic, and no sickness prevails, though many of the villages are very near the forest. The land on which the forest stands contains, in the ruins of well-built towns and fortresses, unquestionable signs of having once been well cultivated and thickly peopled: and it would soon become so again under good government. There is nothing in the soil to produce sickness; and, I believe, the same soil prevails up through the forest to the hills. Sickness would, no doubt, prevail for some years, till the underwood and all the putrid leaves should be removed. The water that stagnates over them, and percolates through the soil into the wells, from which the people drink, and the exhalations which arise from them and taint the air, confined by the dense mass of forest trees, underwood, and high grass, are, I believe, the chief cause of the diseases which prevail in this belt of jungle.
It is however remarkable, that there are two unhealthy seasons in the year in this forest—one at the latter end of the rains in August, September, and October, and the other before the rains begin to fall in the latter part of April, the whole of May, and part of June. The diseases in the latter are, I believe, more commonly fatal than they are in the former; and are considered by the people to arise solely from the poisonous quality of the water, which is often found in wells to be covered with a thin crust of petrolium. Diseases of the same character prevail at the same two seasons in the jungles, above the sources of the Nerbudda and Sohun rivers, and are ascribed by the people to the same causes—those which take place after the rains, to bad air; and those which take place immediately before the rains, after the cold and dry seasons, to bad water. The same petrolium, or liquid bitumen, is found floating on the spring waters in the hot season, when the most fatal diseases break out in the jungles, about the sources of the Nerbudda and Sohun, as in the Oude Tarae; and, in both places, the natives appear to me to be right in attributing them to the water; but whether the poisonous quality of the water be imparted to it by bitumen from below, or by the putrid leaves of the forest trees from above, is uncertain; the people drink from the bituminous spring waters at this season, as well as from stagnant pools in the beds of small rivers, which have ceased to flow during part of the Cold, and the whole of the hot, season. These pools become filled with the leaves of the forest trees which hang over them.
The bitumen, in all the jungles to which I refer, arises, I believe, from the coal measures, pressed down by the overlying masses of sandstone strata, common to both the Himmalaya chain of mountains over the Tarae forest, and the Vendeya and Sathpoor ranges of hills at the sources of the Nerbudda and Sohun rivers. It is, however, possible that the water of these stagnant pools, tainted by the putrid leaves, may impart its poison through the medium of the air in exhalations; and I have known European officers, who were never conscious of having drunk either of the waters above described, take the fever (owl) in the month of May in the Tarae, and in a few hours become raving mad. These tainted waters may possibly act in both ways—directly, and through the medium of the air.
While on the subject of the causes or sources of disease, I may mention two which do not appear to me to have been sufficiently considered and provided against in India. First, when a new cantonment is formed and occupied in haste, during or after a campaign, terraces are formed of the new earth dug up on the spot to elevate the dwellings of officers and soldiers from the ground, which may possibly become flooded in the rains; and over the piles of fresh earth officers commonly form wooden floors for their rooms to secure them from the damp, new earth. Between this earth and the wooden floor a small space of a foot or two is commonly left. The new earth, thus thrown up from places that may not have been dug or ploughed for ages, absorbs rapidly the oxygen from the air above, and gives out carbonic acid, nitrogen and hydrogen gases, which render the air above unfit for men to breathe. This noxious air accumulates in the space below the wooden floor, and, passing through the crevices, is breathed by the officers and soldiers as they sleep.
Between the two campaigns against Nepal in 1814 and 1815, the brigade in which my regiment served formed such a cantonment at Nathpoor, on the right bank of the river Coosee. The land which these cantonments occupied had been covered with a fine sward on which cattle grazed for ages, and was exceedingly rich in decayed vegetable and animal matter. The place had been long remarked for its salubrity by the indigo-planters and merchants of all kinds who resided there; and on the ground which my regiment occupied there was a fine pucka-house, which the officer commanding the brigade and some of his staff occupied. In the rains the whole plain, being very flat, was often covered with water, and thousands of cattle grazed upon it during the cold and hot seasons. The officers all built small bungalows for themselves on the plan above described; and the medical officers all thought that they had, in doing so, taken all possible precautions. The men were provided with huts, as much as possible on the same plan. These dwellings were all ready before the rains set in, and officers and soldiers were in the finest state of health and spirits.
In the middle and latter part of the rains, officers and men began to suffer from a violent fever, which soon rendered the European officers and soldiers delirious, and prostrated the native officers and sipahees; so that three hundred of my own regiment, consisting of about seven hundred, were obliged to be sent to their homes on sick leave. The greater number of those who remained continued to suffer, and a great many died. Of about ten European officers present with my regiment, seven had the fever, and five died of it, almost all in a state of delirium. I was myself one of the two who survived, and I was for many days delirious.
Of the medical officers of the brigade, the only one, I believe, who escaped the fever was Adam Napier, who, with his wife and children, occupied apartments in the brigadier's large pucka-house. Not a person who resided in that house was attacked by the fever. There was another pucka-house a little way from the cantonments, close to the bank of the river, occupied by an indigo-planter, a Mr. Ross. No one in that house suffered. The fever was confined to those who occupied the houses and huts which I have described. All the brigade suffered much, but my regiment, then the first battalion of the 12th Regiment, and now the 12th Regiment, suffered most; and it was stationed on the soil which had remained longest unturned and untilled on what had been considered a park round the pucka-house, in which the brigadier resided. I believe that I am right in attributing this sickness exclusively to the circumstances which I have mentioned; and I am afraid that, during the thirty-five years that have since elapsed, similar circumstances have continued to produce similar results. I am myself persuaded, that had the sward remained unbroken, and the houses and huts been raised upon it, over wooden platforms placed upon it, to secure officers and men from the damp ground, there would have been little or no sickness in that brigade.
The second of the two causes or sources of disease, to which I refer, is the insufficient room which is allowed for the accommodation of our European troops in India. Within the room assigned for the non- commissioned officers and soldiers, they soon exhaust the atmosphere around of its oxygen or vital air, while they expire or exhale carbonic acid, nitrogen and hydrogen gases, which render it altogether unfit to sustain animal life; and death or disease must soon overtake those who inhale or inspire it.
I may illustrate this by a fact within my own observation. In 1817, a flank battalion of six hundred European soldiers was formed at Allahabad, where I then was with my regiment to escort the Governor- General the Marquess of Hastings. With these six hundred soldiers there were thirty-two European officers. The soldiers and non- commissioned officers were put into the barracks in the fort, where they had not sufficient room. The commissioned officers resided in bungalows in the cantonments, or in tents on the open plain. The men were effectually prevented from exposing themselves to the sun, and from indulging in any kind of intemperance, and every possible care was taken of them. The commissioned officers lived as they liked, denied themselves no indulgence, and were driving about all day, and every day, in sun and rain, to visit each other and their friends. A fever, similar to that above described, broke out among the soldiers and non-commissioned officers in the fort, and great numbers died. Of the six hundred, only sixteen escaped the fever. When too late, they were removed from the fort into tents on the plain. From that day the deaths diminished, and the sick began to recover. Of the thirty-two commissioned officers, only one, I think, was ever sick at all, and his sickness was of a kind altogether different; and, it is impossible to resist the conclusion, that the non-commissioned officers and soldiers got their disease from want of sufficient room, and, consequently, of sufficient pure air to breathe. Subsequent experience has, I believe, tended to confirm the conclusion; and, I may safely say, that more European soldiers have died from a disregard of it, than from all the wars that we have had within the thirty-three years that have since elapsed. The cause is still in operation, and continues to produce the same fatal results, and will continue to do so till we change the system of accommodating our European troops in India.
The buildings in which they are lodged should all have thatched or tiled roofs, through which the hot and impure air, which has been already breathed, may pass, and be replaced within by the pure air of the atmosphere around, instead of roofs of pucka-masonry which confine this air to be breathed over again by the people within; and double or quadruple the space now allowed to each man should be given. At the cost now incurred in providing them with this insufficient room, under roofs of pucka-masonry, they could be provided with four times the space, under roofs of thatch and tiles, which would be so much more safe and suitable.
The state of the Bharwara district may be illustrated by that of one of its four divisions or mahals, Alleegunge. In the last year of Hakeem Mehudee's role (1818), this division was assessed at one hundred and thirty-eight thousand rupees, with the full consent of the people, who were all thriving and happy. The assessment was, indeed, made by the heads of the principal Ahbun families of the district, with Mahommed Hussan Khan as chief assessor. One hundred and thirty-two thousand were collected, and six thousand were remitted in consequence of a partial failure of the crops. Last year, by force and violence, the landholders of this division were made to agree to an assessment upon the lands in tillage of ten thousand and five hundred rupees, of which not six thousand can be collected. The other three divisions are in the same state. Not one-tenth of the land is in tillage, nor are one-tenth of the villages peopled. The soil is really the finest that I have seen in India; and I have seen no part of India in which so small a portion of the surface is unfit for tillage. The moisture rises to the surface just as it is required; and a tolerable crop is got by a poor man who cannot afford to keep a plough, and merely burns down the grass and digs the surface with his spade, or pickaxe, before he sows the seed. Generally, however, the tillage, in the portion cultivated, is very good. The surface is ploughed and cross-ploughed from six to twenty, or even thirty, times in the season; and the harrow and roller are often applied till every clod is pulverized to dust.
The test of first-rate preparation for the seed is that a ghurra, or earthen pitcher, full of water, let fall upon the field from a man's head, shall not break. The clods in the muteear soil are so pulverised only in the fields that are to be irrigated, or to the surface of which moisture rises from below as the weather becomes warm. The people say that it does so rise when required in land even a good way from the forest, and that the clods are, in consequence, not necessary to retain it. This is the only part of India in which I have known the people take ratoon, or second crops of sugar-cane from the same roots; and the farmers and cultivators tell me that the second crop is almost as good as the first. The fields in tillage are well supplied with manure, which is very abundant where so large a portion of the surface is waste; and affords such fine pasture. They are also well watered, for the water is near the surface, and in the tight muteear soil a kutcha well, or well without masonry, will stand good for twenty seasons. To make pucka-wells, or wells lined with burnt bricks and cement, would be costly. Each well of this kind costs about one hundred rupees. The kutcha-wells, which are lined with nothing, or with thick ropes of twigs and straw, cost only from five to ten rupees. The people tell me that oppression and poverty have made them less fastidious than they were formerly; that formerly it was considered disgraceful to plough with buffaloes, or to use them in carts, but they are now in common use for both purposes; that vast numbers of the Kunojee Brahmins and others, who could not formerly drive their own ploughs, drive them now; and that all will in time condescend to do so, as the penalties of higher payments with and for daughters in marriage cease to be exacted from men whose necessities have become so pressing.
March 6, 1850. **—Halted at Kurunpoor, where the gentlemen of my camp shot some floricans, hares, partridges, and a porcupine along the bank of the small river Ole, which flows along from north-west to south-east within three miles of Kurunpoor.
[** Transcriber's Note: The diary date jumps from the previous entry of February 5, 1850, at Kurrunpoor. This is a mistake in the date, as at the start of Chapter V the diary jumps back to February 14, 1850.]
March 7, 1850.—Teekur, twelve miles. The road, for three miles, lay through grass jungle to the border of the Khyrabad district, whence the plain is covered with cultivation, well studded with trees, clusters of bamboos, and well peopled with villages, all indicating better management. A great many fields are reduced to the fine dust above described to receive the sugar-cane, which is planted in February. The soil is muteear, but has in many parts become impaired by over-cropping. The people told me that the crops were not so rich as they ought to be, from the want of manure, which is much felt here, where there is so little pasture for cattle. The wheat has almost everywhere received an orange tint from the geerwa, or blight, which covers the leaves, but, happily, has not as yet settled upon the stalks to feed on the sap. This blight, the cultivators say, arises from the late and heavy rain they have had, and the easterly wind that prevailed for a few days. The geerwa is a red fungus, which, when it adheres to the stems, thrusts its roots through the pores of the epidermis and robs the grain of the sap as it ascends. When easterly winds and sultry weather prevail, the pores of the epidermis appear to be more opened and exposed to the inroads of these fungi than at other times. If the wind continue westerly for a fortnight more, little injury may be sustained; but should easterly winds and sultry weather prevail, the greater part may be lost. "We cultivators and landholders," said Bukhtawur Sing, "are always in dread of something, and can never feel quite easy: if little rain falls, we complain of the want of more; if a good deal comes down, we are in dread of this blight, and never dare to congratulate ourselves on the prospect of good returns." To the justice and wisdom of this observation all assented.*
[* Westerly winds and cold weather prevailed and the blight did little apparent injury to the crops; but the wheat crops, generally, over Oude and the adjoining districts, was shrivelled and deficient in substance. It had "run to stalk" from the excess of rain.]
The landholders of this purgunnah are chiefly Janwar Rajpoots. Kymara, a fine village, through which we passed, about five miles from Kurunpoor, is the residence of the present head of this family, Rajah Ajeet Sing. He has a small fort close by, in which he is now preparing to defend himself against the King's forces. The poor old man came out with all his village community to meet and talk with me, in the hope that I might interpose to protect him. He is weak in mind and body, has no son, and, having lately lost his only brother and declared heir to the estate, his cousins and more distant relations are scrambling for the inheritance. The usual means of violence, collusion, and intrigue have been had recourse to. The estate is in the Huzoor Tuhseel, and not under the jurisdiction of the contractor of Khyrabad. The old man seemed care-worn and very wretched, and told me that the contractor, whom I should meet at Teekur, had only yesterday received orders from Court to use all his means to oust him from possession, and make over the estate to his cousin, Jodha Sing, who had lately left him in consequence of a dispute, after having, since the death of his brother, aided him in the management of the estate; that he had always paid his revenues to the King punctually, and last year he owed a balance of only one hundred and sixty rupees, when Anrod Sing, his distant relative, wanted him to declare his younger brother, Dirj Bijee Sing, his heir to the estate, in lieu of Jodha Sing.
This he refused to do, and Anrod Sing came, with a force of two thousand armed men, supported by a detachment from Captain Barlow's regiment, and laid siege to his fort, on the pretence that he was required to give security for the more punctual payment of the revenue. To defend himself, he was obliged to call in the aid of his clan and neighbours, and expend all that he had or could borrow, and, at last, constrained to accept Anrod Sing's security, for no merchants would lend money to a poor man in a state of siege. Anrod Sing had now gone off to Lucknow, and bribed the person in charge of the Huzoor Tuhseel, Gholam Ruza Khan, one of the most corrupt men in the corrupt Court of Lucknow, to get an order issued by the Minister to have him turned out, and the estate made over to Jhoda Sing, from whom he would soon get it on pretence of accumulated balances, and make it over, in perpetuity, to his brother, Dirj Bijee Sing. In this attempt, the old man said, a good many lives must be lost and crops destroyed, for his friends would not let him fall without a struggle.*
[* The old man has been attacked and turned out with the loss of some lives, in spite of the Resident's remonstrance, and the estate has been made over to Jodha Sing, on the security for the payment of the revenue of Anrod Sing. Jodha Sing is, naturally, of weak intellect; and Anrod Sing will soon have him turned out as an incompetent defaulter, and get the estate for himself, or for his younger brother. Luckily Anrod Sing and Lonee Sing, of Mitholee, are at daggers-drawn about some villages, which Anrod Sing has seized, and to which Lonee Sing thinks he has a better right. Their dread of each other will be useful to the Government and the people.]
As soon as we left the poor old man, Bukhtawur Sing said, "This, sir, is the way in which Government officers manage to control and subdue these sturdy Rajpoot landholders. While they remain united, as in the Bangur district, they can do nothing with them, and let them keep their estates on their own terms; but the moment a quarrel takes place between them they take advantage of it: they adopt the cause of the strongest, and support him in his aggressions upon the other members of his family or clan till all become weak by division and disorder, and submit. Forty or fifty years ago, sir, when I used to move about the country on circuit with Saadut Allee Khan, the then sovereign, as I now move with you, there were many Rajpoot landholders in Oude stronger than any that defy the Government now; but they dared not then hold their heads so high as they do now. The local officers employed by him were men of ability, experience, and character, totally unlike those now employed. Each had a wing of one of the Honourable Company's regiments and some good guns with him, and was ready and able to enforce his master's orders and the payment of his just demands; but, since his death, the local officers have been falling off in character and strength, while the Rajpoot landholders have risen in pride and power. The aid of the British troops has, by degrees, been altogether withdrawn, and the landholders of this class despise the Oude Government, and many of them resist its troops whenever they attempt to enforce the payment of even its most moderate demands. The revenues of the State fall off as the armed bands of these landholders increase, and families who, in his time, kept up only fifty armed men, have now five hundred, or even a thousand or two thousand, and spend what they owe to Government in maintaining them. To pay such bands they withhold the just demands of the State, rob their weaker neighbours of their possessions, and plunder travellers on the highway, and men of substance, wherever they can find them.
"When Saadut Allee made over one-half of his dominions to the British Government in 1801, he was bound to reduce his military force and rely altogether upon the support of your Government. He did so; but the force he retained, though small, was good; and while that support was afforded things went on well—he was a wise man, and made the most of the means he had. Since that time, sir, the Oude force has been increased four-fold, as your aid has been withdrawn; but the whole is not equal to the fourth part which served under Saadut Allee. You see how insignificant it everywhere is, and how much it is despised even by the third-class Rajpoot landholders. You see, also, how they everywhere prey upon the people, and are dreaded and detested by them: the only estates free from their inroads are those under the 'Huzoor Tuhseel,' into which the Amils and their disorderly hosts dare not enter. If the landholders could be made to feel that they would not be permitted to seize other men's possessions, nor other men to seize theirs, as long as they obeyed the Government and paid its just dues, they would disband these armed followers, and the King might soon reduce his. He will never make them worth anything; there are too many worthless, but influential persons about the Court, interested in keeping up all kinds of abuses, to permit this. These abuses are the chief source of their incomes: they rob the officers and sipahees, and even the draft-bullocks; and you everywhere see how the poor animals are starved by them."
Within a mile of the camp I met the Nazim, Hoseyn Allee Khan, who told me that Rajah Goorbuksh Sing, of Ramnuggur Dhumeree, had fulfilled all the engagements entered into before me at Byramghat, on the Ghagra, on the 6th of December, and was no longer opposed to the Government; and that the only large landholder in his district who remained so at present was Seobuksh Sing, of Kateysura, a strong fort, mounted with seven guns, near the road over which I am to pass the day after tomorrow, between Oel and Lahurpoor. As he came up on his little elephant along the road, I saw half-a-dozen of his men, mounted on camels, trotting along through a fine field of wheat, now in ear, with as much unconcern as if they had been upon a fine sward to which they could do no harm. I saw one of my people in advance make a sign to them, on which they made for the road as fast as they could. I asked the Nazim how he could permit such trespass. He told me, "That he did not see them, and unless his eye was always upon them he could not prevent their doing mischief, for they were the King's servants, who never seemed happy unless they were trespassing upon some of his Majesty's subjects." Nothing, certainly, seems to delight them so much as the trespasses of all kinds which they do commit upon them.