I have passed through all the districts here named, save two, Churda and Bhinga, and I can say, that everything I saw and heard tended to confirm the truth of what has here been told. Rughbur Sing and the agents employed by him were, by all I saw, considered more as terrible demons who delighted in blood and murder than as men endowed with any feelings of sympathy for their fellow-creatures; and the government, which employed such men in the management of districts with uncontrolled power, seemed to be utterly detested and abhorred.
It will naturally be asked, whether the circumstances described were ever reported to the Oude Government or to the British Resident; and whether they did anything to punish the guilty and afford redress and relief to the sufferers. The following are the reports which were made to the Oude Durbar by the news-writers, employed in the several districts, and communicated to the Resident and his Assistant, by the Residency news-writer, in his daily reports, which are read out to them every morning.
July 10, 1847.—Report from Bondee states, that Rajaram, Rughbur Sing's collector of Mirzapoor and other villages in that estate, had attacked and plundered Mirzapoor, and carried off sixty head of cattle.
August 12, 1847.—Report from Bondee states, that the estates of Bondee and Tiperha, which yielded one hundred and fifty thousand rupees a-year, had become so desolated by the oppression of Beharee Lal and Kurum Hoseyn, the agents of Rughbur Sing, that they could not possibly yield anything for the ensuing year; that Kurum Hoseyn had seized all the cattle and other property of the peasantry, sold them and appropriated the money to his own use, and had so beaten the landholders and cultivators, that many of them had died. Order by the Durbar, that these two agents be deterred from such acts of oppression, fined five thousand rupees, and made to release the remaining prisoners, and restore the property taken. Nothing whatever was done!
August 14, 1847.—Report from Bondee states, that although the landholders and cultivators of this estate had paid all that was due, according to engagements, Beharee Lal and Kurum Hoseyn were having them flogged and tortured every day to extort more; selling off all their stock and other property, and selecting all the good bullocks and cows and sending them to their own houses. Order by the Durbar, that the minister punish the oppressors, and cause their property to be given back to the oppressed. The minister ordered his deputy, Ramchurn, to see this done. He did nothing whatever!
September 6, 1847.—Report from Gonda states, that all the lands from Bondee and Pyagpoor had been left waste from the oppression of Rughbur Sing. Order by the Durbar, that the minister hasten to get the lands tilled, as the season was passing away. Nothing whatever was done!
September 24, 1847.—Report from the same place states, that Rughbur Sing had seized no less than eighteen thousand bullocks, from the villages of the Bondee estate, collected them at Neemapoor, and ordered his agents to get them all sold off as fast as possible; and that the cultivators could till none of the lands in consequence. Order by the Durbar, that the minister put a stop to all this oppression. Nothing whatever was done!
September 24, 1847.—Report from the same place states, that Kurum Hoseyn had seized Ahlad Sing, the malgoozar of Hurkapoor in Bondee, and had red-hot ramrods thrust into his flesh, on account of a balance due, and then had him put upon an ass and paraded through the streets. Order by the Durbar, that the minister see to this. Nothing whatever was done!
August 2, 1847.—Report from Gonda states, that the troops under Beharee Lal were robbing all the females of the country of their ornaments; and that Beharee Lal neither did nor said anything to prevent them. Order by the Durbar, that Rughbur Sing be directed to restrain his soldiers and restore the ornaments. Nothing whatever was done!
September 6, 1847—Report from the same place states, that Luchman Naraen, malgoozar of Bhurduree in Gonda, had paid all the rents due, according to his engagements; that Beharee Lal had, nevertheless, sent a force of three hundred men, who attacked his house, plundered it of all that it contained, and took off five thousand seven hundred and thirty-one maunds of stored grain. Order by the Durbar, that the minister punish and restrain the oppressors, and cause all the property to be restored. Nothing whatever was done in the matter!
October 2, 1847.—Report from Gonda states, that Jafir Allee and Hemraj Sing, Rughbur Sing's agents, had, with a body of sixteen hundred troops, attacked the town of Khurgapoor in Gonda, plundered it, and attacked and plundered five villages in the vicinity, and seized Sudasook and thirty other merchants and shopkeepers of Khurgapoor, Chungul Sing, the farmer of that place, Kaleechurn, a writer, and Benee, the agent of the Gonda Rajah, and no less than one hundred landholders and cultivators. Order by the Durbar: Let the minister seize all the offenders, and release and satisfy all the sufferers. Nothing whatever was done in the matter.
October 5, 1847.—Report from Gonda states, that Rughbur Sing's troops had seized and brought off from Gonda to Nawabgunge, two hundred men and women, and shut up the road where they were confined, that no one might pass near them—that three or four of the women were pregnant, and near their confinement, and suffered much from harsh treatment and want of food. Order by the Durbar: Let the minister grant redress, and send a suzawal to see that the sufferers are released. A suzawal was sent, it appears, but he remained a quiet spectator of the atrocities, having received something for doing so.
September 1, 1847.—Report from Hissampoor states, that Byjonauth Sing, agent of Rughbur Sing, in Hissampoor, had seized all the plough-bullocks and cows he could find, sent the best to his own home, and made the rest over to Wazeer Allee, Canongoe, to be sold. Order by the Durbar, that Rughbur Sing be directed to restore all that has been taken, and collect the revenue with more moderation. Nothing whatever was done.
September 11, 1847.—Report from Bahraetch states, that the estate of Aleenugger in Hissampoor, which yielded eighteen thousand rupees a-year, had become so deserted from the oppressions of Rughbur Sing, that it could no longer yield anything. Order by the Durbar, that Rughbar Sing be directed to restore the tillage, or hold himself responsible for the King's revenue!
July 28, 1847.—Report from Gonda states, that Goureeshunker, the collector of Gungwal and Pyagpoor, had, by order of Beharee Lal, attacked the village of Ruhooa, and seized and carried off sixty-four cultivators, and confined them in his camp. No order whatever was passed by the Durbar.
September 7, 1847.—From Nawabgunge in Gonda reports, that Beharee Lal's soldiers were then engaged in sacking that town, and carrying off the property. Order by the Durbar. Let the minister see that the property be restored and wrongs redressed. Nothing whatever was done.
September 18, 1847.—Report from Bahraetch states, that Cheyn Sing, the tallookdar of Bahmanee Paer, had fled into the British territory, but returned to his fort; that Beharee Lal heard of his return and sent two thousand men to seize him; that the tallookdar had only sixty men, but held out for three hours, killed ten of the King's soldiers, and then evacuated the fort and fled; that Beharee Lal's soldiers had collected two thousand bullocks from the estate, and brought them all off to his camp. Order by the Durbar, that the minister give stringent orders in this case. Nothing whatever was done.
October 2, 1847.—Report from Seerora states, that Mahommed Hussan (the present Nazim), one of Rughbur Sing's collectors, with one thousand horse and foot and one gun, had come to the hamlet of Sondun Lal, and the village of Seerora, attacked and plundered these places, and seized and taken off one hundred men and women, and two hundred bullocks, killed two hundred Rajpoots in a fight, and then gone back to his camp at Bahoreegunge. Order by the Durbar, that the minister seize and send the oppressors to Lucknow, and restore the property to its proper owners. The minister did nothing of the kind; and soon after made this oppressor the governor of these districts.
September 20, 1847.—Report from Radowlee states, that armed men belonging to Kurum Hoseyn, escorting one thousand selected bullocks, sent by Rughbar Sing, had come to Radowlee, on their way to his fort of Shahgunge. Order by the Durbar: Let the minister see to this affair. Nothing was done.
On the 28th September 1847 an order was addressed by the Durbar to Rughbur Sing, that his agent, Kurum Hoseyn, appeared to have attacked the house of Seodeen, though he had paid all that was due by him to the State, according to his engagements, and plundered it of property to the value of eighteen thousand rupees, and seized and confined all his relations—that he must cause all the property to be restored, and obtain acquittances from the sufferers. Rughbur Sing took no notice whatever of this order.
On the 2nd of October 1847, the Resident, Colonel Richmond, wrote to the King, acquainting him, that he had heard, that Rughbur Sing had seized and sold all the ploughs and bullocks in the Bahraetch district, and, seized and sold also five hundred men, women, and children of the landholders and cultivators; that he regrets all this and prays that his Majesty will cause inquiries to be made; and, should the charges prove true, cause the articles taken, or their value, to be restored, and the men, women, and children to be released. On the 25th of October 1847, the Resident again addressed the King, stating, that he had heard, that, on the 2nd of October, Jafir Allee and Maharaj Sing, agents of Rughbur Sing, with eleven hundred soldiers, had attacked and plundered the town of Khurgapoor and five villages in its neighbourhood, and seized and taken off Ramdeen Sudasook, and thirty merchants, shopkeepers and other respectable persons, also Junglee, the farmer of that town, Kaleechurn Mutsudee, Dabey Pershad, the Rajah's manager, and one hundred landholders and cultivators; and praying that orders be given for inquiry and redress. Nothing whatever was done; but on the 30th of October, the King replied to these letters, and to one written to him by the Resident on the 31st of August 1847, transmitting a list of unanswered letters. His Majesty stated, that he had sent orders to Rughbur Sing and to his brother Maun Sing, in all the cases referred to by the Resident; but that they were contumacious servants, as he had before described them to the Resident to be; and had taken no notice whatever of his orders!
August 20, 1846.—Report from Bahraetch states, that Goureeshunkur, the agent of Rughbur Sing, in Bahraetch, had taken four persons from among the many whom he had in confinement on account of balances, had them suspended to trees, and cruelly flogged, and then had their hands wrapped up in thick cloth, steeped in oil, and set fire to till they burned like torches; and that he sat listening to their screams and cries for mercy with indifference. Order by the King: Let the minister, Ameen-od Dowlah, be furnished with a copy of this report, and let him send out three troopers, as suzawuls, to bring in Goureeshunkur and the four men whose hands had been burnt, and let him employ Mekhlis Hoseyn, to inquire into the affair, and report the result. Nothing was done.
On the 29th of August, the Resident, Mr. Davidson, addressed a letter to the King stating, that he had before represented the cruelties which Rughbur Sing was inflicting upon the people of his district, but had heard of no redress having been afforded in any case; that he had received another report on the same subject, and now forwards it to show what atrocities his agent, Goureeshunkur, was committing in Bahraetch; that in no other country could the servants of the sovereign commit such cruel outrages upon his subjects; that he had been wrapping up the bodies of the King's subjects in oilcloths, and setting, fire to them as to torches; that he could not do all this without the knowledge and sanction of his master, Rughbur Sing; and the Resident prays, that he may be punished, and that his punishment may be intimated to him, the Resident. Nothing was ever done, nor was any answer given to this letter, till it was, on the 30th of August 1847, acknowledged with the many others contained in the list sent to the King, in his letter of the 31st August 1847, by the then Resident, Colonel Richmond.
No report appears to have reached either the Durbar or the Resident, of the atrocious proceedings of Rughbur Sing's agents at Busuntpoor, where so many persons perished from torture, starvation, and exposure; nor was any notice taken of them till I took charge of my office in January 1849. Incha Sing had offered for the contract of the two districts four lacs less than Rughbur Sing had pledged himself to pay, and obtained it, and quietly superseded his nephew, with whom he was on cordial good terms. Rughbur Sing went into the British territory, to evade all demands for balances, and reside for an interval, with the full assurance that he would be able to purchase a restoration to favour and power in Oude, unless the Resident should think it worth while to oppose him, which my predecessor did not.* I had his agents arrested, and charges sent in against them, with all the proofs accumulated, by Captain Orr; but they all soon purchased their way out, and no one was punished. At my suggestion the King proclaimed Rughbur Sing as an outlaw, and offered three thousand rupees for his arrest, if he did not appear within three months. He never appeared, but continued to carry on his negociations for restoration to power at Lucknow, through the very agents whom he had employed in the scenes above described, Beharee Lal, Goureeshunker, Kurum Hoseyn, Maharaj Sing, &c.
[* Incha Sing absconded before the end of the season, and has never returned to Oude. Mahommed Hussan got the contract on a reduction of two hundred and thirty-one thousand rupees, below the rates which Incha Sing bound himself to pay. But in 1850, he consented to an increase of three hundred and ninety-nine thousand, with, I believe, the deliberate intention to raise the funds for the payment by the murder of Ramdut Pandee, and the confiscation of his estate.]
Amjud Allee Shah, who was something of a man of business, died 13th February 1847, and was succeeded by his eldest son, the present King, who knows nothing of, and cares nothing whatever about, business. His minister, Ameen-od Dowlah, who had some character of his own, was removed some three or four months after, and succeeded by the present minister, Allee Nakee Khan, who has none.
The following table of the actual payments into the treasury, from these two districts of Gonda-Bahraetch, for four years from 1845, will serve to show the fiscal effects of such atrocities as were permitted to be perpetrated in them for a brief period of two years:—
For 1845, under Wajid Allee . 11,65,132 5 3 For 1846, under Rughbur Sing . 14,01,623 7 6 For 1847, under ditto . 10,27,898 4 6 For 1848, under Incha Sing . . 6,05,492 0 3
But what table can show the sufferings of the people, and the feelings of hatred and abhorrence of the Government and its officers, to which they gave rise! Not one of the agents, employed in the atrocities above described, was ever punished. The people see that all the members of the Government are accessaries, either before or after the fact, in all these dreadful cruelties and outrages, and, that the more of them a public officer commits, the more secure is he of protection and favour at Court. Their hatred and abhorrence of the individual, in consequence, extend to and embrace the whole of the Government, and would extend also to the British Government, by whom that of Oude is supported, did they not see how earnestly the British Resident strives to alleviate their sufferings, and make the Oude sovereign and minister do their duty towards them; and how much all British officers sympathise with their sufferings as they pass through the country.*
[* Beharee Lal is now (June 1851) employed in a confidential situation, in the office of the deputy minister. Goureeshunker is a Tusseeldar, or native collector, in the same district of Bahraetch, under the new contractor, Mann Sing. Moonshee Kurum Hoseyn holds a similar office in some other district. Maharaj Sing, and the rest, all hold, I believe, situations of equal emolument and respectability.]
Almost all the khalsa lands of the Hissampoor purgunnah belonged to the different branches of a very ancient and respectable family of Syuds. Their lands have, as already stated, been almost all transferred to powerful tallookdars, and absorbed by them in their estates, by the usual process. It is said, and I believe truly, that Hadee Allee Khan tried to induce the head of the Syud family to take his daughter in marriage for his eldest son, as he was also a Syud, (lineal descendant of the prophet.) The old Syud was too proud to consent to this; and he and all his relations and connection were ruined in consequence. The son, to whom Hadee Allee wished to unite his daughter, still lives on his lands, but in poverty and fear. The people say that family pride is more inveterate among the aristocracy of the country than that of the city; and had the old man lived at Lucknow, he would probably have given his son, and saved his family and estate.
Captain Hardwick, while out shooting on the 10th, saw a dead man hanging by the heels in a mango-tree, close to the road. He was one of a gang of notorious robbers who had attacked a neighbouring village belonging to some Brahmins. They killed two, and caught a third member of the gang, and hung him up by the heels to die. He was the brother-in-law of the leader of the gang, Nunda Pandee. There he still hangs, and the greater part of my camp took a look at him in passing.
Tallookdars of Bahraetch-Government Land Revenue according to the Estimate of this Year.
Names of Villages Government Present Condition Demand
Bandee . . . . . 65,000 Almost waste Ruhooa . . . . . 20,000 Ditto Nanpara . . . . . 1,50,000 Falling off Gungwal . . . . . 26,000 Much out of tillage Pyagpoor . . . . . 59,000 Ditto Ekona . . . . . . 1,80,000 Ditto Bulrampoor . . . . 1,50,000 Well tilled Toolseepoor . . . . 1,05,000 Ditto Atrola . . . . . 80,000 Much out of tillage Munkapoor . . . . 35,000 Ditto Bahmanee Paer . . . 12,000 Ditto
Gowras alias Chehdwara Paruspoor. . . . . 14,000 Well tilled Aruta . . . . . . 18,000 Ditto Shahpoor . . . . . 30,000 Ditto Dhunawa . . . . . 42,000 Ditto Paska . . . . . . 20,000 Ditto Kumeear . . . . . 48,000 Ditto
Churda . . . . . 62,000 Falling off
Desumberpoor. . . . 95,000 Rajah Davey Buksh, in Good order. Bhinga. . . . . . 64,000 Recovering. Akkerpoor. . . . . 46,015 In good order under Ramdut Pandee. Sagha Chunda. . . . 1,20,729 Ramdut Pandee, in good order. Birwa . . . . . . 24,000 A little out of tillage.
December 12, 1849.—Gungwal, thirteen miles. The road lay through the estate of Pyagpoor to within a mile of Gungwal. Little cultivation was to be seen the whole way, and what we could see was bad. Little variety of crops, and the tillage slovenly, and without manure or irrigation. The tallookdar was ruined by Rughbur Sing, and is not on terms with the present Nazim, and he did not appear. The estate of Gungwal is not better cultivated than that of Pyagpoor; nor better peopled—both may be considered as mere wastes, and their assessments as merely nominal. The tallookdar did not appear. Both were ruined by the rapacious Nazim and his atrocious agents, Goureeshunker, Beharee Lal, Kurum Hoseyn, and others.
The Rajah of Toolseepoor, Dirgraj Sing, has an only son, Sahibjee, now 17 years of age. The Rajah's old servants, thinking they could make more out of the boy than out of the prudent father, first incited him to go off, with all the property he could collect, to Goruckpoor, where he spent it in ten months of revelry. The father invited him back two mouths ago, on condition that he should come alone. When he got within six miles of Toolseepoor, however, the father found, that three thousand armed followers had there been assembled by his agents, to aid him in seizing upon him and the estate. Fearing that his estate might be desolated, and he himself confined, and perhaps put to death, the Rajah ran off to his friend, the Rajah of Bulrampore, for protection.
December 13, 1849.—Purenda, eleven miles. The first half of the way, through the lands of Gungwal, showed few signs of tillage or population; the latter half through, those of Purenda and other villages of Gonda, held by Ramdut Pandee, showed more of both. Some nice villages on each side, at a small distance, and some fine groves of mango-trees. On the road this morning, Omrow Pooree, a non- commissioned officer of the Gwalior Contingent, whose family resided in a neighbouring village, came up to me as I passed along, and prayed me to have the murderer of his father seized and punished. He described the circumstances of the case, and on reaching camp, I requested Captain Weston to take the depositions of the witnesses, and adopt measures for the arrest of the offenders. Syampooree was the name of the father of the complainant. He resided in a small hamlet, near the road, called after himself, as the founder, "Syampooree ka Poorwa," or Syampooree's Hamlet. He had four sons, all fine, stout men. The eldest, Omrow Pooree, a corporal in the Gwalior Contingent, Bhurut Pooree, a private in Captain Barlow's regiment, Ramchurun and Ramadeen, the two youngest, still at home, assisting their father in the management of their little estate, which the family had held for many generations. One day in the beginning of December 1848, a short, thick-set man passed through the hamlet, accosted Syampooree and his two sons, as they sat at the door, and asked for some tobacco, and entered into conversation with them. He pretended that his cart had been seized by the Nazim's soldiers; and, after chatting with them for a short time, departed.
The second morning after this, before daylight, Ramadeen, the youngest son, was warming himself at a fire on a small terrace in front of the door, when he saw a party of armed men approaching. He called out, and asked who they were and what they wanted. They told him that they were Government servants, had traced a thief to the village, and come to seize him. Four of the party, who carried torches, now approached the fire and lighted them. Syampooree and his other son, Ramchurun, hearing the noise, came out, and placed themselves by the side of Ramadeen. By the light of the torches they now recognised the short, thick-set man with whom they had been talking two days before, at the head of a gang of fifteen men, carrying fire-arms with matches lighted, and five more armed with swords and shields. The short, thick-set man was Nunda Pandee, the most notorious robber in the district. He ordered his gang to search the house: on the father and sons remonstrating, he drew his sword and cut down Ramchurun. The father and Ramadeen having left their swords in the house, rushed back to secure them; but Nunda Pandee, calling out to one of his followers, Bhowaneedeen, to despatch the son, overtook the father, and at one cut severed his right arm from his body. He inflicted several other cuts upon him before the old man could secure his sword with his left arm. Having got it, he placed the scabbard under his foot, drew forth the blade, and cut Nunda Pandee across his sword-arm which placed him hors-de-combat; and rushing out among the assailants, he cut down two more, when he was shot dead by a third and noted robber, Goberae. Bhowaneedeen and others of the gang had cut down Ramadeen, and inflicted several wounds upon him as he lay on the ground. The gang then plundered the house, and made off with property to the value of one thousand and fifty rupees, leaving the father and both sons on the ground. The brave old father died soon after daybreak; but before he expired he named his assailants.
The two youngest sons were too severely wounded to admit of their pursuing the murderers of their father, but their brother, Bhurut Pooree, obtaining leave of absence, returned home, and traced the leader of the gang, Nunda Pandee, to the house of one of his relatives in the village of Kurroura, in Pyagpoor, where he had had his wound sewn up and dressed, and lay concealed. The family then tried, in vain, to get redress from all the local authorities, none of whom considered it to be their duty to look after murderers and robbers of this kind. Captain Weston succeeded in arresting this atrocious gang-leader, Nunda Pandee, who described to him minutely many of the numerous enterprises of this kind in which he had been engaged, and seemed to glory in his profession. He mentioned that the man whom he had seen suspended in the tree was his brother-in-law; that he had had two other members of his gang killed by the villagers on that occasion, but had succeeded in carrying off their bodies; that Goberae, Bhowaneedeen, and the rest of his followers were still at large and prosecuting their trade. Nunda Pandee was by the Resident made over for trial and punishment to the Durbar; and Goberae and Bhowaneedeen have since been arrested and made over also. They both acknowledged that they murdered the Gosaen in the manner above described, May 1851. The Mahommedan law-officer before whom the case was tried declared, that he could not, according to law, admit as valid the evidence of the wife and two sons of the murdered Gosaen, because they were relatives and prosecutors; and, as the robbers denied before him that they were the murderers, he could not, or pretended he could not, legally sentence them to punishment The King was, in consequence, obliged to take them from his Court, and get them sentenced to perpetual imprisonment by another Court, not trammelled by the same law of evidence. This difficulty arises from blood having its price in money in the country where the law was made, or the Deeut; any person who had a right to share in this Deeut, or price of blood, was therefore held to be an invalid or incompetent witness to the fact.
On the road from Bahraetch to Gungwal we saw very few groves or fine single trees on either side. The water is close to the surface, and the soil good, but for the most part flooded during the rains, and fit only for rice-cultivation. To fit it for the culture of other autumn crops would require a great outlay in drainage; and this no one will incur without better security for the returns than the present government can afford. Ramdut Pandee is the greatest agricultural capitalist in these parts.
On the 8th of December it had become known all over the city of Lucknow, that the King had promised Captain Bird that he would banish Gholam Ruza and his sister, and Kotub Allee, across the Ganges; and it was entered in the news-writer's report, though Captain Bird had spoken of it to no one. He was asked by the minister whether he would excuse the King for not keeping his word so far, and said he could not. He demanded an audience of the King, who tried to avoid a meeting by pleading indisposition; but the first Assistant, being very urgent, he was admitted. He found the King in a small inner room lying on a cot covered with a ruzae or quilt.
There were closed doors on the side of the room where the cot stood, and Captain Bird perceived that persons were behind listening to the conversation. On the minister advancing to meet him at the door. Captain Bird declined taking his proffered hand, and in a loud voice declared—"that he believed that he was mixed up with the fiddlers, and was afraid of their being removed, or he would have carried his Majesty's order for their dismissal into effect." He then advanced to the King, shook him by the hand, apologized for intruding upon him after his excuse of illness, and stated—"that his own character was at stake, and he had been obliged to take this step to save it, and requested that the minister might be told to retire during the conversation, as he had already shown his partiality for the characters whom his Majesty had stigmatized as low, intriguing, and untrustworthy—as ruiners of his good name and his kingdom, and the cause of ill-feeling between the British Government and himself. The King expressed a wish that the minister might remain, that he might have an opportunity to listen to what Captain Bird had to state, as it appeared to be against him. Captain Bird replied, that he had no complaint to make against the minister; that his object in coming was, to claim the fulfilment of the promise which his Majesty had so solemnly made to him, to dismiss Gholam Ruza and his sister, and Kotub Allee, and send them across the Ganges; that he was induced to demand this audience by the minister's visit of the preceding evening, to ask him to excuse his Majesty's fulfilling the promise which he had made; and by the written report given to him that morning by the news-writer, stating, that his Majesty had changed his mind, and pardoned the parties."
The King declared that he had never given Captain Bird any such promise. Captain Bird then repeated to his Majesty the conversation which had taken place on that occasion. The King seemed to be staggered; but the minister came to his aid, and said—"that his Majesty had ascertained from Sadik Allee himself, that Gholam Ruza was not an accomplice in that affair." Captain Bird replied—"that the King had told him, that the deception had been so fully proved, that they were speechless; and that his Majesty had spit in their faces." The King said "not in Gholam Ruza's. His sister and Kotub Allee are alone guilty." Captain Bird urged, that all were alike guilty, and he besought the King to fulfil his promise, saying,—"that his, Captain Bird's, name was at stake; that if the parties were not removed, the whole city would say, that the King had bribed him, and bought off his promise." The King replied, "This is all nonsense; do you wish me to swear that Gholam Ruza is innocent, and that I never gave the promise you mention?" and, calling the minister, he placed his right hand on his head, and said,—"I swear, as if this was my son's head, and by God, that I believe Gholam Ruza to be entirely innocent; and that I never promised to turn him out, or to send him across the Ganges." Captain Bird then heard a movement of feet in the next room behind the closed doors. He was horrified; but returning to the charge, said, "Your Majesty has, at any rate, acknowledged the guilt of Gholam Ruza's sister, and that of Khotub Allee; pray fulfil your promise on the guilty." The King said—"When absent from my sight, they are as far off as across one hundred rivers. I know they are intriguers, and shall keep my eyes upon them." Captain Bird said —"I have reported the circumstances of the case thus far to the Resident. Your Majesty has made me a participator in the breaking of your word. I have told Colonel Sleeman you would turn these men out." The King said—"This case has reference only to my house—it has no connection with the Government; but if you wish to use force, take me also by the beard, and pull me from my throne!" Captain Bird said—"I pray your Majesty to recollect how often, when force might have been used, under your own sign-manual and seal, on these fiddlers interfering in State affairs, the Resident has hesitated to put your written permission for their removal into force; and now who can be your friend, or save you from any danger, which may hereafter threaten your life or your well-being? I must, of course, report all to the Resident." The minister now said—"Yes, report to the Resident that the King has changed his mind, broken his word, and will not fulfil his promise; and ask for permission to employ direct force for the removal of these men: see if he will give permission." Captain Bird replied, "that any orders he received from the Resident would certainly be carried, into effect; but if his Majesty's own acknowledgment of the deceitfulness of these men, and their intriguing rascality were not sufficient to induce him to remove them—if the King set so little value on his promise—a promise now known to the whole city, and which he must in self-defence now speak openly of, he foresaw the speedy downfall of the kingdom. Who, he asked, will subject themselves to be deceived in an endeavour to prop it up by the removal of those who were living on its heart's blood, or be made liars by reporting promises never to be fulfilled?" Thus ended this interview.
The next day Sadik Allee had a dress of honour conferred upon him, and an increase of one hundred rupees a-month made to his salary; and Gholam Ruza, and his relative the fiddler, Anees-od Dowla, were seated behind his Majesty in his carriage-and-four, and paraded through the city, as in full possession of his favour. After the King had alighted from the carriage at the palace, the coachman drove the two singers to their apartments in the Mukbura, seated as before in the khuwas, or hind seat. [On the 25th of May 1850, the King caused the chief singer, Gholam Ruza, his father, Nathoo, his sister, and her husband, Dummun Khan, Gholam Hyder Khan, Kotub Allee, his brother, Sahib Allee, and the females of his family, in all fourteen persons, to be seized and confined in prison. On the 2nd of June, all but Gholam Ruza and Dummun Khan were transported across the Ganges into British territory; and, on the 23rd of July, these two men were transported in the same manner. The immediate cause of the King's anger was the discovery that his divorced and banished wife, Surafrazmahal, had actually come back, and remained concealed for seven days and seven nights in the palace, in the apartments of the chief singer, Gholam Ruza. They were all made to disgorge the Company's notes and jewels found upon them, but the King visited Gholam Ruza the day before his departure, and treated him with great kindness, and seemed very sorry to part with him.]
On the 10th, I had written to Captain Bird to mention the distinction which he appeared to have overlooked in his zeal to get the fiddlers removed. The offence with which these persons stood charged in this case was a personal affront to the King, or an affront to his understanding, and not any interference with the administration of the Government; and the first Assistant was requested by the Resident to wait upon his Majesty, merely with a view to encourage him in his laudable resolution to banish them, and to offer his aid in doing so should his Majesty manifest any wish to have it; and not to demand their punishment on the part of the British Government. In the one case, if the King promised to punish the offenders and relented and forgave them, we could only regret his weakness; but in the other, if he promised to punish them and failed to do so, we should consider it due to the character of our Government to insist upon the fulfilment of his promise. On the evening of the 11th I got the above report of his interview with the King from Captain Bird; and, on the 12th, I wrote to tell him, that I considered him to have acted very indiscreetly; that he had brought this vexation and mortification upon himself by his overweening confidence in his personal influence over the King; that he ought to have waited for instructions from me, or at least for a reply from me to his letter, regarding the former interview at Court; that I could not now give him the support he required, as I could neither demand that his requisitions should be complied with, nor tell the King that I approved of them that he had been authorized by me to act on his own discretion in any case of great emergency, but this could not be considered of such a character, for no evil or inconvenience was to be apprehended from a day or two's delay, since the question really was, whether his Majesty should have a dozen fiddlers or only ten.
In the beginning of September 1850, the King became enamoured of one of his mother's waiting-maids, and demanded her in marriage. See was his mother's favourite bedfellow, and she would not part with her. The King became angry, and to soothe him his mother told him that it was purely out of regard for him and his children that she refused to part with this young woman; that she had a "sampun," or the coiled figure of a snake in the hair on the back of her neck. No man, will purchase a horse with such a mark, or believe that any family can be safe in which a horse or mare with such a mark is kept. His mother told him, that if he cohabited with a woman having such a mark, he and all his children must perish. The King said that he might probably have, among his many wives, some with marks of this kind; and that this might account for his frequent attacks of palpitation of the heart. "No doubt," said the old Queen Dowager; "we have long thought so; but your Majesty gets into such a towering passion when we venture to speak of your wives, that we have been afraid to give expression to our thoughts and fears." "Perhaps," said the King, "I may owe to this the death, lately, of my poor son, the heir- apparent." "We have long thought so," replied his mother. The chief eunuch, Busheer, was forthwith ordered to inspect the back of the necks of all save that of the chief consort, the mother of the late and present heir-apparent. He reported that he had found the fatal mark upon the necks of no less than eight of the King's wives, Nishat-mahal, Koorshed-mahal, Sooleeman-mahal, Huzrut-mahal, Dara Begum, Buree Begum, Chotee Begum, and Huzrut Begum. The chief priest was summoned, and the divorce, from the whole eight, pronounced forthwith; and the ladies were ordered to depart with all that they had saved while in the palace. Some of their friends suggested to his Majesty, that Mahommedans were but unskilful judges in such matters, and that a Court of Brahmins should be assembled, as they had whole volumes devoted exclusively to this science. The most learned were accordingly collected, and they declared that though there were marks resembling in some degree the sampun, it was of no importance; and the evil it threatened might be averted by singeing the head of the snake with a hot iron. The ladies were very indignant, and six of them insisted upon leaving the palace, in virtue of the divorce. Two only consented to remain, the Buree Begum and Chota Begum.
December 14, 1849.—Came on twelve miles to Gonda. The country well studded with groves and fine single trees; the soil naturally fertile, and water near the surface. Cultivation good about Gonda, and about some of the villages along the road it is not bad; but there is nowhere any sugar-cane to be seen beyond a small garden patch. The country is so wretchedly stocked with cattle that little manure is available for tillage.
The Bulrampore Rajah, a lively, sensible, and active young man, joined me this morning, and rode along by the side of my elephant, with the capitalist, Ramdut Pandee, the Nazim, Mahommed Hussan, and old Bukhtawar Sing, the brother of the late Dursun Sing, whom I have often mentioned in this Diary. Rajah Bukhtawar Sing is the King's Mohtamin, or Quartermaster-General of the Resident's' camp. The Rajah of Toolseepore also, who has been ousted by his son from his estate, joined me last night; but he was not well enough to ride with me. Dogs, hawks, and panthers attend for sport, but they afford little or no amusement. Hawking is a very dull and very cruel sport. A person must become insensible to the sufferings of the most beautiful and most inoffensive of the brute creation before he can feel any enjoyment in it. The cruelty lies chiefly in the mode of feeding the hawks. I have ordered all these hunting animals to return to Lucknow.
Although the personal character of the Toolseepoor Rajah is not respected, that of his son is much worse; and the Bulrampoor Rajah and other large landholders in the neighbourhood would unite and restore him to the possession of his estate, but the Nazim is held responsible for their not moving in the matter, in order that the influential persons about the Court may have the plucking of it at their leisure. The better to insure this, two companies of one of the King's regiments have been lately sent out with two guns, to see that the son is not molested in the possession. The father was restored to his estate in 1850, and the son fled again to the Goruckpoor district. He became reconciled to his father some months after, through the mediation of the magistrate, Mr. Chester, and returned to Toolseepoor. The father and son, however, distrusted each other too much to live long together on amicable terms, and the son has gone off again to Goruckpoor.
The Toolseepoor estate extends along from east to west for about one hundred miles, in a belt of from nine to twelve miles wide, upon the southern border of that part of the Oude Tarae forest which we took from Nepaul in 1815, and made over to the Oude Government by the treaty of the 11th May 1816, in lieu of the one crore of rupees which our Government borrowed from Oude for the conduct of that war. The rent-roll of Toolseepoor is now from two to three lacs of rupees a- year; but it pays to the Oude Government a revenue of only one lac and five thousand, over and above gratuities to influential officers. The estate comprises that of Bankee, which was held by a Rajah Kunsa. Dan Bahader, the father of the present Rajah of Toolseepoor, attacked him one night in 1832, put him and some two hundred and fifty of his followers and family to death, and absorbed the estate. Mahngoo, the brother of Kunsa, escaped and sought redress from the Oude Durbar; but he had no money and could get no redress; and, in despair, he went off to seek employment in Nepaul, and died soon after. Dan Bahader, enriched by the pillage of Bankee, came to Lucknow, and purchased permission to incorporate Bankee with his old estate of Toolseepoor.
Khyreeghur and Kunchunpoor, on the western border of that forest, were made over by us to Oude at the same time, as part of the cession. They had been ceded to our Government by the treaty of 1801, at an estimated value of two hundred and ten thousand, but, up to 1816, they had never yielded to us fifty thousand rupees a-year. They had, however, formerly yielded from two to three lacs of rupees a- year to the Oude Government, and under good management may do so again; but, at present, Oude draws from them a revenue of only sixteen thousand, and that with difficulty. The rent-roll, however, exceeds two hundred thousand, and may, in a few years, amount to double that sum, as population and tillage are rapidly extending.
The holders of Khyreegur and Kunchunpoor are always in a state of resistance against the Oude Government, and cannot be coerced into the payment of more than their sixteen thousand rupees a-year; and hundreds of lives have been sacrificed in the collection of this sum. The climate is so bad that no people from the open country can venture into it for more than four months in the year—from the beginning of December to the end of March. The Oude Government occasionally sends in a body of troops to enforce the payment of an increased demand during these four months. The landholders and cultivators retire before them, and they are sure to be driven out by the pestilence, with great loss of life, in a few months; and the landholders refuse to pay anything for some years after, on the ground that all their harvests were destroyed by the troops. The rest of the Tarae lands ceded had little of tillage or population at that time, and no government could be less calculated than that of Oude to make the most of its capabilities. It had, therefore, in a fiscal point of view, but a poor equivalent for its crore of rupees; but it gained a great political advantage in confining the Nepaulese to the hills on its border. Before this arrangement took place there used to be frequent disputes, and occasionally serious collisions between the local authorities about boundaries, which were apt to excite the angry feelings of the sovereigns of both States, and to render the interposition of the paramount power indispensable.
It was at Bhinga, on the left bank of the Rabtee River, in the Gonda district, and eight miles north-east from Bulrampoor, that Mr. George Ravenscroft, of the Bengal Civil Service, was murdered on the night of the 6th May, 1823. He had been the collector of the land revenue of the Cawnpore district for many years; but, having taken from the treasury a very large sum of money, and spent it in lavish hospitality and unsuccessful speculations, he absconded with his wife and child, and found an asylum with the Rajah of Bhinga, on the border of the Oude Tarae, where he intended to establish himself as an indigo planter. Strict search was being made for him throughout India by the British Government, and his residence at Bhinga was concealed from the Oude Government by the local authorities. The Rajah made over to him a portion of land for tillage, and a suitable place in a mango grove, about a mile from his fort, to build a house upon. He built one after the Hindoostanee fashion, with bamboos and grass from the adjoining jungle. It consisted of a sitting-room, bed- room, and bathing-room, all in a line, and forming one side of a quadrangle, and facing inside, with only one small door on the outside, opening into the bathing-room. The other three sides of the quadrangle consisted of stables, servants' houses, and out-offices, all facing inside, and without any entrances on the outside, save on the front side, facing the dwelling-house, where there was a large entrance.
PLAN OF MR. RAVENSCROFT'S HOUSE.
_______ _ Bathing Sitting Room. Bed Room. Room. __ __ _ _ __ _ __ _ __ Cot O S u t t a b _O_ _l_ f e f s i c e s __ __ Entrance _ __ _ _ ___ ___
The Rajah, Seo Sing, was a worthy old man. He had four sons, Surubjeet Sing, the eldest, Omrow Sing, Kaleepurkas Sing, and Jypurkas Sing. The eldest was then married, and about the age of twenty-five; the other three were still boys. The old man left the management of the estate to the eldest son, a morose person, who led a secluded life, and was never seen out of the female apartments, save twice a-year, on the festival of the hooley and the anniversary of his marriage. Mr. Ravenscroft had never seen or held any communion with him, save through his father, brothers, or servants; but he was in the habit of daily seeing and conversing with the father and his other sons on the most friendly terms. The eldest son became alarmed when he saw Mr. Ravenscroft begin to plant indigo, and prepare to construct vats for the manufacture; and apprehended that he would go on encroaching till he took the whole estate from him, unless he was made away with. He therefore hired a gang of Bhuduk dacoits from the neighbouring forest of the Oude Tarae to put him to death, after he had been four months at Bhinga. During this time Mrs. Ravenscroft had gone on one occasion to Cawnpoor, and on another to Secrora, on business.
Bhinga lies fifty miles north-east from Secrora, where the 20th Regiment of Native Infantry, under the command of Colonel Patton, was then cantoned. On the 6th of May 1823, Ensign Platt, of that corps, had come out to see him. In the evening, the old Rajah and his second and third sons came to visit Mr. Ravenscroft as usual, and they sat conversing with the family on the most friendly terms till nine o'clock, when they took leave, and Mrs. Ravenscroft, with her child and two female attendants, retired to the sleeping-room in the house. Ensign Platt went to his small sleeping-tent outside the quadrangle, under a mango-tree. This tent was just large enough to admit his small cot, and a few block-tin travelling-boxes, which he piled away inside, to the right and left of his bed. Mr. Ravenscroft slept on a cot in the open air, in the quadrangle, a few paces from the door leading to Mrs. Ravenscroft's sleeping-apartment. He that night left his arms in the sitting-room, and Ensign Platt had none with him. Mr. Ravenscroft was the handsomest and most athletic European gentleman then in India, and one of the most expert in the use of the sword and shield.
His servants had been accustomed to stand sentry, by turns, at the entrance of the quadrangle, and it was his groom Munsa's turn to take the first watch that night. He was to have been relieved by the chowkeedar, Bhowaneedeen; but, in the middle of his watch, he roused the chowkeedar, and told him that he had been taken suddenly ill, and must go to his house for relief. The chowkeedar told him that he might go at once, and he would get up and take his place immediately; but he lay down and soon fell asleep again.
About eleven o'clock the whole quadrangle was filled by a gang of about sixty dacoits, who set their torches in a blaze, and began to attack Mr. Ravenscroft with their spears. He sprang up, and called loudly for his sword and shield, but there was no one to bring them. He received several spears through his body as he made for the door of Mrs. Ravenscroft's apartment, calling out to her in English to fly and save herself and child, and defending himself as well as he could with his naked arms. Mosahib, a servant who slept by his cot, got to Mrs. Ravenscroft's room and assisted her to escape, with her child and two female attendants, through the bathing-room to the outside. A party had been placed to stab Ensign Platt with their long spears through the sides of his small tent; but they passed through and through the block-tin boxes, and roused without hurting him. He rushed out and attempted to defend himself by seizing the spears of his assailants; but he received several of them through his arms. He made for the entrance to the quadrangle, and there, by the blaze of the torches, saw Mr. Ravenscroft still endeavouring to defend himself, but covered with blood, which was streaming from his wounds and mouth.
On seeing Ensign Platt at the entrance, he staggered towards him, but the dacoits made a rush at Ensign Platt with their spears at the same time. He saved himself by springing over a thick and thorny hedge on one side of the quadrangle, and ran round behind to the small door leading into the bathing-room, which he reached in time to assist Mrs. Ravenscroft to escape, as the dacoits were forcing their way through the screen into her bed-room from the sitting-room. As soon as he saw her under the shade of the trees, beyond the blaze of the torches, he left her and her child, and the two female attendants, to the care of Mosahib, and went round to the entrance in search of her husband. He had got to a tree, outside the entrance, into which Deena, Ensign Platt's servant, had climbed to save himself as soon as he saw his master attacked, and was leaning against it; but, on seeing Ensign Platt, he again staggered towards him, saying faintly bus, bus—enough, enough. These were the last words he was heard to utter, and must have referred to the escape of his wife and child, of which he had become conscious. By this time the gang had made off with the little booty they found. On attacking Mr. Ravenscroft at first, some of them were heard to say, "You have run from Cawnpoor to come and seize upon the estate of Bhinga, but we will settle you." Mrs. Ravenscroft, her infant, and female attendants, remained concealed under the shade of the trees, and her husband was now taken to her with eighteen spear wounds through his body. The Rajah and his two young sons soon after made their appearance, and in the evening the survivors were all taken by the old man to a spacious building, close outside the fort, where they received every possible attention; but the eldest son never made his appearance. Out of the twenty-nine men who composed the party when the attack commenced, seven had been killed and eighteen wounded. Mr. Ravenscroft died during the night of the 7th, after great suffering. He retained his consciousness till near the last; but the blood continued to flow from his mouth, and he could articulate nothing. On the morning of the 8th, he was buried in the grove, and Ensign Platt read the funeral service over his grave. Mrs. Ravenscroft and her child were taken to Colonel Patton, at Secrora, and soon after sent by him to Lucknow.
On the 10th, he reported the circumstances of this murder to the Resident, Mr. Ricketts; and sent him the narratives of Mosahib and Deena; and his report, with translations of these narratives, was submitted by the Resident to Government on the 12th of that month. But in these narratives no mention whatever was made of a British officer having been present at the murder and the burial of Mr. Ravenscroft. This suppression arose, no doubt, from the apprehension that Government might be displeased to find that the military authorities at Secrora had become aware of Mr. Ravenscroft's residence at Bhinga without reporting the circumstance to Government; and still more so to find, that he had been there visited by a British officer, when search was being made for him throughout India.
In acknowledging the receipt of the Resident's letter on the 23rd of May, the Secretary, Mr. George Swinton, observes, that the Governor- General in Council concludes, that he shall receive a more full and satisfactory report on the subject from Colonel Patton than that to which his letter had given cover, since he considered that report to be very imperfect; that one of the narrators, Mosahib, states, that he himself conducted Mrs. Ravenscroft and her child to a neighbouring village, and yet he brought no message whatever from that lady to Colonel Patton at Secrora; that none of the wounded people or servants of the deceased, except Deena, appear to have found their way to Sacrora, though four days had elapsed from the date of the murder to that of the despatch of the report; that the body seemed to have been hastily interred by the people of the village, without any notice having been sent to the officer commanding the troops at Secrora; that such an atrocious outrage as that described in these narratives, on the person of a subject and servant of the British Government, demanded the exertion of every effort to ascertain the real facts of the case by local inquiry; yet it did not appear that any person had been despatched to the spot to verify the evidence of the two men examined by Colonel Patton, or to clear up the doubts to which all these circumstances must naturally have given rise; nor did it appear that the defects in Colonel Patton's report had occurred to the Resident, or that he had directed any further inquiry to be made.
The Resident was, therefore, directed to instruct Colonel Patton, to depute one or more officers to the place where the murder was said to be perpetrated, with orders to hold an inquiry on the spot in communication with the King of Oude's officers, to take the evidence of the wounded men, and that of any other persons who might have been witnesses to any part of the transaction, and to the burial of Mr. Ravenscroft; and to examine the grave in which the body of the deceased was said to have been deposited; and further, to call upon Colonel Patton to state whether any information had previously reached Secrora of Mr. Ravenscroft's actually residing at Bhinga, or at any other place within the dominions of the King of Oude. "His Lordship in Council was," Mr. Swinton says, "satisfied, from the known humanity of Colonel Patton's character, that every possible aid and comfort had been extended to Mrs. Ravenscroft and her child; and the information which that lady and her attendants must have it in their power to give, could not fail to place the whole affair in its proper light." Extracts from this letter were sent by the Resident to Colonel Patton, on the 2nd of June, with a request that he would adopt immediate measures to carry the orders of Government into effect; and reply to the question whether any information of Mr. Ravenscroft's residing at Bhinga had previously reached him.
A committee of British officers was assembled at Bhinga on the 11th June, and their proceedings were transmitted to the Resident on the 18th of that month; but the committee, for some reasons stated in the report, did not examine "the grave in which the body of the deceased was said to have been deposited." Though in this committee Ensign Platt stated that he was present when the murder was perpetrated; that he attended the deceased till he died the next night, and performed the funeral ceremonies over the body on the morning of the 8th; still he seemed to narrate the circumstances of the event with some reserve, while there was a good deal of discrepancy in the evidence of the other eye-witnesses, as recorded in the report, seemingly from the dread of compromising Ensign Platt.
The Resident did not, therefore, think that Government would be satisfied with the result of this inquiry; and, on the 20th of June he directed Colonel Patton to reassemble the committee at Bhinga, and require it to hold an inquest on the body, and take the depositions of all the witnesses on oath. On the same day the Resident reported to Government what he had done. The second committee proceeded to Bhinga, and, on the 13th of July, Colonel Patton transmitted its report to the Resident, who submitted it to Government on the 17th of that month. The committee had taken the evidence of the witnesses on oath, and held an inquest on the body; but, in doing so, it had been necessary to dig through the tomb which Mrs. Ravenscroft had, in the interval, caused to be erected over the remains of her husband; and, at the suggestion of Colonel Patton, this tomb was rebuilt and improved at the cost of Government, who were perfectly satisfied with the result.
But in its reply, dated the 31st July, Government very justly remarks, that all the unnecessary trouble which had attended this investigation, as well as the very painful step of having the body disinterred, which the Resident found himself compelled to adopt in obedience to its orders, arose from a want of those obvious precautions in the first instance which ought to have suggested themselves to Colonel Patton. Had he made the requisite inquiries at Secrora, he must have learnt that an English officer belonging to his own regiment, who had been present at the interment, had been wounded when Mr. Ravenscroft was murdered, and, for a time, rendered unfit for duty. The facts since deposed to on oath by Ensign Platt might have been elicited, and his testimony, if necessary, might have been confirmed by the evidence of the widow of the deceased; and had such conclusive evidence been submitted to Government in the first instance, the doubts excited by the extraordinary circumstances of the whole affair would never have existed. When ordered on the inquiry to Bhinga, had Ensign Platt at once declared at Secrora that he could there afford all the information required as to the fact of the murder and interment of the body, the necessity of further inquiry on the spot would have been obviated. He had apparently been deterred from doing this by the apprehension of compromising both himself and his commanding officer. Colonel Patton had no knowledge of Mr. Ravenscroft being at Bhinga, though he had heard a rumour of his being somewhere in the Oude territory; and, in his application for a few days' leave, Ensign Platt made no mention of him or of his intention to visit him. This is stated in a subsequent letter from Colonel Patton to the Resident, dated 27th of August 1823.
The opinion that the Rajah had nothing whatever to do with the murder, and that the gang was secretly hired for the purpose by his eldest son, Surubjeet, has been confirmed by time, and is now universal among the people of these parts. He died soon after of dropsy, and the people believe that the disease was caused by the crime. He left an only son, Krishun Dutt Sing. The Rajah, Seo Sing, survived his eldest son some years; and, on his death, he was succeeded by Krishun Dutt Sing, who now leads precisely the same secluded life that his father led, and leaves the management of the Bhinga estate entirely to his only surviving uncle, Kaleepurkas Sing, the youngest of the two boys who visited Mr. Ravenscroft on the evening of the murder. The other three sons of the old Rajah are dead. The actual perpetrators of the murder were never punished or discovered. Mrs. Ravenscroft afterwards became united in marriage to the Resident at the time, Mr. Mordaunt Ricketts, and still lives. Her child, a boy, was drowned at the Lucknow Residency some time after his mother's marriage with the Resident. He had been shut up by his mother in a bathing-room for some fault; and, looking into a bathing- tub at his image in the water, he lost his balance, fell in, and was drowned. When the servants went to let him out they found him quite dead.
Legendary tale of breach of Faith—Kulhuns tribe of Rajpoots—Murder of the Banker, Ramdut Pandee, by the Nazim of Bahraetch—Recrossing the Ghagra river—Sultanpoor district, State of Commandants of troops become sureties for the payment of land revenue—Estate of Muneearpoor and the Lady Sogura—Murder of Hurpaul Sing, Gurgbunsee, of Kupragow—Family of Rajahs Bukhtawar and Dursun Sing—Their bynama Lands—Law of Primogeniture—Its object and effect—Rajah Ghalib Jung—Good effects of protection to Tenantry—Disputes about Boundaries—Our army a safety-valve for Oude—Rapid decay of Landed Aristocracy in our Territories—Local ties in groves, wells, &c.
December 15, 1849.-Wuzeergunge. On the way this morning, we passed Koorassa, which is said once to have been the capital of a formidable Rajah, the head of the Kulhuns tribe of Rajpoots. The villages which we see along the road seem better, and better peopled and provided with cattle. The soil not naturally very fertile, but yields fine returns under good culture, manure, and irrigation. Water everywhere very near the surface. The place is called after the then Nawab Wuzeer, Asuf-od Dowlah, who built a country-seat here with all appurtenances of mosque, courts, dwelling-houses, &c., on the verge of a fine lake, formed in the old bed of the Ghagra river, with tillage and verdure extending down to the water's edge. The garden- wall, which surrounds a large space of ground, well provided with fruit and ornamental trees, is built of burnt bricks, and still entire. The late minister, Ameen-od Dowlah, persuaded his master, Amjad Allee Shah, to give this garden and the lands around, with which it had been endowed, to his moonshee, Baker Allee Khan, who now resides at Fyzabad, and subsists upon the rents which he derives from them, and which are said to be about twelve hundred rupees a-year.
The Bulrampoor Rajah, Ramdut Pandee, the banker, and Rajah Bukhtawar Sing, rode with me this morning. The Rajah of Bulrampoor is an intelligent and pleasing young man. He was a child when Mr. Ravenscroft was killed, but said he had heard, that the Bhinga chief had suffered for the share which he had had in the murder; his body swelled, and he died within a month or two. "If men's bodies swelled for murder, my friend," I said, "we should have no end of swelled bodies in Oude, and among the rest, that of Prethee Put's, of Paska." "Their bodies all swell, sooner, or later," said old Bukhtawar Sing, "when they commit such atrocious crimes, and Prethee Puts will begin to swell when he finds that you are inquiring into his." "I am afraid, my friends, that the propensity to commit them has become inveterate. One man hears that another has obtained lands or wealth by the murder of his father or brother, and does not rest till he has attempted to get the same by the murder of his, for he sees no man punished for such crimes." "It is not all nor many of our clan" (Rajpoots), said the Rajah of Bulrampoor, "that can or will do this: we never unite our sons or daughters in marriage with the family of one who is so stained with crimes. Prethee Put and all who do as he has done, must seek an union with families of inferior caste." I asked him whether the people, in the Tarae forest, were still afraid to point out tigers to sportsmen. "I was lately out with a party after a tiger," he said, "which had killed a cowherd, but his companions refused to point out any trace of him, saying, that their relatives' spirit must be now riding upon his head, to guide him from all danger, and we should have no chance of shooting him. We did shoot him, however," said the Rajah, exultingly, "and they were all, afterwards, very glad of it. The tigers in the Tarae do not often kill men, sir, for they find plenty of deer and cattle to eat."—"Can you tell me, Rajah Sahib," said I, "why it is that among the Arabs, the lion is called 'the father of cultivation,' 'abol hurs, or abo haris.'" "No," replied the Rajah; "it is an odd name for a beast that feeds on nothing but the flesh of deer, cattle, and men." "It is, I suppose, Rajah Sahib," I remarked, "because he feeds upon the deer, which are the greatest enemies of their young crops."
The Rajahs of Toolseepoor and Bulrampoor, and all the merchants and respectable landholders in these parts assure me, that all the large colonies of Bhuduks, or gang robbers by hereditary profession, who had, for so many generations, up to A.D. 1840, been located in the Oude Terae forest, have entirely disappeared under the operation of the "Special Police," of the Thuggee and Dacoitee Department, aided and supported by the Oude Government; and that not one family of them can now be found anywhere in Oude. They have not been driven out as formerly, to return as soon as the temporary pressure ceased, but hunted down and punished, or made to blend with the rest of society in service or at honest labour.
December 16, 1849.—Nawabgunge, eight miles, over a plain of the same good soil, but not much better cultivated. The people tell me, that garden tillage is now almost unknown in these districts; first, because kachies or gardeners (here called moraes) having been robbed, ruined, and driven into exile by Rughbur Sing, cannot be induced to return to and reside in places, where they would have so little chance of reaping the fruits of their labour; and, secondly, because there are no people left who can afford to purchase their garden produce. They tell me also, that the best classes of ordinary cultivators, the Koormies and Lodhees, have been almost all driven out of the district from the same cause. The facts are manifest— there are no gardeners, and but few Koormies and Lodhees left; and there is, in consequence, little good tillage of any kind, and still less of garden cultivation.
The Rajah of Bulrampoor and Ramdut Pandee, the banker, rode with me, and related the popular tradition regarding the head of the Kulhuns family of Rajpoots, Achul Sing, who, about a century and a quarter ago, reigned over the district intervening between Gonda and Wuzeer Gunge, and resided at his capital of Koorassa. The Rajah had a dispute with one of his landholders, whom he could not get into his power. He requested Rutun Pandee, the banker, to mediate a reconciliation, and invite the landholder to an amicable adjustment of accounts, on a pledge of personal security. The banker consented, but made the Rajah swear by the River Sarjoo, which flowed near the town, that he should be received with courtesy, and escorted back safely. The landholder relied on the banker's pledge and came; but the Rajah no sooner got him into his power, than he caused him to be put to death. The banker could not consent to live under the dishonour of a violated pledge; and, abstaining from food, died in twenty-one days, invoking the vengeance of the River Sarjoo, on the head of the perfidious Prince. In his last hours the banker was visited by one of the Rajah's wives, who was then pregnant, and implored him to desist from his purpose in mercy to the child in her womb; but she was told by the dying man, that he could not consent to survive the dishonour brought upon him by her perjured husband; and that she had better quit the place and save herself and child, since the incensed river Sarjoo would certainly not spare any one who remained with the Rajah. She did so. The banker died, and his death was followed by a sudden rise of the river and tempest. The town was submerged, and the Rajah with all who remained with him perished. The ruins of the old town are said to be occasionally still visible, though at a great depth under the water in the old bed of the Sarjoo, which forms a fine lake, near the present village of Koorassa, midway between Gonda and Wuzeer Gunge.
The pregnant wife fled, and gave birth to a son, whose descendant is now the head of the Kulhuns Rajpoots, and the Rajah of Bahmanee Paer, a district on the eastern border of Oude towards Goruckpoor. But, it is a remarkable fact, that the male descendants have been all blind from their birth, or, at least, the reigning portion of them, and the present Rajah is said to have two blind sons. This is popularly considered to be one of the effects of the Rajah's violated pledge to the banker. A handmaid of the Rajah, Achul Sing, is said to have fled at the same time, and given birth to a son, from whom are descended the Kulhuns tallookdars of the Chehdwara, or Gowaris district, already noticed. The descendants of Rutun Pandee are said still to hold rent-free lands, under Achul Sing's descendant, in Bahmanee Paer; and the Pandee is worshipped throughout the districts as a saint or martyr. He has a shrine in every village, at which offerings are made on all occasions of marriage, and blessings invoked for the bride and bridegroom, from the spirit of one who set so much value on his plighted faith while on earth. The two branches of the Kulhuns family above mentioned, propitiate the spirit of the deceased Pandee by offerings; but there is a branch of the same family at Mohlee, in the Goruckpoor district, who do not. Though Hindoos, they adopt some Mussulman customs, and make offerings to the old Mussulman saint, at Bahraetch, in order to counteract the influence of the Pandee's spirit.
Such popular traditions, arising from singular coincidences of circumstances, have often a salutary effect on society, and seem to be created by its wants and wishes; but rivers have, of late years, become so much less prompt in the vindication of their honour, that little reliance is placed, upon the oaths taken in their names by the Prince, his officers or his landowners in Oude.
Nawabgunge, Munkapoor, and Bahmanee transferred to the British Government, with the other lands, under the treaty of 1801; and retransferred to Oude, by the treaty of the 11th of May 1816, in exchange for Handeea, alias Kewae, a slip of land extending along the left bank of the Ganges, between Allahabad and Benares.
Rent Roll. Kankur. Govt. demand
Nawabgunge, Wuzeergunge,.} l,08,000 32,000 76,000 Mahadewa . . . . .}
Munkapoor . . . . . 40,000 12,000 28,000 Bahmanee Paer . . . . 12,000 3,000 9,000
The landholders and cultivators complain sadly of the change of sovereigns; and the tillage and population have greatly diminished under the Oude Government since 1816, but more especially, since the monster, Rughbur Sing got the government. Here Ramdut Pandee, the Rajah of Bulrampoor, and the Nazim of the district, have taken leave of me, this being my last stage in their district. Ramdut Pandee holds two estates in this district, for which he pays an annual revenue to Government of 1,66,744 13 3.* He holds, at the same time, a small estate in our district of Goruckpoor, where he resides and keeps his family, till he obtains solemn written pledges, confirmed on oath, for their security, not only from the local authority of the day, but from all the commandants of corps and establishments, comprising the military force employed under him. These pledges include all his clients, who may have occasion to visit or travel with him, as the Rajah of Bulrampoor is now doing. These pledges require to be renewed on every change in the local authorities and in the military officers employed under them. He is one of the most substantial and respectable of the agricultural capitalists of Oude, and the highest of his rank and class in this district. He every year stands security for the punctual payment of the revenues due, according to existing engagements, by the principal landholders of the district, to the extent of from six to eight lacs of rupees; and for this he gets a certain per centage, varying with the character and capability of the landholders. Some are of doubtful ability, others of doubtful character, and he rates his risks and per centage accordingly. He does much good, and is more generally esteemed than any other man in the district; but he has, no doubt, enlarged his own landed possessions occasionally, by taking advantage of the necessities of his clients, and his influence over the local authorities of government The lands he does get, however, he improves by protecting and aiding his tenants, and inviting and fostering a better class of cultivators, He is looked up to with respect and confidence by almost all the large landholders of the district, for his pledge for the punctual payment of the revenues saves their estates from the terrible effects of a visit from the Nazim and his disorderly and licentious troops; and this pledge they can always obtain, when necessary, by a fair assurance of adherence to their engagements.
[* The estate of Ramdut Pandee, for this year, 1849, comprises— Sirgha, Chunda, &c. . . . 1,20,729 11 0 Akberpoor, &c. . . . . . 46,015 2 3 Total . . 1,66,744 13 3 ]
On the 8th of November 1850, Ramdut Pandee lent the Nazim eighty thousand rupees on his bond, after paying all that was due to the State for the season, by him and all his clients, and on the 16th of that month he went to Gonda, where the Nazim, Mahommed Hussan, was encamped with his force, to take leave preparatory to his going to bathe at Ajoodheea, on the last day of the month of Kartick, as was his invariable custom. He was accompanied by the Rajah of Bulrampoor, and they encamped separately in two mango-groves near to each other, and about a mile and a half from the Nazim's camp. About nine at night the Nazim sent two messengers, with silver sticks, to invite and escort them to his tent. They set out immediately, leaving all their armed followers in their camps, and taking only a few personal attendants and palankeen bearers. No person is permitted to take arms into the Nazim's tent; nor does any landholder or merchant of Oude enter his tent without the pledges for personal security above mentioned. Ramdut Pandee and the Rajah entered with only a few personal servants, leaving all their other attendants outside the outer curtain. This curtain surrounded the tent at a distance of only a few yards from it, and the tent was pitched in the centre. They were received with all due ceremony, and in the same friendly manner as usual. The Rajah had no business to talk about, while the Nazim and banker had; and, after a short conversation, he took leave to return to his tents and break his fast, which he had kept that day for some religious purpose. He left in the tent the Nazim, his deputy, Jafir Allee, and his nephew and son-in-law, Allee Hoseyn, sitting together on the carpet, on the right, all armed, and Ramdut sitting unarmed, on the left, with a Brahmin lad, Jowahir, standing at the door, with the banker's paundan and a handkerchief. Kurunjoo, a second person, with the banker's shoes, and a third attendant of his standing outside the tent door.
The Nazim and Ramdut talked for some time together, seemingly on the most friendly and cordial terms; but the Nazim, at last, asked him for a further loan of money, and further securities for landholders of doubtful character, before he went to bathe. The banker told him, that he could lend him no more money till he came back from bathing, as he had lent him eighty thousand rupees only eight days before; and, that he could not increase his pledges of security without further consultation with the landholders, as he had not yet recovered more than four out of the seven lacs of rupees which he had been obliged to advance to the Treasury, on the securities given for them during the last year. He then took leave and rose to depart. The Nazim turned and made some sign to his deputy, Jafir Allee, who rose, presented his gun and shot Ramdut through the right side close under the arm-pit. Exclaiming "Ram! Ram!"—God! God!—the banker fell; and the Nazim, seizing and drawing the sword which lay on the carpet before him, cut the falling banker across the forehead. His nephew and deputy drew theirs; and together they inflicted no less than twenty-two cuts upon the body of Ramdut.
The banker's three attendants, seeing their master thus shot down and hacked to pieces, called out for help; but one of the three ruffians cut Jowahir, the Brahmin lad, across the shoulder, with his sword, and all ran off and sought shelter across the border in the British territory. The Nazim and his attendants then buried the body hastily near the tent, and ordered the troops and artillery to advance towards and fire into the two camps. They did so, and the Bulrampoor Rajah had only just reached his tents when the shot came pouring in upon them from the Nazim's guns. He galloped off as fast as he could towards the British border, about twenty miles distant, attended only by a few mounted followers, some of whom he sent off to Bulrampoor, to bring his family as fast as possible across the border to him. The rest he ordered to follow him. His followers and those of the murdered banker fled before the Nazim's forces, which had been concentrated for this atrocious purpose, and both their camps were plundered. Before the Rajah fled, however, the murdered banker's son- in-law, who had been left in the camp, ran to him with a small casket, containing Ramdut's seals, the bond for the eighty thousand rupees, and the written pledges given by the Nazim and commanding officers of corps, for the banker's and the Rajah's personal security. He mounted him upon one of his horses, and took both him and the casket off to the British territory.
It was now about midnight, and the Nazim took his forces to the towns and villages upon the banker's estate, in which his family and relatives resided, and in which he kept the greater part of his moveable property. He sacked and plundered them all without regard to the connection or relationship of the inhabitants with the murdered banker. The property taken from the inhabitants of these towns and villages is estimated at from ten to twelve lacs of rupees. As many as could escape fled for shelter across the border, into the British territory. The banker's brother, Kishen Dutt, who resided in the British territory, came over, collected all he could of his brother's followers, attacked the Amil's forces, killed and wounded some forty or fifty of his men, and captured two of his guns. The body of the banker was discovered two days after, and disinterred by his family and friends, who counted the twenty-two wounds that had been inflicted upon it by the three assassins, and had it burned with due ceremonies.
The Nazim's agent at Court, on the 18th of November, submitted to the minister his master's report of this affair, in which it was stated, that the banker was a defaulter on account of his own estate, and those of the other landholders for whom he had given security—that he, the Nazim, had earnestly urged him to some adjustment of his accounts, but all in vain—that the banker had disregarded all his demands and remonstrances, and had with him five hundred armed followers, one of whom had fired his pistol at him, the Nazim, and killed one of his men—that they had all then joined in an attack upon the Nazim and his men, and that, in defending themselves, they had killed the banker. On the 19th, another report, dated the 16th, reached the minister from the Nazim's camp, stating, that the banker had come to his tent at ten at night, with his armed followers, and had an interview [with] him—that as the banker rose to depart, the Nazim told him that he must not go without some settlement of his accounts; and a dispute followed, in which the banker was killed, and two of the Nazim's followers were severely wounded-that so great was the confusion that the Durbar news-reporters could not approach to get information.
On the 20th, a third report reached the minister, stating, that the Rajah of Bulrampoor had come with the banker to visit the Nazim, but had taken leave and departed before the collision took place—that the Nazim urged the necessity of an immediate settlement of accounts, but the banker refused to make any, grossly abused the Nazim, and, at last, presented his pistol and fired at him; and thereby wounded two of his people—that he was, in consequence, killed by the Nazim's people, who joined the banker's own people in the plunder of his camp.
On receiving this last report, the minister, by order of his Majesty, presented to the agent of the Nazim a dress of honour of fourteen pieces, such as is given to the highest officers for the most important services; and ordered him to send it to his master, to mark the sense his sovereign entertained of his gallant conduct and valuable services, in crushing so great a rebel and oppressor, and to assure him of a long-continued tenure of office.
By the interposition of the British Resident and the aid of the magistrate of Goruckpoor, Mr. Chester, the real truth was elicited, the Nazim was dismissed from office, and committed for trial, before the highest judicial Court at Lucknow. He at first ran off to Goruckpoor, taking with him, besides his own, two elephants belonging to the Rajah of Gonda, with property on them to the value of fifty thousand rupees, which he overtook in his flight. The Rajah had sent off these elephants with his valuables, on hearing of the assassination of the banker, thinking that the Nazim would secure impunity for this murder, as Hakeem Mehndee had for that of Amur Sing, and be tempted to extend his operations. Finding the district of Goruckpoor unsafe, the Nazim came back and surrendered himself at Lucknow. Jafir Allee was afterwards seized in Lucknow. There is, however, no chance of either being punished, since many influential persons about the Court have shared in the booty, and become accessaries interested in their escape. Moreover, the Nazim is a Mahommedan, a Syud, and a Sheeah. No Sheeah could be sentenced to death, for the murder, even of a Soonnee, at Lucknow, much less for that of a Hindoo. If a Hindoo murders a Hindoo, and consents to become a Mussulman, he cannot be so sentenced; and if he consents to become so after sentence has been passed, it cannot be carried into execution. Such is the law, and such the every-day practice.
The elephants were recovered and restored through the interposition of the Resident, but none of the property of the Rajah or the banker has been recovered. May 18, 1851.—The family of the banker has obtained a renewal of the lease of their, two estates, on agreeing to pay an increase of forty thousand rupees a-year.
Sirgha Chunda . . . . 1,20,729 11 0 Increase . . . . 30,000 0 0 ___ 1,50,729 11 0
Akberpoor . . . . . 46,015 2 3 Increase. . . . . 10,000 0 0 ___ 56,015 2 3 ___ Total annual demand . . . . . . . 2,06,744 13 3 ___
They bold the Nazim's bond for the eighty thousand rupees, borrowed only eight days before his murder.
December 17, 1849.—Five miles to the left bank of the Ghagra, whence crossed over to Fyzabad, on platformed boats, prepared for the purpose by the Oude authorities. Our tents are in one of the large mango-groves, which are numerous on the right bank of the river, but scanty on the opposite bank. From the time we crossed this river at Byram-ghaut on the 5th, till we recrossed it this morning, we were moving in the jurisdiction of the Nazim of the Gonda and Bahraetch district. After recrossing the Ghagra we came within that of the Nazim of Sultanpoor, Aga Allee, who was appointed to it this year, not as a contractor, but manager, under the Durbar. The districts under contractors are called ijara, or farmed districts; those under the management of non-contracting servants of Government are called amanee, or districts under the amanut, or trust of Government officers. The morning was fine, the sky clear, and the ground covered with hoar frost. It was, pleasing to see so large a camp, passing without noise, inconvenience, or disorder of any kind in so large a river.
The platformed boats were numerous, and so were the pier-heads prepared on both sides, for the convenience of embarking and landing. Carriages, horses, palankeens, camels and troops, all passed without the slightest difficulty. The elephants were preparing to cross, some in boats and some by swimming, as might seem to them best. Some refuse to swim, and others to enter boats, and some refuse to do either; but the fault is generally with their drivers. On the present occasion, two or three remained behind, one plunged into the stream from his boat, in the middle of the river, with his driver on his back, and both disappeared for a time, but neither was hurt. Those that remained on the left bank, got tired of their solitude, and were at last coaxed over, either in boats or in the water.
The Sarjoo rejoins the Ghagra a little above Fyzabad, and the united stream takes the old name of the Sarjoo. This is the name the river bears, till it emerges from the Tarae forest, when the large body takes that of the Ghagra, and the small stream, which it throws off, or which perhaps flows in the old bed, retains that of the Sarjoo. The large branch absorbs the Kooreeala, Chouka, and other small streams, on its way to rejoin the smaller. Some distance below Fyzabad, the river takes the name of Dewa; and uniting, afterwards, with the Gunduck, flows into the Ganges. Fyzabad is three miles above Ajoodheea, on the same bank of the river. It was founded by the first rulers of the reigning family, and called for some time Bungalow, from a bungalow which they built on the verge of the stream. Asuf-od Dowlah disliked living near his mother, after he came to the throne, and he settled at Lucknow, then a small village on the right bank of the Goomtee river. This village, in the course of eighty years, grown into a city, containing nearly a million of souls. Fyzabad has declined almost in the same proportion.
The Nazim has six regiments, and part of a seventh, on duty under him, making, nominally, six thousand fighting men, but that he cannot, he tells me, muster two thousand; and out of the two thousand, not five hundred would, he says be ready to fight on emergency. All the commandants of corps reside at Court, knowing nothing whatever of their duties, and never seeing their regiments. They are mere children, or Court favourites, worse than children. He has, nominally, forty-two guns, of various calibre; but he, with great difficulty, collected bullocks enough to draw the three small guns he brought with him from Sultanpoor, to salute the Resident, on his entering his district. I looked at them in the evening. They were seventy-four in number, but none of them were in a serviceable condition, and the greater part were small, merely skin and bone. He was obliged to purchase powder in the bazaar for the salutes; and said, that when he entered his charge two months ago, the usual salute of seven guns, for himself, could not be fired for want of powder, and he was obliged to send to the bazaar to purchase what was required. The bazaar-powder used by the Oude troops is about one- third of the strength of the powder used by our troops. His authority is despised by all the tallookdars of the district, many of whom refuse to pay any rent, defy the Government, and plunder the country, as all their rents are insufficient to pay the armed bands which they keep up. All his numerous applications to Court, for more and better troops and establishments, are disregarded, and he is helpless. He cannot collect the revenue, or coerce the refractory landholders and robbers, who prey upon the country.*
[* The Nazim for 1850-51, got both Captain Magness's and Captain Banbury's regiments.]
He says that the two companies and two guns, which were sent out at the Resident's urgent recommendation, to take possession of Shahgunge, and prevent the two brothers, Maun Sing and Rughbur Sing, from disturbing the peace of the country, in their contests with each other, joined Maun Sing, as partisan; to oppose his brother; and that Maun Sing has taken for himself all the bynamah lands, from which his brother, Rughbur Sing, has been ousted, under the favour of the minister. He tells me also, that Beebee Sogura, the lady who holds the estate of Muneearpoor, and pays fifty thousand rupees a-year to the Government, was seized by Wajid Allee, his predecessor, before he made over charge of the district to him, and made over to a body of troops, on condition, that she should enter into engagement to pay to them the ten months' arrears of pay due to them, out of the rents of the ensuing year; and that they should give him receipts for the full amount of these arrears of pay at once, to be forwarded to the Durbar, that he might get credit for the amount in his accounts for last year—that she has paid them fifteen thousand rupees, but can collect no more from her tenants, as the crops are all being cut or destroyed by the troops, and she is in close confinement, and treated with cruel indignity. The rent-roll of her estate is, it is said, equal to one hundred thousand rupees a year.
This was a common practice among governors of districts at the close of last year; and thus they got credit, on account, for large sums, pretended to have been paid out of the revenues of last year; but, in reality, to be paid out of the revenues of the ensuing year. But the collections are left to be made by the troops, for whose arrears of pay the revenue has been assigned, and they generally destroy or extort double what they are entitled to from their unhappy debtors. This practice of assigning revenues due, or to be due, by landholders, for the arrears of pay due to the troops, is the source of much evil; and is had recourse to only when contractors and other collectors of revenue are unable to enforce payment in any other way; or require to make it appear that they have collected more than they really have; and to saddle the revenue of the ensuing year with the burthens properly incident upon those of the past. The commandant of the troops commonly takes possession of the lands, upon the rents, or revenues, of which the payments have been assigned, and appropriates the whole produce to himself and his soldiers, without regard to the rights of landholders, farmers, cultivators, capitalists, or any other class of persons, who may have invested their capital and labour in the lands, or depend upon the crops for their subsistence. The troops, too, are rendered unfit for service by such arrangements, since all their time is taken up in the more congenial duty of looking after the estate, till they have desolated it. The officers and soldiers are converted into manorial under-stewards of the worst possible description. They are available for no other duty till they have paid themselves all that may have been due or may become due to them during the time of their stay, and credit to Government but a small portion of what they exact from the landholders and cultivators, or consume or destroy as food, fodder, and fuel.
This system, injurious alike to the sovereign, the troops, and the people, is becoming every season more and more common in Oude; and must, in a few years, embrace nearly the whole of the land-revenue of the country. It is denominated kubz, or contract, and is of two kinds, the "lakulame kubz," or pledge to collect and pay a certain sum, for which the estate is held to be liable; and "wuslee kubz," or pledge to pay to the collector or troops the precise sum which the commandant may be able to collect from the estate put under him. In the first, the commandant who takes the kubz must pay to the Government collector or the troops the full sum for which the estate is held to be liable, whether he be able to collect it or not, and his kubz is valid at the Treasury, as so much money paid to the troops. In the second, it is valid only as a pledge, to collect as much as he can, and to pay what he collects to the Government collector, or the troops he commands. The collector, however, commonly understands that he has shifted off the burthen of payment to the troops—to the extent of the sum named—from his own shoulders to those of the commandant of the troops; and the troops understand, that unless they collect this sum they will never get it, or be obliged to screw it out of their commandant; and they go to the work con amore. If they can't collect it from the sale of all the crops of the season, they seize and sell all the stock and property of all kinds to be found on the estate; and if this will not suffice, they will not scruple to seize and sell the women and children. The collector, whose tenure of office seldom extends beyond the season, cares little as to the mode as long as he gets the money, and feels quite sure that the sovereign and his Court will care just as little, and ask no questions, should the troops sell every living thing to be found on the estate.
The history, for the last few years, of the estate of Muneearpoor, involves that of the estate of Kupragow and Seheepoor, held by the family of the late Hurpaul Sing, and may be interesting as illustrative of the state of society in Oude. Hurpaul Sing's family is shown in the accompanying note.*
[* Purotee Sing had two sons, Gunga Persaud and Nihal Sing. Gunga Persaud had one son, Seosewak, who had three sons, Seoumber Sing, Hobdar Sing, and Hurpaul Sing. Seoumber Sing had one son, Ramsurroop Sing, the present head of the family, who holds the fort and estate of Kupradehee. Hobdar Sing had one son, who died young. Hurpaul Sing died young, Nihal Sing had no son, but left a widow, who holds his share of one-half of the estate, and resides at Seheepoor.]
In the year A.D. 1821, after the death of Purotee Sing, his second son, Nihal Sing, held one-half of the estate, and resided in Seheepoor, and the family of his eldest son, Gunga Persaud, held the other half, and resided in Kupragow. The whole paid a revenue to Government of between six and seven hundred rupees a-year, and yielded a rent-roll of something more than double that sum. The neighbouring estate of Muneearpoor, yielding a rent-roll of about three hundred and fifty thousand rupees a-year, was held by Roshun Zuman Khan, in whose family it had been for many generations. He had an only brother, Busawan Khan, who died, leaving a widow, Bussoo, and a daughter, the Beebee, or Lady, Sogura. Roshun Zuman Khan also died, leaving a widow Rahamanee, who succeeded to the estate, but soon died, and left it to the Lady Sogura and her mother. They made Nihal Sing, Gurgbunsee, of Seheepoor, manager of their affairs. From the time that he entered upon the management, Nihil Sing began to increase the number of his followers from his own clan, the Gurgbunsies; and, having now become powerful enough, he turned out his mistress, and took possession of her estate, in collusion with the local authorities.
Rajah Dursun Sing, who then, 1836, held the contract for the district, wished to take advantage of the occasion, to seize upon the estate for himself, and a quarrel, in consequence, took place between him and Nihal Sing. Unable, as a public servant of the State, to lead his own troops against him, Dursun Sing instigated Baboo Bureear Sing, of Bhetee, a powerful tallookdar, to attack Nihal Sing at night, with all the armed followers he could muster, and, in the fight, Nihal Sing was killed. Hurpaul Sing, his nephew, applied for aid to the Durbar, and Seodeen Sing was sent, with a considerable force, to aid him against Bureear Sing. When they were ready for the attack, Dursun Sing sent a reinforcement of troops, secretly, to Bureear Sing, which so frightened Seodeen Sing, that he retired from the conflict.
The Gurgbunsee family had, however, by this time added a great part of the Muneearpoor estate to their own, and many other estates belonging to their weaker neighbours; and, by the plunder of villages, and robbery on the highways, become very powerful. Dursun Sing was superseded in the contract, in 1837, by the widow of Hadee Allee Khan; and Hurpaul recovered possession of the Muneearpoor estate, which he still held in the name of the Lady Sogura. In 1843, she managed to get the estate transferred from the jurisdiction of the contractor for Sultanpoor, to that of the Hozoor Tehseel, and held it till 1845, when Maun Sing, who had succeeded to the contract for the district, on the death of his father, Dursun Sing, in 1844, managed through his uncle, Bukhtawar Sing, to get the estate restored to his jurisdiction. Knowing that his object was to absorb her estate, as he and his father had done so many others, she went off to Lucknow to seek protection; but Maun Sing seized upon all her nankar and seer lands, and put the estate under the management of his own officers. The Lady Sogura, unable to get any one to plead her cause at Court, in opposition to the powerful influence, of Bukhtawur Sing, returned to Muneearpoor. Maun Sing, after he had collected the greater part of the revenue for 1846, made over the estate to Hurpaul and Seoumber Sing, who put the lady into confinement, and plundered her of all she had left.