While Dursun Sing, and his brother, Bukhtawar, held the contract of Salone, the estate was put under management, and yielded one hundred and seventy-four thousand rupees a-year, out of which they allowed a deduction, on account of nankar, or subsistence, of some twenty thousand. The Rajah and Bukhtawar Sing urge that this was, for the most part, paid out of the property left by Byree Saul, to whom Himmut Sing succeeded; and that the estate can now be made to yield only one hundred and sixteen thousand, from which is to be deducted a nankar of forty thousand. They offer him a deduction of this forty thousand, out of a rent-roll rated at one hundred and thirty thousand; and threaten him with the vengeance of his Majesty if he refuses. He looks at their military force and smiles. The agents of all the tallookdars, who are in attendance on the Nazim, do the same. They know that they are strong, and see that the Government is weak, and they cease to respect its rights and orders. They see at the same time that the Government and its officers regard less the rights than the strength of the landholders; and, from fear, favour the strong while they oppress and crush the weak.*
[* Rajah Hunmunt Sing afterwards brought the contractor to consent to take the same rate as had been paid to his predecessor; but he was obliged to pay above six thousand rupees in gratuities.]
January 3, 1850.—Gorbuksh Gunge, alias Onae, fourteen miles. The soil of the country over which we came is chiefly a light doomuteea; but there is a good deal of what they call bhoor, or soil in which sand superabounds. The greater part belongs to the estate of Benee Madho, and is admirably cultivated, and covered with a great variety of crops. The country is better peopled than any other part that we have seen since we recrossed the Goomtee. We passed through several villages, the people of which seemed very happy. But their habitations had the same wretched appearance—naked mud walls, with invisible mud coverings. The people told me that they could not venture to use thatched or tiled roofs, for the King's troops, on duty with the local authorities, always took them away, when they had any. They were, they said, well secured from all other enemies by their landlord. Bhopaul Sing, acting commandant of Sobha Sing's Regiment, riding with me, said,-"Nothing can be more true than what the people tell you, sir; but the Koomukee Regiments, of which mine is one, have tents provided for them, which none of the Nujeeb and other corps have, and in consequence, these corps never take the choppers of the peasantry for their accommodations. The peasantry, however, always suffer more or less even from the Koomukee corps, sir, for they have to forage for straw, wood, fuel, bhoosa, &c., like the rest, and to take it wherever they can find it. When we have occasion to attack, or lay siege to a stronghold, all the roofs, doors, and windows of the people are, of course, taken to form scaling-ladders, batteries, &c.; and it is lamentable, sir, to see the desolation created around, after even a very short siege."
Rajah Hunmunt Sing and Benee Madho were riding with me, and when we had passed through a large crowd of seemingly happy peasantry in one village, I asked Benee Madho (whose tenants they were), whether they would all have to follow his fortunes if he happened to take up arms against the Government.
"Assuredly," said he, "they would all be bound in honour to follow me, or to desert their lands at least."
"And if they did not, I suppose you would deem it a point of honour to plunder them?"
"That he assuredly would," said Rajah Hunmunt Sing; "and make them the first victims."
"And if any of them fell fighting on his side, would he think it a point of honour to-provide for their families?"
"That we all do," said he; "they are always provided for, and taken the greatest possible care of."
"And if any one is killed in fighting for the King?"
They did not reply to this question, but the adjutant, Bhopaul Sing, said,—"his family would be left to shift for themselves,—no one asks a question about them."
"This," observed Rajah Bukhtawar Sing, "is one of the great sources of the evil that exists in Oude. How can men be expected to expose their lives when they know that no care will be taken of their families if they are killed or disabled?"
It is the rule to give a disabled man one month's pay and dismiss him; and to give the family of any one killed in the service two months' pay. But, though the King is charged for this, it is seldom that the wounded man, or the family of the killed, get any portion of it. On the contrary, the arrears of pay due-which are at all times great—are never paid to the disabled sipahee, or the family of the sipahee killed. If issued from the Treasury, they are appropriated by the commandants and their friends at Court; and the arms and accoutrements, which the deceased has purchased with his own money, are commonly sold for the benefit of the State or its officers.
They mentioned, that the family of the person who planted a mango- tree, or grove, continued to hold it as their exclusive property in perpetuity; but, that the person who held the mhowa trees, was commonly expected to pay to the landlord, where there was one, and to the Government officers, where there was not, a duty amounting to from four annas to two rupees a-year for each tree, according to its fruitfulness—that the proprietor often sold the fruit of one tree for twenty rupees the season. The fruit of one mango-tree has, indeed, often been sold for a hundred rupees the season, where the mangoes are of a quality much esteemed, and numerous. The groves and fine solitary trees, on the lands we have to-day passed through, are more numerous than usual; and the country being undulating and well cultivated, the scenery is beautiful; but, as everywhere else, it is devoid of all architectural beauty in works of ornament or utility— not even a comfortable habitation is anywhere to be seen. The great landholders live at a distance from the road, and in forts or strongholds. These are generally surrounded by fences of living bamboos, which are carefully kept up as the best possible defence against attacks. The forts are all of mud, and when the walls are exposed to view they look ugly. The houses of the peasants in the villages are, for the most part, covered with mud, from which the water is carried off, by tubes of wood or baked clay, about two feet long. There are parapets around the roof a foot or two high, so that it cannot be seen, and a village appears to be a mass of dead mud walls, which have been robbed of their thatched or tiled roofs. Most of the tubes used for carrying off the water from the roofs, are the simple branches of the palm-tree, without their leaves.
Among the peasantry we saw a great many sipahees, from our Native Infantry Regiments, who have come home on furlough to their families. From the estate of Rajah Hunmunt Sing, in the Banoda district, there are one thousand sipahees in our service. From that of Benee Madho, in the Byswara district, there are still more. They told us that they and their families were very happy, and they seemed to be so; but Hunmunt Sing said, they were a privileged class, who gave much trouble and annoyance, and were often the terror of their non- privileged neighbours and co-sharers in the land. Benee Madho, as I have stated above, sometimes makes use of his wealth, power, and influence, to rob his weaker neighbours of their estates. The lands on which we are encamped he got two years ago from their proprietor, Futteh Bahader, by foreclosing a mortgage, in which he and others had involved him. The gunge or bazaar, close to our tents, was established by Gorbuksh, the uncle of Futteh Bahader, and became a thriving emporium under his fostering care; but it has gone to utter ruin under his nephew, and heir, and the mortgagee. The lands around, however, could never have been better cultivated than they are; nor the cultivators better protected or encouraged. It rained slightly before sunset yesterday, and heavily between three and four this morning; but not so as to prevent our marching.
This morning, a male elephant belonging to Benee Madho killed one of his attendants near to our camp. He had three attendants, the driver and two subordinates. The driver remained in camp, while the two attendants took the elephant to a field of sugar-cane, to bring home a supply of the cane for his fodder for the day. A third subordinate had gone on to cut the cane and bind it into bundles. One of the two was on the neck of the elephant, and another walking by the side, holding one of the elephant's teeth in his left hand all the way to the field, and he seemed very quiet. The third attendant brought the bundles, and the second handed them up to the first on the back to be stowed away. When they had got up about a dozen, the elephant made a rush at the third attendant, who was bringing the bundles, threw him to the ground with his foot, knelt down upon him, and crushed him to death with his front. The second attendant ran off as soon as he saw the elephant make a rush at the third; and the first fell off under the bundles of sugar-cane, as soon as the elephant knelt down to crush the third to death. When the elephant rose from the poor man, he did not molest, or manifest any wish to molest either of the other two, but stood still, watching the dead body. The first, seeing this, ventured to walk up to him, to take him by the ear and ask him what he meant. At first he seemed surly, and shoved the man off, and he became alarmed, and retired a few paces; but seeing the elephant show no further signs of anger, he again walked up, and took him by the ear familiarly. Had he ran or shown any signs of fear, the elephant would, he thought, have killed him also, for he had killed three men in the service of his former proprietor, and was now in his annual fit of madness, or must. Holding the elephant by the ear, he led him to the first tree, and placed himself on the opposite side to see whether the animal had become quite sober. Seeing that he had, he again approached, and put upon his two forelegs the chain fetters, which they always have with them, suspended to some part of the body of elephants in this state. He could not venture to command the elephant to kneel down in the usual way, that he might get upon his neck; and, ascending the tree, he let himself down from one of the branches upon his back, where he sat. He then made the animal walk on in fetters, towards camp, and on the way, met the mahout, or driver, to whom the second attendant had reported the accident. The driver came up, and, after the usual volume of abuse on the elephant, his mother, father, and sundry female relations, he ordered the attendant to make him sit down that he might get on his neck. He did so in fear and trembling, and the driver got on his neck, while the attendant sat on his back, and the elephant took them to Benee Madho's village, close to my camp, where he was fastened in chains to a tree, to remain for some months on reduced allowances, till he should get over his madness. The body of the poor man was burnt with the usual ceremonies, and the first attendant told me, that his family would be provided for by Benee Madho, as a matter of course.
I asked him how he or any other person could be found to attend a beast of that kind? Pointing to his stomach, he said—"We poor people are obliged to risk our lives for this, in all manner of ways; to attend elephants has been always my profession, and there is no other open to me; and we make up our minds to do whatever our duties require from us, and trust to Providence." He told me that when the elephant shoved him off, he thought that in his anger he might have forgotten him, and called out as loud as he could,—"What, have you forgotten a service of six years, and do you intend to kill the man who has fed you so long?" That the beast seemed to recollect his voice and services, and became, at once, quiet and docile—"that had he not so called out, and reminded the animal of his long services, he thought he should have been killed; that the driver came, armed with a spear, and showed himself more angry than afraid, as the safest plan in such cases."
Dangerous as the calling of the elephant-driver is, that of the snake-keepers, in the King's service, seems still greater. He has two or three very expert men of this kind, whose duty it is to bring him the snakes, when disposed to look at them, and see the effects of their poison on animals. They handle the most venomous, with apparently as much carelessness as other men handle fighting-cocks or quail. When bitten, as they sometimes are, they instantly cut into the part, and suck out the poison, or get their companions to suck it out when they can't reach the part with their own mouths. But they depend chiefly upon their wonderful dexterity in warding off the stoops or blows of the snakes, as they twist them round their necks and limbs with seeming carelessness. While they are doing so, the eye of the spectator can hardily detect the stoops of the one and the guards of the other. After playing in this way with the most venomous snakes, they apply them to the animals. Elephants have died from their bites in a few hours—smaller animals sooner. I have never, myself, seen the experiments, but any one may see them at the palace. Elephants and the larger animals are too expensive to be often experimented on.
January 4, 1850.—Halted at the village of Onae, alias Gorbuksh Gunge. It lost the name of Onae, after the proprietor, Gorbuksh, who had built the Gunge, and made it a great emporium of trade in corn, cotton cloth, &c.; but is recovering it again, now that the Gunge has become a ruin, and the family of the builder has been dispossessed of the lands. I rode out in the morning to look at the neighbouring village of Doolarae-ka Gurhee, or the fort of Doolarae, and have some talk with the peasantry, who are Bys Rajpoots, of one of the most ancient Rajpoot families in Oude. They told me,—"That their tribe was composed of two great families, Nyhussas and Synbunsies—that the acknowledged head of the Synbunsies was, at present, Rugonath Sing, of Kojurgow, and that Hindpaul, tallookdar of Korree Sudowlee, was the head of the Nyhussas; that Baboo Rambuksh, tallookdar of Dhondeea Kheera, had the title of Row, and Dirg Bijee Sing, tallookdar of Morarmow, that of Rajah—that is, he was the acknowledged Rajah of the clan, and Baboo Rambuksh, the Row, an inferior grade—that these families had been always fighting with each other, for the possession of each others lands, from the time their ancestors came into Oude, a thousand years ago, except when they were united in resistance against the common enemy, the governor or ruler of the country—that one family got weak by the subdivision of the lands, among many sons or brothers, or by extravagance, or misfortune, while another became powerful, by keeping the lands undivided, and by parsimony and prudence; and the strong increased their possessions by seizing upon the lands of the weak, by violence, fraud or collusion with the local authorities—that the same thing had been going on among them for a thousand years, with some brief intervals, during which the rulers of Oude managed, by oppression, to unite them all against themselves, or by prudence, to keep them all to their respective rights and duties— that Doolarae, who gave his name to the village, by building the fort, was of the Nyhussa family, and left two sons, and only two villages, Gurhee and Agoree, out of a very large estate, the rest having been lost in the contests with the other families of the tribe—that these two had become minutely subdivided among their descendants: and Bhugwan Das, Synbunsee of Simree, four years ago, seized upon the Gurhee, in collusion with the local authorities; that Thakoor Buksh Nyhussa, talookdar of Rahwa seized upon Agoree in the same way that the local authorities designedly assessed these villages at a higher rate than they could be made to pay, and then, for a bribe, transferred them to the powerful tallookdars, on account of default."
Gorbuksh Sing, Synbunsee, died some twenty years ago, leaving an estate, reduced from a greater number to ninety-three villages. His nephew, Futteh Bahader, a child, was adopted by his widow, who continued to manage the whole till she died, four years after. The heir was still a boy; and Rugonath Sing, of Kojurgow, the head of the Synbunsee family, took advantage of his youth, seized upon the whole ninety-three villages, and turned him out to beg subsistence among his relatives. In this he, Rugonath Sing, was, as usual, acting in collusion with the local authorities of the Government. He continued to possess the estate for ten years, but to reside in his fort of Hajeepoor. Koelee Sing, a Guhlote, by caste, and a zumeendar of Bheeturgow, and its eight dependent villages, which formed part of the estate of Futteh Bahader, went to Court at Lucknow, and represented, that Rugonath Sing had no right whatever to the lands he held, and the Court had better make them over to him and the other zumeendars, if they did not like to restore them to their rightful heir. Bheeturgow and its dependent eight villages, were made over to him; and ten sipahees, from Captain Hyder Hearsey's Regiment, were sent to establish and support him in possession. Rugonath attacked them, killed two of the sipahees, and drove out Koelee Sing. He repaired to Court; and Mahomed Khan was sent out, as Special Commissioner, with orders to punish Rugonath Sing. He and Captain Hearsey attacked him in his fort of Hajeepoor, drove him out, and restored Futteh Bahader, to twenty-four villages; and re-established Koelee Sing, in Bheeturgow, and the eight villages dependent upon it. Futteh Bahader was poor, and was obliged to tender the security of Benee Madho, the wealthy tallookdar of this place, for the punctual payment of the revenue. The year before last, when a balance of revenue became due, he, the deputy, in collusion with Gholam Allee, seized upon all the twenty-four villages.
Futteh Bahader went to seek redress at Lucknow, but had no money to pay his way at Court, while Benee Madho had abundance, and used it freely, to secure the possession of so fine an addition to his estate. Futteh Bahader, as his last resource, got his uncle, Bustee Sing, of the 3rd Cavalry, whom he called his father,* to present a petition for redress to the Resident, in April 1849. Gholam Allee was ordered to release Futteh Bahader, whom Benee Madho had confined, and send him to Lucknow. The order was not obeyed, and it was repeated in December without effect; but his uncle's agent, Gorbuksh, was diligent at the Residency, and the case was made over for investigation and decision to the Ameen, Mahomed Hyat. Finding Futteh Bahader still in confinement, with sundry members of his family, when I came here yesterday, I ordered him to be made over to the King's wakeel, in attendance upon me, to be sent to the Court, to prosecute his claim, and produce proofs of his right. Of his right there can be no question, and the property of which he was robbed, in taking possession, and the rents since received, if duly accounted for, would more than cover any balance due by Futteh Bahader. When he gave the security of Benee Madho, for the payment of the revenue, he gave, at the same time, what is called the Jumog of his villages to him; that is, bound his tenants to pay to him their rents at the rate they were pledged to pay to him; and the question pending is, simply, what is fairly due to Benee Madho, over and above what he may have collected from them. Benee Madho had before, by the usual process of violence, fraud, and collusion, taken eighteen of the ninety-three villages, and got one for a servant; and all the rest had, by the same process, got into the possession of others; and Futteh Bahader had not an acre left when his uncle interposed his good offices with the Resident.** The dogs of the village of Doolarae-kee Gurhee followed us towards camp, and were troublesome to the horses and my elephant. I asked the principal zumeendar why they were kept. He said they amused the children of the village, who took them out after the hares, and by their aid and that of the sticks with which they armed themselves, they got a good many; that all they got for food was the last mouthful of every man's dinner, which no man was sordid enough to grudge them—that when they wished to describe a very sordid man, they said—"he would not even throw his last mouthful (koura) to a dog!"
[* He called Bustee Sing his father, as sipahees can seek redress through the Resident, for wrongs suffered by no others than their mothers, fathers, their children, and themselves.]
[** A punchaet was assembled at Lucknow, to decide the suit between Benee Madho and Futteh Bahader, at the instance of the Resident: and they awarded to Benee Madho a balance due on account of thirty thousand rupees, which Futteh Bahader has to pay before he can recover possession of his estate.]
January 5, 1851.—Halted at Onae, in consequence of continued rain, which incommodes us, but delights the landholders and cultivators, whose crops will greatly benefit by it. The halting of so large a camp inconveniences them, however, much more than us; for they are called upon to supply us with wood, grass, and straw, for which they receive little or no payment; for the Kings people will not let us pay for these things, and pay too little themselves. Those who attend us do not plunder along the road; but the followers of the local authorities, who attend us, through their respective jurisdictions, do so; and sundry fields of fine carrots and other vegetables disappear, as under a flight of locusts along the road. The camp- followers assist them, and as our train extends from the ground we leave to that to which we are going, for twelve or fourteen miles, it is impossible, altogether, to prevent such injuries from so undisciplined a band. The people, however, say, they suffer much less than they would from one-fourth of the number under a contractor marching without an European superior, and I give compensation in flagrant cases. Captain Weston acts as our Provost Marshal. He leaves the ground an hour or two after I do, and seizes and severely punishes any one found trespassing.
In my ride this morning I found that Nyhussa and Synbunsee are two villages distant about ten miles from our camp, to the south-east— that all the Byses, who give the name of Byswara to this large district, are called Tilokchundees, from Tilokchund, the founder of the family in Oude. He had two sons, Hurhur Deo and Prethee Chund. Hurhur Deo had two sons, one of whom, Kurun Rae, established himself in Nyhussa, and the other, Khem Kurun, in Synbunsee. Their descendants have taken their titles from their respective villages. Prethee Chund's descendants established themselves in other parts, and the descendants of both bear the appellation of Tilokchundee Byses. The Rajahs and Rows are of the same family, and are so called from their ancestors having, at some time, had the title of Rajah and Row conferred upon them.
Rajah Seodursun Sing, of Simrotee, who resides in the village of Chundapoor upon his estate, four miles east of Bulla, has been with me for the last five days. He is a strong man, and has been refractory occasionally; but at present he pays his revenue punctually, and keeps his estate in good order. He rendered good service yesterday in the way in which all of his class might, by good management, be made to aid the government of Oude. A ruffian, by name Mohiboollah, who had been a trooper in the King of Oude's service, contrived to get the lease of the estate of Bulla, which is about twenty miles north-east from our camp; and turning out all the old landholders and cultivators, he there raised a gang of robbers, to plunder his neighbours and travellers. He had been only two months in possession, when he attacked the house of an old invalid subadar- major of the Honourable Company's service, (fifty-seventh Native Infantry,) on the 21st of December, 1849, robbed him of all he had, and confined him and all his family, till he promised, under good security, to pay, within twenty days, a ransom of one thousand two hundred rupees more. He had demanded a good deal more, but hearing that the Resident's camp was approaching, he consented to take this sum four days ago, and released all his prisoners. The subadar presented a petition to me, and, after taking the depositions of the old zumeendars and other witnesses, I requested the king's wakeel, to send off a company of Soubha Sing's Regiment, to arrest him and his gang.
They went off from Rae Bareilly on the night of the 1st instant; but, finding that the subadar-major and his family had been released the day before, and that the village was full of armed men, ready to resist, they returned on the evening of the 2nd. On the 3rd, the whole regiment, with its artillery, and three hundred auxiliaries, under Rajah Seodursun Sing, left my camp, at Onae, at midnight, and before daylight surrounded the village. There were about one hundred and fifty armed men in it; and, after a little bravado, they all surrendered, and were brought to me. Mohiboollah had, however, gone off, on the pretence of collecting his rents, two days before; but his father and brother were among the prisoners. All who were recognised as having been engaged in the robbery, were sent off prisoners to Lucknow, and the rest were disarmed and released.
Among those detained were some notorious robbers, and the gang would soon have become very formidable but for the accident of my passing near. He had got the lease of the estate through the influence of Akber-od Dowlah, one of the Court favourites, for the sole purpose of converting it into a den of robbers; and, the better to secure this object, he had got it transferred from the jurisdiction of the Nazim to the Hozoor Tehseel, over the manager of which the Court favourite had paramount influence. He was to share with his client the fruits of his depredations, and, in return, to secure him impunity for his crimes. Many of his retainers were among the prisoners brought in to me, having been present at the distribution of the large booty acquired from the old subadar, some thirty or forty thousand rupees. The subadar had resided upon the estate of Seodursun Sing; but having, seven years ago complained through the Resident of over- exactions for the small patch of land he held, and got back the grain which had been attacked for the rent, he was obliged to give it up and reside in the hamlet he afterwards occupied near Bulla, whose zumeendars assured him of protection.* He had a large family, and a great deal of property in money and other valuables concealed under ground. Mohiboollah first seized and sent off the subadar, and then had ramrods made red-hot and applied to the bodies of the children till the females gave him all their ornaments, and pointed out to him all the hidden treasures: they were then all taken to Bulla and confined till the subadar had pledged himself to pay the ransom demanded.
[* The greater part of this property is understood to have been confided, in trust, to the old subadar, by some other minion of the Court, and the chief object of the gang was to get hold of it; as their patron, Akber-od Dowlah, had become aware that his fellow- minion had intrusted his wealth to the old subadar, after he had taken up his residence near Bulla. The estate was made over, in farm, to Benee Madho, as the best man to cope with Mohiboollah, should he return and form a new gang.]
I requested the King to take the estate from this ruffian and restore it to its old proprietors, whose family had held it for several centuries, or bestow it in lease to some other strong and deserving person.
The Tilokchundee Byses take the daughters of other Rajpoots, who are a shade lower in caste, in marriage for their sons, but do not give their daughters in marriage to them in return. They have a singular notion that no snake ever has destroyed or ever can destroy one of the family, and seem to take no precautions against its bite. If bitten by a snake they do not attempt any remedy, nor could Benee Madho recollect any instance of a Tilokchundee Bysee having died from a bite. He tells me that some families in every Rajpoot tribe in Oude destroy their female infants to avoid the cost of marrying them, though the King prohibited infanticide and suttee in the year 1833. That infanticide does still prevail among almost all the Rajpoot tribes in Oude is unquestionable.
January 6, 1850.—Yesterday evening we moved to Omrowa West, [Transcriber's note: this appears to be a misspelling for Morowa West] a distance of twelve miles, over a plain of bad oosur soil, scantily cultivated near the road. To the left and right of the road, at a little distance, there are some fine villages, thickly peopled, and situated in fine and well-cultivated soil. The country is well wooded, except in the worst parts of the soil, where trees do not thrive. We saw a great deal of sugar-cane in the distance and a few pawn-gardens. The population of the villages came to the high road to see us pass; and among them were a great many native officers and sipahees of our Regiments, who are at their homes on furlough, Government having given a very large portion of the native army the indulgence of furlough during the present cold season. They all seemed happy; but, to my discomfort, a vast number take advantage of this furlough and my movements to urge their claims against the Government, its officers, and subjects. Nothing can be more wretched than the appearance of the buildings in which the people of all grades live in these villages—mud walls without any appearance of coverings, and doors and windows worse than I have seen in any other part of India. Better would not be safe against the King's troops, and these would certainly not be safe against a slight storm; a good shower and a smart breeze would level the whole of the villages with the ground in a few hours. "But," said the people, "the mud would remain, and we could soon raise up the houses again without the aid of masons, carpenters, or blacksmiths." It is enough that they are used to them.
Morowa is a large town, well situated and surrounded with groves of the finest trees in great variety; and, to the surprise of the officers with me, they saw a respectable house of burnt brick. It belongs to the most substantial banker and agricultural capitalist in these parts, Chundun Lal. These capitalists and their families are, generally, more safe than others, as their aid is necessary to the Government and its officers, and no less so to the landholders, cultivators, and people of all classes. Their wealth consists in their credit in different parts of India; and he who has most of it may have little at his house to tempt the robber, while the Government officers stand generally too much in daily need of his services and mediation to molest him. A pledge made by these officers to landholders and cultivators, or to these officers by such persons, is seldom considered safe or binding till the respectable banker or capitalist has ratified it by his mediation, to which all refer with confidence.
He understands the characters and means of all, and will not venture to ratify any pledge till he is assured of both the disposition and ability of the party to fulfil it. Chundun Lal is one of the most respectable of this class in Oude. He resides at this place, Morowa, but has a good landed estate in our territories, and banking establishments at Cawnpoor and many other of our large stations. He is a very sensible, well-informed man, but not altogether free from the ailing of his class—a disposition to abuse the confidence of the Government officers; and, in collusion with them, to augment his possessions in land at the cost of his weaker neighbours.
I am told here that the Tilokchund Byses, when bitten by a snake, do sometimes condescend to apply a remedy. They have a vessel full of water suspended above the head of the sufferer, with a small tube at the bottom, from which water is poured gently on the head as long as he can bear it. The vent is then stopped till the patient is equal to bear more; and this is repeated four or five times till the sufferer recovers. I have not yet heard of any one dying under the operation, or from the bite of a snake. I find no one that has ever heard of a member of this family dying of the bite of a snake. One of the Rajahs of this family, who called on me to-day, declared that no member of his family had ever been known to die of such a bite, and he could account for it only "from their being descended from Salbahun, the rival and conqueror of Bickermajeet, of Ojein."
This Salbahun* is said to have been a lineal descendant of the sake- god! He told me that the females of this family could never wear cotton cloth of any colour but plain white; that when they could not afford to wear silk or satin they never wore anything but the piece of white cotton cloth which formed, in one, the waistband, petticoat, and mantle, or robe (the dhootee and loongree), without hemming or needlework of any kind whatever. Those who can afford to wear silk or satin wear the petticoat and robe, or mantle of that material, and of any colour. On their ankles they can wear nothing but silver, and above the ankles, nothing but gold; and if not, nothing, not even silver, except on the feet and ankles. No Hindoo of respectability, however high or wealthy, can wear anything more valuable than silver below the waist. The Tilokchundee Byses can never condescend to hold the plough; and if obliged to serve, they enlist in the army or other public establishments of the Oude or other States.
[* Salbahun must have been one of the leaders of the Scythian armies, who conquered India in the reign of Vickramadittea.]
The late governor of this district, Hamid Allee Khan, is now, as I have already stated, in prison, as a great defaulter, at Lucknow. He was a weak and inexperienced man, and guided entirely by his deputies, Nourooz Allee and Gholam Allee. Calamities of season and other causes prevented his collecting one-quarter of the revenue which he had engaged in his contract to pay. Gholam Allee persuaded the officers commanding regiments under him to pledge themselves for the personal security of some of the tallookdars whom he invited in to discuss the claims of Government, and their ability to meet them. Four of them came—Hindooput, of Sudowlee, who called on me this morning; Rugonath Sing, of Khojurgow; Rajah Dirg Bijee Sing, of Morarmow; and Bhoop Sing, of Pahor. They were all seized and put into confinement as soon as they appeared, by the officers who had pledged themselves for their personal safety; and Gholam Allee went off to Lucknow to boast of his prowess in seizing them. There he was called upon to pay the balance due, and seeing no disposition to listen to any excuse on the ground of calamity of season, he determined to escape across the Ganges. He wrote to Hamid Allee to suggest that he should do the same, and meet him at Horha, on the bank of the Ganges, on a certain night.
Hamid Allee sent his family across the Ganges, and prepared to meet Gholam Allee at the appointed place; but the commandants of corps, who suspected his intentions, and had not received from him any pay for their regiments for many months, seized him, and sent him a prisoner to Lucknow. Gholam Allee, however, effected his escape across the Ganges, and is now at Delhi. The story of his having run away with three lacs of Hamid Allee's money is represented here as a fiction, as the escape had been concerted between them, and they had sent across the Ganges all that they could send with that view. This may or may not be the real state of the case. Hamid Allee, as I have above stated, married a daughter of Fuzl Allee. Fuzl Allee's aunt, Fyz-on Nissa, had been a great favourite with the Padshad Begum, the wife of the King, Ghazee-od Deen, and adoptive mother of his successor, Nuseer-od Deen Hyder, who ascended the throne in 1827. She had been banished from Oude by Ghazee-od Deen, but on his death she returned secretly to Lucknow; and, in December of that year, her nephew, Fuzl Allee, who had been banished with her, returned also, and on the 31st of that month he was appointed prime minister, in succession to Aga Meer. Hakeem Mehndee had been invited from Futtehghur to fill the office, and had come so far as Cawnpoor, when Fyz-on Nissa carried the day with the Queen Dowager, and he was ordered back. In November, 1828, the King, at his mother's request, gave him the sum of 21,85,722 1 11, the residue of the principal of the pension of Shums-od Dowlah, the King's uncle, who had died. The whole principal amounted to 33,33,333 5 4, but part had been appropriated as a fund to provide for some members of the King's family.
In February, 1829, Fuzl Allee resigned the office of prime minister, and was protected by the Government of India, on the recommendation of the Resident, and saved, from the necessity of refunding to the State any of the wealth (some thirty-five lacs of rupees) which he had acquired during his brief period of office. This was all left to his three daughters and their husbands on his death, which took place soon after. He was succeeded in office by Hakeem Mehndee. Shums-od Dowlah's pension of 16,666 10 6 a-month, was paid out of the interest, at 6 per cent., of the loan of one crore, eight lacs, and fifty thousand rupees, obtained from the sovereign of Oude (Ghazee-od Deen Hyder, who succeeded his father on the 11th of July, 1814,) by Lord Hastings, in October, 1814, for the Nepaul war. All the interest (six lacs and fifty-one thousand) was, in the same manner, distributed in stipends to different members of the family, and the principal has been paid back as the incumbents have died off. Some few still survive.*
[* The ground, on the north-west side of Morowa, would be good for a cantonment, as the soil is sandy, and the plain well drained. Water must lie during the rains on all the other sides, and the soil has more clay in it.]
January 7, 1850.—To Mirree, twelve miles, over a plain of light doomuteea soil, sufficiently cultivated, and well studded with trees. We passed Runjeet-ka Poorwa half-way—once a large and populous town, but now a small one. The fog was, however, too thick to admit of my seeing it. From this place to Lucknow, thirty miles, Seetlah Buksh, a deputy of Almas Allee Khan's, planted an avenue of the finest kind of trees. We had to pass through a mile of it, and the trees are in the highest perfection, and complete on both sides. I am told that there are, however, many considerable intervals in which they have been destroyed. The trees must have been planted about sixty years ago.
I may here remark that no native gentleman from Lucknow, save such as hold office in districts, and are surrounded by troops, can with safety reside in the country. He would be either suspected and destroyed by the great landholders around him, or suspected and ruined by the Court. Under a better system of government, a great many of these native gentlemen, who enjoy hereditary incomes, under the guarantee of the British Government, would build houses in distant districts, take lands, and reside on them with their families, wholly or occasionally, and Oude [would] soon be covered with handsome gentlemen's seats, at once ornamental and useful. They would tend to give useful employment to the people, and become bonds of union between the governing and the governed. Under such an improved system, our guarantees would be of immense advantage to the whole country of Oude, in diffusing wealth, protection, education, intelligence, good feeling, and useful and ornamental, works. At present, these guarantees are not so. They have concentrated at the capital all who subsist upon them, and surrounded the Sovereign and his Court with an overgrown aristocracy, which tends to alienate him more and more from his people. The people derive no benefit from, and have no feeling or interest in common with, this city aristocracy, which tends more and more to hide their Sovereign from their view, and to render him less and less sensible of his duties and high responsibilities; and what would be a blessing under a good, becomes an evil under a bad system, such as that which has prevailed since those guarantees began.
In this overgrown city there is a perpetual turmoil of processions, illuminations, and festivities. The Sovereign spends all that he can get in them, and has not the slightest wish to perpetuate his name by the construction of any useful or ornamental work beyond its suburbs. All the members of his family and of the city aristocracy follow his example, and spend their means in the same way. Indifferent to the feelings and opinions of the landed aristocracy and people of the country, with whom they have no sympathy, they spend all that they can spare for the public in gratifying the vitiated tastes of the overgrown metropolis. Hardly any work calculated to benefit or gratify the people of the country is formed or thought of by the members of the royal family or aristocracy of Lucknow; and the only one formed by the Sovereign for many years is, I believe, the metalled road leading from Lucknow to Cawnpoor, on the Ganges.
One good these guarantees certainly have effected—they have tended greatly to inspire the people of the city with respect for the British Government, by whom the incomes of so large and influential a portion of the community and their dependents are secured. That respect extends to its public officers and to Europeans generally; and in the most crowded streets of Lucknow they are received with deference, courtesy, and kindness, while in those of Hydrabad, their lives, I believe, are never safe without an escort from the Resident.
The people of the country respect the British Government, its officers, and Europeans generally, from other causes. Though the Resident has not been able to secure any very substantial or permanent reform in the administration, still he has often interposed with effect, in individual cases, to relieve suffering and secure redress for grievous wrongs. The people of the country see that he never interposes, except for such purposes, and their only regret is that he interposes so seldom, and that his efforts, when he does so, should be so often frustrated or disregarded. In the remotest village or jungle in Oude, as in the most crowded streets of the capital, an European gentleman is sure to be treated with affectionate respect; and the humblest European is as sure to receive protection and kindness, unless be forfeits all claim to it by his misconduct.
The more sober-minded Mahommedans of Lucknow and elsewhere are much scandalized at the habit which has grown up among them, in the cities of India, of commemorating every event, whether of sadness or of joy, by brilliant illuminations and splendid processions, to amuse the idle populations of such cities. It is, they say, a reprehensible departure from the spirit of their creed, and from the simple tastes of the early Mahommedans, who laid out their superfluities in the construction of great and durable works of ornament and utility. Certainly no event can be more sorrowful among Mahommedans than that which is commemorated in the mohurrum by illuminations and processions with the Tazeeas; and yet no illuminations are more brilliant, and no processions more noisy, costly, and splendid. It is worthy of remark, that Hindoo princes in Central and Southern India, even of the Brahmin caste, commemorate this event in the same way; and in no part of India are these illuminations and processions more brilliant and costly. Their object is solely to amuse the population of their capitals, and to gratify the Mahommedan women whom they have under their protection, and their children, who must all be Mahommedans.
Nawabgunge, midway between Cawnpoor and Lucknow—Oosur soils how produced—Visit from the prime minister—Rambuksh, of Dhodeeakhera— Hunmunt Sing, of Dharoopoor—Agricultural capitalists. Sipahees and native offices of our army—Their furlough, and petitions— Requirements of Oude to secure good government. The King's reserved treasury—Charity distributed through the Mojtahid, or chief justice—Infanticide—Loan of elephants, horses, and draft bullocks by Oude to Lord Lake in 1804—Clothing for the troops—The Akbery regiment—Its clothing, &c.,—Trespasses of a great man's camp in Oude—Russoolabad and Sufeepoor districts—Buksh Allee, the dome— Budreenath, the contractor for Sufeepoor—Meeangunge—Division of the Oude Territory in 1801, in equal shares between Oude and the British Governments—Almas Allee Khan—His good government—The passes of Oude—Thieves by hereditary profession, and village watchmen— Rapacity of the King's troops—Total absence of all sympathy between the governing and governed—Measures necessary to render the Oude troops efficient and less mischievous to the people—Sheikh Hushmut Allee, of Sundeela.
January 8, 1850.—Nawabgunge, eleven miles over a plain, the soil of which, near the road, is generally very poor oosur. No fruit or ornamental trees, few shrubs, and very little grass. Here and there, however, even near the road, may be seen a small patch of land, from which a crop of rice has been taken this season; and the country is well cultivated all along, up to within half a mile of the road, on both tides [sides]. Nawabgunge is situated on the new metalled road, fifty miles long, between Lucknow and Cawnpoor, and about midway between the two places.* It was built by the late minister, Nawab Ameen-od Dowlah, while in office, for the accommodation of travellers, and is named after him. It is kept up at his expense for the same purpose now that he has descended to private life. There is a small house for the accommodation of European gentlemen and ladies, as well as a double range of buildings, between which the road passes, for ordinary travellers, and for shopkeepers to supply them.
[* The term Gunge, signifies a range of buildings at a place of traffic, for the accommodation of merchants, and all persons engaged in the purchase and sale of goods and for that of their goods and of the shopkeepers who supply them.]
Some people told me, that even the worst of this oosur soil might be made to produce fair crops under good tillage; while others denied the possibility, though all were farmers or landholders. All, however, agreed that any but the worst might be made so by good tillage—that is, by flooding the land by means of artificial embankments, for two or three rainy seasons, and then cross- ploughing, manuring, and irrigating it well. All say that the soil hereabouts is liable to become oosur, if left fallow and neglected for a few years. The oosur, certainly, seems to prevail most near the high roads, where the peasantry have been most exposed to the rapacity of the King's troops; and this tends to confirm the notion that tillage is necessary in certain soils to check the tendency of the carbonates or nitrates, or their alkaline bases, to superabundance. The abundance of the chloride of sodium in the soil, from which the superabounding carbonates of soda are formed, seems to indicate, unequivocally, that the bed from which they are brought to the surface by capillary attraction must at some time have been covered by salt water.
The soil of Scind, which was at one time covered by the sea, seems to suffer still more generally from the same superabundance of the carbonates of soda, formed from the chlorides of sodium, and brought to the surface in the same manner. But in Scind the evil is greater and more general from the smaller quantity of rain that falls. Egypt would, no doubt, suffer still more from the same cause, inasmuch as it has still less rain than Scind, but for the annual overflowing of the Nile. The greater part of the deserts which now disfigure the face of the globe in hot climates arise chiefly from the same causes, and they may become covered by tillage and population as man becomes wiser, more social, and more humane.
January 9, 1850.—Halted at Nawabgunge. A vast deal of grain of all sorts has for the last two years passed from Cawnpoor to Lucknow for sale. The usual current of grain is from the northern and eastern districts of Oude towards Cawnpoor; but for these two years it has been from Cawnpoor to these districts. This is owing to two bad seasons in Oude generally, and much oppression in the northern and eastern districts, in particular, and the advantage which the navigation of the Ganges affords to the towns on its banks on such occasions. The metalled road from Cawnpoor to Lucknow is covered almost with carts and vehicles of all kinds. Guards have been established upon it for the protection of travellers, and life and property are now secure upon it, which they had not been for many years up to the latter end of 1849. This road has lately been completed under the superintendence of Lient. G. Sim of the engineers, and cost above two lacs of rupees.
The minister came out with a very large cortege yesterday to see and talk with me, and is to stay here to-day. I met him this morning on his way out to shoot in the lake; and it was amusing to see his enormous train contrasted with my small one. I told him, to the amusement of all around, that an English gentleman would rather get no air or shooting at all than seek them in such a crowd. The minister was last night to have received the Rajahs and other great landholders, who had come to my camp, but they told me this morning that they had some of them waited all night in vain for an audience; that the money demanded by his followers, of various sorts and grades, for such a privilege was much more than they could pay; that to see and talk with a prime minister of Oude was one of the most difficult and expensive of things. Rajah Hunmunt Sing, of Dharoopoor, told me that he feared his only alternative now was a very hard one, either to be utterly ruined by the contractor of Salone, or to take to his jungles and strongholds and fight against his Sovereign.*
[* The Rajah was too formidable to be treated lightly, and the Amil was obliged to give in, and consent to take from him what he had paid to his predecessor; but to effect this, the Rajah was, afterwards obliged to go to Lucknow, and pay largely in gratuities.]
Rajah Rambuksh, of Dondhea Kheera, is in the same predicament. He tells me, that a great part of his estate has been taken from him by Chundun Lal, of Morowa, the banker already mentioned, in collusion with the Nazim, Kotab-od Deen, who depends so much on him as the only capitalist in his district; that he is obliged to conciliate him by acquiescing in the spoliation of others; that he has already taken much of his lands by fraud and collusion, and wishes to take the whole in the same way; that this banker now holds lands in the district yielding above two lacs of rupees a-year, can do what he pleases, and is every day aggrandizing himself and family by the ruin of others. There is some truth in what Rambuksh states, though he exaggerates a little the wrong which he himself suffers; and it is lamentable that all power and influence in Oude, of whatever kind or however acquired, should be so sure to be abused, to the prejudice of both sovereign and people. When these great capitalists become landholders, as almost all do, they are apt to do much mischief in the districts where their influence lies, for the Government officers can do little in the collection of the revenue without their aid; and as the collection of revenue is the only part of their duty to which they attach much importance, they are ready to acquiesce in any wrong that they may commit in order to conciliate them. The Nazim of Byswara, Kotab-od Deen, is an old and infirm man, and very much dependent upon Chundun Lal, who, in collusion with him, has certainly deprived many of their hereditary possessions in the usual way in order to aggrandize his own family. He has, at the same time, purchased a great deal of land at auction in the Honourable Company's districts where he has dealings, keeps the greater part of his wealth, and is prepared to locate his family when the danger of retaining any of either in Oude becomes pressing. The risk is always great; but they bind the local authorities, civil and military, by solemn oaths and written pledges, for the security of their own persons and property, and those of their families and clients.
January 10, 1850.—At Nawabgunge, detained by rain, which fell heavily yesterday, with much thunder and lightning, and has continued to fall all night. It is painful and humiliating to pass through this part of Oude, where the families of so many thousands of our sipahees reside, particularly at this time when so large a portion of them are at their homes on furlough. The Punjab war having closed, all the corps engaged in it have this year been sent off to quiet stations in our old provinces, and their places supplied by others which have taken no share in that or any other war of late. As a measure of economy, and with a view to indulge the native officers and sipahees of the corps engaged in that war, Government has this season given a long furlough to all the native army of Bengal. Some three hundred and fifty native officers and sipahees from each regiment are, or are to be, absent on leave this season. This saves to Government a very large sum in the extra allowance which is granted to native officers and sipahees, during their march from one station to another, and in the deductions which are made from the pay and allowances of those who go on furlough. During furlough, subadars receive 52 rupees a- month instead of 67; jemadars 17, instead of 24; havildars 9, instead of 14; naicks 7, instead of 12; and sipahees 5-8, instead of 7.
These native officers and sipahees, with all their gallantry on service and fidelity to their salt, are the most importunate of suitors, and certainly among the most untruthful and unscrupulous in stating the circumstances of their claims, or the grounds of their complaints. They crowd around me morning and evening when I venture outside my tent, and keep me employed all day in reading their petitions. They cannot or will not understand that the Resident is, or ought to be, only the channel through which their claims are sent for adjustment through the Court to the Oude tribunals and local authorities; and that the investigation and decision must, or ought to, rest with them. They expect that he will at once himself investigate and decide their claims, or have them investigated and decided forthwith by the local authorities of the district through which he is passing; and it is in vain to tell them that the "law's delay" is as often and as justly complained of in our own territory as in Oude, whatever may be the state of its uncertainty.
The wrongs of which they complain are of course such as all men of their class in Oude are liable to suffer; but no other men in Oude are so prone to exaggerate the circumstances attending them, to bring forward prominently all that is favourable to their own side, and keep back all that is otherwise, and to conceal the difficulties which must attend the search after the truth, and those still greater which must attend the enforcement of an award when made. Their claims are often upon men who have well-garrisoned forts and large bands of armed followers, who laugh at the King's officers and troops, and could not be coerced into obedience without the aid of a large and well-appointed British force. For the immediate employment of such a force they will not fail to urge the Resident, though they have, to the commanding officer of their company and regiment represented the debtor or offender as a man of no mark, ready to do whatever the Resident or the Oude authorities may be pleased to order. On one occasion no less than thirty lives were lost in attempting to enforce an award in favour of a sipahee of our army.
I have had several visits from my old friend Sheikh Mahboob Allee, the subadar-major, who is mentioned in my Essay on Military Discipline. He is now an invalid pensioner in Oude, and in addition to the lands which his family held before his transfer to the invalids, he has lately acquired possession of a nice village, which he claimed in the usual way through the Resident. He told me that he had possession, but that he found it very difficult to keep cultivators upon it.
"And why is this, my old friend?" I asked. "Cultivators are abundant in Oude, and glad always to till lands on which they are protected and encouraged by moderate rents and a little occasional aid in seed, grain, and stock, and you are now in circumstances to afford them both."
"True, sir," said the old subadar, "but the great refractory landholder, my neighbour, has a large force, and he threatens to bring it down upon me, and my cultivators are afraid that they and their families will all be cut up some dark night if they stay with me."
"But what has your great neighbour to do with your village? Why do you not make friends with him?"
"Make friends with him, sir!" replied the subadar; "the thing is impossible."
"And why, subadar sahib?"
"Sir, it was from him that the village was taken by the orders of the Durbar, through the interposition of the Resident, to be made over to me, and he vows that he will take it back, whatever number of lives it may cost him to do so."
"And how long may he and his family have held it?"
"Only thirty or thirty-five years, sir."
"And neither you nor your family have ever held possession of it for that time?"
"Never, sir; but we always hoped that the favour of the British Government would some day get it for us."
"And in urging your claim to the village, did you ever tell the Resident that you had been so long out of possession?"
"No, sir, we said nothing about time"
"You know, subadar sahib, that in all countries a limit is prescribed in such cases, and at the Residency that limit is six years; and had the Resident known that your claim was of so old a date he would never have interposed in your favour, more especially when his doing so involved the risk of the loss of so many lives, first in obtaining possession for you, and then keeping you in it." Cases of this kind are very numerous.
The estate of Rampoor which we lately passed through belonged to the grandfather of Rajah Hunmunt Sing. His eldest son, Sungram Sing, died without issue, and the estate devolved on his second son, Bhow Sing, the father of Rajah Hunmunt Sing. The third brother separated from the family stock during the life of his father, and got, as his share, Sursae, Kuttra Bulleepoor, and other villages. He had five sons: first, Lokee Sing; second, Dirguj Sing; third, Hul Sing; fourth, Dill Sing; and fifth, Bul Sing, and the estate was, on his death, subdivided among them. Kuttra Bulleepoor devolved on Lokee Sing, the eldest, who died without issue; and the village was subdivided among his four brothers or their descendants. But Davey Buksh, the grandson, by adoption of the second brother, Dirguj Sing, unknown to the others, assigned, in lieu of a debt, the whole village to a Brahmin named Bhyroo Tewaree, who forthwith got it transferred to Hozoor Tehseel, through Matadeen, a havildar of the 5th Troop, 7th-Regiment of Cavalry, who, in an application to the Resident, pretended that the estate was his own. It is now beyond the jurisdiction of the local authorities, who could ascertain the truth; and all the rightful co-sharers have been ever since trying in vain to recover their rights. The Bramin [Brahmin] and the Havildar, with Sookhal a trooper in the same regiment, now divide the profits between them, and laugh at the impotent efforts of the old proprietors to get redress. Gholam Jeelanee, a shopkeeper of Lucknow, seeing the profits derived by sipahees, from the abuse of this privilege, purchased a cavalry uniform—jacket, cap, pantaloon, boots, shoes, and sword—and on the pretence of being an invalid trooper of ours, got the signature of the brigadier commanding the troops in Oude to his numerous petitions, which were sent for adjustment to the Durbar through the Resident. He followed this trade profitably for fifteen years. At last he got possession of a landed estate, to which he had no claim of right. Soon after he sent a petition to say that the dispossessed proprietor had killed four of his relations and turned him out. This led to a more strict inquiry, when all came out. In quoting this case to the Resident, in a letter dated the 16th of June 1836, the King of Oude observes: "If a person known to thousands in the city of Lucknow is able, for fifteen years, to carry on such a trade successfully, how much more easy must it be for people in the country, not known to any in the city, to carry it on!"
The Resident communicated to the King of Oude the resolution of the Honourable the Court of Directors to relieve him from the payment of the sixteen lacs of rupees a-year for the auxiliary force; and on the 29th of July 1839, he reported to Government the great gratification which his Majesty had manifested and expressed at this opportune relief. But his gratification at this communication was hardly so great as that which he had manifested on the 14th of December 1837, when told by the Resident that the British Government would not insist upon giving to the subjects of Oude who might enlist into that force the privilege of forwarding complaints about their village affairs and disputes, through their military superiors and the Resident; and it appeared to the Resident, "that this one act of liberality and justice on the part of the British Government had done more to reconcile the King of Oude to the late treaty, in which the Oude auxiliary force had originated, than all that he had said to him during the last three months as to the prospective advantages which that treaty would secure to him and his posterity." The King observed: "This kindness on the part of the British Government has relieved my mind from a load of disagreeable thoughts." The prime minister, Hakeem Mehndee, who was present, replied: "All will now go on smoothly. When the men have to complain to their own Government, they will seldom complain without just cause, being aware that a false story will soon be detected by the native local authorities, though it could not be so by European officers at a distance from the villages; and that in all cases of real grievances their claims will soon be fairly and speedily adjusted. If," added he, "the sipahees of this force had been so placed that they could have enlisted their officers on their side in making complaints, while such officers could know nothing whatever of the circumstances beyond what the sipahees themselves told them, false and groundless complaints would have become endless, and the vexations thereby caused to Government and their neighbours would have become intolerable. These troops," said he, "will now be real soldiers; but if the privileges enjoyed by the Honourable Company's sipahees had been conferred upon the seven regiments composing this force, with the relations and pretended relations of the sipahees, it would have converted into corrupt traders in village disputes sixteen or seventeen thousand of the King's subjects, settled in the heart of the country, privileged to make false accusations of all kinds, and believed by the people to be supported in these falsehoods by the British Government." Both the King and the minister requested the Resident earnestly and repeatedly to express to the Governor-General their most sincere thanks for having complied with his Majesty's solicitations on this point.*
[* See King of Oude's letter to the Governor-General, dated 5th October, 1837, and Residents letters of the 7th idem and 14th December, 1837.]
This privilege which the native officers and sipahees of our native army enjoy of petitioning for redress of grievances, through the Resident, has now been extended to all the regular, irregular, and local corps of the three Presidencies—that is, to all corps paid by the British Government, and to all native officers and sipahees of contingent corps employed in and paid by native States, who were drafted into them from the regular corps of our army up to a certain time; and the number cannot be less than fifty or sixty thousand. But European civil and political functionaries, in our own provinces and other native States, have almost all some men from Oude in their offices or establishments, whose claims and complaints they send for adjustment to the Resident; and it is difficult for him to satisfy them, that he is not bound to take them up in the same manner as he takes up those of the native officers and sipahees of our native army; and he is often induced to yield to their importunity, and thereby to furnish grounds for further applications of the same sort. This privilege is not recognized or named in any treaty, or other engagement with the Sovereign of Oude; nor does any one now know its origin, for it cannot be found in any document recorded in the Resident's office.
If the Resident happens to be an impatient, overbearing man, he will often frighten the Durbar and its Courts, or local officers, into a hasty decision, by which the rights of others are sacrificed for the native officers and sipahees; and if he be at the same time an unscrupulous man, he will sometimes direct that the sipahee shall be put in possession of what he claims in order to relieve himself from his importunity, or that of his commanding officer, without taking the trouble to inform himself of the grounds on which the claim is founded. Of all such errors there are unhappily too many instances recorded in the Resident's office. This privilege is in the hands of the Resident an instrument of torture, which it is his duty to apply every day to the Oude Durbar. He may put on a screw more or a screw less, according to his temper or his views, or the importunity of officers commanding corps or companies, and native officers and sipahees in person, which never cease to oppress him more or less.
The most numerous class of complaints and the most troublesome is that against the Government of Oude or its officers and landholders, for enhanced demands of rents; and whenever these officers or landholders are made to reduce these demands in favour of the privileged sipahees, they invariably distribute the burthen in an increased rate upon their neighbours.
Officers who have to pass through Oude in their travels or sporting excursions have of late years generally complained that they receive less civility from villages in which our invalid or furlough sipahees are located than from any others; and that if they are anywhere treated with actual disrespect, such sipahees are generally found to be either the perpetrators or instigators. This complaint is not, I fear, altogether unfounded; and may arise from the diminished attachment felt by the sipahees for their European officers in our army, and partly from the privilege of urging their claims through the Resident, enjoyed by native officers and sipahees, now ceasing on their being transferred to the invalid establishment.
But the privilege itself is calculated to create feelings of dissatisfaction with their European officers, among the honest and hard-working part of our native army. Such men petition only when they have just cause; and not one in five of them can obtain what they demand, and believe to be their just right, under an administration like that of Oude, whatever efforts the Resident may make to obtain it for them; and where one is satisfied, four become discontented; while the dishonest and idle portion of their brother soldiers, who have no real wrongs to complain of, and feign them only to get leave of absence, throw all the burthen of their duties upon them. Others again, by fraud and collusion with those whose influence they require to urge their claims, often obtain more than they have any right to; and their unmerited success tends to increase the dissatisfaction felt by the honest, and more scrupulous portion of the native officers and sipahees who have failed to obtain anything.
Government will not do away with the privilege without first ascertaining the views and wishes of the military authorities. They are not favourable to the abolition, for though the honest and hard- working sipahees may say that it is of no use to them, the idle and unscrupulous, who consider it as a lottery in which they may sometimes draw a prize, or a means of getting leave of absence when they are not entitled to it, will tell them that the fidelity of the whole native army depends upon its being maintained and extended. I am of opinion, after much consideration, and a good deal of experience in the political working of the system, that the abolition of the privilege would be of great advantage to the native army; and it would certainly relieve the European officers from much importunity and annoyance which they now suffer from its enforcement. It is not uncommon for a sipahee of a regiment in Bombay to obtain leave of absence for several times over for ten months at a time, on the pretence of having a case pending in Oude. When his leave is about to expire, he presents a petition to the Resident, who obtains for him from the Court an order for the local authorities to settle his claim. This order is sent to the officer commanding his regiment. The man then makes up a piteous story of his having spent the whole ten months in prosecuting his claim in vain, when, in reality, he has been enjoying himself at home, and had no claim whatever to settle. The next year, or the year after, he gets another ten months' leave, for the same purpose, and when it is about to expire, he presents himself to the Resident, and declares that the local authorities have been changed, and the new officers pay no regard to the King's orders. New orders are then got for the new officers, and sent to his regiment, and the same game is played over again.
Native officers and sipahees, in the privilege of presenting petitions through the Resident, are now restricted to their own claims and those of their wives, fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters. They cannot petition through the Resident for the redress of wrongs suffered, or pretended to have been suffered, by any other relations. In consequence, it has become a common custom with them to lend or sell their names to more remote relations, or to persons not related to them at all. The petition is made out in their own name, and the real sufferer or pretended sufferer, who is to prosecute the claim, is named as the mookteear or attorney. A great many bad characters have in this way deprived men of lands which their ancestors had held in undisputed right of property for many generations or centuries; for the Court, to save themselves from the importunity of the Residency, has often given orders for the claimant being put in possession of the lands without due inquiry or any inquiry at all. The sipahees are, in consequence, much dreaded by the people among whom they reside; for there really is no class of men from whom it is more difficult to get the truth in any case. They have no fear of punishment, because all charges against them for fraud, falsehood, or violation of the rules laid down by Government have to be submitted either to a court-martial, composed of native officers, or to the Governor-General. Both involve endless trouble, and it would, I fear, be impossible to get a conviction before a court-martial so composed. No Resident will ever submit to a Governor-General the scores of flagrant cases that every month come before him; still less will he worry unoffending and suffering people by causing them to be summoned to give evidence before a military court.
In a recent instance (July 1851), a sipahee in a regiment stationed at Lucknow was charged before a court-martial with three abuses of the privilege. He required no less than seventy-four witnesses to be summoned in his defence. The Court had to wait till what could be got out of the seventy-four appeared, and the man became an object of sympathy, because he was kept so long in arrest. He named the first Assistant to the Resident, who has charge of the Sipahee Petition Department, as a witness; and he was not, in consequence, permitted to attend the Court on the part of the Resident, who preferred the charges, though he was never called or examined by the Court on the part of the defence. The naming him, and the summoning of so many witnesses were mere ruses on the part of the sipahee to escape. No person on the part of the Resident was allowed to attend the Court and see that his witnesses were examined; nor had he any means of knowing whether they were or not. He had reason to believe that the most important were not. The sipahee was of course acquitted, as sipahees charged with such abuses of the privilege always will be. This man's regiment was at Lucknow, and near the place where the cause of action arose, his own village, and the Resident's office. How much more difficult would it be to get a conviction against a sipahee whose regiment happens to be many hundred miles off!
The transfer of their lands from the jurisdiction of the local authorities to that of the Hozoor Tehseel is often the cause of much suffering to their copartners and neighbours. Their co-sharers in the land often find much inconvenience from it, and apprehend that, sooner or later, the influence of the sipahee will enable him to add their shares to his own. The village so transferred, being removed from the observation and responsibility of the local authorities, often becomes a safe refuge for the bad characters of the district, who thence depredate upon the country around with impunity. Claims to villages, to which the claimant had really no right whatever, have been successfully prosecuted by or through sipahees, for the sole purpose of having them transferred to the Hozoor Tehseel, and made dens of thieves and highway robbers. The person in charge of the Hozool Tehseel villages has generally a good deal of influence at Court, and this he lends to such claimants, for a consideration, without fear or scruple, as he feels assured that he shall be able to counteract any representations on the part of the local authorities of the evils suffered from the holders and occupants of such villages. He never pretends to be able to watch over or control the conduct of the holders and occupiers of the villages under his charge, situated, as they mostly are, in remote districts. The transfer of such villages can be justified only in districts that are held in contract, and even in them it might be easy to provide effectually for the protection of the holders from over-exactions on the part of the contractors.
This privilege is attended with infinite difficulty and perplexity to the Resident and Government; and is at the same time exceedingly odious to the people and Government of Oude. Officers commanding regiments and companies have much trouble with such petitions. Able to hear only one side of any question, they think that the evils suffered by the sipahees are much greater and more numerous than they really are, and grant leave to enable them to prosecute their claims to redress more often than is necessary. Men who want leave, when they are not otherwise entitled to it, feign wrongs which they never suffered, or greatly exaggerate such as may really have been inflicted on them in order to obtain it; or, as I have stated, lend their names to others and ask leave to prosecute claims with which they have really nothing whatever to do. The sipahees and native officers of our army are little better with than they would be without the privilege; and a great many enlist or remain in the service solely with the view of better prosecuting their claims, and resign or desert as soon as they have effected their purpose, or find that the privilege is no longer necessary. They make a convenience in this way of our service, and are the most useless soldiers in our ranks. I am persuaded that we should have from Oude just as many and as good recruits for our army without as with this privilege.
The regiments of the Gwalior Contingent get just as good recruits from Oude as those of the Line, though they do not enjoy the privilege. I believe that those corps which did not enjoy the privilege till within the last two years got just as good recruits from Oude as they now do, since it has been extended to them. Till 1848 the privilege was limited to the native officers and soldiers of our regular army, and to such as had been drafted from our regular army into local corps up to a certain date; but in July of that year the privilege was extended to all corps, regular and irregular, attached to the Bengal, Madras, and Bombay Presidencies, which are paid by the British Government. The feelings and opinions of the Oude Government had not been consulted in the origin of this privilege, nor were they now consulted in the extension given to it.
Officers commanding regiments and companies complain that the sipahees and native officers never get redress, whatever trouble they take to obtain it for them; and, I believe, they hardly ever hear a sipahee or native officer acknowledge that he has had redress. A sipahee one day came to the first Assistant, Captain Shakespear, clamouring for justice, and declared that not the slightest notice had been taken of his petition by the Oude Government or its local authorities. On being questioned, he admitted that no less than forty persons had been seized and were in prison on his requisition; but he would not admit that this was any proof of the slightest notice having been taken of his complaint. All are worried, and but few benefited by the privilege, and the advantage of it to the army never can counterbalance all the disadvantages. Invalid pensioners do not now enjoy the privilege, but are left to prefer their claims direct to the King's Courts, like others of the King's subjects, on the ground that they cannot—like sipahees still serving—plead distance from their homes; but a large proportion of the sipahees still serving who have, or pretend to have, claims, obtain leave of absence from their regiments to prosecute them in person.
The objection once raised by Lord William Bentinck against our employing troops in support of the Government of Oude against refractory landholders, is equally valid against our advocacy of the claims of sipahees to lands. "If," said his Lordship, "British troops be lent to enforce submission, it seems impossible to avoid becoming parties to the terms of submission and guarantees of their observance afterwards on both sides; in which case we should become mixed up in every detail of the administration." If the sipahee does not pay punctually the assessment upon the lands which he has obtained through the Resident, the Oude Government calls upon the Resident to enforce payment; and if the Oude Government ventures to add a rupee to the rate demanded for the year, or for any one year, the sipahee, through the commandant of his corps, and, perhaps, the Commander-in- Chief and Governor-General, calls upon the Resident to have the rate reduced, or to explain the grounds upon which it has been made; or if the sipahee has a dispute with his numerous co-sharers, the Resident is called upon to settle it. If the King's troops have trespassed, if the crops have suffered from calamities of season or marauders, or the village has been robbed, the sipahee refuses to pay, and demands a remission of the Government demand; and if he does not get it, appeals in the same manner to the Resident. If a sipahee be arrested or detained for defalcation, a demand comes for his immediate release; and if his crops or stock be distrained for balance, or lands attached, the Resident is called upon to ascertain and explain the reason why, and obtain redress. All such distraint is represented as open robbery and pillage.
It is not at all uncommon for a sipahee to obtain leave of absence from his regiment three or four times to enable him to prosecute the same case in person at Lucknow, though he might prosecute it just as well through an attorney. He often enjoys himself at his home while his attorney prosecutes his claim, if he really has any, at Lucknow. The commanding officers of his regiment and company of course believe all he says regarding the pressing necessity for his presence at Lucknow; and few of them know that the cases are derided in the King's Courts, and that the Resident could not possibly decide them himself if he had five times the establishment he has and full powers to do so. If the Resident finds that a sipahee has lent his name to another, and reports his conduct, he makes out a plausible tale, which his commanding officer believes to be true; the Commander-in- Chief is referred to; the case is submitted to the Governor-General, and sometimes to the Court of Directors, and a voluminous correspondence follows, till the Resident grows weary, and the sipahee escapes with impunity. In the mean time, troops of witnesses have been worried to show that the sipahee has no connection whatever with the estate, or thing claimed in his name, or with the family to whom his name was lent. Many a man has, in this way, as above stated, been robbed of an estate which his family had held for many generations; and many a village which had been occupied by an honest and industrious peasantry has been turned into a den of robbers. In flagrant cases of false claims, the Resident may get the attorney, employed by the sipahee in prosecuting it, punished by the Durbar, but he can rarely hope to get the sipahee himself punished.
In a case that occurred shortly before I took charge, a sipahee complained that a tallookdar had removed him, or his friends, from their village by over exactions, demanding two thousand eight hundred rupees a-year instead of eight hundred. An ameen was sent out to the district to settle the affair. Having some influence at Court, he got the sipahee put into possession, at the rate of eight hundred, and obtained from him a pledge to pay to him, the ameen, a large portion of the two thousand profit! The tallookdar, being a powerful man, made the contractor reduce his demand upon his estate, of which the village was a part, in proportion; and the contractor made the Government give him credit for the whole two thousand eight hundred, which the estate was well able to pay, in any other hands, and ought to have paid. The holder continued, I believe, to pay the ameen, who continued to give him the benefit of his influence at Court. Cases of this kind are not uncommon. The Resident is expected by commandants of corps and companies to secure every native officer and sipahee in the possession of his estate at a fixed rate, in perpetuity; and as many of their relations and friends as may contrive to have their claims presented through the Resident in their names. He is expected to adjust all disputes that may arise between them and their co- sharers and neighbours; or between them and their landholders and Government officers; to examine all their complicated accounts of collections and balances, fair payments, and secret gratuities.
Sipahees commonly enter the service under false names, and give false names to their relatives and places of abodes, in order that they may not be traced if they desert; or that the truth may not be discovered if they pretend to be of higher caste than they really are, or otherwise offend. When they find, in the prosecution of their claims through the Resident, that this is discovered, they find an alias for each name, whether of person, place, or thing: the troubles and perplexities which arise from this privilege are endless.
The Court of Directors, in a despatch dated the 4th March, 1840, remarking on a report dated the 29th November, 1838, from the Resident, Colonel Low, relating to abuses arising from the interference of the Resident in respect to complaints preferred by subjects of Oude serving in our army, observes, "that these abuses appear to be even more flagrant than the Court had previously believed them to be, and no time ought to be lost in applying an effectual remedy: cases are not wanting in which complaints and claims, that are utterly groundless, meet with complete success, the officers of the Oude Government finding it less troublesome to comply with the unjust demand than to investigate the case in such a manner as to satisfy the Resident; and the Oude Government, for the purpose of getting rid of importunity, reduces the assessment on the lands of these favoured individuals, making up the loss by increased exactions from their neighbours." The Court orders the immediate abolition of the privilege in the case of invalided and pensioned sipahees, and directs that those still serving in our army be no longer allowed to complain in respect of all their relatives, real or pretended, but only in cases in which they themselves, their parents, wives, or children are actually interested. "All unfounded complaints, and all false allegations made in order to render complaints cognizable, ought to be, when discovered, punishable by our own military authorities, who ought not to be remiss in inflicting such punishment when justly incurred." "Under the restrictions which we have enjoined," continues the Court, "the trial may once more be made whether this privilege is compatible with good government in Oude, and with the rightful authority of the King of Oude and his officers. Should the abuses which have prevailed still continue under the altered system, the whole subject must be again taken into consideration, and the Resident is to be required to submit a report on the operation of the privilege after the expiration of one year."
How the rule with regard to relationship is evaded has been already stated, and among the numerous instances of this evasion that have been discovered every year since this order of the Honourable Court was passed, the offence has never been punished by any military authority in one. The Resident has no hope, nor the sipahee any fear, that such an offence will ever be punished by a court-martial; and the former feels averse to trespass on the time and attention of the Governor-General and the Commander-in-Chief with such references. He hardly ever submits them till the necessity is forced upon him by references made to the Commander-in-Chief, by officers commanding regiments, in behalf of offenders in whose veracity they are disposed to place too much confidence.
In one of the cases quoted by Colonel Low in his letter of the 29th November, 1838, Reotee Barn, a sipahee, claimed a village, which was awarded to him by the Court, without due inquiry, to avoid further importunity. The owner in possession would not give it up. A large force was sent to enforce the award; lives were lost; the real owner was seized and thrown into gaol, and there died. Reotee Ram had no right whatever to the village, and he could not retain possession among such a sturdy peasantry. His commanding officer again appealed to the Commander-in-Chief, and the case was referred to the Governor- General and to the Honourable the Court of Directors, and a voluminous correspondence took place. It was afterwards fully proved, that the sipahee, Reotee Ram, had never had the slightest ground of claim to the village; and had been induced to set up one solely at the instigation of an interested attorney with whom he was to share the profits.
In another case quoted by Colonel Low in that letter, a pay havildar of the 58th Regiment complained, jointly with his brother Cheyda, through the Commander-in-Chief, to the Governor-General, in June 1831, stating, that Rajah Prethee Put had murdered two of his relations, plundered his house, burnt his title-deeds, cut down five of his mango-groves, seized seventy-three beegahs of land belonging to him, of hereditary right, turned all his family out of the village, including the widows of the two murdered men, and still held in confinement his relative Teekaram, a sipahee of the Bombay army. On investigation before the Assistant Resident, Captain Shakespear, the havildar and Cheyda admitted-first, that Teekaram had rejoined his regiment before they complained; second, that of the two murdered men, one had been killed fifty-five years before, and the other twenty years, and that both had fallen in affrays between landholders, in which many lives had been lost on both sides; third, that he had never himself held the lands, and that his father had been forty years before deprived of them by the father of Cheyda, who had the best claim to them, and had mortgaged them to a Brahmin, from whom Prethee Put had taken them for defalcation; fourth, that it was not his own claim he was urging, but that of Cheyda, who was not his brother, but the great grandson of his grandfather's brother, and that he had never been in the British service; fifth, that the lands had been taken from his father by Cheyda's father fourteen years before he, the havildar, entered the British service twenty-eight years ago; sixth, that his family had lost nothing in the village, by Prethee Put, and that the persons deprived of their mango-groves were only very distantly related to him.
Fuzl Allee, a notorious knave, having, in collusion with the local authorities of the district, taken from Hufeez-ollah the village of Dewa, which had been held by his family in proprietory right for many generations, and tried to extort from him a written resignation of all his rights to the lands, Hufeez-ollah made his escape, and went to Lucknow to seek redress. During his absence his relations tried to recover possession, and in the contest one of Fuzl Allee's followers was killed. Fuzl Allee then prevailed upon Ihsan Allee, a pay havildar in the 9th Regiment of our Cavalry, who was in no way whatever connected with the parties, and had no claim whatever on the lands, to present a petition to the Resident, charging Hufeez-ollah with having committed a gang-robbery upon his house, and murdered one of his servants. Hufeez-ollah was seized and thrown into prison, and the case was made over for trial to Zakir Allee. No proof whatever having been adduced against him for four months, Zakir Allee declared him innocent, and applied for his release; but before his application reached the Durbar, another petition was presented to the Resident, Colonel Richmond, in the name of the pay havildar; and the Durbar ordered that the case should be made over to the Court of Mahommed Hyat, and that the prisoner should not be released without a settlement and the previous sanction of the Durbar, as the affair related to the English.
The prisoner proved that he was at Lucknow at the time of the affray, and that the lands in dispute had belonged to his family for many generations. No proof whatever was produced against him, but by frequently changing the attorneys of the pay havildar, pretending that he required to attend in person but could not get leave of absence, and other devices, Fuzl Allee contrived to postpone the final decision till the 27th of February, 1849, when Mahommed Hyat acquitted the prisoner, and declared that the pay havildar had in reality no connection whatever either with the parties or with the lands; that his name had been used by Fuzl Allee for his own evil purposes; that he had become very uneasy at the thought of keeping an innocent man so long in prison merely to gratify the malice and evil designs of his enemy; and prayed the Durbar to call upon the prosecutor to prove his charges before the Minister or other high officer within a certain period, or to direct the release of the poor man.
On the 16th of January, 1852, the prisoner sent a petition to the Resident, Colonel Sleeman, to say, that after he had been acquitted by Mahommed Hyat on the 27th of February, 1849, his enemy, Fuzl Allee, had contrived to prevail upon the Durbar to have his case made over to the Court of the Suder-os Sudoor, by whom he had been a third time acquitted; but that the Durbar dared not order his release, as the case was one in which British officers were concerned. He therefore prayed that the Resident would request the King to order his release, on his giving security for his appearance when required, as he had been in prison for more than four years. On the 24th of January, 1852, the Resident requested the King to have the prisoner immediately released. This was the first time that the case came to the notice of Colonel Sleeman, though Hufeez-ollah had been four years in prison, under a fictitious charge from the pay havildar.
January 11, 1850.—At Nawabgunge, detained by rain, which fell heavily all last night, to the great delight of the landed interest, and great discomfort of travellers. Nothing but mud around us—our tents wet through, but standing, and the ground inside of them dry. Fortunately there has been no strong wind with the heavy rain, and we console ourselves with the thought that the small inconvenience which travellers suffer from such rain at this season is trifling, compared with the advantage which millions of our fellow-creatures derive from it. This is what I have heard all native travellers say, however humble or however great—all sympathise with the landed interests in a country where industry is limited almost exclusively to the culture of the soil, and the revenue of the sovereign derived almost exclusively from the land. After such rains the cold increases—the spirits rise—the breezes freshen—the crops look strong—the harvest is retarded—the grain gets more sap and becomes perfect—the cold season is prolonged, as the crops remain longer green, and continue to condense the moisture of the surrounding atmosphere. Without such late rain, the crops ripen prematurely, the grain becomes shrivelled, and defective both in quantity and quality. While the rain lasts, however, a large camp is a wretched scene; for few of the men, women, and children, and still fewer of the animals it contains, can find any shelter at all!
January 12, 1850.-At Nawabgunge, still detained by rain. The Minister had ordered out tents for himself and suite on the 8th, but they had not come up, and I was obliged to lend him one of my best, and some others as they came up, or they would have been altogether without shelter. When he left them on the 10th, his attendants cut and took away almost all the ropes, some of the kanats or outer walls, and some of the carpets. He knew nothing about it, nor will he ever learn anything till told by me. His attendants were plundering in all the surrounding villages while he remained; and my people tried in vain to prevent them, lest they should themselves be taken for the plunderers. Of all this the Minister knew nothing. The attendants on the contractors and other local officers are, if possible, still worse; and throughout the country the King's officers all plunder, or acquiesce in the plunder, utterly regardless of the sufferings of the people and the best interests of their Sovereign. No precaution whatever is taken to prevent this indiscriminate plunder by the followers of the local authorities; nor would any one of them think it worth his while to interpose if he saw the roofs of the houses of a whole village moving off on the heads of his followers to his camp; or a fine crop of sugar-cane, wheat, or vegetables cut down for fodder by them before his face. It is the fashion of the country, and the Government acquiesces in it.