Hearing the firing of the field-pieces, the surrounding villages concentrated their quotas of auxiliaries upon the place, and attacked Lieutenant Bunbury's detachment on all sides. He had taken possession of the village; but finding it untenable against so large and increasing a body of assailants, he commenced his retreat. He had scarcely reached the outskirts when he found himself surrounded by overwhelming numbers of these auxiliaries, through whom he was obliged to fight his way for a distance of fourteen miles to Pahanee. The armed peasantry of every village, on the right and left of the road as they passed, turned out and joined the pursuers in their attempt to rescue his prisoners. Lieutenant Bunbury's conduct of this retreat was most gallant and judicious; and his men behaved admirably. When the assailants appeared likely to overwhelm him, he abandoned one of his two guns, and hastened on, leaving three men lying under them apparently wounded, and unable to move. On this they pressed on, sword in hand, to despatch the wounded men, and seize the guns. When the assailants were within thirty or forty yards of the gun, they started up, and poured in upon the dense crowd a discharge of grape with deadly effect. A party then doubled back from the main body of the detachment, protected the artillery men in limbering up the gun, and escorting it to the main body, which again resumed its march. This experiment was repeated several times with success as they passed other villages, from which further auxiliaries poured out, till they approached Pahanee, where they found support. In this retreat Lieutenant Bunbury lost sixty men out of his three companies, or about one-third of his number; but he retained all his prisoners. Ajrael Sing soon after died of the wounds he had received in defending the convicts in his village; and the rest of the prisoners were all sent to the Oude Durbar. Lieutenant Bunbury is now in the Honourable Company's Service, and in the 34th Regiment of Bengal Native Infantry.
On the 23rd of January 1849, Captain Hearsey, of the Oude Frontier Police, sent his subadar-major, Ramzan Khan, with a party of one hundred and fifty men of that police, to arrest a notorious robber, Mendae Sing, and other outlaws, from the Shajehanpoor district, who had found an asylum in the village of Sahurwa, in the Mahomdee district, whence they carried on their depredations upon our villages across the border. The party reached Sahurwa the next morning a little before sunrise. The subadar-major having posted his men so as to prevent the escape of the outlaws, demanded their surrender from the village authorities. They were answered by a volley of matchlock- balls; and finding the village too strong to be taken by his small detachment without guns, he withdrew to a more sheltered position to the westward, and detached a havildar with fifty men to take possession of a large gateway to the south of the village. During this movement the villagers continued to fire upon them; and the quotas of auxiliaries from the surrounding villages, roused by the firing, came rushing on from all quarters. Seeing no chance of being able either to take the village or to maintain his position against such numbers, the subadar-major drew off his detachment, and proceeded for support to Pahanee, a distance of twelve miles. He reached that place pursued by the auxiliaries, and with the loss of one havildar and one sipahee killed, and three sipahees very severely wounded. There are numerous instances of this sort in which the King's troops have been attacked and beaten back, and their prisoners rescued by the landholders of Bangur, and the adjoining districts of Mahomdee and Sandee Palee. They are never punished for doing so, as the King is too weak, and the aid of the British troops, for the purpose, has seldom been given.
It would be of advantage to remove the Regiment of Oude Local Infantry from Seetapoor to Tundeeawun, where its presence and services are much more required. The climate is as good, and all that native soldiers require for food and clothing are cheaper. The drainage is good; and to the east of the town there is one of the finest plains for a cantonment that I have ever seen. There are but few wells, but new ones can be made at a trifling cost; and the Oude Government would willingly incur the outlay required for these and for all the public buildings required for the new cantonments, to secure the advantage of such a change. The cost of the public buildings would be only 12,000 rupees; and the same sum would have to be given in compensation for private buildings-total 24,000. The refractory landholders would soon be reduced to order, and prevented from any longer making their villages dens of robbers as they now do; and the jungles around would all soon disappear. These jungles are not thick, or unhealthy, consisting of the small dhak or palas tree, with little or no underwood; and the surface they now occupy would soon be covered with fine spring crops, and studded with happy village communities, were people encouraged by an assurance of protection to settle upon it, and apply their capital and labour to its cultivation. The soil is everywhere of the finest quality, the drainage is good, and there are no jheels. A few ponds yield the water required for the irrigation of the spring crops, during their progress to maturity, from November to March: they are said all to become dry in the hot season. It is, I think, capable of being made the finest part of this fine country of Oude.
It was in contemplation to make the road from Lucknow to Shajehanpoor and Bareilly pass through this place, Tundeeawun, by which some thirty miles of distance would be saved, and a good many small rivers and watercourses avoided. Why this design was given up I know not; but I believe the only objection was the greater insecurity of this line from the bad character of the great landholders of the Bangur and Sandee Palee districts; and the greater number of thieves and robbers who, in consequence, reside in them. There has been but little outlay in works of any kind in the whole line through Seetapore; and when measures have been taken to render this line more secure, a good road will, I hope, be made through Tundeeawun. It was once a populous place, but has been falling off for many years, as the disorders in the district have increased. The Nazim resides here. The last Nazim, Hoseyn Allee, who was removed to Khyrabad, at the end of last year, is said to have given an increase of nankar to the refractory landholders of this district during that year, to the extent of forty thousand rupees a-year, to induce them to pay the Government demand, and desist from plunder. By this means he secured a good reputation at Court, and the charge of a more profitable and less troublesome district; and left the difficult task of resuming this lavish increase of the nankar to his successor, Seonath, the son of Dilla Ram, who held the contract of the district for some twenty years up to the time of his death, which took place last year. Seonath is a highly respectable and amiable man; but he is very delicate in health, and, in consequence, deficient in the vigour and energy required to manage so turbulent a district. He has, however, a deputy in Kidder Nath, a relative, who has all the ability, vigour, and energy required, if well supported and encouraged by the Oude Durbar. He was deputy under Dilla Ram for many years, and the same under Hoseyn Allee last year. He is a man of great intelligence and experience; and one of the best officers of the Oude Government that I have yet seen.
There are two kinds of recognised perquisites which landholders enjoy in Oude and in most other parts of India—the nankar and the seer land. The nankar is a portion of the recognised rent-roll acknowledged by the ruler to be due to the landholder for the risk, cost, and trouble of management, and for his perquisite as hereditary proprietor of the soil when the management is confided to another. It may be ten, twenty, or one hundred percent upon the rent-roll of the estate, which is recognised in the public accounts, as the holder happens to be an object of fear or of favour, or otherwise; and the real rent-roll may be more or less than that which is recognised in the public accounts. The actual rent which the landholder receives may increase with improvements, and he may conceal the improvement from the local authorities, or bribe them to conceal it from Government; or it may diminish from lands falling out of tillage, or becoming impoverished by over-cropping, or from a diminution of demand for land produce; and the landholder may be unable to satisfy the local authorities of the fact, or to prevail upon them to represent the circumstance to Government. The amount of the nankar once recognised remains the same till a new rate is recognised by Government; but when the Government becomes weak, the local authorities assume the right to recognise new rents, to suit their own interest, and pretend that they do so to promote that of their sovereign.
I may instance the Amil of this district last year. He was weak, while the landholders were strong. They refused to pay, on the plea of bad seasons. He could send no money to the Treasury, and was in danger of losing his place. The man who had to pay a revenue of ten thousand could not be induced to pay five: he enjoyed an acknowledged nankar of two thousand upon a recognised rent-roll of twelve thousand; and, to induce him to pay, he gives him an increase to this nankar of one thousand, making the nankar three thousand, and reducing the revenue to nine thousand. Being determined to render the increase to his nankar permanent, whether the Government consents or not, the landholder agrees to pay the ten thousand for the present year. The collector sends the whole or a part of the one thousand as gratuities to influential men at Court, and enters it in the public accounts as irrecoverable balance. The present Amil, finding that the increase to the nankar has not been acknowledged by Government, demands the full ten thousand rupees for the present year. The landholder refuses to pay anything, takes to the jungles, and declares that he will resist till his permanent right to the increase be acknowledged.
The Amil has taken the contract at the rate of last year, as the Government had sanctioned no increase to the nankar, and he pleads in vain for a remission in the rate, which he pledged himself to pay, or an increase of means to enforce payment among so turbulent and refractory a body of landholders. As I have before mentioned, the Oude Government has this season issued an order to all revenue collectors to refuse to recognise any increase to the nankar that has been made since the year A.D. 1814, or Fusilee 1222, when Saadut Allee died, as none has since that year received the sanction of Government, though the nankar has been more than doubled within that period in the manner above described by local authorities. The increase to the nankar, and the alienation in rent-free tenure of lands liable to assessment in 1814 by local authorities and influential persons at Court, are supposed to amount in all Oude to forty lacs of rupees a-year. None of them have been formally recognised by the Court, but a great part of them has been tacitly acquiesced in by the minister and Dewan for the time being. They cannot enforce the order for reverting to the nankar of 1814, and if they attempt to do so the whole country will be in disorder. Indeed, the minister knows his own weakness too well to think seriously of ever making such an attempt. The seer lands are those which the landholders and their families till themselves, or by means of their servants or hired cultivators. Generally they are not entered at all in the rent-rolls; and when they are entered, it is at less rates than are paid for the other lands. The difference between the no rent, or less rates, and the full rates is part of their perquisites. These lands are generally shared out among the members of the family as hereditary possessions.
January 23, 1850.—Behta, ten miles, over a plain of fine muteear soil. The greater part of the surface is, however, covered by a low palas jungle. The jungle remains, because no one will venture to lay out his capital in rooting up the trees and shrubs, and bringing the land under culture where the fruits of his industry, and his own life and those of his family, would be so very insecure, and because the powerful landholders around require the jungles to run to when in arms against the Government officers, as they commonly are. The land under this jungle is as rich in natural powers as that in tillage; and nothing can be finer than the crops in the cultivated parts, particularly in those immediately around villages. There are numerous large trees in the jungles, but the fine peepul and banyan trees are torn to pieces for the use of the elephants and camels of the establishments of the local officers, and for the cows, bullocks, and buffaloes of the peasantry. The cows and buffaloes are said to give greater quantities of milk when fed on the leaves of these trees than when fed on anything else available in the dry season; but the milk is said to be of inferior quality. All the cultivated and peopled parts are beautifully studded with single trees and groves.
No respectable dwelling-house is anywhere to be seen, and the most substantial landholders live in wretched mud-hovels with invisible covers. I asked the people why, and was told that they were always too insecure to lay out anything in improving their dwelling-houses; and, besides, did not like to have such local ties, where they were so liable to be driven away by the Government officers or by the landholders in arms against them, and their reckless followers. The local officers of Government, of the highest grade, occupy houses of the same wretched description, for none of them can be sure of occupying them a year, or of ever returning to them again when once removed from their present offices; and they know that neither their successors nor any one else will ever purchase or pay rent for them. No mosques, mausoleums, temples, seraees, colleges, courts of justice, or prisons to be seen in any of the towns or villages. There are a few Hindoo shrines at the half-dozen places which popular legends have rendered places of pilgrimage, and a few small tanks and bridges made in olden times by public officers, when they were more secure in their tenure of office than they are now. All the fine buildings raised by former rulers and their officers at the old capital of Fyzabad are going fast to ruin. The old city of Ajoodhea is a ruin, with the exception of a few buildings along the bank of the river raised by wealthy Hindoos in honour of Ram, who once lived and reigned there, and is believed by all Hindoos to have been an incarnation of Vishnoo.
I have often mentioned that the artillery draft-bullocks receive no grain, and are everywhere so poor that they can hardly walk, much less draw heavy guns and tumbrils. The reason is this, the most influential men at Court obtain the charge of feeding the cattle in all the different establishments, and charge for a certain quantity of grain or other food at the market price for each animal. They contract for the supply of the cattle with some grain-merchant of the city, who undertakes to distribute it through his own agents. The contractor for the supply of the artillery draft-bullocks sends an agent with those in attendance upon every collector of the land revenue, and he gives them as little as possible. The contractor, afraid of making an enemy of the influential man at Court, who could if he chose deprive him of his contract or place, never presumes to interfere, and the agent gives the poor bullocks no grain at all. The collector, or officer in charge of the district, is, however, obliged every month to pay the agent of the contractor the full market price of the grain supposed to be consumed—that is, one seer and half a- day by every bullock. The same, or some other influential person at Court, obtains and transfers in the same way the contract for the feeding of the elephants, horses, camels, bullocks, and other animals kept at Lucknow for use or amusement, and none of them are in much better condition than the draft-bullocks of the artillery in the remote districts—all are starved, or nearly starved, and objects of pity. Those who are responsible for their being fed are too strong in Court favour to apprehend any punishment for not feeding them at all.
In my ride this morning I asked the people of the villages through and near which we passed whether infanticide prevailed: they told me that it prevailed amongst almost all the Rajpoot families of any rank in Oude; that very poor families of those classes retained their daughters, because they could get something for them from the families of lower grade, into which they married them; but that those who were too well off in the world to condescend to take money for their daughters from lower grades, and were obliged to incur heavy costs in marrying them into families of the same or higher grade, seldom allowed their infant daughters to live.
"It is strange," I observed, "that men, who have to undergo such heavy penance for killing a cow, even by accident, should have to undergo none for the murder of their own children, nor to incur any odium among the circle of society in which they live—not even among Brahmins and the ministers of their religion."
"They do incur odium, and undergo penance," said Rajah Bukhtawur Sing; "do they not?" said he to some Brahmins standing near. They smiled, but hesitated to reply. "They know they do," said the Rajah, "but are afraid to tell the truth, for they and their families live in villages belonging to these proud Rajpoot landholders, and would be liable to be turned out of house and home were they to tell what they know." One of the Brahmins then said, "All this is true, sir; but after the murder of every infant the family considers itself to be an object of displeasure to the deity, and after the twelfth day they send for the family priest (Prohut), and, by suitable gratuities, obtain absolution. This is necessary, whether the family be rich or poor; but when the absolution is given, nothing more is thought or said about the matter. The Gour and other Rajpoots who can afford to unite their daughters in marriage to the sons of Chouhans, Byses, and other families of higher grade, though they cannot obtain theirs in return for their sons, commit less murders of this kind than others; but all the Rajpoot clans commit more or less of them. Habit has reconciled them to it; but it appears very shocking to us Brahmins and all other classes. They commonly bury the infants alive as soon as possible after their birth. We, sir, are helpless, living as we do among such turbulent and pitiless landholders, and cannot presume to admonish or remonstrate: our lives would not be safe for a moment were we to say anything, or seem to notice such crimes."
I do not think that any landholder of this class, in the Bangur district, would feel much compunction for the commission of any crime that did not involve their expulsion from caste, or degradation in rank. Great crimes do not involve these penalties: they incur them only by small peccadillos, or offences deemed venal among other societies. The Government of Oude, as it is at present constituted, will never be able to put down effectually the great crimes which now stain almost every acre of land in its dominions. It is painful to pass over a country abounding so much in what the evil propensities of our nature incite men to do, when not duly restrained; and so little in what the good prompt us to perform and create, when duly protected and encouraged, under good government.
January 24, 1850.—Sandee, fourteen miles, over a plain of light domuteea soil, which becomes very sandy for the last four or five miles. The crops are scanty upon the more sandy parts, except in the vicinity of villages; but there is a little jungle, and no undue portion of fallow for so light a soil. About five miles from our last ground, we came through the large and populous village of Bawun; about three miles further, through another of nearly the same size, Sungeechamow; and about three miles further on, through one still larger, Admapoor, which is three miles from Sandee. Sandee and Nawabgunge join each other, and are on the bank of the Gurra river, a small stream whose waters are said to be very wholesome. We passed the boundary of the Bangur district, just before we entered the village of Sungeechamow, which lies in that of Sandee.
There is a Hindoo shrine on the right of the road between Sandee and Admapoor, which is said to be considered very sacred, and called Barmawust. It is a mere grove, with a few priests, on the bank of a large lake, which extends close up to Sandee on the south. The river Gurra flows under the town to the north. The place is said to be healthy, but could hardly be so, were this lake to the west or east, instead of the south, whence the wind seldom blows. This lake must give out more or less of malaria, that would be taken over the village, for the greater portion of the year, by the prevailing easterly and westerly winds. I do not think the place so eligible for a cantonment at Tundeeawun, in point either of salubrity, position, or soil.
January 25, 1850.—Halted at Sandee. The lake on the south side, mentioned yesterday, abounds in fish, and is covered with wild fowl; but the fish we got from it yesterday was not good of its kind. I observed very fine groves of mango-trees close to Sandee, planted by merchants and shopkeepers of the place. The oldest are still held by the descendants of those by whom they were first planted, more than a century ago; and no tax whatever is imposed upon the trees of any kind, or upon the lands on which they stand. Many young groves are growing up around, to replace the old ones as they decay; and the greatest possible security is felt in the tenure by which they are held by the planter, or his descendants, though they hold no written lease, or deed of gift; and have neither written law nor court of justice to secure it to them. Groves and solitary mango, semul, tamarind, mhowa and other trees, whose leaves and branches are not required for the food of elephants and camels, are more secure in Oude than in our own territories; and the country is, in consequence, much better provided with them. While they give beauty to the landscape, they alleviate the effects of droughts to the poorer classes from the fruit they supply; and droughts are less frequently and less severely felt in a country so intersected by fine streams, flowing from the Tarae forest, or down from the perpetual snows of neighbouring hills, and keeping the water always near the surface. These trees tend also to render the air healthy, by giving out oxygen in large quantities during the day, and absorbing carbonic acid gas. The river Gurra enters the Ganges about twelve miles below Sandee. Boats take timber on this stream from the Phillibeet district to Cawnpoor. It passes near the town of Shajehanpoor; and the village of Palee, twenty miles north-west from Sandee, where we shall have to recross it.
January 26, 1850.—Busora, twelve miles north-west from Sandee, over a plain of light sandy soil, or bhoor, with some intervals of oosur. The tillage extends over as much of the surface as it ought in so light a soil; and the district of Sandee Palee generally is said to be well cultivated. It has been under the charge of Hafiz Abdoollah, a very honest and worthy man, for seven years up to his death, which took place in November last. He is said never to have broken faith with a landholder; but he was too weak in means to keep the bad portion under control; and too much occupied in reading or repeating the Koran, which he knew all by heart, as his name imports. His son Ameer Gholam Allee, a lad of only thirteen years of age, has been appointed his successor. He promises to be like his father in honesty and love of the holy book.*
[* He has been since removed, and was in prison as a defaulter, July 1851.]
About half way we passed the village of Bhanapoor, held by zumeendars of the Dhaukurree Rajpoot clan, who told me, that they gave their daughters in marriage to the Rykwars, but more to the Sombunsie Rajpoots, who abound in the district, and hold the greater part of the lands; that these Sombunsies have absorbed almost all the lands of the other classes by degrees, and are now seizing upon theirs; that the Sombunsies give their daughters in marriage only to the Rathore and Chouhan Rajpoots, few of whom are to be found on the Oude side of the Ganges; and, in consequence, that they take such as they preserve to our districts on the other side of that river, but murder the greater part rather than condescend to marry them to men of the other Rajpoot clans whom they deem to be of inferior grade, or go to the expense of uniting them in marriage to clans of higher or equal grade in Oude. Some Sombunsies, who came out to pay their respects from the next village we passed, told us, that they did not give their daughters even to the Tilokchundee Bys Rajpoots; but in this they did not tell the truth.
At the next village, the largest in the parish, Barone, the chief landholder, Kewul Sing, came out and presented his offering of a fine fighting-ram. He was armed with his bow, and "quiver full of arrows," but told me, that he thought a good gun, with pouch and flask, much better, and he carried the bow and quiver merely because they were lighter. He was surrounded by almost all the people of the town, and told me, that the family held in copartnership fifty-two small villages, immediately around Barone—that this village had been attacked and burnt down by Captain Bunbury and his regiment the year before last, without any other cause that they could understand save that he had recommended him not to encamp in the grove close by. The fact was, that none of the family would pay the Government demand, or obey the old Amil, Hafiz Abdoollah; and it was necessary to make an example. On being asked whether his family and clan, the Sombunsies, preserved or destroyed their daughters, he told me, in the midst of his village community, that he would not deceive me; that they, one and all, destroyed their infant daughters; but that one was, occasionally, allowed to live (ek-adh); that the family was under a taint for twelve days after the murder of an infant, when the family priest (Prohut) was invited and fed in due form; that he then declared the absolution complete, and the taint removed.
The family priest was present, and I asked him what he got on such occasions? He said, that to remove the taint, or grant absolution after the murder of a daughter, he got little or no money; he merely partook of the food prepared for him in due form; but that, on the birth of a son, he got ten rupees from the parents. All the assembled villagers bore testimony to the truth of what the patriarch and the priest told me. They said, that no one would enter a house in which an infant daughter had been destroyed, or eat or drink with any member of the family till the Prohut had granted the absolution, which he did after the expiration of twelve days, as a matter of course, depending as he did upon the good-will of the landholders, who were all of the same clan, Sombunsies. Few other Brahmins will condescend to eat, drink, or associate with these family and village priests, who take the sins of such murderers upon their own heads.
The old patriarch rode on with me upon his pony, five miles to my tents, as if I should not think the worse of him for having murdered his own daughters, and permitted others to murder theirs. I told him, that I could hold no converse with men who were guilty of such crimes; and that the vengeance of God would crush them all, sooner or latter. For his only excuse he told me, that it was a practice, derived from a long line of ancestors, wiser and better than they were; and that it prevailed in almost every Rajpoot family in the country; that they had, in consequence, become reconciled to it, and knew not how to do without it. Family pride is the cause of this terrible evil!
The estate of Kuteearee, on the left-hand side of the road towards the Ramgunga and Ganges, is held by Runjeet Sing, of the Kuteear Rajpoot clan. His estate yields to him about one hundred and twenty thousand rupees a-year, while he is assessed at only sixteen thousand. While Hakeem Mehndee was in banishment at Futtehgurh, about fifteen years ago, he became intimate with Runjeet Sing, of Kuteearee; and when he afterwards became minister, in 1837, he is said to have obtained for him the King's seal and signature to a perpetual lease at this rate, from which is deducted a nankar of four thousand, leaving an actual demand of only twelve thousand. Were such grants, in perpetuity, respected in Oude, the ministers and their minions would soon sell the whole of his Majesty's dominions, and leave him a beggar. He has not yet been made to pay a higher rate; not, however, out of regard for the King's pledge, but solely out of that for Runjeet's fort of Dhunmutpoor, on the bank of the Ganges, his armed bands, and his seven pieces of cannon. He has been diligently employing all his surplus rents in improving his defensive means; and, besides his fort and guns, is said to have a large body of armed and disciplined men. He has seized upon a great many villages around, belonging to weaker proprietors: and is every year adding to his estate in this way. In this the old Amil, Hafiz Abdoollah, acquiesced, solely because he had not the means nor the energy to prevent it. He got his estate excluded from the jurisdiction of the local authorities, and placed in the Huzoor Tuhseel.
Like others of his class, who reside on the border, he has a village in the British territory to reside in, unmolested, when charged by the Oude authorities with heavy crimes and balances. He had been attacked and driven across the Ganges, in 1837, for contumacy and rebellion; deprived of his estate, and obliged to reside at Futtehgurh, where he first became acquainted with Hakeem Mehndee. The Oude Government has often remonstrated against the protection which this contumacious and atrocious landholder receives from our subjects and authorities.* Crimes in this district are not quite so numerous as in Bangur; but they are of no less atrocious a character. The thieves and robbers of Bangur, when taken and taxed with being so, say, "of course we are robbers—if we were not, how should we have been permitted to reside in Bangur?" All are obliged to fight and plunder with the landholders, or to rob for them on distant roads, and in distant villages.
[* See the Resident's letter to Government North-Western Provinces, 3rd August, 1837. The King's letter to the Resident, 7th April, 1837. The same to the same, 19th May, 1837. Depositions and urzies. Runjeet Sing was attacked by the King's troops and driven across the Ganges again in June 1851, and died during the contest, which is being continued by his son. 1851.—W. H. S.]
My camp has been robbed several times within the time I have been out, and the property has been traced to villages in the Sundeela and Bangur districts. In the Sundeela district it can be recovered when traced with a small force, and the thieves taken; but in the Bangur district it would require a large military force well commanded, and a large train of artillery to recover the one or seize the other.
A respectable landholder of this place, a Sombunsie, tells me, that the custom of destroying their female infants has prevailed from the time of the first founder of their race; that a rich man has to give food to many Brahmins, to get rid of the stain, on the twelfth or thirteenth day, but that a poor man can get rid of it by presenting a little food in due form to the village priest; that they cannot give their daughters in marriage to any Rajpoot families, save the Rhathores and Chouhans; that the family of their clan who gave a daughter to any other class of Rajpoots, would be excluded from caste immediately and for ever; that those who have property have to give all they have with their daughters to the Chouhans and Rhathores, and reduce themselves to nothing; and can take nothing from them in return, as it is a great stain to take "kuneea dan," or virgin price; from any one; that a Sombunsie may, however, when reduced to great poverty, take the "kuneea dan" from the Chouhans and Rhathores for a virgin daughter without being excommunicated from the clan, but even he could not give a daughter to any other clan of Rajpoots without being excluded for ever from caste; that it was a misfortune no doubt, but it was one that had descended among them from the remotest antiquity, and could not be got rid of; that mothers wept and screamed a good deal when their first female infants were torn from them, but after two or three times giving birth to female infants, they become quiet and reconciled to the usage, and said, "do as you like;" that some poor parents of their clan did certainly give their daughters for large sums to wealthy people of lower Clans, but lost their caste for ever by so doing; that it was the dread of sinking, in substance from the loss of property, and in grade from the loss of caste, that alone led to the murder of female infants; that the dread prevailed more or less in every Rajpoot clan, and led to the same thing, but most in the clan that restricted the giving of daughters in marriage to the smallest number of clans.
The infant is destroyed in the room where it is born, and there buried. The floor is then plastered over with cow-dung, and on the thirteenth day the village or family priest must cook and eat his food in that room. He is provided with wood, ghee, barley, rice, and tillee (sesamum). He boils the rice, barley, and sesamum in a brass vessel, throws the ghee over them when they are dressed, and eats the whole. This is considered as a hom, or burnt-offering, and by eating it in that place the priest is supposed to take the whole hutteea or sin upon himself, and to cleanse the family from it. I am told that they put the milk of the mudar shrub "asclepias gigantea," into the mouth of the infant to destroy it, and cover the mouth with the faeces that first pass from, the infant's bowels. It soon dies; and after the expiation the parents again occupy the room, and there receive the visits of their family and friends, and gossip as usual!
Rajah Bukhtawar Sing tells me, that he has heard the whole process frequently described in this way by the midwives who have attended the birth. These midwives are however generally sent out of the room with the mother when the infant is found to be a girl. In any law for the effectual prevention of this crime, it would be necessary to prescribe a severe punishment for the priest, as an accessary after the fact. The only objection to this is, I think, that it might deprive the Court of the advantage of an important witness when required at the trial of the parents, but when necessary he might be admitted as King's evidence. All the people here that I talk to on the subject, say that the crime has been put down in the greater part of the British territories, and that judicious measures honestly and firmly carried out would put it down in Oude, and do away with the scruples which one clan of Rajpoots have to give their daughters in marriage to another. Unable to murder their daughters, they would be glad to dispose of them in marriage to all clans of Rajpoots. It might be put down in Oude, as it was put down by Mr. Willoughby, of Bombay, in the districts under his charge, by making the abolition one of the conditions on which all persons of the Rajpoot clans hold their lands, and strictly enforcing the observance of that condition. The Government of Oude as now constituted could do nothing whatever towards putting it down in this or any other way.
January 27, 1850.—Palee, eight miles north-west. The road half way from Sandee to Busora, and half way from Busora to Palee, passes over a very light, sandy soil—bhoor. I have already stated that kutcha wells, or wells without burnt brick and cement, will not last in this sandy soil, while it stands more in need of irrigation. The road for the last half way of this morning's stage passes over a good doomuteea soil. The whole country is however well cultivated, and well studded with fine trees; and the approach to Palee is at this season very picturesque. The groves of mango and other fine trees amidst which the town stands, on the right bank of the Gurra river, appear very beautiful as one approaches, particularly now that the surrounding country is covered by so fine a carpet of rich spring crops. The sun's rays, falling upon such rich masses of foliage, produce an infinite variety of form, colour, and tint, on which the eye delights to repose. We intended to have our camp on the other side of the river, but no good ground could be found for it, without injury to the crops, within three miles from Palee, and we must cross it on our way to Shahabad to-morrow.
This small river flows along a little to the right of our march this morning. About half way we passed a very pretty village, held and cultivated by families of Kunojee Brahmins, who condescend to hold and drive their own ploughs. Other families of this class pride themselves upon never condescending to drive their own ploughs, and consider themselves in consequence a shade higher in caste. Other Brahmin families have different shades or degrees of caste, like the Kunojeeas; but I am not aware that any family of any other class of Brahmins condescend to hold their own ploughs. I told them, that "God seemed to favour their exertions, and bless them with prosperity, for I had not seen a neater village or village community." They seemed to be all well pleased with my compliment. At Palee resides Bulbhuder Sing, a notorious robber, who was lately seized and sent as a felon to Lucknow. After six months' confinement he bribed himself out, got possession of the estate which he now holds, and to which he had no right whatever, and had it excluded from the jurisdiction of the local authorities, and transferred to the "Hozoor Tuhseel." He has been ever since diligently employed in converting it into a den of robbers, and in the usual way seizing upon other people's lands, stock, and property of all kinds.
Hundreds in Oude are doing the same thing in the same way. Scores of those who suffer from the depredations of this class of offenders, complain to me every day; but I can neither afford them redress, nor hold out any hope of it from any of the Oude authorities. It is a proverb, "that those who are sentenced to six years' imprisonment in Oude, are released in six months, and those who are sentenced to six months, are released in six years." Great numbers are released every year at Lucknow for thanksgivings, or propitiation. If the King or any member of his family becomes sick, prisoners are released, that they may recover; and when they recover, others are released as a grateful, and, at the same time, profitable acknowledgment, since the Government relieves itself from the cost of keeping them; and its servants appropriate the money paid for their ransom. Those who are in for long periods are, for the most part, great offenders, who are the most able and most willing to pay high for their release; those who are in for short ones are commonly the small ones, who are the least able and least disposed to give anything. The great offenders again are those who are most disposed, and most able, to revenge themselves on such persons as have aided the Government in their arrest or conviction; and they do all they can to murder and rob them and their families and relatives, as soon as they are set at large, in order to deter others from doing the same. This would be a great evil in any country, but is terrible in Oude, where no police is maintained for the protection of life and property. The cases of atrocious murders and robberies which come before me every day, and are acknowledged by the local authorities, and neighbours of the sufferers, to have taken place, are frightful. Such sufferings, for which no redress is to be found, would soon desolate any part of India less favoured by nature.
In the valley of the Nerbudda, for instance, such sufferings would render a district desolate for ages. The people, driven off from an estate, go and settle in another better governed. The grass grows rankly from the richness of the soil, and the humidity of the air, and becomes filled with deer and other animals, that are food for beasts of prey. Tigers, leopards, wolves, wild dogs, &c. follow, to feed upon them; and they render residence and industry unsafe. Malaria follows, and destroys what persons the tigers leave. I have seen extensive tracts of the richest soil and most picturesque scenery, along the banks of the Nerbudda, which had been rendered desolate for ages by the misrule of only a few years. It is the same in the Tarae forest, which separates Oude from Nepaul. But in the rest of Oude, from the Ganges to this belt of forest, no such effects follow misrule, however great and prolonged. Here no grass grows too rankly, few deer fill it, few tigers, leopards, wolves, or wild dogs come in pursuit of them, and no malaria is feared. If a landholder takes to rebellion and plunder, he is followed by all his retainers and clansmen; and their families, and the cultivators of other classes, feeling no longer secure, go and till lands on other estates, till they are invited back. The cowherds and shepherds, who live by the produce of their cattle and sheep, remain and thrive by the abundance of pasture lands, from which the rich spring and harvest crops have disappeared. These cattle and sheep graze over them, and enrich the soil by restoring to it a portion of those elements of fertility, of which a long succession of harvests had robbed it. Over and above what they leave on the grounds, over which they graze, large stores of manure are collected for future use by the herdsmen, who now exclusively occupy the villages. The landholder and his followers, in the meantime, subsist and enrich themselves by the indiscriminate plunder of the surrounding country; and are at last invited back by a weak and wearied Government, to reoccupy the lands, improved by this salutary fallow, at a lower rate of rent, or no rent at all for some years, and a remission of all balances for past years, on account of paemalee, or treading down of crops, during the disorder that has prevailed.
The cultivators return to occupy their old lands, so enriched, at reduced rates of rent; and, in two or three years, these lands become again carpeted with a beautiful variety of spring and autumn crops. The crops, in our districts, on the opposite side of the river Ganges, bear no comparison with those on the Oude side. The lands are all overcropped and under-stocked with cattle and sheep from the want of pasture lands. There is little manure, the water is too far below the surface to admit of sufficient irrigation, without greater outlay than the farmers and cultivators can afford; the rotation of crops is insufficient, and no salutary fallow comes to the relief of the soil, from the labour of men living and working under the efficient protection of a strong and able Government. The difference in the crops is manifest to the beholder, and shown in the rate of rents paid for the lands where the price of land produce is the same in both; the same river conveying the produce of both to and from the same markets.
A Murhutta army, under the Peshwa, Ballajee, invaded the districts, about the source of the Nerbudda river, about one hundred and seven years ago, A.D. 1742. They ravaged these districts as they did all others which they invaded; but they, like the greater part of the Oude Tarae, remain waste; while the others, like the rest of Oude, soon recovered and become prosperous from the circumstances above stated. The soil of some of the districts, about the source of the Nerbudda, then ravaged, is among the finest in the world; but the long grass and rich foliage, by which it is covered, are occupied, like the pampos of South America, almost exclusively by wild cattle, buffaloes, deer, and tigers. The district of Mundula, which intervenes between them and the rich and highly-cultivated district of Jubbulpoor, in the valley of that river, was populous and well cultivated when we took possession of it in the year 1817; but it has become almost as waste under our rule by a more gradual but not less desolating process. Not considering the diminishing markets for land produce, our assessments of the land revenue were too high, and the managing officers never thought the necessity of reduction established, till the villages were partially or wholly deserted. The farmers and cultivators all emigrated, by degrees, into the neighbouring districts of Nagpoor and Rewa, where they had more consideration and lighter assessments, and the markets for land produce were improving. The lands of Mundula became waste, and covered with rank grass filled with deer; tigers followed to feed upon them, and carried off all the poor peasantry, who remained and attempted to cultivate small patches; malaria followed and completed the work.
Like the tharoos of the Oude forest, the Gonds born in this malaria are the only people who can live in it; and the ravages of tigers and endemial disease prevent their numbers from increasing. Those who once emigrate never come back, and population and tillage have been decreasing ever since we took possession, or for thirty-three years. The same process has been going on in other parts of the Nerbudda valley with the same results. In Oude, from the causes above described, lands of the same denomination and kind often yield double the rate of rent that they yield in our own conterminous districts, or districts on the opposite side of the Ganges, and other rivers that separate our territories from those of Oude. Under a tolerable Government, Oude would soon become one of the most beautiful countries in India; but the lands would fall off, in fertility, as ours do from over-cropping, no doubt.
January 28, 1850.—Shahabad, ten miles. We crossed, close under Palee, the little river Gurra, which continued for some miles to flow along, in its winding course, close by on our left. It is here some five or six miles to the south-west of the town. The soil we have come over is chiefly muteear, or the doomuteea, tightened by a mixture of clay, or argillaceous earth. Rich crops of rice are grown on this muteea, which retains its moisture so much better than the looser doomutea soil.
Half-way we came through a neat village, the lands of which are subdivided between the members of a large family of Kunojee Brahmins, who came out to see us pass, and pay their respects. The cultivation was so fine that I hoped they were of the class who condescended to hold their own ploughs. I asked them; and they, with seeming pride, told me that they did not—that they employed servants to hold their ploughs for them. When I told them that this was their misfortune, they seemed much amused, but were all well-behaved and respectful, though they must have thought my notion very odd.
The little Gurra flows from the Oude Tarae forest by the town of Phillibheet, where boats are built, to be taken down to Cawnpoor, on the Ganges, for sale. About four hundred, great and small, are supposed to be taken down the Gurra every year, in the season of the rains. They take down the timber of the Tarae forest, rice, and other things; and all are sold, with their cargoes, at Cawnpoor, or other places on the Ganges. The timbers are floated along on both sides of the boats. Palee is a good place for a cantonment, or seat of public civil establishments, and Shahabad is no less so. The approach to both, from the south-east, is equally beautiful, from the rich crops which cover the ground up to the houses, and the fine groves and majestic single trees which surround them.
Shahabad is a very ancient and large town, occupied chiefly by Pathan Mussulmans, who are a very turbulent and fanatical set of fellows. Subsookh Rae, a Hindoo, and the most respectable merchant in the district, resided here, and for some time consented to officiate, as the deputy of poor old Hafiz Abdoollah, for the management of the town, where his influence was great. He had lent a good deal of money to the heads of some of the Pathan families of the town, but finding few of them disposed to repay, he was last year obliged to refuse further loans. They determined to take advantage of the coming mohurrum festival to revenge the affront as men commonly do who live among such a fanatical community. The tazeeas are commonly taken up, and carried in procession, ten days after the new moon is first seen, at any place where they are made; but in Oude all go by the day in which the moon is seen from the capital of Lucknow. As soon as she is seen at Lucknow, the King issues an order throughout his dominions for the tazeeas to be taken in procession ten days after. The moon was this year, in November, first seen on the 30th of the month at Lucknow; but at Shahabad, where the sky is generally clearer, she had been seen on the 29th. The men to whom Subsookh Rae had refused farther loans determined to take advantage of this incident to wreak their vengeance; and when the deputy promulgated the King's order for the tazeeas to be taken in procession ten days after the 30th, they instigated all the Mahommedans of the town to insist upon taking them out ten days after the 29th, and persuaded them that the order had been fabricated, or altered, by the malice of their Hindoo deputy, to insult their religious feelings. They were taken out accordingly, and having to pass the house of Subsookh Rae, when their excitement, or spirit of religious fervour, had reached the highest pitch, they there put them down, broke open the doors, entered in a crowd, and plundered it of all the property they could find, amounting to above seventy thousand rupees. Subsookh Rae was obliged to get out, with his family, at a back door, and run for his life. He went to Shajehanpoor, in our territory, and put himself under the protection of the magistrate. Not content with all this, they built a small miniature mosque at the door with some loose bricks, so that no one could go either out or in without the risk of knocking it down, or so injuring this mock mosque as to rouse, or enable the evil- minded to rouse, the whole Mahommedan population against the offender. Poor Subsookh Rae has been utterly ruined, and ever since seeking in vain for redress. The Government is neither disposed nor able to afford it, and the poor boy who has now succeeded his learned father in the contract is helpless. The little mock mosque, of uncemented bricks, still stands as a monument of the insolence of the Mahommedan population, and the weakness and apathy of the Oude Government.
Infanticide—Nekomee Rajpoots—Fallows in Oude created by disorders— Their cause and effect—Tillage goes on in the midst of sanguinary conflicts—Runjeet Sing, of Kutteearee—Mahomdee district—White Ants—Traditional decrease in the fertility of the Oude soil—Risks to which cultivators are exposed—Obligations which these risks impose upon them—Infanticide—The Amil of Mahomdee's narrow escape— An infant disinterred and preserved by the father after having been buried alive—Insecurity of life and property—Beauty of the surface of the country, and richness of its foliage—Mahomdee district—State and recent history of—Relative fertility of British and Oude soil— Native notions of our laws and their administration—Of the value of evidence in our Courts—Infanticide—Boys only saved—Girls destroyed in Oude—The priests who give absolution for the crime abhorred by the people of all other classes—Lands in our districts becoming more and more exhausted from over-cropping—Probable consequences to the Government and people of India—Political and social error of considering land private property—Hakeem Mehndee and subsequent managers of Mahomdee—Frauds on the King in charges for the keep of animals—Kunojee Brahmins—Unsuccessful attempt to appropriate the lands of weaker neighbours—Gokurnath, on the border of the Tarae— The sakhoo or saul trees of the forest.
Lalta Sing, of the Nikomee Rajpoot tribe, whom I had lately an opportunity of assisting, for his good services in arresting outlays [outlaws ?] from our territories, has just been to pay his respects. Our next encamping ground is to be on his estate of Kurheya and Para. He tells me that very few families of his tribe now destroy their female infants; that tradition ascribes the origin of this evil to the practice of the Mahommedan emperors of Delhi of demanding daughters in marriage from the Rajpoot princes of the country; that some of them were too proud to comply with the demand, and too weak to resist it in any other way than that of putting all their female infants to death. This is not impossible. He says that he believes the Dhankuries, whom I have described above to be really the only tribe of Rajpoots among whom no family destroys its infant daughters in Oude; that all tribes of Rajpoots get money with the daughters they take from tribes a shade lower in caste, to whom they cannot give theirs in return; and pay money with the daughters they give in marriage to tribes a shade higher, who will not give their daughters to them in return. The native collector of Shahabad, a gentlemanly Mahommedan, came out two miles to pay his respects on my approach, and we met on a large space of land, lying waste, while all around was covered with rich crops. I asked, "Pray why is this land left waste?" "It is, sir, altogether unproductive." "Why is this? It seems to me to be just as good as the rest around, which produces such fine crops." "It is called khubtee—slimy, and is said to be altogether barren." "I assure you, sir," said Rajah Bukhtawar Sing, "that it is good land, and capable of yielding good crops, under good tillage, or it would not produce the fine grass you see upon it. You must not ask men like this about the kinds and qualities of soils for they really know nothing whatever about them: they are city gentlemen's sons, who get into high places, and pass their lives in them without learning anything but how to screw money out of such as we are, who are born upon the soil, and depend upon its produce all our lives for subsistence. Ask him, sir, whether either he or any of his ancestors ever knew anything of the difference between one soil and another."
The collector acknowledged the truth of what the old man said, and told me that he really knew nothing about the matter, and had merely repeated what the people told him. This is true with regard to the greater part of the local revenue officers employed in Oude. "One of these city gentlemen, sir," said. Bukhtawar Sing, "when sent out as a revenue collector, in Saadut Allee's time, was asked by his assistants what they were to do with a crop of sugar-cane which had been attached for balances, and was becoming too ripe, replied, 'Cut it down, to be sure, and have it stacked!' He did not know that sugar-cane must, as soon as cut, be taken to the mill, or it spoils." "I have heard of another," said the old Rusaldar Nubbee Buksh, "who, after he entered upon his charge, asked the people about him to show him the tree on which grew the fine istamalee* rice which they used at Lucknow." "There is no question, sir," said Bukhtawar Sing, "that is too absurd, for these cockney gentlemen to ask when they enter upon such revenue charges as these. They are the aristocracy of towns and cities, who are learned enough in books and court ceremonies and intrigues, but utterly ignorant of country life, rural economy, and agricultural industry."
[* The istamalee rice is rice of fine quality, which has been kept for some years before used. To be good, rice must be kept for some years before used, and that only which has been so kept is called istamalee or useable.]
For a cantonment or civil station, the ground to the north of Shahabad, on the left-hand side of the road leading to Mahomdee, seems the best. It is a level plain, of a stiff soil formed of clay and sand, and not very productive.
The country, from Sandee and Shahabad to the rivers Ganges and Ramgunga, is one rich sheet of spring cultivation; and the estate of Kuteearee, above described, is among the richest portions of this sheet. The portions on which the richest crops now stand became waste during the disorders which followed the expulsion of Runjeet Sing, in the usual way, in 1837, and derived the usual benefit from the salutary fallow. A stranger passing through such a sheet of rich cultivation, without communing with the people, would little suspect the fearful crimes that are every year committed upon it, from the weakness and apathy of the Government, and the bad faith and bad character of its officers and chief landholders. The land is tilled in spite of all obstacles, because all depend upon its produce for subsistence; but there is no indication of the beneficial interference of the Government for the protection of life, property, and character, and for the encouragement of industry and the display of its fruits. The land is ploughed, and the seed sown, often by stealth at night, in the immediate vicinity of a sanguinary contest between the Government officers and the landholders. It is only when the latter are defeated, and take to the jungles, or the Honourable Company's districts, and commence their indiscriminate plunder, that the cultivator ceases from his labours, and the lands are left waste.
Runjeet Sing two or three years ago seized upon the village of Mulatoo, in his vicinity, to which he had no claim whatever, and he has forcibly retained it. It had long paid Government ten thousand a- year, but he has consented to pay only one thousand. Lands yielding above nine thousand he has cut off from its rent-roll, and added to those of his hereditary villages on the borders. Last year he seized upon the village of Nudua, with a rent-roll of fourteen hundred rupees, and he holds it with a party of soldiers and two guns. The Amil lately sent out a person with a small force to demand the Government dues; but they were driven back, as he pretends that he got it in mortgage from Dumber Sing, who had taken a short lease of that and other khalsa villages, and absconded as a defaulter; and that he has purchased the lands from the cultivating proprietors, and is, therefore, bound to pay no revenue whatever for them-to the King. All defaulters and offenders who take refuge on his estate he instigates to plunder, and provides with gangs, on condition of getting the greater part of the booty. He thinks that he is sure of shelter in the British territory, should he be driven from Oude; he feels also sure of aid from other large landholders of the same class in the neighbourhood.
January 30, 1850.—Kurheya Para, twelve miles, over a plain of excellent muteear soil, a good deal of which-is covered with jungle. Para is a short distance from Kurheya, and our camp is midway between the two villages. The boundary of the Sandee Palee and Mahomdee districts we crossed about four miles from our present encampment. This district, of Mahomdee was taken in contract by Hakeem Mehndee, at three lacs and eleven thousand rupees a-year, in 1804 A.D., and in a few years he brought it into full tillage, and made it yield above seven lacs. It has been falling off ever since it was taken from him, and now yields only between three and four lacs. The jungle is studded with large peepul-trees, which are all shorn of their small branches and leaves. The landholders and cultivators told me that they were taken off by the cowherds who grazed their buffaloes, bullocks, and cows in these jungles; that they formed their chief and, in the cold season, their best food, as the leaves of the peepul-tree were supposed to give warmth to the stomach, and to increase the quantity of the milk; that the cowherds were required to pay nothing for the privilege of grazing their cattle in these jungles, by the person to whom the lands belonged, because they enriched the soil with their manure, and all held small portions of land under tillage, for which they paid rent; that they had the free use of the peepul-trees in the jungles, but were not permitted to touch those on the cultivated lands and in villages.
White ants are so numerous in the argillaceous muteear soil, in which their food abounds, that it is really dangerous to travel on an elephant, or swiftly on horseback, over a new road cut or enlarged through any portion of it that has remained long untilled. The two fore legs of my elephant went down yesterday morning into a deep pit made by them, but concealed by the new road, which has been made over it for the occasion of my visit near Shahabad, and it was with some difficulty that he extricated them. We have had several accidents of the same kind since we came out. In cutting a new road they cut through large ant-hills, and leave no trace of the edifices or the gulf below them, which the little insects have made in gathering their food and raising their lofty habitation. They are not found in the bhoor or oosur soils, and in comparatively small numbers in the doomuteea or lighter soil, but they abound In the muteear soil in proportion to its richness. Cultivation, where the crops are irrigated, destroys them, and the only danger is in passing over new roads cut through jungle, or lands that have remained long untilled, or along the sides of old pathways, from which these land-marks have been removed in hastily widening them for wheeled carriages.
A Brahmin cultivator, whose cart we had been obliged to press into our own service for this stage, came along with me almost all the way. He said, "The spring crops of this season, sir, are no doubt very fine; but in days of yore, before the curse of Bhurt Jee (the brother of Ram) came upon the landholders and cultivators of Oude, they were much finer; when he set out from his capital of Ajoodheea for the conquest of Cylone, he left the administration to his brother, Bhurt Jee, who made a liberal settlement of the land tax. He put a ghurra or pitcher, with a round bottom, turned upside down, into every half acre (beegha) of the cultivated land, and required the landholder or cultivator to leave upon it, as much of the grain produced as the rounded bottom would retain, which could not be one ten-thousandth part of the produce; he lived economically, and collected at this rate during the many years that his brother was absent. But when his brother returned and approached the boundary of his dominions, he met hosts of landholders and cultivators clamouring against the rapacity and oppression of his brother's administration. The humanity of Ram's disposition was shocked, sir, at all this, and he became angry with his brother before he heard what he had to say. When Bhurt had satisfied his brother that he had not taken from them the thousandth part of what he had a right to take, and Ram had, indeed, taken from them himself, he sighed at the wickedness and ingratitude of the agricultural classes of Oude; and the baneful effects of this sad sigh has been upon us ever since, sir, in spite of all we can do to avert them. In order to have the blessing of God upon our labours, it is necessary for us to fulfil strictly all the responsibilities under which we hold and till the land; first, to pay punctually the just demands of Government; second, all the wages of the labour employed; third, all the charities to the poor; fourth, all the offerings to our respective tutelary gods; fifth, a special offering to Mahabeer, alias Hunooman. These payments and offerings, sir, must all be made before the cultivator can safely take the surplus produce to his store-room for sale and consumption."
Old Bukhtawar Sing, who was riding by my side, said, "A conscientious farmer or cultivator, sir, when he finds that his field yields a great deal more than the usual returns, that is when it yields twenty instead of the usual return of ten, gives the whole in charity, lest evil overtake him from his unusual good luck and inordinate exultation."
I asked the Brahmin cultivator why all these offerings were required to be made by cultivators in particular? He replied, "There is, sir, no species of tillage in which the lives of numerous insects are not sacrificed, and it is to atone for these numerous murders, and the ingratitude to Bhurt, that cultivators, in particular, are required to make so many offerings;" and, he added, "much sin, sir, is no doubt brought upon the land by the murder of so many female infants. I believe, sir, that all the tribes of Rajpoots murder them; and I do not think than one in ten is suffered to live. If the family or village priest did not consent to eat with the parents after the murder, no such murders could take place, sir; for none, even of their nearest relatives, will ever eat with them till the Brahmin has done so."
The bearers of the tonjohn in which I sat, said, "We do not believe, sir, that one girl in twenty among the Rajpoots is preserved. Davey Buksh, the Gonda Rajah, is, we believe, the only one of the Biseyn Rajpoot tribe who preserves his daughters;* his father did the same, and his sister, who was married to the Bhudoreea Rajah of Mynpooree, came to see him lately on the occasion of a pilgrimage to Ajoodheea, on the death of her husband; of the six Kulhuns families of Chehdwara, two only preserve their daughters—Surnam Sing of Arta, and Jeskurn of Kumeear; but whether their sons or successors in the estates will do the same is uncertain." These bearers are residents of that district.
[* There are a great many families of the Biseyn Rajpoots who never destroy their infant daughters.]
I may here remark, that oak-trees in the hills of the Himmelah chain are disfigured in the same manner, and for the same purpose, as the peepul and banyan trees are here; their small branches and leaves are torn off to supply fodder for bullocks and other animals. The ilex of the hills has not, however, in its nakedness the majesty of the peepul and banyan of the plains, though neither of them can be said to be "when unadorn'd, adorn'd the most."
January 31, 1850.—Puchgowa, north-east, twelve miles over a plain of doomuteea soil, a good deal of which is out of tillage at present. On the road we came through several neat villages, the best of which was occupied exclusively by the families of the Kunojeea Brahmin proprietors, and the few persons of inferior caste who ploughed their lands for them, as they are a shade too high in caste to admit of their holding their own ploughs. They are, however, very worthy people, and seemed very much pleased at being put so much at their ease in a talk with the great man about their own domestic and rural economy. They told me, that they did not permit Rajpoots to reside in or have anything to do with their village.
"Why?" I asked.—"Because, sir, if they once get a footing among us, they are, sooner or later, sure to turn us all out." "How?"—"They get lands by little and little at lease, soon refuse to pay rent, declare the lands to be their own, collect bad characters for plunder, join the Rajpoots of their own clan in all the villages around in their enterprises, take to the jungles on the first occasion, of a dispute, attack, plunder, and burn the village, murder us and our families, and soon get the estate for themselves, on their own terms from the local authorities, who are wearied out by the loss of revenue arising from their depredations; our safety, sir, depends upon our keeping entirely aloof from them."
Under a government so weak, the only men who prosper seem to be these landholders of the military classes who are strong in their union, clan feeling, courage, and ferocity. The villages here are numerous though not large, and by far the greater part are occupied by Rajpoots of the Nikomee tribe.
The Amil of the Mahomdee district, Krishun Sahae, had come out so far as Para to meet me, and have my camp supplied. He had earned a good reputation as a native collector of long standing in the Shajehanpore district, under Mr. Buller; but being ambitious to rise more rapidly than he could hope to do, under our settled government, he came to Lucknow with a letter of introduction from Mr. Buller to the Resident, Colonel Richmond, paid his court to the Durbur, got appointed Amil of the Mahomdee district, under the amanee system, paid his nazuranas on his investiture, in October last, and entered upon his charge. A few days ago it pleased the minister to appoint to his place Aboo Toorab Khan, the nephew and son-in-law of Moonowur-ood Dowla; and orders were sent out immediately, by a camel-messenger, to the commandants of the corps on duty, with Krishun Sahae, to seize and send him, his family, and all his relations and dependents, with all his property to be found upon them, to Lucknow. The wakeel, whom he kept at Court for such occasions, heard of the order for the supercession and arrest, and forthwith sent off a note to his master by the fastest foot-messenger he could get. The camel-messenger found that the Amil had left Mahomdee, and gone out two stages to Para, to meet the Resident. He waited to deliver his message to the commandants and subordinate civil officers of the district, and see that they secured all the relatives, dependents, and property of the Amil that could be found. The foot-messenger, more wise, went on, and delivered his letter to Krishun Sahae; at Para, on the evening of Tuesday the 29th. He ordered his elephant very quietly, and mounting, told the driver to take him to a village on the road to Shajehanpoor.
On reaching the village about midnight, the driver asked him whither he was going—"I am flying from my enemies," said Krishun Sahae; "and we must make all haste, or we shall be overtaken before we reach the boundary." "But," said the driver, "my house and family are at Lucknow, and the one will be pulled to the ground and the other put into gaol if I fly with you." Krishun Sahae drew out a pistol and threatened to shoot him if he did not drive on as told. They were near a field of sugar-cane, and the driver hedged away towards it, without the Amil's perceiving his intention. When they got near the field the elephant dashed in among the cane to have a feast; and the driver in his seeming effort to bring him out, fell off and disappeared under the high cane. The Amil did all he could to get out his elephant, but the animal felt that he was no longer in danger of severe treatment from above, and had a very comfortable meal before him in the fine ripe cane, and would not move. The poor Amil was obliged to descend, and make all possible haste on foot across the border, attended by one servant who had accompanied him in his flight. The driver ran to the village and got the people to join him in the pursuit of his master, saying that he was making off with a good deal of the King's money. With an elephant load of the King's money in prospect, they made all the haste they could; but the poor Amil got safely over the border into British territory. They found the elephant dining very comfortably on the sugar-cane. After abusing the driver and all his female relations for deluding them with the hope of a rich booty, they permitted him to take the empty elephant to the new Amil at Mahomdee. News of all this reached my camp last night.
I omitted to mention that, at Busora on the 27th, a Rajpoot landholder of the Sombunsie tribe, came to my camp with a petition regarding a mortgage, and mentioned that he had a daughter, now two years of age; that when she was born he was out in his fields, and the females of the family put her into an earthen pot, buried her in the floor of the apartment, where the mother lay, and lit a fire over the grave; that he made all haste home as soon as he heard of the birth of a daughter, removed the fire and earth from the pot, and took out his child. She was still living, but two of her fingers which had not been sufficiently covered were a good deal burnt. He had all possible care taken of her, and she still lives, and both he and his wife are very fond of her. Finding that his tale interested me, he went home for the child; but his village was far off, and he has not been able to overtake me. He had given no orders to have her preserved, as his wife was confined sooner than he expected; but the family took it for granted that she was to be destroyed, and in running home to preserve her he acted on the impulse of the moment. The practice of destroying female infants is so general among this tribe, that a family commonly destroys the daughter as soon as born, when the father is from home, and has given no special orders about it, taking it to be his wish as a matter of course.
Several respectable landholders of the Chouhan, Nikomee, and other tribe of Rajpoots, were talking to me yesterday evening, and as they were connected by marriage with Rajpoot families of the same and higher clans in the British territories, I asked them whether some plan could not be devised to suppress the evil in Oude, as it had been suppressed there; for the disorders which prevailed seemed to me to be only a visitation from above for such an all-pervading sin. They told me that there would be little difficulty in putting down this system under an honest and strong Government that would secure rights, enforce duties, and protect life and property, as in the British territories. Atrocious and cruel as this crime is in Oude, it is hardly more so than that which not long ago prevailed in France and other nations of Europe, of burying their daughters alive in nunneries in order to gratify the same family pride.
It is painful to me to walk out of my tent of an evening, for I have every day large crowds seeking redress for grievous wrongs, for which I see no hope of redress: men and women, who have had their dearest relatives murdered, their houses burnt down, their whole property taken away, their lands seized upon, their crops destroyed by ruffians residing in the same or neighbouring villages, and actually in the camp of the Amil, without the slightest fear of being punished or made to surrender any portion of what they have taken. The Government authorities are too weak, even to enforce the payment of the Government demand, and have not the means to seize or punish offenders of any kind, if they have the inclination. In some districts they not only acquiesce in the depredations of these gangs of robbers, but act in collusion with their leaders, in order to get their aid in punishing defaulters or pretended defaulters, among the landholders. They murder the landholders, and as many as possible of their families, and as a reward for their services the local authorities make over their lands to them at reduced rates.
The Nazim of Sandee Palee told me on taking leave, that he had only two wings of Nujeeb Regiments with him, one of which was fit for some service, and in consequence, spread over the district on detached duties. The other was with him, but out of the five hundred, for which he had to issue monthly pay, he should not be able to get ten men to follow him on any emergency. They are obliged to court and conciliate the strong and reckless who prey upon the weak and industrious; and in consequence become despised and detested by the people. I feel like one moving among a people afflicted with incurable diseases, who crowd around him in hope, and are sent away in despair. I try to make the local authorities exert themselves in behalf of the sufferers; but am told that they have already done their utmost in vain; that if they seize robbers and murderers and send them to Lucknow, they are sure to purchase their enlargement and return to wreak their vengeance on them and on all who have aided them in their arrest and conviction; that if they attempt to seize one of the larger landholders, who refuses to pay the Government demand, seizes upon the lands of his weaker neighbours, and murders and robs them indiscriminately, he removes across the Ganges, into one of the Honourable Company's districts, and thence sends his myrmidons to plunder and lay waste the whole country, till he is invited back by a weak and helpless Government upon his own terms; that formerly British troops were employed in support of the local authorities against offenders of this class; but that of late years all such aid and support have been withdrawn from the Oude Government, while the offenders find all they require from the subjects and police authorities of the bordering British districts.
The country we passed over to-day, between Para and Puchgowa, is a plain, beautifully studded with groves and fine solitary trees, in great perfection. The bandha or mistletoe, upon the mhowa and mango trees, is in full blossom, and adds much to their beauty; the soil is good, and the surface everywhere capable of tillage, with little labour or outlay; for the jungle where it prevails the most is of grass, and the small palas-trees (butea-frondosa) which may be-easily uprooted. The whole surface of Oude is, indeed, like a gentleman's park of the most beautiful description, as far as the surface of the ground and the foliage go. Five years of good Government would make it one of the most beautiful parterres in nature. To plant a large grove, as it ought to be, a Hindoo thinks it necessary to have the following trees:—
The banyan, or burgut; peepul, ficus religiosa; mango; tamarind; jamun, eugenia jambolana; bele, cratoeva marmelos; pakur, ficus venosa; mhowa, bassia latifolia; oula, phyllanthus emblica; goolur, figus glomerata; kytha, feronia elephantum; kuthal, or jack; moulsaree, mimusops elengi; kuchnar, bauhinea variegata; neem, melia azadirachta; bere, fizyphus jujuba; horseradish, sahjuna; sheeshum, dalbergia sisa; toon, adrela toona; and chundun, or sandal.
Where he can get or afford to plant only a small space, he must confine himself to the more sacred and generally useful of these trees; and they are the handsomest in appearance. Nothing can be more beautiful than one of those groves surrounded by fields teeming with rich spring crops, as they are at present; and studded here and there with fine single banyan, peepul, tamarind, mhowa, and cotton trees, which, in such positions, attain their highest perfection, as if anxious to display their greatest beauties, where they can be seen to the most advantage. Each tree has there free space for its roots, which have the advantage of the water supplied to the fields around in irrigation, and a free current of air, whose moisture is condensed upon its leaves and stems by their cooler temperature, while its carbonic acid and ammonia are absorbed and appropriated to their exclusive use. Its branches, unincommoded by the proximity of other trees, spread out freely, and attain their utmost size and beauty.
I may here mention what are the spring crops which now in a luxuriance not known for many years, from fine falls of rain in due season, embellish the surface over which we are passing :—
Spring Crops.—Wheat; barley; gram; arahur, of two kinds (pulse); musoor (pulse); alsee (linseed); surson (a species of fine mustard); moong (pulse); peas, of three kinds; mustard; sugar-cane, of six kinds; koosum (safflower); opium; and palma christi.
February 1, 1850.—Mahomdee, eleven miles, over a level plain of muteear soil of the best quality, well supplied with groves and single trees of the finest kind; but a good deal of the land is out of tillage, and covered with the rank grass, called garur, the roots of which form the fragrant khus, for tatties, in the hot winds; and dhak (butea frondosa) jungle. Several villages, through and near which we passed, belong to Brahmin zumeendars, who were driven away last year by the rapacity of the contractor, Mahomed Hoseyn, a senseless oppressor, who was this year superseded by a very good officer and worthy man, who was driven out with disgrace, as described yesterday, while engaged in inviting back the absconded cultivators to these deserted villages, and providing them with the means of bringing their lands again into tillage. Hoseyn Allee had seized and sold all their plough-bullocks, and other agricultural stock, between the autumn and spring harvests, together with all the spring crops, as they became ripe, to make good the increased rate of revenue demanded; and they were all turned out beggars, to seek subsistence among their relatives and friends, in our bordering district of Shajehanpoor. The rank grass and jungle are full of neelgae and deer of all kinds; and the cowherds, who remain to graze their cattle on the wide plains, left waste, find it very difficult to preserve their small fields of corn from their trespass. They are said to come in herds of hundreds around these fields during the night, and to be frequently followed by tigers, several of which were killed last year, by Captain Hearsey, of the Frontier Police. Waste lands, more distant from the great Tarae forest, are free from tigers.
I had a long talk with the Brahmin communities of two of these villages, who had been lately invited back from the Shajehanpoor district, by Krishun Sahae, and resettled on their lands. They are a mild, sensible, and most respectable body, whom a sensible ruler would do all in his power to protect and encourage; but these are the class; of landholders and cultivators whom the reckless governors of districts, under the Oude Government, most grievously oppress. They told me—"that nothing could be better than the administration of the Shajehanpoor district by the present collector and magistrate, Mr. Buller, whom all classes loved and respected; that the whole surface of the country was under tillage, and the poorest had as much protection as the highest in the land; that the whole district was, indeed, a garden." "But the returns, are they equal to those from your lands in Oude?"—"Nothing like it, sir; they are not half as good; nor can the cultivator afford to pay half the rate that we pay when left to till our lands in peace." "And why is this?"—"Because, sir, ours is sometimes left waste to recover its powers, as you now see all the land around you, while theirs has no rest" "But do they not alternate their crops, to relieve the soil?"—"Yes, sir, but this is not enough: ours receive manure from the herds of cattle and deer that graze upon it while fallow: and we have greater stores of manure than they have, to throw over it when we return and resume our labours. We alternate our crops, at the same time, as much as they do; and plough and cross-plough our lands more." "And where would you rather live—there, protected as the people are from all violence, or here, exposed as you are to all manner of outrage and extortion."— "We would rather live here, sir, if we could; and we were glad to come back." "And why? There the landholders and cultivators are sure that no man will be permitted to exact a higher rate of rent or revenue than that which they voluntarily bind themselves to pay during the period of a long lease; while here you are never sure that the terms of your lease will be respected for a single season."— "That is all true, sir, but we cannot understand the 'aen and kanoon' (the rules and regulations), nor should we ever do so; for we found that our relations, who had been settled there for many generations, were just as ignorant of them as ourselves. Your Courts of justice (adawluts) are the things we most dread, sir; and we are glad to escape from them as soon as we can, in spite of all the evils we are exposed to on our return to the place of our birth. It is not the fault of the European gentlemen who preside over them, for they are anxious to do, and have justice done, to all; but, in spite of all their efforts, the wrong-doer often escapes, and the sufferer is as often punished."