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proprietors are happy in knowing, that it is progressively advancing in public estimation, and its subscribers and friends may rest assured, that its future management will be such, as not only to maintain, but to strengthen their present favourable opinion. Measures have recently been adopted, which promise to secure to this Periodical much additional and valuable support, and to make it worthy of taking a respectable rank among its contemporaries: it is therefore confidently hoped, that such an amount of public favour will be extended, as will sustain and reward the exertions which will be made.
In conclusion: The proprietors would respectfully solicit the co-operation of the enlightened friends of India. There are many persons in this country, as well as in India, who have it in their power to communicate information upon a variety of topics, in which the people of England require to be informed. Such
persons are earnestly requested to contribute their assist
The labour to be individually performed would be very insignificant, while the result of their combined efforts would be large and valuable. It cannot be, but there are those who would delight to make the stores of knowledge they have acquired available, for the benefit of the thousands of their fellow-subjects who depend upon the few who have lived in India, for their knowledge of that great and important country. Already, this Magazine enjoys the benefit of the labours of some such coadjutors, but it is felt to be most desirable that their number should be increased.
London, 1st September, 1844.
ALTHOUGH the interests of India have undergone long-continued and repeated discussion, by men of first-rate intellect, we would venture to solicit consideration for a few thoughts on a question ever present to our mind; viz:-" How the present mode of governing India may be materially improved, and that by means which may be engrafted on the present Charter.”
On this important subject we would say :-First, let us set before us the essential defect of the present system. A Joint-Stock Company governs India, whose individual members look for an annual interest on their capital, and who can at any time divest themselves of their risk by selling out. The amount of revenue for the year, fixes the financial prospects of the company at the time, and, therefore, greatly influences the price at which the present proprietors can sell out. It is true, that the customary dividend is guaranteed by Government: but that guarantee is only to be called into effect contingently, and after
every other means of raising a sufficient revenue has been tried, and has failed. The value of India Stock, as capital, at any given time, depends, therefore, in a great measure on the revenue at that time. A revenue is, therefore, the first, greatest, and almost only thing sought for: every thing else is subordinate and accidental.
The spirit of this expectation necessarily passes on to all the officers employed. Every man of them will look to making a great remittance : expenses will be pared down, no matter at what public disadvantage ; receipts will be enhanced, no matter at what cost of suffering. A few years are enough to make almost any officer, of any Government, in almost any department, look upon a given state of things, no matter how wretched or disgra ful, as just about what it should be : he may half admit that, perhaps, it may bear a little mending, but insists upon
British Friend of India Mag. Vol. VI. No. 32.
it, that indeed it is not much amiss on the whole: and so the Indian functionary goes on, content to believe that revenue-driving is at all events not far from right, and must be done.
It is not necessary to the argument that it should be said, or thought, that the Proprietors mean unkindly by India. They, doubtless, mean to do kind things to her, but they must be done at some more convenient time, while revenue and dividends are wanted to-day. Just as the Dutch said, ten words of revenue for one of trade-they, or their masters, the Directors, say, ten of revenue for one of just laws, public improvements, judicial and fiscal reforms, and all other subjects put together. Now, it is not what a man believes and intends, but what he oftenest thinks of, and talks of, which determines his conduct. They think and talk themselves, and set all their functionaries thinking and talking of revenue !-revenue !-revenue! all being pressed on by the exigencies of dividend-day. And so, always setting aside, for the present, the many good things to do, they act, in reality, on this continual and present urging.
To the same tendencies, in other cases, there are natural checks: the governors are amongst the governed ; they see the condition of them ; they cannot help but have friends amongst them; and every man, however elevated, feels more or less of a necessity to stand well with those about him. But, in this case, the receivers of the profit are far beyond all sight and feeling of the miseries their exactions produce : they have, it may be, only a yearly interest in the question, and while, for this present year, all is squeezed out for them that can be squeezed, they see nothing of the wringing hands, flooded eyes, and saddened hearts, which follow the process.
As to their officers, they are few and far between : where they exercise their functions, they are lords : nobody knows, or, knowing, dare tell their doings. Men, in general, cannot endure a temptation like this. They are angels, if they do not become tyrants ; not, indeed, intentional, diabolical tyrants, doing evil for evil's sake—but off-handed, unscrupulous deciders of questions, where they are very likely to be wrong, and where error breaks hearts. A youngling holds up his head amid half-a-million of souls; the hoary heads bow down to him ; and far away from check or counsel by his own kind, he swells up as lord and master—the clever and full-empowered dictator of a conquered
It would be wonderful if he grew moderate, and kind, and thoughtful : it is well when the eager order for dividend-money receives no exacerbation as it passes through his hands. And even he, journey. ing over the land, as he extracts from successive districts their groaning tribute, has seen, when he returns home, but little of the household misery his careless exactions may have fastened to the hearths he bas left behind. He knows dividends are wanted, and must be had ; he knows they who best provide them are best looked on; but what he has made them cost he does not know, and none else can tell. The truth is afterwards revealed by a disaffected population, deserted districts, disease, famine, and death ; and, greater calamity than all-failing
For, the greatest present dividend is not the greatest eventual interest of the Company : the screw which forces out the blood to-day, leaves but a crushed and maimed limb for the use of to-morrow. But in this argument the Company is one thing,—the individual stockholders are another. The " Company" is perpetual ; but any stockholder, as an individual, has only an interest of to-day, and it is in this character, and under the influence of this consideration, that they controul the affairs of India. There is obviously a strong tendency to make the most of the matter for to-day, and let to-morrow do well if it can. It is not so with the Native princes; they have a perpetual interest, and now our unquestioned supremacy has put an end to internal wars, this interest, different from ours, is beginning to shew its different influence ; their territories not unfrequently shame ours in the comparison, Christians though we say we are. Thus we are doing ill for ourselves as for a body, and for all time; though we may be doing well for each stockholder, and for to-day.
The evil then is this: the governing power is in the hands of those who have an interest in a large present revenue, who neither by themselves, nor by their officers, see the evils done by realizing it. Of course, we speak in general terins, and of general tendencies : we are not only willing, but delighted, to make very large exceptions, as to the spirit and doings of many who have acted in and for India. These exceptions, however, invalidate neither the tendency nor the effect.
It is to our eventual interest, as well as our duty in the sight of God and of humanity, to take steps for stopping this improvident drain for the profit of to-day. It is not to be hoped, that this will be done while the profit of taxation is received by parties who feel none of its weight, and see none of its consequences ; while regulations are made which never bind or pinch those who make them, not even so much as in their sympathies. Our English rotten borough system had less of this radical defect than has the government of the India House.
As a present and commencing step towards remedying this evil, we would propose as follows; viz. :
1st. Let (say) six or ten of the largest or most populous cities send each a representative to sit in the Court of Proprietors with as full a power of speech, motion, and vote, as though they were Proprietors, and let Parliament, whenever it should see fit, put one of these representa
tives into the Secret Committee of Directors. Let the constituencies choose whom they please, Hindoo, Mahomedan, English, resident, or non-resident. Let the salaries and expenses of these representatives be paid by the East India Company.
2ndly. Let provision be made for the future admission by Parliament of other cities and districts.
3rdly. Let each native prince who receives a British force and agent, send, if he please, an agent to the Court of Proprietors, who shall have, at least, a right of speech, and, perhaps, also of motion.
From this measure we should anticipate the following effects :
1. We think we should have much fuller intelligence, and much more effective debates on Indian questions than we have now. The true interests of India and England, the true long-run interests would soon be better understood.
2. No great and general oppression, and hardly any individual case of great importance would occur, without the people of England being soon and fully apprized of it. The l'arliament of Leadenhall Street would then necessarily tell us of the misdeeds of themselves and their servants.
3. The interests of India and of its individual inhabitants would be placed under the safeguard of the most advanced public opinion in the world, instead of depending, as they now do, on that of scattered, unwitnessed, revenue-seeking officers, and of a conquered, prostrate, unthristianized people.
4. A growing confidence reposed by the people of India in the people of England would almost necessarily follow: and when a few years of such connection had passed away, during which evils had been remedied, beneficial measures had been effected and felt, intercourse had become frequent, and co-operation for common objects had been habitual, there would be little danger of the people of India longing for other rulers; nor could they find others whose character would hold out to them a hope of being governed on principles more likely to gratify their feelings or advance their prosperity.
5. It would be no slight advantage that such a measure would greatly increase the power of the press in India. There would soon be promise of some result from discussion worth the trouble of it; a feeling that it would effect something valuable to the constituencies. Constant intelligence of debates in England would give point, energy, and correctness to debate in India ; the necessity of giving influence to debates in England by authentic facts, would give interest and importance to local inquiry.
6. The feeling of weight in the settling of their own destinies, would souse the intellectual and moral energies of the people of India ; thus, an influential public opinion would be formed.