Page images
PDF
EPUB

improvements, as, in the early editions of his book, he very honestly and plainly owned himself to be. To this valuable information, received from Dr. Bell, Mr. Lancaster has made important additions of his own, quite enough to entitle him to a very high character for originality and invention. We sincerely hope Dr. Bell will not attribute to us the most distant intention of depreciating his labours, when we say that he has, by no means, taught Mr. Lancaster all, though he has taught him much. We are so far from wishing to undervalue the labours of Dr. Bell, that it gives us great pleasure to express our warmest admiration at what he has done for education. He is unquestionably the beginner in an art, which we trust will be carried to still greater perfection; and we hope he will reap, from his present patron, those rewards for which he never could have looked, to which he is eminently entitled, and which, if ever they are bestowed, will honour the giver as much as the receiver.

It has pleased the present archbishop of Canterbury to establish a large school, for the instruction of the poor of the established church, under the care of Dr. Bell. If the thing is done at all,--if the education of the poor goes on, we are content. We only interfered in the cause to say, education is a great good; and to shelter from calumny a friendless man, who set himself down (like a drop of healing oil in an ulcer) in the worst parts of the metropolis, to diffuse the word of God, and the rudiments of knowledge among the lowest of mankind. If, in so doing, we have been compelled to treat with severity a lady of real piety and of estimable character, let that lady remember, that had we found her in her own proper department of an instructress of youth, which she has so long and so respectably filled, we could not but have mentioned her with credit, if it had fallen within the plan of our work to mention her at all. But we found her acting the part of a judge and a critick, and, above all, of a religious accuser,-a part never to be taken up but with extreme reluctance, and exposing him, and still more her who assumes it, to the most severe responsibility,—a part which, of late years, has been played so often, and paid so well, that it is not respectable even in the hands of so honest and conscientious a person as Mrs. Trimmer. We have been a little alarmed by observing, that Dr. Bell, after all he has written and done, calls in question the propriety of teaching the poor to write and to cypher. We hope that he will value his deserved reputation above every thing else, and not lose that originality which has brought him into notice. The sanction of the archbishop of Canterbury may be venerable and respectable-but it is not sacred: at least we believe this term is never employed upon such occasions.

FROM THE LITERARY PANORAMA.

A Journey from Madras, through the countries of Mysore, Canara, and Malabar, performed under the order of the Marquis of Wellesley, Governour General of India, &c. By Francis Buchanan, M. D. F. R. S. &c. Published under the patronage of the East India company. With a map and numerous other engravings. 3 vols. 4to. pp. 1530. Price 61. 6s. London.

THE oldest Reviewer need feel no shame in confessing his inability to do justice to the work before us within that space which our Journal can spare for his Report. It involves political matters of the highest importance to the interests of the East India Company; remarks extremely well adapted to improve the condition of the newly acquired provinces ; striking views of human nature, several of them distinguished by their

novelty; the characters of sovereigns and of their adherents, drawn from their actions; demonstrations of the evil effects of bigotry and superstition; of the excessive calamities consequent on repeated wars; and of the difficulties of recovering a country from a state of devastation, partly produced by predatory hordes of banditti, and partly prolonged by the prevalence of wild beasts against the dispirited inhabitants.

We are also obliged to Dr. Buchanan for a variety of information on the manners and resources of the people; on the subjects of their cultivation and labour; with numerous particulars relative to geography, natural history, mineralogy, and other sciences. Neither are the deviations of the human mind forgotten; the opinions of the almost innumerable classes of natives; their opposition to each other; their mutual contempt, and, not seldom, derision; the oppression of their Mahomedan conquerors, and the sufferings arising from differences of religion. This gentleman travelled with the sanction of authority, and he has well availed himself of the advantages which he enjoyed. His work is a compendium of the observations he made during his progress; and often of those official answers to his inquiries, which an ordinary traveller could not have expected.

Sir W. Jones has well observed, that there is a kind of infinity in whatever relates to India: and this work may be quoted in proof of the correctness of that observation. Like the Banian tree of the continent to which it relates, it is but one; yet by the numerous branches which depend from it, and communicate with the earth, it offers a thousand different paths, and forms a thousand different mazes.

[ocr errors]

We recommend these volumes to the detractors of the Company, and especially to those of the noble marquis, by whose command this journey was performed. We recommend them also to naturalists, who will find interspersed many remarks connected with their favourite science; the elephant and the tiger, conspicuous among the wild animals of Indian forests; the growth of Sandal wood, and of teak; the cultivation of pepper; of cardamoms; of the different kinds of grain, especially of the distinctions of rice, cotton. &c. &c. will engage the attention of the man of science as well as of the man of the world. But the merchant who wishes to procure foreign commodities from as near to the first hand as possible, may derive information from these volumes, not to be found elsewhere: and the statesman, especially, may.discover in the accounts they contain, the rudiments of future greatness, and the means of communicating to expecting myriads blessings never yet enjoyed. The heart of the benevolent statesman will rejoice at such an opportunity put into his power, such an opportunity of doing extensive good: of conferring benefits on distant provinces, and distant generations: of giving comfortable bread to those who will venerate his name, though they know not how to pronounce it correctly. We recommend these volumes, also, to whoever is desirous of further acquaintance with the human heart. He will here see duplicity, concealment, fraud, employed to counteract usurpation and tyranny, as well by the untutored as by the learned; those who cannot read, to whom, in fact, letters are forbidden, yet practise the same arts to delude their oppressors, as those who have been, in the language of soi disant philosophy, sophisticated by over refinement, misled by the vagaries of priestcraft, and seduced to errour for the benefit of the state.

Customs which simple reason, if there be such a thing in this world as simple reason, would pronounce abhorrent, we here find practised; and that, not in solitary instances, but by whole tribes, distant from each other. Is there in the human heart a more rational or more powerful principle

*

than parental affection?-Yet, Dr. B. states various societies which forbid a man to love his own children, especially, and command him to interest himself, with most affection, in those which are not his descendants. Even regal power is transmitted-not from father to son, but by the nephews of the family. What could be the origin of that custom which, when a man has married a wife, forbids him to live with her, and consigns to another the enjoyment of her company? If this be wisdom, we resign it to those who can accept it under that character. The institutions of social life, as warranted by that authority which claims our obedience, are better entitled to that appellation, even on the principle of simple reason.

Lastly, we recommend these volumes to the attention of those who have undertaken the benevolent office of establishing the Christian religion in India. They will here perceive the numerous difficulties which surround their attempt. The differences of language may be surmounted: the differences of cast are stronger than the differences of language: there are other principles stronger even than the differences of cast. Those who hold that the offering of blood to the Deity is inconsistent with the purity of his nature, will, with great reluctance, accept a religion founded on the Old Testament, and so far, on rites in which blood was constantly shed. Those who affirm that to live by begging is living immediately on God; is the highest exaltation of the human character; and by this a man may become a partial incarnation of Deity, will hardly become zealous in that religion which lays it down as a principle: "If any man will not work, neither let him eat." And if there be any so profoundly ignorant of the state of things, as to wish to establish by coercion a religion which abhors any compulsion, and stops at benevolent invitation, to these we recommend the pictures incidentally drawn by Dr. B. in various parts of his work, of the bigotry and intolerance of Tippoo Saib; a mussulman, whose zeal for "the right way" induced him to blow up Hindoo temples, wherever his arms prevailed, though the towns in which they stood were destroyed at the saine time; who surrounded whole towns, and circumcised, by force, every inhabitant who was not so fortunate as to escape to the woods, to avoid violation, thou h in the face of death by hunger; who forbad his subjects from commerce with the infidel nations on his borders, and thereby deprived them of that intercourse on which their subsistence depended; and who meditated no less than the substitution of Mahomedism for the Brahminical religion throughout the vast empire in which that pre ails.

To show this potentate in his true character, when withdrawn from publick observation, we avail ourselves of Dr. B's description of Tippoo's private apartment in his palace at Seringapatam.

From the principal front of the palace, which served as a revenue office, and as a place from whence the Sultan occasionally showed himself to the populace, the chief entry into the private square was through a strong narrow passage, wherein were chained four tigers, which, although somewhat tame, would, in case of any disturbance become unruly. Within these was the hall in which Tippoo wrote, and into which very few persons, except Meer Saduc, were ever admitted. Immediately behind this was the bed chamber, which communicated with the hall by a door and two windows, and was shut up on every other side. The door was strongly secured on the inside, and a close iron grating defended the windows. The Sultan, lest any person should fire upon him while in bed, slept in a hammock, which was suspended from the roof by chains, in such a situation as to be invisible_through the windows. In the hammock were found a sword and a pair of loaded pistols. Vol. I. p. 72.

!

The only other passage from the private square was into the zenana, or women's apartments. These, Dr. B. informs us, remained perfectly in

violate, under the usual guard of eunuchs. The expenses were defrayed by an allowance.

Dr. B. however, does justice to Tippoo's talents for war, which he describes as considerable; and expresses his conviction that he conceived himself to be acting for the good of his subjects, in his regulations, and means of enforcing them. "He certainly believed himself endowed with great qualities for the management of civil affairs; and he was at the pains of writing a book on the subject, for the instruction of all succeeding princes." He would have manifested much superiour policy, had he followed the steps of his father Hyder, who respected the prejudices of his Hindoo subjects, while he turned their abilities to his own account; who encouraged trade by protection and kindness, and never oppressed his people, though he occasionally treated his officers, who superintended them, with harshness. In short, under Hyder, many provinces contained their thousands of inhabitants, which under Tippoo could barely enumerate their hundreds. The Brahmans too, being tolerated, and even supported, by Hyder, were always ready to promote his interest; while Tippoo, by depriving them of their incomes, rendered them bitter enemies, without raising friends whose services he might substitute; for his own officers shared the spoils of the provinces so effectually among them, that, in some instances, not more than one seventh of the tribute, exacted from the famished labourer, reached the coffers of the Sultan.

We remember the period, when the power and policy of Hyder filled the British East India Company with incessant disquiet, and more than once with terrour and dread. His death was viewed in the light of a deliverance; and time has shown the justness of this opinion. Had Tippoo been equal to his father in policy, or perhaps, had he seen so much of the world and of mankind, Dr. B. in all probability, would never have traversed these regions on behalf of the governour general, or under his protection.

We had occasion, some time ago, to consider the East India Company as sustaining the different characters of merchants and of sovereigns. Dr. B. speaking of the Company's pepper trade in Malabar, affords an instance in support of our remarks.

It has, he says, undergone three great changes; and by these the conduct of their servants ought to have been more regulated than in some instances would seem to have been the case. First, previous to the province having been ceded to the Company, their interest was merely mercantile. It was the duty of their servants to

ocure the commodity as cheap as possible, and I have no doubt that in this respect the affairs of the company were well enough managed. While the French trade was under the control of an exclusive company, this was easily conducted, it being the mutual interest of the two companies to join in reducing the price.Secondly, a great change took place in the nature of the Company's pepper trade, by their acquiring the sovereignty of the province, in 1792. Their interest as sovereigns required a total change in the principle by which they purchased pepper; and the higher the price paid by foreigners, who were the principal purchasers, the better for the Company. Mr. Brown, who then traded at Mahé as Danish resident, very judiciously recommended, that the Company should confine their trade in pepper within as small a compass as possible; and in place of endeavouring to get it at a lower rate than the market price at Mahé, that they should always give a little more for what they took; and by that means they would not only enrich the province, but increase their revenues. Measures, however, were taken directly in opposition to this sound advice; and, by means of the sovereign authority vested in their servants, the Company procured a small quantity of pepper at a rate considerably lower than the Mahe price; but by, far the greater part went to that market, and at a lower price than if the Company had gone into a fair competition. A third change has now taken place. The French being expelled Mahé, the Company immediately became

[ocr errors]

possessed of the whole pepper trade without a rival. As merchants, it was then their interest to lower the price, which was undoubtedly in their power; but as sovereigns, their interest was, that the price should not be so low as to injure the revenue, or discourage agriculture; nor too low to enable the cultivator to thrive, and to discharge the revenue, while he is subject to the present monopoly of native contractors.

The major part of Dr. B's. political observations are, however, derived from local peculiarities, and dependent on them. In very many instances he points out variations from the customary mode of proceeding, that would materially benefit the country'; sometimes by regulations of rent and taxes; sometimes by introducing new articles of production, or improving those now cultivated; sometimes by restoring the reservoirs of water, that indispensable necessary to cultivation in India, and thereby repairing the calamities of war. In many parts the worthy Dr. complains of the scarcity of inhabitants, and of considerable extents of fields and country that lie in an uncultivated condition. The exertions that have lately been made to carry not a few of the Dr's. ideas into execution will shortly give a new aspect to many districts through which he passed, and future travellers will find occasion to wonder at the dissimilarity between his description and their observations.

But, that we may observe some degree of order, in our further account of Dr. Buchanan's work, we shall proceed to state the extent and route of his journey; and then shall present what extracts we have selected, with remarks on what appears to us to be the principal and most interesting subjects comprised in his volumes.

Dr. B. was directed by the Marquis Wellesley to pay particular attention to the agriculture of the country through which he passed; to the vegetables cultivated for the use of man; what peculiar kinds were adopted as food; with the modes of their cultivation, the machinery in use, &c.

Also, he was to notice the different breeds of cattle; the extent and tenures of farms; the natural productions of the country; the articles of manufacture, and commerce; the climate and seasons; the general condition of the inhabitants, &c. To these particulars were added the charge of collecting botanical specimens; and the Dr. also considered antiquities, with the history of the various tribes which he visited, as included in his commission.

Dr. B. quitted Madras, April 23, 1800, whence he went by way of Bangalore to Seringapatam, from which city he travelled northward to the boundaries of the Nizam's country. Seringapatam was, as it were, his head quarters; from hence he also journeyed south, through part of Karnata to Coimbetore, to the southern districts of Malabar, then passing through the towns on the coast, he took a northern direction to the limits of the Portuguese territory, whence he returned to Seringapatam, and, at length, to Madras.

Unquestionably, the state and condition of man may justify attention prior to those of any other claimant. Interested as we may be in the cultivation of pepper and spices, or in the manners of the elephant and tiger, nothing is so important to us as the opinions, the practices, the prejudices, the follies, and the superstitions of our race. Great light is thrown on some of these by Dr. B. His report includes as well the learned and dominant classes, the Brahmans, as the outcasts of society, and those who haunt the forest, nor dare receive even a gift "with mien erect." Some of these excite our pity in the highest degrec.

We shall place the Brahmans first.

« PreviousContinue »