RAINES'S NOTES ON THE NORTH-WESTEEN PROVINCES
OF INDIA.* "IN every other country," says Mr. Raikes, "English statesmen debate, deliberate, argue, or protest; in India alone they seem still privileged to act." As applied to the Supreme Government, this claim is perhaps rather exaggerated. We do not know that the Government of India does very much more than legislate; and in that we at home can defy the world. The up-country magistrate in India, no doubt, has the power of action somewhat after the mode of the patriarch and the eadi. He does not indeed exercise his powers so absolutely, for he has several masters over him. His actions of direct commission, too, are bounded by regulation as well as law ; but he can do some good, as we all can by doing our duty earnestly ; he can do much good by exercising his influence ; but perhaps his greatest potency is in preventing the evil that may be worked by the ignorance of his English and the corruption of his Indian subordinates. If he properly fills his office, he is thrown among the people like a patriarch of old, a baron of the middle ages, or the chieftain of a clan, with the advantage which those potentates wanted, of not being mixed up with the feuds or biased by the prejudices of the people he has to rule. If he is a man of an inquiring and philosophical turn, he has often a very curious field of historical investigation opened to him. He can study the institutions of the "Caucasian race" in their rough and early de- velopment; our municipal and county system, in the village and territorial systems ; our jury, and even our parliaments, in the punchayet or village councils of many parts of India. Or, 'which is quite as likely, he may learn that similar circumstances pro- duce similar results all the world over. He may further learn to modify his book studies, and have his faith shaken even in exact science; for many things are rightly done in India that are wrong in political economy or in "the perfection of reason."
Of this dam of officials is Mr. Charles bikes; and, to judge from his book, an active and observing one. At all events, he ex- hibits observation in these Notes, containing the results of his ex- periences; and activity in some of the stories, in which he figures under the ready disguise of a friend. The laws and usages of North-western 'India, exemplified by living eases, is the main subject of his book. The particular branches which occupy his pen are—infanticide among the Rajpoots ; the history and working of the land-revenue system in Bengal and the North-western pro- vinces, with its ruinous effects in the former, and sketches of its operation among the Rajpoots. There are likewise some notes upon our police system, and the duties of a magistrate and collector. The actual crime of infanticide, the real law of the land-tenures, and the text, so to speak, of the other rules and regulations, form the themes of Mr. bikes; but they are varied, embodied, and ani- mated in a very lifelike and interesting way. We have the causes celebres of the questions, introduced by sketches of the general manners of the people with the story of the particular family whose ease is used to illustrate the law or custom. These are in- terspersed with judicious remarks on our system of rule, the duties of our officials, the nature of their employment, and the spirit that should animate them. All this is done, too, in a lively and attrac- tive manner, and presents a vivid picture of Hindoo life and cha- racter, especially among the Rajpoots. The resemblance of Indian institutions to those of Europe has
been already alluded to, and the probability that circumstances as much as race have caused the likeness. The same remark may be applied to territorial property: accompanied by residence and a degree of power, it always ends in producing something like the squire. The ancient Sabine was a highly respectable man, stand- ing upon the ancient ways; looking with quiet scorn upon new- fangled notions, as long as they did not interfere with him ; gra- cious, perhaps jocose, to his family and dependents, so long as they did not thwart him ; and, like the Devil, "good-tempered when he's pleased." The Spanish, German, and Italian landholders, thou& wanting the broad acres and consequent dignity of a true country gentleman, have something of the same feeling, in a frank and primitive simplicity of manners, pretty stiff prejudices, and a similar sense of their own dignity, so far as a despotic government will allow that article to flourish. Even a French proprietor gets something of territorial manners and ideas—so far as a Frenchman can put off the Frenchman. Here is a "fine old Rajpoot gentle- man.'
"There is no progress about this race. Calcutta Baboos may ape Eng- lish vices, may read the 'Age of Reason,' and sup off ham and champagne; • Notes on the North-western Provinces of India. By Charles Raikee, Magistrate and Collector of Myupoorie. Published by Chapman and Hall.
country dealers and artisans, petty lawyers and publicans, may push on and gather wealth, to spend it in luxury ; the Rajpoot looks on unmoved. Money he may desire, but not for the material luxuries which it can command. He has few wants, fewer aspirations : a mesa of unleavened bread and vege- tables, a few curds and sweetmeats are enough for his food ; a dress of quilted cotton for winter, of white cloth for summer, with a turban for holy- days, these supply his wardrobe. He seldom seeks for any stimulants more powerful than tobacco, or any greater luxury than his hookah. On the whole, though his conduct is regulated by no real moral principle, it is cor- rect and decent ; and you cannot help liking the man, though you cannot quite respect him. He is a fast friend and a bitter enemy, a strange mixture of nature and sophistication. Land he dearly loves, because of the power which landed possessions confer, and the pride which in all countries they feed ; and, except his honour and his son, there is nothing perhaps so dear to him as his land.
"When the Rajpoot stalks forth from his home to the village council, where, under the shade, the elders of his race are assembled, he is easy and
goodnatured in his temper so long as he observes no attempt upon his rights. If, however, he suspect unfair treatment, he soon gets noisy and excited ; opposition makes him violent ; treachery, revengeful. In old times, right gave way to might, and clubs and swords were quickly brought to bear upon a disputed point. Now, after an inordinate amount of clamour, the dis- putants gird up their loins and set off to the collector's eutcherry."
In the olden time, the larger Rajpoot landholder bore a stronger resemblance to the baron of Europe : he had his retainers, and his castle, and did business on the high way or in neighbourinc, dis- tricts. In remoter places this time-honoured custom still°con- tinues, and cattle are " lifted " as opportunity serves. In more settled regions these customs may have fallen into disuse, but the old house with its rough and rustic plenty still remains, untouched by change or fashion. "The most prominent object in such scenes is the old village fort, which has for centuries Sheltered some clan of Rajpoots, half-kings, half-robbers. Passing the underwood in which cattle are grazing, the lotus-covered pond, the groves and orchards which cluster around, you come to the strong-hold whose rising towers look over the surrounding plain. The approach is by a rough steep track, worn deep with the feet of men and cattle. The thick bamboo jungle which once surrounded the walla has been cut down, the moat has been nearly filled up with the rubbish of a century, the massive doors have fallen into decay ; but still there is a rough kind of stateliness, a sort of baronial dignity, hanging about the place. Pushing through a wicket, you come, under a heavy gateway, into the quadrangular enclosure within the walls. Here all tells of rural abundance, and of the dolce far niente of coun- try life. On one side are buffaloes and cows tethered, lazily chewing the cud, or eating their provender out of huge earthenware vessels let into the earth ; on another side is a range of stabling for horses, bullocks, or other cattle. Here a long open passage is filled with the palanquins and bullock-carriages of the family ; there stands a row of closed chambers, stored with the produce of the farm, heaps of grain, oil-cake, or sugar in great reservoirs of unbaked clay, defying damp and vermin. At the further corner of this enclosure is a rough stair, leading up to the flat roofs of the stables and storehouses below. Here are the lounging-places, the beds of the male members of the family, and chambered galleries, leading away to the more private abodes of the women. Your Rajpoot is not very choice about his bedroom or bed, and is satisfied with any corner in which the wind blows upon him, where he can find a place to hang up his trusty sword and buckler close at hand. For a seat, he has a great clumsy wooden platform, or a cart-wheel set up upon legs. The most luxurious have nothing better than a carpet or rug, with great pil- lows of red cloth, stuffed with tow or cotton, of which the shape and size would make an English upholsterer stare. Furniture, besides what we have de- scribed, there is none ; but in the recesses of the wall you may see„ perchance, a bundle of dusty papers, a powder-horn, an ink-stand, and perhaps the pic- ture of some god or hero. Pigeons fly in and out of little boxes fastened against the walls ; and perhaps a stray, melancholy-looking peacock, stalks, sentinel-like along the galleries. The sacred peepul or banyan-tree has been taught to &Lib across the roof, throwing a pleasant shade around. In a quiet corner, as you stoop to look into the deep cool well, the sudden dropping of a curtain, and the clank of a bangle, tell that the female apartments are not far off."
The world moves in cycles—there and back again. Time was when the enterprising Northmen or the mail-clad barons, who as- sisted to conquer or found kingdoms, despised writing. Time rolled on till he who could not write was despised. Time is ap- proaching when something of the old contempt for " clerks " may arise, and in India sooner than at home. Half a century ago, General Wellesley remarked upon the waste of time in the endless writing that went on in the offices ; and, according to Mr. bikes, the Indian himself has got to the same opinion in fact, though as yet the opinion may not affect his speech, and does not influence his practice. "Action, however, and energy, are what we now lay most stress upon, because in days of peace and outward tranquillity these qualities are not always valued at their true price, and their absence is not so pal- pably mischievous as in more stirring times. There is more danger now of men becoming plodding, methodical, mere office functionaries, than of their stepping with too hasty a zeal beyond the limits of the law. There is truth, too, in Jacquemont's sneer—India is governed by sta- tionery, to a more than sufficient extent; and one of the commonest errors of our magistrates, which they imbibe from constant and early Indian associations, is to mistake writing for action, to fancy that dictation will supply the place of exertion. In no other country are so many written orders issued with so much confidence, received with such respect, and broken with such complacency. In fact, as for writing, we believe the infection of the cacoethes scribendi' must first have grown up in the East. It pervades everything, but is more rampant and more out of place in a police-office than anywhere else. It was not the magistrates who originated this passion for scribbling ; but they have never succeeded in repressing it nor, whilst the law requires that every discontented old woman's story shall be taken down in writing, is it to be expected they ever will. The liChayeths worship their pen and ink on certain festivals, and there is a sort of .religio' attaching to written forms and statements, which is not confined to official life but pervades the whole social polity of the writing tribes. An Indian scribe, whose domestic expenditure may average sixpence a day, will keep an account-book with as many columns, headings, and totals, as would serve for the budget of a Chancellor of the Exchequer. To Tudor Mill and such worthies we owe, no doubt, a great deal for the method and order which they infused into public records ; but we have also to thank these knights of the pen for the plaguiest long-figured statements, and the greatest number of such statements, which the world ever saw.
"If, then, the genius of the people lead them to mistake writing for action, we need not wonder if the servants of Government imbibe more or less the
same dangerous error. That such is the genius of the people we need hardly stop to prove. Take an instance from every-day life. A man succeeds to the management of landed property, and deputes an agent to look after it. An English agent under such circumstances would get on his pony, and ride over every part of the estate. An Indian homme d'affaires squats in the most com- fortable place he can find, and prepares, at second-hand, an interminable de- tail of every field, &c. &c. The one would do and see much but write little; the other sees nothing and does nothing but write volumes. Hence, in India we want an accountant for every village ; hence the need for every petty chief to entertain almost as many penmen as ploughmen. Our laws, as we have al- ready hinted, favour this Eastern weakness : if two neighbours quarrel about a drain or a dunghill, a rough word or a hasty blow, their mutual recrimina- tions must all be taken down in black and white, with the statements of all their witnesses, before the smallest legal sentence can be passed. This pro- cess is requisite, not only in cases appealable to the higher courts, but also the pettiest causes in which the order of the magistrate is finaL Tons of paper pass daily into the criminal record-rooms, filled with the most trivial occurrences, described with the greatest possible minuteness. "Such being the idols specua ' which haunt the earliest steps of Indian officials, and such the tendency of the public mind, we need not wonder that he personal prowess, energy, and activity, displayed by men of rank, have held a high, perhaps an undue place in the estimation of the people. Men accustomed to see all official labour Pushed off upon deputies, and to consider power synonymous with ease and luxury, are delighted with a district chief who is as ready to spend the day in the saddle, if need be, as in the cutcherry."