30 SEPTEMBER 1865, Page 8


IT is not often that a volume of proceedings of an asso- ciation offers much to arrest a reader's attention. Yet any one who has the least capacity for appreciating that most interesting and delicate of all English political problems, the relation of England to the native races of India, cannot fail to be struck by the contents of the volume of 200 pages or so which details the proceedings of a body that has been often called, seriously as well as in joke, _the " Oudh Parlia- ment." One of the most remarkable features of the late Lord Canning's policy in India towards eradicating not only the rebellion itself, but its causes for the future, was the course he took towards the Oudh talookdars. He found the aris- tocracy of Oudh our foes ; he left them our friends. Boldly accepting the fact that in that country we had met with hereditary chieftains who possessed the confidence of a warlike people, and would be followed to the death by their tenantry, instead of trying to crush their power, he sought to legalize, strengthen, and, so to speak, socialize it. He bound them to our rule by the grant of the right of primogeniture, but coupled with absolute freedom of disposal by will ; he sought to bind them to one another, to utilize their influence, and at the same time to bring them under the control of public opinion, by encouraging them to form themselves into a consultative body, called the "British Indian Association of Oudh ;" and when they had dune so, to show his sense of the importance of the experi- ment, he bestowed on the association a palace—the famous Kaiser Bagh—for its domicile.

The association is a peculiar one. According to its rules " every native talookdar of an undivided estate in Oudh pay- ing an annual revenue to Government of 5000 rupees and upwards" is " reckoned a member" (subject, however, to election by the general meetings), although "any other native gentleman of Hindustan " is also eligible as such. The contributions of members are not even discretional, but they "pay an annual subscription which, in the opinion of the committee, may be commensurate to their respective positions in society." Imagine all English landowners worth 10001. a year and upwards united in one body, and assessed by a committee chosen from among themselves at varying amounts according to their social standing, and you will have a faint idea of the singular association in question. To this it must be added, that although not very definitely worked out, a sort of federal organization seems to be recognized, the " twelve districts of Oudh " being all repre- sented in the Committee, and distinctions of districts being otherwise acknowledged. The object of the association is "so to help Her Majesty's administration in Hindostan, and especially in Oudh, that it may prove conducive to the wel- fare equally of the people of Britain and of this country." It purposes " to petition the constituted authorities to alter or cancel" any existing or projected laws which may appear injurious, " to point out any errors or defects in the adminis- tration of the law ;" to " pray for the introduction" of bene- ficial laws ; and to "submit to the notice of the proper authorities" any "grievance which may operate as a prece- dent." To carry out this novel political experiment there was needed some other element than the Brahmins, Chettriyas, and Mussulmans of Oudh itself, our subjects of yesterday. This was at hand in the person of a high-caste Bengali Brahmin, who during the rebellion had made himself conspicuous by supporting the Government, and had been recommended by Lord Canning to settle in Oudh, and rewarded by a grant of land. Familiar with English usages and the English language, he became Honorary Secretary to the association (which he had in fact devised), and to a great extent its main-spring, editing its publications, and supplying it at once with some business experience and with the pen of the ready writer. The British Indian Association of Oudh exhibits to us there- fore a reflex action of English civilization on the native mind of Oudh, through that of Bengal. Sometimes indeed the worthy Baboo rather overdoes his work. He bestows some forty rules on the association, and the result of them is discovered to be that it requires two years for a candi- date to be elected. Hence a richly comic scene. Tujummul Hossein Khan has proposed in the Committee of the associa- tion a friend of his, Meer Wajid Ali, holding talooks which pay 12,000 rs. yearly to Government. The chairman, Maha- rajah Mann Singh—a name well known to all who know anything about Oudh—reads out to him the rule vesting the election of members in the general meetings, which are annual, and requiring candidates to be proposed at one meeting and elected by another. Tujummul Hossein Khan acknowledges that he had forgotten the rule. But " there are so many rules of the association, and our happy gatherings are so few, that one might as well try to remember all the circulars of Government as to remember all the rules of the association." And the rule is injudicious, nay, most irritating. What will his friend " think of our association, if with downcast looks I inform him that we admit no man, however respectable, or owning how

many districts, who does not sigh and curse for the honour of admission for two years . . . We ought to des- pise a man, so devoid of the feelings of a gentleman that he could calmly wait for two long years for the honour of being elected." And " if no one else will, I will, at the coming general meeting, propose the alteration of this and some other rules which are, I know, equally objectionable." Other speakers express their concurrence in his sentiments. " It would seem," says one sly satirist, Thakoor Jowahir Singh, " we thought we were living in the Sutya Jog, in which men lived thousands of years, when we made the rule. The life of man has been considerably reduced in the present Balee Jog." But with all this " chaffing " of their Honorary Secretary the members of the association fully appreciate the value of his services, and in November, 1862, they presented him with a gold medal, on which is inscribed, " Oudh's love and gratitude, through its British Indian Asso- ciation, to Baboo Dukhinarunjun Mookerjee Bahadoor." Booth to say, the association seems to an English eye a little too much given to the presentation of complimentary addresses, to say nothing of the more practical compliments embodied in the foundation of the " Wingfield Munzil," to commemorate the "just and benign administration" of that gentleman, and in the establishment of the Canning College as a memorial of Lord Canning. And yet, when one looks through these various addresses, there is scarcely one which has not that in it or connected with it which deserves to be recorded. There is something almost startling to read that on the occasion of the death of Prince Albert, the intelligent and influential Hindoos "spontaneously abstained from the pleasures of the great national festival of Holee, observing simply its religious ceremonies," whilst the Mohammedans also "willingly resolved to forego the usual amusements of the Eed," and that such proceedings were "never known in the annals of the land, on occasions of similar mourning, ex- cept on the death of the Emperor Akber." But the death of Lord Canning came still more home to the talookdars. Mama Singh's speech on this occasion, in particular, was one worthy of any European statesman, and rising to real eloquence, when, after comparing Lord Canning to the great l{indoo hero, Rama, he thus sketched out his course during the rebel- lion :—" Dealing out, like Justice herself, signal punishment to rebellion and murder, he never lost sight of the dif- ference between simple rebellion and murder. After reading the fullest lesson to rebels and murderers — a lesson which will not be forgotten in the country— he next remembered the duty of forgiveness to misguided men. He never lost sight of the fact that it was the duty of a king to .punish crime as an example, not to con- vert his kingdom into a waste." And yet there is some- thing more touching in the homely simplicity with which another Rajah, after declaring that there was nothing to be said after the previous speakers, added, "Nor if there was anything to be said, did he see much necessity for saying it. The real business for which they had come from their homes was to adopt the best means of expressing their regard for Lord Canning, and he thought it was best to adopt at once the resolutions,"—i. e., those as to the establishment of the Can- ning College.

The main interest indeed of the volume consists in the op- portunity which it affords us of looking through the eyes of other races at events and proceedings which we are ac- customed to view only from our own stand-point,—in the analogies and the contrasts to ourselves which thus become evolved. An Exeter Hall meeting begins with prayer ; here we read of the opening of the first committee-meeting of the association, that " pursuant to the ancient usage of Hindustan the chief Bhat [Baid] recited passages from Hindu history." Nothing is more curious, again, than the whole course of Brahmin reasoning as urged by Dukhinarunjun Mookerjee and Mann Singh against female infanticide—a crime, be it observed, from which the Brahmin caste is free. Take a single argument, which may make some to smile, who are familiar with the speaker's history, and which yet was pro- bably put forward without any conscious hypocrisy. " Accord- ing to the Shasters," said Maun Singh, " a fourth part of the sins of ryots falls upon the Rajah of the country. Thousands of such immolations by my tenants have so loaded me with sin as to outweigh the pious actions of my life." In some in- stances facts are stated which will be new to many Europeans even when familiar with native usage. It is the common idea among Anglo-Indians that a Brahmin can cook for all castes. But Mann Singh states that "a Brahmin of one caste will not eat food cooked by a Brahmin of another caste," nor even "food cooked by a stranger Brahmin of his own caste . . . . nor can a Chettreya eat food cooked by a Chettreyi of another caste, aye, nor even food cooked by a Brahmin, except the latter be the particular Brahmin, or one of the few Brahmins whose cooking is accepted without scruple by the Chettrey of the particular section of a caste to which he belongs." This is not tho place to dwell on the political aspects of the work of the association. It is painful indeed to note that the volume which opens with expressions of gratitude and active concurrence with European effort,s, shows at its close the first outbreak of that dismay and distrust which Sir John Lawrence's proceedings in reference to the land question in Oudh have raised. Suffice it to say that it appears by the present Governor-General to be deemed consistent with states- manship to order "an investigation in every village, to deter- mine what cultivators, if any, have a right of occupancy either at fixed, or beneficial, or market rates." What would pro- perty be worth in Ireland on the morrow of such an announce- ment ?

One word more must be added. Although of course swayed by their own self-interest, these Oudh talookdars are not blinded by it. Nothing can be finer than the rebuke given by Rajah Jugpal Singh to a brother talookdar who had given " such an inaccurate statement " of a custom as "he was not prepared to hear in that Committee." "The Government has done the Committee the honour to ask its opinion on the subject. It was not for them to give a dishonest or interested opinion. The Committee ought to be always careful of their honesty and honour. If they sacrificed these, their opinions and representations will have no value and carry no weight, nor would Government think it worth while to ask their opinions. The Government want to know what is the custom, not what custom would bo advantageous to the talookdars." Nearly all the members, it is stated, concurred in the views of Jugpal Singh, and the reply to Government was drawn up in a sense restrictive of the talookdar's claim. Let those who have always a sneer against ' native mendacity' on their lips take the fact to heart.