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JULY, 1863.



HE general accounts received from India of late are so encouraging, the signs of progress are so clearly visible, and the political horizon is so free from clouds, that we are tempted to hope that there may be, for some years at least, a cessation of those startling and unpleasant occurrences which disturb all calculations, and have hitherto terminated in war, annexation, discord, or insolvency. Several numbers of this Magazine have contained expositions of the principles and details of divers Indian departments, or stock subjects of discussion. In the present paper we shall endeavour to give a brief summary of Indian politics as they are at present, and we shall indicate some of the dangers by which the prospect, fair and alluring as it is at present, may at any time be overclouded.

Foremost in the catalogue of solid and permanent improvements is the extension of a complete railway system, which is to connect all the great cities of India with each other and with the sea-board. One of the most serious drawbacks to reforms of every kind has been, hitherto, the want of communication. The destitution of roads did not indeed prevail to the extent generally credited in England; but-with the exception of one really Roman road from Calcutta to Delhi, of sundry metalled roads in the north-west provinces, in Madras, and in part of Bombay, which were often indifferently repaired, or terminated when a few more miles would have made them connecting media-we were, till very lately, in a state not much better


than the worst administered European kingdoms. Parts of India, in this respect, were about on a par with Spain, or the Abruzzi, or Greece. Bengal proper only commenced its roads on a definite system within the last five years; and no part of India could be said to have reached the stage of development which had been reached by England in the days of Macadam, in the pre-railway period; whilst other parts were still in the condition of the Highlands before the celebrated advent of General Wade. The consequences of this defect in civilization were felt not only by the trader, the merchant, and the agriculturist, but in every department of the state where activity was of importance, or European supervision was imperative to success. The opening of some railways, and the extension of others which had been in working order for a few hundred miles, have strengthened tenfold the hands of the executive government, while they have lessened the danger of those fearful visitations which arise from excessive drought or inundation. Benares, the safety of which hung in the balance for weeks in 1857, and which was not accessible for troops by land or water under a fortnight from Calcutta, is now twentysix hours distant from that place. A moderate hiatus remains here and there in the whole line of nearly one thousand miles, or twice the distance from London to Aberdeen, which separates Calcutta from Delhi. Generally, the iron feelers are being pushed across the peninsula from Bombay to Agra. Madras is even


now connected with the Malabar coast and the sea by a line of rail. Calcutta is linked to the great river Ganges by a second additional line, which is greater in extent than that between London and Birmingham, and which passes through districts as rich, as populous, and as highly cultivated as our midland counties. In two years' time, it is more than probable that the whole of India will be either girdled or pierced by several important lines of communication, which will give the most effective assistance in foreign warfare, and will render a general mutiny impossible. We shall thus hasten at once from the extreme of barbarism to the acme of civilization -from a normal difficulty of intercourse, which disheartened the man of commerce, fettered the administrator, and paralyzed the statesman, to an interchange of resources which will lend wings to enterprise, and bestow ubiquity on our armies: we shall turn from a picture such as that presented by Gaul and Britain, with their unpierced forests and their naked Celts, previous to the Roman occupation, to one such as the most vigorous of ancient rulers in conquered dependencies, the Cæsar of France and the Agricola of our own island, never even imagined in their wildest dreams.

therefore lines should be made to Juggernaut. A great many of these anticipations are unrealized, as those who had really studied the country well knew they would be. The natives flock to the newly-opened stations. The working classes, and those who seek service or ply their trades at a distance from their own homes, have positively learnt to act on the axiom that a saving of time is a saving of money. The higher classes may be seen on a Saturday evening leaving the dust and heat of town for their homes, fifty, sixty, or a hundred miles down the line of rail, with carpet-bags in their hands, in unconscious imitation of a London citizen, to return on the Monday in time for the work of the court or the counting-house. The amount of merchandize transmitted by rail is already considerable; and, as often noticed in similar instances, no sensible diminution has yet been felt in the bulk and number of commodities transported by water or by ordinary lines of road; on the contrary, the common traffic of the country seems doubled, and is not only conveyed to certain parts on the lines of railway, but runs parallel to, and seems to compete with, the new and faster conveyances. A characteristic feature of high Indian official life will no doubt be much modified, if not entirely erased, by the introduction of railways. Viceroys and Governors, it is well known, have hitherto been used to make the tour of their dominions during the cold season of the year under canvas. The large camp is pitched in due form, and in spaces scrupulously measured, at Benares, or Agra, or in Central India, at any time between the 1st of November and the 1st of March. A squadron of dragoons, a troop of irregular cavalry, commanded by some dashing and expert swordsman, a wing of a regiment of the line, form the escort of the Ruler of Hindostan. Secretaries, and chaplains, and a small army of clerks are a part of the cortége; and all the comforts and appliances of civilized life, servants, and stores, and bulky records, with long lines of camels, elephants, and

We believe it scarcely possible to exaggerate the solid advantages which a complete system of railways will confer on India. Not the least slow to perceive this benefit are the natives, from the rajah or minister who has a seat in the Council of the Governor-General, to the clerk in a Government office on sixty pounds a year, and the cooly, who by unskilled labour gains sixpence a day. Some harmless fancies and speculations were indulged at the time when railways were first started, on the supposed fancies or prejudices of the native population. They would, it was said, require distinctions of caste to be provided for by separation of carriages; they would never find out the value of time; they would prefer to walk or take a boat; they would use railways only when going on a pilgrimage, and

Arabs, give to the camp the appearance of a huge bazaar, and recall to the historical student the life-like pictures of the progress of Oriental monarchs which are handed down to us by Tavernier, the well-travelled jeweller, and by Bernier, the amusing French doctor, who corresponded with Colbert. Of course some object is always attained by these expensive and imposing tours. Native grandees, who themselves often join the viceregal camp with a horde of retainers, are keenly alive to pageantry and show. Political objects are thus furthered; the different gradations of native rank are rigorously respected; the tried fidelity and valuable services of one rajah or nawab in the hour of peril are splendidly rewarded; while the partial disaffection, the cautious inactivity, or even the open revolt of another, are recalled to his memory in suitable and dignified language, only to be at once consigned to oblivion. On these occasions the English Viceroy has repeatedly exhibited, with lasting effect, the majesty, the might, and the mercy of the Christian Government which he represents; and kings and princes have secretly and openly acknowledged that the high-bred foreigner with the star and the riband, if alien to them in blood, language, and religion, was still not unworthy to sway the sceptre of Akbar or Shah Jehan. On such a tour, Lord Auckland struck admiration, and even awe, into the penetrating mind of Runjeet Sing; Lord Hardinge exhibited to the natives of Upper India the spectacle of a gallant soldier, lopped in battle, who was frank of speech, and capable of wielding the pen as well as the sword; Lord Dalhousie, with that winning smile which is still preserved to us on canvas, and that silvery voice which charmed all his hearers, turned the Sikh chieftains from formidable opponents into valuable allies, and brought the astute ruler of Cashmere to acknowledge in open durbar, that only the British Government could be his strong tower of defence; and Lord Canning, calm, stately, but impressive in manner, in accents not unworthy of

his illustrious father, opened new views of their rights and their duties to the minds of the wondering Talookdars of Oude. But these objects have been purchased by sundry inconveniences felt by the lower order of natives, and by grievances endured in silence, or, if made known, drowned in the noise and bustle of the important progress. Wherever the Governor-General pitches his camp, the price of the commonest necessaries rises to an unexampled height; the employment of forced labour for carriage and transport becomes inevitable; thefts are of nightly occurrence; instances of oppression on the part of native subordinates pass sometimes unredressed, and often undetected; whole districts are kept in a state of agitation and ferment; and the expenditure of the public money on these showy progresses forms a considerable item in the annual budget. It is more than probable, then, that with the gradual extension of railways these marches, with their impedimenta, their expenditure, the interruption which they cause to business, their grandeur, and their oppressiveness, will be curtailed, if not wholly discontinued. Not that we would wish a Governor-General to live in seclusion, or to attempt to govern India only through voluminous correspondence, or an occasional manifesto in print; but it will be comparatively easy henceforth for the Viceroy to transport himself quietly from one seat of local government to another, to convene a meeting of chiefs in one year at Agra, in another at Lucknow, in a third at Jubbulpore or Saugor, and in a fourth at Sotacamund, and to avoid the hindrance to business, and the annoyance to the lower classes which the progress of a huge camp, at the rate of ten miles a day for three months together, invariably entails. We conclude this part of our subject by noticing that the first step in the introduction of railways into India was taken by Lord Hardinge. The foundation of a complete system of railway communication, preceded by the telegraph, is the work of Lord Dalhousie, as

clear-sighted in these measures of internal reform as he was vigorous in the pacification of a newly-annexed province. The survey, occupation, and delivery of the land required for the lines of railway, coupled with an investigation into complicated rights and tenures, and with a satisfactory settlement of all claims and disputes, is the work of members of the civil service; and the successful construction of extensive railway works, under difficulties of climate, under scarcity of labour, and subject to interruptions by revolt and anarchy, is the legitimate boast of civil engineers such as Mr. Turnbull and others, of whom any state in Europe might justly be proud.

We repeat, that from the early completion of a connected and not too expensive system of railways, we may fairly expect a security to our tenure of empire, an equalization in the scale of prices, a facility for the performance and the supervision of the hundred details of civil administration, an amount of solid comfort and convenience to all classes of natives and Europeans, and a certainty of diffused, increasing, and permanent prosperity, which are not to be hoped for from any other of the political remedies so constantly proposed for alleged Indian maladministration. The railway will be a greater instrument in civilizing India than the sale of waste lands or the redemption of the land-tax, or the abolition of the salt and opium monopolies, or the rejected contract law, which was to convert, by some mysterious and unexplained process, fraudulent and dishonest cultivators into good and true men. The railway system, and the extension of country roads as feeders to railways -to which subject the local governments are devoting their best energies-naturally lead us to the subject of cotton, of which we all have heard so much lately, in the shape of pamphlets, leading articles, and speeches at public meetings. The conclusions to which all inquiries on this important topic appear to point are these:-In every presidency of India there are considerable tracts

in which cotton could be grown, of a staple not unsuited to English manufacture; and if the whole of the deficiency in the Lancashire market has not yet been supplied from our colonies and dependencies, it is indisputable that a very rapid and a large increase in Indian cotton has taken place within the last two years. It may well be doubted whether Indian cotton can ever successfully compete with the American article, either in cheapness of production or in suitability of texture; and it is quite certain that, unless the growers in India may rely on finding a permanent market for their produce, or if they are haunted with fears that this plant, raised with considerable pains, will afford an inadequate remuneration, or none at all, they will not increase the acreage hitherto set apart for this sort of produce. In short, if the ports of America are reopened, and the former supply of the cheaper, better, and more plentiful article be accessible to Manchester, it is feared, and with some grounds, that Indian cotton will again be neglected by those whose positive and immediate interest it should be to take adequate means for the continuance of the cultivation at its present rate, and even for its greater development. The opinion of all practical persons seems to indicate that those means would be the purchase of cotton from the cultivators on the spot. Experience shows that the Indian ryot will grow anything which will pay him. And it is extremely incorrect to assert that all the higher products of the Indian climate are grown by miserable cultivators, steeped in indigence, who cannot work without advances in cash. All classes or sections of the agriculturists are fat and contented. They possess three or four ploughs, a dozen bullocks, and half a dozen horses in one cluster; they eat many things besides that which is vainly imagined to support all India; and they support widowed relatives, and the families of their sons and brothers. With bullocks not much bigger than a Scotch kyloe, and with ploughs the shape of which

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