Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

regard to any substantial regulation that was executed or could be executed, in the state in which he found it; after having increased every one of those grievances which he pretended to redress, and taken from it all the little resources that remained in it.

We now come to a subsequent period, at which time the state of the country is thus described by Mr. Bristow on the 12th December 1782:

Despotism is the principle upon which every “ measure is founded, and the people in the in“ terior parts of the country are ruled at the “discretion of the Aumil or Fouzdar for the “ time being; they exercise, within the limits of “ their jurisdiction, the powers of life and death, “ and decisions in civil and other cases, in the “ same extent as the sovereign at the capital. “ The forms presented by the ancient institu“ tions of the Mogul empire are unattended to, " and the will of the provincial magistrate is the “ sole law of the people; the total relaxation of “ the Vizier's authority, his inattention and dis“ like to business, leave the Aumils in possession “ of this dangerous power, unawed and uncon" trolled by any opposition of retrospection, or “ the interference of justice. I can hardly

quote an instance, since the Vizier's accession “ to the Musnud, of an Aumil having been pu“ nished for oppression, though the complaints

8

66 of

“ of the people and the state of the country, are “ notorious proofs of the violences daily. com« mitted ; it is even become unsafe for travel“ lers to pass, except in large bodies-murders, “ thefts and other enormities shocking to hu

manity are committed in open day.”

In another paragraph of the same letter, he says,

“ Such has been the system of this govern“ ment, that the oppressions have generally

originated with the Aumils; they have been

rarely selected for their abilities or integrity, “ but from favour, or the means to advance a

large sum : upon being appointed to their

office, the Aumil enters upon his trust, ruined “ in reputation and fortune, and unless he ac

complishes his engagements, which is seldom “ the case, disgrace and punishment follow, and

though the balance of revenue may be vigor" ously demanded of him, it has not been usual “ to institute any inquiry for oppression; the “ Zemindars thus left at the mercy of the Aumils « are often driven to rebellion--the weak are

obliged to submit to his exactions or fly the “ country, and the Aumil, unable to reduce the

more powerful, is compelled to enter into a

disgraceful compromise; every Zemindar looks " to his fort for protection, and the country is

L 4

“ crowded

crowded with them; Almas Ali Khan has not “ less than seven hundred in his districts; thus “ it has become a general custom to seize the “ brother, son, or some near relation or depend“ ent of the different Zemindars, as hostages for “ the security of the revenue; a great Aumil 56 will sometimes have three or four hundred of “.these hostages, whom he is obliged to confine “ in places of security—a few men like Almas “ Ali Khan and Coja Din ul Dun have, from “ their regularity in performance of pecuniary

engagements, rendered themselves useful to “ the Vizier. A strict scrutiny into his affairs

was at all times irksome to his Excellency, " and none of his ministers or officers about his

person possessing the active persevering spirit “ requisite to conduct the detail of engagements “ for a number of small farms, it became conve“ nient to receive a large sum from a great “ farmer without trouble or deficiency; this “ system was followed by the most pernicious

consequences, these men were above all con“.trol, they exacted their own terms, and “ the districts they farmed were most cruelly “ oppressed; the revenue of Rohilcund is re“ duced above a third, and Almas Ali Khan's “ administration is well known to have been “ extremely violent.”

We

your latter

you observe

We will next read to your Lordslıips an extract from Captain Edwards's evidence Q. “ Had you any opportunity of observing the general face of the country in the time of Sujah Dowlah ? A. I had. Q. Did you

remark

any

difference in the general state of the country at that time, and the period when

you

made observation; did

any difference between the condition of the country at that time and that of Sujah Dowlah in the year 1774, the latter period you have mentioned ?-A. I did; a very material difference. Q. In what respect ?--A. In the general aspect that the country bore and the cultivation of the country, that it was infinitely better cultivated in 1774 than it was in 1783. Q. You said you had no opportunity of obserying the face of the country till you was appointed aid-de-camp to the Nabob?--A. No; except by inarching and countermarching; I marched in the

year 1774 through the Nabob Sujah ul Dowlah's provinces into Rohilcund. Q. Had you those opportunities from the time of your going there in 1774?-A. I had; but not so much as I had after being appointed aid-de-camp to the Vizier, because I was always before in a :subordinate situation, I marched in a direct line before, with the troops; but afterwards, when I was aidde-camp to his Excellency, I was my own master and made frequent excursions into the different

parts

parts of the country. Q. Had you an opportunity of observing the difference in the general happiness and disposition of the people?--A. I had. Q. Did you observe a difference in that respect also, between your first coming and the year 1783 ?-A. Yes, a very sensible difference; in Sujah ul Dowlah's time the country was in a very flourishing state, in merchandise, cultivation, and every article of commerce, and the people then seemed to be very happy under his government, which latterly was not the case, because the country in reality appeared in the year 1774 in a flourishing state, and in the year 1783 it appeared comparatively forlorn and desolate. Q. Was the court of Azoph ul Dowlah, when you left India, "equal in point of splendour to what it was in the time of Sujah ul Dowlah?

4. By no means ; it was not equally splendid, but far inferior. Q. Were the dependents and officers belonging to the court paid in the same punctual manner ?—A. No; I really cannot say whether they were paid more regularly in Sujah Dowlah's time, only they appeared more wealthy and more able to live in a splendid style in his time than they ever have done since his death."

Here then your Lordships see the state of the country in 1783. Your Lordships may trace the whole progress of these evils step by step from

the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »