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but the shade. The chill blast of winter is unknown; the feafons are only marked by an arbitrary number of nights and days. Property being in some measure unnecessary, becomes of little value ; and men submit without resistance to violations of right, which may hurt but cannot destroy them. Their religious inftitutions incline them to peace and submission. The vulgar live with the austerity of philosophers, as well as with the abstinence of devotees. Averse theinfelves to the commila fion of crimes, they resent no injuries from others; and their low diet cools their temper to a degree which paffion cannot ina flame.
Notwithstanding the abstinence and indolence of the natives of India, they were in some degree industrious, and their own arts and the natural productions of their country, rendered them opulent; wealth accumulated in the progress of time upon their hands, and they became objects of depredation to the fierce nations of the northern Asia.
Asia, the seat of the greatest empires, has been always the nurse of the most abject llaves. The mountains of Persia have not been able to stop the progress of the tide of despotism, neither has it been frozen in its course through the northern Tartary by the chill air of the north. The Arabs of the defart alone possess liberty on account of the sterility of their foil; but though despotism governs Asia, it appears in different countries under various forms. These various forms our Author delineates; after which he shews how peculiarly the faith of Mahomined is calculated for despotism, and that it is one of the greatest causes which must fix for ever the duration of that species of government in the east. The particulars here infiited upon by Mr. Dow, are, the unlimited power which Mahommedanism gives to every man in his own family; the law of compensation for murder; the frequent bathing inculcated by the Coran ; the doctrine of a rigid fate, or absolute predeftination; the extensive polygamy permitted by the law of Mahommed ; and the concealment of women, together with its effects on the manners.
Thus the seeds of despotisin, which the nature of the climate and the fertility of the soil had fown in India, were reared to perfect growth by the Mahommedan faith. When a people, says our Author, have been long subjected to arbitrary power, their return to liberiy is arduous and almost impollible. Slavery, by the strength of custom, is blended with human nature, and that undefined something called public virtue exists no more: the subject never thinks of reformation, and the prince, who only has it in his power, will introduce no innovations to abridge his own authority. Were even the despot pofleffed of the enthusiasm of public spirit, the people would revolt againit the in
troduction of freedom, and revert to that form of government which takes the trouble of regulation from their hands.
“The fimplicity of despotism recommends it to an indolent and ignorant race of men. Its obvious impartiality, its prompe justice, its immediate severity against crimes, dazzle the eyes of the superficial, and raise in their minds a veneration little thart of idolatry for their prince. When he is active and determined in his measures, the great machine moves with a velocity which throws vigour into the very extremities of the empire. His violence and even his caprices are virtues, where the waters must be always agitated to preserve their freshness, and indolence and irresolution can be his only ruinous vice : the first indeed may injure the state, but by the latter it must be undone. A severe prince, by his jealousy of his own authority, prevents the ty. ranny of others; and, though ficrce and arbitrary in himself, the subject derives'a benefit from his being the sole despot. His rage ralls heavy on the dignified llaves of his presence, but the people escape his fury in their distance from his hand.
• The despotic form of government is not, however, fo terrible in its nature, as men born in free countries are apt to imagine. Though no civil regulation can bind the prince, there is one great law, the ideas of mankind with regard to right and wrong, by which he is bound. When he becomes an affaffin, he teaches others to use the dagger against himself; and wanton acts of injustice, often repeated, destroy by degrees that opinion which is the sole foundation of his power. In the indifference of his subjects for his person and government, he becomes liable to the conspiracies of courriers and the ambitious fi hemes of his relations: he may have many Naves, but he can have no friends : his person is exposed to injury; a certainty of impunity may arm even cowards againft him, and thus, by his excessive ardour for power, he with his authority lofes his life.'
Despotism, according to Mr. Dow, appears in its most en. gaging form under the imperial house of Timur. This observation he illustrates, by taking a survey of the characters of the several princes of that house; and then he gives an account of the condition of landed property, the titles of honour, the form of justice, and the council of ftate. The differtation is concluded with some reflections on the communication of power, the rules of succesion to the throne, and the mildness of the Hindoo government.
Our Author opens his enquiry into the state of Bengal with oblerving, that the affairs of India, though long of great importance to this kingdom, have only very lately become objects of public attention. Facts, says he, coming from afar made little impresion : thcir novelty could not rouze, nor their va
riety amuse the mind. With a self-denial uncommon in a fpisited nation, we heard without emotion of the great actions of some of our countrymen, and if we listened to any detail of oppressions committed by others, it was with a phlegmatic indifference, unworthy of our boafted humanity. A general distafte for the subject prevailed : an age marked with revolution and change seemed ready to pass away, without being sensible of events which will render it important in the eyes of pofterity.
But as the current of the public opinion has at length taken another direction, and men thew an inclination to be informed, together with a willingness to correct mistakes and to redress grievances, Mr. Dow has been induced to commit his observations to the press. He has been for years a filent fpectator of the transactions of the British nation in the east, and it is from the means of information which he has possessed, that he hopes to give something new to the world. With hands guiltless of rapine and depredation, he assumes the pen without préjudice, and he will use it with all decent freedom without fear.'
Setting out with these advantages, our Author, after giving a brief account of the various revolutions of Bengal, confiders the policy of the Moguls with regard to the different tenures of lands, the modes of imposing and collecting taxes, and the civil officers and courts of justice. Under the laft head we are informed that the despotism of Hindoftan was never a government of mere caprice and whim. The Mahommedans carried into their conquests a code of laws, which circumscribed the will of the Prince. The principles and precepts of the Coran, with the commentaries upon that book, form an ample body of laws, which the house of Timur always observed ; and the practice of ages had rendered some antient usages and edicts so facred in the eyes of the people, that no prudent monarch would chufe to violate either by a wanton act of power. It was, besides, the policy of the Prince to protect the people from the oppressiveness of his servants. Rebellion sprang always from the great, and it was necessary for him to secure a party against their ambition among the low.
From the confideration of the civil officers and courts of jura tice, Mr. Dow proceeds to explain the revenue and commerce of Bengal and Behår, under the imperial house of Timur; and here we learn, that though despotism is not the most favourable government for commerce, it nevertheless flourished greatly under the strict justice of that house. Sensible of the advantages which they themselves would derive from a free commercial intercourse between their subjects, they were invariably the protectors of merchants. The military ideas which they brought from Tartary, prevented the principal servants of the crown from engaging in trade, and therefore monopolies of every kind
were discouraged and almost unknown. No government in Europe was ever more severe against forestalling and regrating, than was that of the Moguls in India, with regard to all the branches of commerce. A small duty was raised by the crown; but this was amply repaid, by the never violated security given to the merchant.
Our Author next comes to the state of Bengal under the revolted Nabobs; and though the change was, in some respects, unfavourable to the inhabitants, it was not inconsistent with their being upon the whole in a very frosperous condition. • an intimate knowledge of the country, lays Mr. Dow, enabled the Nabobs to prevent their government om degenerating into absolute oppression. They had sense enough to fee, that their own power depended upon the prosperity of their subjects; and their residence in the province gave them an opportunity of doing justice with more expedition and precision than it was done in the times of the empire. The complaints of the injured, from a posesion of the means of information, were better understood. The Nabobs were less restricted than formerly, in inflicting necessary punishments; and, as they were accountable to no-superior for the revenue, they had it in their power to semit unjust debts and taxes, wbich could not · be borne. The miseries of Bengal, in short, were reserved for other times. Commerce, manufactures, and agriculture, were encouraged; for it was not then the maxim to take the honey by destroying the swarm,
The folly of the Prince had no destructive effect on the prosperity of the people. The Nabobs, carrying down, through their own independent government, the idea of the mild despotism of the house of Timur, seemed to mark out to the people certain lines, which they themselves did not chuse either to overleap or dettroy. Many now in Britain were eye-witneffes of the truth of this allertion. We appeal to the testimony of those who marched through Bengal after the death of Surageul Dowla, that, at that time, it was one of the richest, most populous, and best cultivated kingdoms in the world. The great men and merchants were wallowing in wealth and luxury; the inferior tenants and the manufacturers were blessed with plenty, content, and ease: but the cloud which has since obIcured this sunshine was near.'
The state of Bengal under the East-India Company is largely discusied by our Author, and the subjects particularly considered by him are, the treaty for the Dewanny, the decline of commerce; the monopolies of falt, beetle-nut, and tobacco; the mode of collecting the revenues ; and the adminiftration of jusrice. Under each of these heads we meet with a number of acts, which display, in the most striking light, the wretched
and cruel policy that hath lately taken place in Bengal, and the perusal of which would be very interesting to our Readers ; but we must content ourselves with giving Mr. Dow's concluding observations upon this part of his enquiry.
• The idea of the present state and government of Bengal, conveyed in the preceding sections, juftifies the following conclusion, That the Company, in the management of that great kingdom, have hitherto mistaken their own interest. To increase the revenues was the point to which their servants invariably directed their attention ; but the means employed defeated their views, and became ruinous to a people whom their arms had subdued. Though they exported the specie, though they checked commerce by monopoly, they heaped opprellion upon additional taxes, as if rigour were necessary to power.
• Much penetration was not necessary to discover, that it was not by the revenues of Bengal alone that either the British nation or the Company were to be enriched. A country destitute of mines, deprived of foreign commerce, must, however opulent from better times, in the end be exhausted. The transitory acquiGtion, upon the opinion that all the specie of Bengal had centered in Great Britain, would have no defirable effect : the fugitive wealth would glide through our hands; and we would have only our folly to regret, when the sources would happen to become dry. Bengal, without ruin to itself, could spare none of its specie; and the objects to which our aim Thould have been directed, are as obvious as they are falutary. We ought to have encouraged agriculture, the trade with the rest of Asia, and internal manufacture.
Agriculture constitutes the wealth of every state, not merely commercial. Bengal, a kingdom fix hundred miles in length, and three hundred in breadth, is composed of one vast plain of the most fertile foil in the world. Watered by many navigable rivers, inhabited by fifteen millions of industrious people, capable of producing provifions for double the numnber, as appears from the desarts which oppression has made; it seems marked out, by the hand of Nature, as the most advantageous region of the carth for agriculture. Where taxes are moderate, where security of property is joined to a rich soil, cultivation will encrease, the necessaries of life will become cheap, as well as the gross materials which manufacturers reguire. Manufactures, by these means, would not only fall in their price, but they would be produced in a greater quantity; larger investments might be made by the Company, the consumption would encrease, and the profits rise. Bengal can, in short, be only useful in the prosperity and industry of its inhabitants. Deprive it of the last remains of its wealth, and you juin an unfortunate people, without enriching yourselves.