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to £22,819,229, and the estimated expenditure was £2,554,671 in excess of this sum.1
Shallow writers who hastily The necescondemn Bentinck's “unstatesmanlike retrench- sity for ments” should, as a preliminary duty, address them- ment. selves to the examination of these figures. Retrenchment, in the opinion of every one qualified to judge, was indispensable, 2 and Bentinck, as a matter of fact, brought out specific instructions to retrench. The responsibility was with those who drew his orders. His own merit or demerit was confined to the manner in which he carried them out.
In theory, no character is so popular as that of the economical reformer. In practice, retrenchment is the most unpopular policy which a statesman can adopt. The prodigal minister is like the protectionist, he is constantly obliging some friend; the economist is like the free-trader, he is continually offending some interest. Bentinck soon experienced the truth of this assertion. For many years the officers of the Indian army, when employed on active service, had received an extra allowance known in India as batta. When their employment was outside the Company's dominions this allowance was doubled, and they received double batta.. When they were stationed in cantonments, where quarters were provided for them, the. allowance was reduced to onehalf. The Company from a very early date had objected to the issue of double batta, and in 1796 it was abolished in every place except Oudh, where living was supposed to be exceptionally expensive.
The arrangement which was thus made continued for five years. But the additional allowance grant in Oudh had a prejudicial effect on the service, since it made every one desirous of employment in that province. In consequence, in 1801, Oudh was placed on the same footing as the rest of India. But, at the same time, the officers both in Oudh
1 These figures are taken from a Paper presented to Parliament in 1830, No. 22, pp. 14-17. The Paper, however, requires a good deal of analysis to make it intelligible.
2 Cf. Marshman, vol. iii. p. I; Thornton, vol. v. p. 216; and Wilson, vol. iii. p. 246.
and throughout Bengal, who had hitherto been provided with quarters, were required to provide their own homes, and were allowed full batta to cover the expenses of doing so. The Company thought this new settlement extravagant. It was willing to allow full batta to officers on active service in the field. It declined to do more than issue half-batta with free quarters, or half-batta with an allowance for quarters, to officers in cantonments; and in 1814 it issued orders to this effect. Hastings, however, instead of obeying these instructions, sent home a formal statement of objections to them. The Directors adhered to their own views and repeated their orders. But Amherst, who in the meanwhile had succeeded Hastings, refused as steadily as his predecessor to execute their directions; and from 1814 to 1828 the Directors found themselves thwarted in their desire to enforce the reduction. In 1828 they reiterated to Bentinck their positive injunctions to reduce the allowance at all stations within 400 miles of Calcutta. Bentinck could hardly have refused to obey instructions which had been deliberately given to three Governors-General in succession. He contented himself with forwarding to England the formal remonstrance in which Combermere, as Commanderin-Chief, supported the memorials of the army against the decision, and set an example of obedience by giving way. But the decision nearly provoked a mutiny. The officers indulged in language which was unjustifiable among soldiers. They assailed the Governor-General with abuse, they talked of electing delegates to carry their remonstrances to England. But reflection gradually produced wiser counsels, the excitement slowly wore off, the decision was quietly carried out, and the reduction made. 1
The saving which was effected by this reduction was so small that it was possible to doubt its wisdom; and the discontent which it provoked was increased by a general appre
1 Wilson, vol. iii. pp. 242-247 ; Thornton, vol. v. pp. 218–226; Marshman, vol. iii. pp. 2, 4. Wilson, whom Marshman follows, declares that the order was enforced with the concurrence of her Majesty's ministers, including the Duke of Wellington. For Wellington's real opinion, see Ellenborough's Political Diary, vol, ii. pp. 116, 132, 182.
hension that it would be accompanied by other economies. On his first arrival in India, Bentinck appointed two committees for the purpose of reducing the public charges to the scale at which they had stood at the commencement of Amherst's government. The inquiries thus instituted led to gradual reductions which ultimately effected a saving of £1,500,000 a year. However reasonable or desirable such a saving may have been, the servants of the Company, with whose prospects it interfered, could hardly be expected to regard it with satisfaction. Their apprehensions were increased by another circumstance. India had previously been governed in the interests of the English; Bentinck displayed an evident desire to govern it in the interests of the Indians. The separate judicial machinery which Cornwallis had instituted in 1793 had proved from the first incapable of dealing with the mass of work thrown upon it. Bentinck retraced the steps which his predecessor had taken, and decided on reuniting the revenue and judicial departments. This reform, however, if it had stood alone, would not have made the judicial machinery efficient. So long as India was
ployment governed without Native aid, it was impossible, with agency. out incurring a ruinous expense, to employ a staff adequate for the work. Bentinck had the courage to entrust "the primary jurisdiction of all suits, of whatever character or amount, not excluding those instituted against Government, to Native agency."3 Large as the reform proved in a judicial sense, it was attended with still greater national advantages. It removed one cause of Native hatred to the British rule by holding out to the educated native the prospect of obtaining honourable employment. It has been gradually extended to other departments of the Government; and, though much remains to be accomplished in this direction, Native officers are now largely employed in the administration of India.
These changes were not sufficient to terminate the deficiency
1 Wilson, vol. iii. p. 248.
which Amherst's ill-conducted wars and lax administration had created. They were supplemented, however, by two measures which largely increased the resources of Government. The State in India relies chiefly on two kinds of revenue- -one
derived from land, the other from opium. The revenue which it drew from land it owned as the
supreme landlord, and, in theory, every zemindar Provinces.
paid it a fixed rent for the soil which he held. In practice, however, during the corrupt period of Mohammedan government, many zemindars in the North-Western Provinces had been exempted by their rulers on various pretexts from this rent.
The British, in the first instance, recognised these exemptions. But their doing so encouraged forgery and fraud, since every zemindar strove to produce some documentary proof that his own land enjoyed the exemption from the assessment. It was consequently determined to authorise the collectors of revenue to hold a judicial inquiry into the titles of rent-free lands, giving, however, an appeal from the collectors to special commissioners appointed for the purpose.
This decision had been formed before Bentinck reached India. His responsibility in the matter was confined to its execution. In this, however, as in other matters, he infused his own energy into his subordinates, and succeeded in completing a revision of the settlement which otherwise might have been protracted over years. The Company's resources received a large addition from the resumptions which were thus effected.1. At the same time a fiscal reform of more importance was adopted by Bentinck. Since the time of Warren Hastings the sale of opium to the Chinese has proved a source of profit to the Indian Government. The cultivation of the poppy was confined in the first instance to Behar and
1 Wilson, vol. iii. pp. 255-259; Marshman, vol. iii. p. 8; Life of Lord. Lawrence, vol. i. p. 95 seq. Kaye says of this settlement that it was of extermination. waged against the nobility and gentry of the country." He goes on, however : “ It was adopted in pure good faith, and with the most benevolent objects; it was sanctioned by the genius of John Lawrence and of the Gamaliel at whose feet he had sat, the virtuous, pure-minded James Thomason." Kaye's Sepoy War, i. 153.
Benares, and the cultivator was compelled to sell the crop at a fixed price to the Government. The poppy, however, grows with great luxuriance in Malwa, and the restoration of tranquillity by the conquests of Hastings encouraged its cultivation in that province. The Company, anxious to protect its monopoly, refused to allow Malwa opium to pass through Bombay. But this prohibition, instead of stopping the trade, merely diverted it to the Scinde port of Kurrachee and to the Portuguese ports of Diu in Kartiwar and Daman on the shores of the Gulf of Cambay. Instead of continuing to drive the trade into a circuitous channel, Bentinck decided on exacting a licence from the trader for permission to pass direct through Bombay. The change ultimately produced a welcome addition to the resources of India, and stimulated the cultivation of opium in Malwa.
Reforms of this character do not appeal to the imagination, and they are consequently easily forgotten by the student who recollects without difficulty the more brilliant achievements of other statesmen. Yet such reforms confer a more solid benefit on humanity than the conquest of most warriors or the legislation of most ministers. In two other matters Bentinck effected a change which deserves to be recollected with gratitude. He had the courage to abolish logging in the Native Indian army; he had the still higher courage to abolish suttee..
The first of these two reforms has been already mentioned in this History. The most humane man may venture to doubt its wisdom. It was not in Bentinck's power to
Flogging in ábolish fogging in British regiments quartered in India; and the anomaly consequently existed that army. an English soldier could be flogged, while a Native soldier could not be flogged, for the same offence. Strusk, perhaps,
1 In 1816-17, 2670 chests of opium were sent to China from Patna (Behar) and Benares, and only 600 from Malwa. In 1826-7, 3661 chests were sent from Patna and Benares, and 6308 from Malwa.' . In 1836–7, 8078 chests were sent from Patna and Benares, and 13,430 from Malwa. M'Culloch's Commercial Dictionary, ad verb. “Opium." The charge for passing opium through Bombay was fixed at 175 rupees a chest. · Wilson, vol. iii. p. 255, note. There are about fifteen chesis of opium to the ton.