« VorigeDoorgaan »
the event of the invasion of India by any Foreign Nation, a powerful auxiliary would be found in the body of Natives acquainted with our language and the rudiments of our literature. Of the vast number of Natives now in our Service, a very small proportion speak English. Some of the Head-writers, and most confidential servants in our Cutcher-, rees and Courts, understand not a word of our language: many of the English Writers, even, comprehend not one sentence in five of what they transcribe: and seldom do you meet with a Native who can pronounce English intelligibly, or converse with you in it, upon any subject out of the common routine of business. The reason is, there are very few facilities beyond the Presidencies for the study of the language; as not many Natives can afford to pay for instruction from a master capable of teaching it: those, therefore, who aspire after employment in the English department of the Service are often obliged to acquire the language as they can from other Natives, who, often without understanding its construction, and but imperfectly acquainted with its pronunciation, engage to teach it upon moderate terms. This is a subject deserving the immediate attention of Government. Intelligent Youths,
descendants of Englishmen, might be selected, from the Asylums at the different Presidencies, for this service, and receive an appropriate education. Many capable young men of this description have long been employed in the Financial, Medical, and Surveying Departments; and they would be equally useful as Schoolmasters. Two were engaged in that capacity in the English Schools of the Church Missionary Society in Tinnevelly their writing and pronunciation were as good as could be expected from Englishmen in the same rank of life: and had a little more attention been paid to their education, they would have equalled any ordinary Schoolmaster in Great Britain. If this subject be taken up by Government, it will find respectable employment for an increasing and interesting body of people, and turn their labours to a very good account.
A Third subject deserving attention is, The abolition of every practice that outrages the feelings and sympathies of human-nature, and of which British Law would take cognizance.
Notwithstanding the Abbé Dubois' affected apprehension, that "the putting a stop to Suttees, by coercion, appears a measure too pregnant with danger to be attempted," (p. 198,) I maintain that it would tend
to confirm our political power in the East. It might alienate the minds of the interested few who profit by these immolations; but it would conciliate the bulk of the Natives, and attach them the more cordially to our Government. Remove every barbarous superstition that paralyzes the affections of the soul, and instantly will you perceive the feelings of humanity begin to revive. Each chord entwined about the heart will soon vibrate to the sounds of parental, filial, and fraternal love; and even the Hindoo, no longer a misanthrope, or deaf and blind to the charms of society, shall own and rejoice in the relative ties by which man is bound to The heart-melting gratitude with which the Rajahpoot Mothers presented at the feet of Colonel Walker the Children preserved through his humane perseverance; the conduct of the Widow rescued from the funeral pile at Chicacole towards her Benefactress, and the subsequent behaviour of her relatives; are alone sufficient to vindicate the Hindoo's claim to the feelings of humanity; and to shew, that these anticipa tions will, in all human probability, be realized, when the obstructions that now prevent the exercise of those feelings shall be removed.
But how strange is it, that men, who can
reason so fairly on other subjects, should advance their theories, again and again, upon the political danger and commotions to be more than apprehended (as they say) from any change that may be attempted in the Hindoos' practices! "The ancient rules for the collection of the Revenues have been changed and modified in innumerable instances"-"the Revenue System, both in principle and practice, has undergone a fundamental alteration." "In opposition to ancient rules and customs, the public assessment in Bengal has been declared fixed and irrevocable." "The Revenue-Officers have been deprived of the judicial power which they had from time immemorial exercised: they have been made amenable to the Courts of Justice for acts done in their official capacity." The " discretionary authority" and "extensive influence" which "the great Zemindars or Landholders possessed," "during the Mahomedan Government,” “are now completely annihilated; and the greatest Landholder in Bengal possesses no more influence than that of an English Gentleman of extensive landed property." Thus, the former customs have undergone a total alteration, to the great benefit of the community at large.
"With respect to the Criminal Law, the
British Government adopted the Mahomedan Code, by which it had been antecedently administered; and the sentences of the Criminal Courts are regulated by that Code, excepting in cases in which a deviation from it may be expressly directed by any Regulation passed by the Governor-General in Council."" "Thus the Regulations, in the very outset, intimate some exceptions." In the instances of trials for murder-the admission of the testimony of such witnesses as, on account of their Religious persuasion, the Mahomedan Law rejected-the capital punishment of “a person deliberately intending to murder one individual, and accidentally killing another" -the Law of Retaliation, by which a murderer "might escape the punishment due to his crime”—in all these instances, the Mahomedan Law has been altered; and the very titles of some of the Regulations express, that they are enacted for the purpose of modifying the Mahomedan Law.
So, also, in reference to the Hindoos. In 1795, the Government of Bengal put a stop, in the Province of Benares, to the Brahmins' establishing koorhs, during which they lacerated their own bodies, threatened to swallow, and sometimes actually swallowed, 'poison, and wounded or killed their female