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million of inhabitants; while Delhi, Benares, and Poonah, which were under the ancient dynasty the Cathedral cities of India, and which have been for ages the centre of its literature and of its religion, though from their insulated position and their sacred character they are unable to enter into the whirl of trade, contain undiminished the population which a century ago placed them beyond the capitals of Europe. There are also towns which, though like Madras and Bombay they have been looked upon, from their sea-bord and exposed situation, as rather the funnels through which the refuse of the empire must pass, than the treasuries in which its wealth is secreted, have already reached a point of commercial splendor which has passed that of Carthage and of Venice at their most successful era. Kings, whose vassals spread over lands as broad as Europe, and are as numerous as those which the pope could command at the summit of his temporal career, have laid down their ancient crowns, and placed themselves in a crescent around the throne of the English viceroy, while he exerts over them that distant, though sovereign sway, which brings them as distinctly within his supervision, as if they were the clerks in the company's counting-room. We do not wonder that the old dynasty of diplomatists were dumbfounded at the British conquests, and advised their masters that the spirits who had lately taken possession of the Asiatic peninsula, were tenfold worse than those who had previously inhabited it. Where was the magic with which Leadenhall street bound winds and waves? The secret of the success of the East India Company must be sought for a little further than in the genius of a particular general, or the temerity of a peculiar troop. It arose from the unconquerable determination of the commercial spirit of the day, which, through the cum. brous*agency of its shipmasters and its agents, was able to break a spell against which the power of the crusaders had been blunted.
Such is the history and the character of the British possessions in India. Their outline can be easily transferred, because it is itself composed of a few bold and sudden strokes, which have laid down, in the course of a few years, a system which, under other auspices, it would have caused ages to erect. The merchants and bankers of the East India Company found no time for philanthropic legislation. Their object was to gain; for the state of gain to themselves, followed as it must necessarily be in the conquered country by those blessings which Christianity and civilization would procure, they felt must be advantageous to those they were to deal with. It
and was carried, before his human development had entirely explained away the presumption of his apish origin, to the court of the Great Mogul, whose superannuated mother he so much tickled, as to induce her to purchase him as a pet. But Pai.wai began to put away childish things, and became remarkable in the course of a few years as the most adroit warrior in India; so that he was advanced from regiment to regi. merit, till he became, in fact, commander-in-chief. One step only was to be taken. The Mogul had an only child, who was a daughter; and as the Mogul laws were very particular as to who should attain the crown, they enacted that in such a contingency, the heiress of the royal race should be given in marriage to the warrior who should, in open tournament, throttle a Bengal tiger. General Pai-wai's early habits well fitted him for such an encounter; and after the more princely competitors in the royal raffle had been vanquished, he entered into the lists, and succeeded, by his personal agility, to the throne of the Moguls. To him is to be attributed the rise of the city of Calcutta, as well as the general renovation of Indian institutions. VOL. IV.—NO. I. 3
is the fashion to sneer at the spirit of calculation which inspired their efforts, and which forms the master agent of our age, and of our country; but, even in its worst phases, is it not much purer than the passions for conquest and for proselytism, which have formerly been the wings on which civilization has travelled? The wisdom of Providence may make use of the inferior workings of nature to effect its largest schemes. The imbecility of an emperor or the rebellion of a priest, have been made the means of the renovation of the generation to which they belonged. The indefatigable ambition of the commercial spirit of the age,—a spirit which, in itself,"is of a far more lofty nature than those which in other periods have swept and garnished the temple in which they operated,—has been the means of extending to limits before impenetrable the blessings of the creed which we profess. Who would have thought of establishing a mission in the heart of China before a trading-house had been there erected? Through the medium of the extended machinery of commerce, the contribution which is collected here from the weekly savings of a Sundayschool is carried from port to port, transmuted from shape to shape, till at last the same degree of weight which it originally could have borne on its native shores, it bears perhaps more than a year afterwards in the country where it was destined to operate. The impulse that is given to the cause on the most feeble of our distant settlements, rolls gradually through the whole medium of transportation, till, like the motion which is given to a stream of level water at its remotest extremity, it swells along till it rests on its farthest shore. The wind that carried the first ship to India carried also the seeds of future renovation to that vast though fallen empire. We believe that, had the efforts of the merchants of the day been left to themselves; had they not been shackled by the restrictive operation of acts of parliament which were meant confessedly for the aggrandizement of Great Britain at the expense of her new dependent; had not the privilege of trading across the Cape of Good Hope been wrung from the hands of those who had assisted most firmly in its prosecution, and vested with a company of mercantile speculators; those great and crying evils under which India now suffers would never have been forced into existence. The constant drain which, since the first conquest of Clive, has been carried on, has succeeded in impoverishing a country which was once, in fact, more abundant than all others with the precious metals, as well as with the most valuable articles of trade. A transient consideration of the difference between the ancient method of taxation and that which was adopted by the action of the board of control, is sufficient to show to what extent the influence of the civil government was exerted to extract from its colonial establishment whatever could be torn from its jaws. Under the old economy, the country was cut up into villages, which included within their limits, like our own New England towns, not only collections of closely built houses which usually go by that name, but also the farms and the pastures necessary for their complete support. Each village was an empire in itself; for, as it contained within its limits the tools and the workmen necessary for the supply of every want, and as trades, being hereditary, were in no danger of falling into decay from the fluctuations of the market, it found itself able to live on, like the bear is sometimes said to do after his ribs have become well stocked with fat, upon the resources which it carries in its own recesses. The principal man in the village, the lord of the manor, to adopt the old English designation, was called the potail, under whom, but in a rank above the ordinary laborers, were placed the local police, the village astrologer, the register, the poet, and the dancing girl. "So deep is the principle of this association," says Dr. Murray, "and so strong the feeling of the rights connected with it, that it has remained unaffected by all the storms of revolution which have passed over India. Even after the inhabitants of a village have been obliged to flee from the devastation of a successful invading army, they have never failed, on the return of peace, to seek their native spots, and have been allowed without controversy to resume their occupancy." Under such circumstances, it became most convenient to the native emperors, when they wished to levy a tax, to intrust its collection to the heads of the villages themselves, who became responsible in person for the raising of the sum which, on consultation with the lord, they should judge to be most eligible. The zemindars, as they were sometimes called, came to be looked on at last as land proprietors, burdened with a heavy land tax, and held their titles by a tenure very similar to that which existed in England, by mesne tenants, before the statute quia emptores, or in Pennsylvania at present, by the holders of ground rents. But, under the dashing system of plunder that was practised by the military adventurers who rushed to the spoil of an empire so famous for its wealth, the villages were farmed out as the reward of services in the battle field, and such exhausting exactions were made, that plains which were at one time waving with corn, were converted into jungles which formed the spot for a general reunion of the wild beasts who before had prowled around the fastnesses of the country. In the dreadful famine of 1770, one third of the inhabitants are said to have perished. The efforts, under Lord Cornwallis, to reorganize the ancient economy, though they undoubtedly were built on the wisest councils, came too late to establish the quiet and the confidence which had formerly reigned. Although, as it is said, the land taxes were no longer shifted with the avarice of the temporary owner, yet they were placed on too high a scale; and as the zemindars were unable to meet the demands upon them, they were sold out in open market, and were too often succeeded by speculators, who, having no permanent interest in the land, impoverished both estate and tenants by the unjustifiable measures by which they raised the sum required. The soil became weaker and weaker; and, as before long the domestic treasures of the peasantry, and even their public idols, had been melted down to meet the taxes to be raised, they found themselves in a little while both stripped of the income of their lands and the capital by which they were to produce it.
It is a very difficult matter, as may be collected from what we have just stated, to estimate the amount of property which is annually transported from India to Great Britain. Mr. Burke, in his speech on the first East India Bill, said that he could look around the benches before him, and drop his eye on the swarthy faces, and the gilded chains of speculators, who had brought home with them, after an Asiatic campaign, the wealth of princes. The revenue drawn indirectly from India, even at the present day, is stated by a writer whom we have already alluded to, and who certainly was not inclined to overrate the amount, to be equal to £6,500,000; "a sum," he states, "which would in the end completely ruin this colony, (or, more properly speaking, drain it of its bullion,) if it were remitted in that form, but such is not the case; it comes to England in the following manner: East India opium is sent to China, and is there exchanged for tea; this is taken to England, and covers all the bills of exchange." It can be shown, indeed, with very little difficulty, that the productions of India have become so diminished, through the oppressive operation both of the colonial government and of the English revenue laws, that the English planter, and the East India Company itself, are obliged to resort to the cultivation of opium as the source from which their salaries are to be drawn. England has, by her own folly, so circumscribed the amount of the domestic productions of her Indian possessions, that in order to reap from them the usual revenue, she is obliged to have recourse, first to raising among them a new and poisonous drug, and secondly, to forcing it down the throats of the Chinese, to make it marketable. The coffee fields and the spice valleys of the Carnatic still exist, but they exist but in a wild resemblance of their ancient beauty, for the injurious duties which have been laid upon their exportation have turned the laborer from their cultivation. The import duty on coffee from India is nine pence a pound; on that from the West Indies, only six pence; the duty on a cwt. of sugar is thirty-two shillings, which, together with the freight, adds two hundred per cent to the original price, while when from America the duty is only twenty-four shillings; and on an arrack, the difference is still greater. The demand for pepper, which was once a chief article of exportation, has now diminished one half, though its price has fallen, since 1814, from a shilling to three pence per pound. Before 1814, also, the value of Indian muslins which were annually exported, amounted to two millions sterling; while now the exportation has ceased, and the muslins of Dacca, the most exquisite, it is said, ever woven, have become so much neglected, that the art by which they were constructed is said to be now forgotten. English cloth stands in the place of native manufactures, and the very article which once formed the principal production of India herself, has become the chief source of her debt to the mother country. Between 1814 and 1818 the value of goods carried past the Cape of Good Hope, from east to west, averaged at between £8,000,000 and £9,000,000 sterling; while, since 1822, it has fallen to between £5,000,000 and £6,000,000; that is to say, 33J per cent. The distress of the landholders, to which we have just alluded, was not confined to themselves; for between 1831 and 1833, bankruptcies occurred in India to the enormous sum of £15,000,000 sterling. It is not our province at present to inquire how far India may be able to bear the strain which is laid upon her, or how far Great Britain may press it with impunity. There is a point at which the mildest disposition becomes desperate. National wrongs may be slowly realized, but when at last their measure is full, a national outburst will avenge them. Such considerations, sharpened by the vivid recollection of colonies in this hemisphere who shook off the yoke on reasons of a less urgent character than those which may be in India advanced, have probably been sufficient to awaken so far the anxiety of the home government, as to induce it to select the opium plant as a medium for equalizing the exchanges, and restoring to India some portion of her ancient trade. We can fancy the avidity with which a scheme so plausible was pounced upon by the directors of the East India Company. They employed themselves, at once, with planting a province with poppies. One little obstacle remained, before the plans were perfected, by which they could place in the hands of India assets sufficient to liquidate the demands which they had against her, and that was, that the party by whom the new-fledged production was to be bought, signified resolutely their determination not to purchase it. The East India Company became urgent, as their salaries became due, and, since in the country from whence they were to be drawn there was nothing to satisfy them, that plentiful crops of opium should not only be raised, but that they should find a market where they could answer the purpose of their production. Where should the drug be landed? They could not think of taking it home with them, for a heavy duty would have at once been clapped on it; they could not induce the ports of the continent to admit it, not only because it was a poison, but because it was a dead weight in the market; and, as a necessary resource, the growing taste and the commercial ignorance of the Chinese was hit upon as the medium by which the new production was to be disposed of. Commissioner Lin was forced over the heads of conniving mandarins, to check, if possible, by his presence at Canton, the further entrance of a drug which imperial enactments had already in vain opposed. The amount imported, arrived in 1836, as we have already stated, was 27,111 chests, whose market price was $17,904,248, and in 1837, from the amount in noil at the time the seizure took place, the importation is said to have doubled. It was not because through its means the advantages which had been already possessed by their own monopoly of tea would be more than cancelled, that the Chinese authorities protested against its introduction; out because, in their closely settled and half-civilized people, it produced a devastation the most disastrous and the most confusing. The negotiations which preceded the final concussion have been already narrated in this journal so fully, that we do not feel ourselves at present at liberty to advert to them; but is not the conclusion that was there drawn, that the conduct of Great Britain was in defiance both of the rights of China and of the law of nations, fully justified by the circumstances which had then already occurred, and those which have afterwards followed? We do not wish to underrate the efforts which have been already made through missionaries and schoolmasters, on the part of the home government, to improve the condition both of the Indian subjects and their neighbors. But is it not probable that by grasping at too great a sovereignty it may lose what is already in its possession? Is it not the only safe and honorable conduct that can now be pursued by Great Britain, to retrace her steps, and, by the repeal of the restrictions on East India trade, and the taxes on East India landholders, to establish once more the ancient basis on which the eastern commerce rested? She may rest assured that, supported on such crazy crutches as that which the forced introduction of opium into the market affords, her trade can never retain its supremacy. She may be assured, also, if she is so weak as to meditate the reduction of China as a province, that the wisest wish of her worst enemies is, that she should be gorged with a conquered continent till she falls asleep in a stupor. The northern nations would again spring forth from the secret cells in which, since the Roman empire was feasted on, they have slumbered, and hover around in breathless haste, lest they should be anticipated in their plunder. We trust that through the sturdy wisdom which has borne England so far above the wave, those terrible though necessary consequences, which must follow a course of undue aggrandizement, will be checked. We cannot but hope that as the China war may be pursued from mistaken notions of insulted pride, that after those