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of her station, faithful in dealing out justice to all; and through the course of a long and public life, she lived blameless and unimpeachable. The premature decease of those she loved tinged her heart with the pale hue of sorrow; and humble amid splendour, unambitious on a throne, she retained unaltered her unforgetting garb, and died as she had lived, the childless and widowed Queen. Whether it lies in the mouth of those who, twenty years after her death, entered the territories she had ruled over, and reduced them, after infinite bloodshed and ruin, to that state of subjection in which, to use the compunctious phrase of the invading general, the people, as compared with other conquered nations, were treated "with unexampled scorn -each of us must answer to his own heart.

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During the reigns of the earlier Emperors of Delhi, to the middle of the seventeenth century, complete tolerance was shown to all religions. Shall they who build the tombs of those who, at that very time, were busily employed in making Europe one mighty charnel-house of persecution, and in colonising America with fugitives for conscience-sake, rise up in judgment against India, or load the breath of history with the insolent pretence of having then enjoyed a truer civilisation? What if they were taken at their word, and called forth with the Covenanters' blood, and the Catholics' blood, and the Puritans' blood dripping quick from the orthodox hands that all that time were building scaffolds, riveting chains, and penning penal " Acts of Uniformity?"

Neither Moslem nor Hindu was incapacitated for public employment on account of the belief in which he had been brought up. Mohammedan princes gladly confided to learned and astute Brahmins civil trusts of importance; and many a Mussulman rose to honour and won fortune in a Maharajah's camp. The Ministers of Hyder Ali, who concealed for a

time the event of his death, were Hindus of the highest caste; and when a Chancellor of the Exchequer was to be appointed at Moorshedabad, the Nawab-Nazim tried to have Nuncomar appointed instead of Mahomed Reza Khan. Sivajee was a bigot, and Tippoo a fanatic. But the Governments of Southern Asia, when we began to meddle in their affairs, were strangers to the system of penal laws, which were then among the cherished institutions of our own and nearly every other European state. While no Catholic in Ireland could inherit freehold, command a regiment, or sit on the judicial bench; while in France the Huguenot weaver was driven into exile beyond sea; and while in Sweden none but Lutherans could sit as jurors; and in Spain no heretic was permitted Christian burial;-Sunis and Sheahs, Mahrattas and Sikhs, competed freely for distinction and profit in almost every city and camp of Hindustan. The tide of war ebbed and flowed as in Christian lands, leaving its desolating traces more or less deeply marked upon village homesteads or dilapidated towers. mosque and temple stood unscathed where they had stood before, monuments of architectural taste and piety, unsurpassed for beauty and richness of decoration in any country of the world. The wise and humane institutions consolidated by Akbar were not shaken until Aurungzebe, by his real or pretended zeal for proselytism, alienated the confidence of the Hindu majority of his subjects; and the Mahrattas, when they invaded his dominions, were hailed as religious deliverers, notwithstanding all the miseries they caused. From that event the Mogul Empire declined, and the Mahratta leaders succeeded in establishing themselves as sovereigns of the fair provinces of the central plain, while the enfeebled dynasty of Delhi was forced to 1 Malcolm, chap. ii.


be content with its suzerainty over the eastern and southern regions. It would require volumes to recount the incidents by which alterations were effected, and to tell how each princely or viceregal house flourished or faded as compared with its contemporaries. The general features that characterised them, and their general influence on the communities they governed, are matters of more interest in our eyes, and it is only in this point of view that the condition of the people then can be fairly contrasted with that which it since has been. Though the supreme Governments were nominally absolute, there existed in the chieftains, priesthood, courts of justice, the municipal system, and, above all, in the tenantright to land, numerous and powerful barriers in the way of its abuse. Property was as carefully protected by laws as in Europe," and their infringement sometimes cost a prince his throne or life.1

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When the Mohammedans overran all the kingdoms of the East, the laws they introduced, though undoubtedly defective, were, if compared with the Roman or the Norman code, not so remarkably "inferior as they who are only familiar with those systems, and are led by the sound of vulgar applause, are in the habit of believing." It formed no part of their policy to crush the spirit of the Rajpoots or armed nobles, whom they found in every province. "The yoke was made light to them; they were treated as the first princes of the Empire, and their adherents were raised to honour and wealth." In a word, the dynasty was changed, but not the Government. The Omrahs and the Rajahs mingled in the same festivities, enjoyed the same privileges, and, after a single generation had passed away, felt

The Land-Tax of India Considered, by General Briggs.

2 Such at least was the judgment of the ablest English writer upon Indian History, James Mill. See Hist., vol. i.

equally proud of what was equally their country. Next to them in rank were the landed gentry, the Talookdars of Oude, and Zemindars of the Deccan and Bengal, who held their lands by customary tenures, varying in incidents and conditions; and under whom were the Putneedars or farmers, holding at a rent from year to year, or sometimes at a quitrent in fee; and lastly, there were the Ryots or cultivators, whose condition resembled in many districts that of the cottiers of Ireland, and in other places more nearly that of the tenants of the smaller udal holdings in Norway. To an agricultural people, the dearest and the best of privileges is that which gives them a sense of property in the soil they till. Liberty of conscience is dear, but it is in some respects a matter of degree. Municipal liberty is dear, but it is essentially a political benefit. Liberty of land is far more; it is the one thing without which all other things are unenjoyable. Tenancy, determinable at the will of a superior, is but the legal definition of serfhood.

Among the oldest and most revered of their social usages was that whereby every peasant had a tenant-right to the land he cultivated. Military tenures never touched the ryot, compulsory service in war never prevailed, and armies were raised only by personal influence or the promise of pay. The soil belonged to the farmer, not to the noble, and this right was never questioned. "Even when violence or revolution either extirpated or expelled the original inhabitants, the mere fact of occupation for two or three generations regenerated the rights of the cultivator, who claimed, so long as he could pay the Government share (or land-tax), the field that his father had tilled as his own, as the inheritance of his children, and the claim was admitted by the worst of oppressors.


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Malcolm, vol. ii. chap. i.

The natural fruit of such a system was an ardent attachment to the family roof-tree, to the village, to the pergunnah, and the chuckla, within whose inner or outer confines dwelt all whom the peasant knew or loved. Few nations have retained, under every heart-break of hope, a deeper love of native land than the people of Southern Asia. Amid all their misery, humiliation, and disfranchisement, those who know them best, believe that they have never wholly given up the hope of better days again to come. The families of each village, though remote from each other, maintained a constant communication, and the links that bound them together were only strengthened by adversity. When tranquillity was restored, they flocked to their roofless homes. "Every wall of a house, every field, was taken possession of by the owner or cultivator without dispute or litigation."" They seem to have been governed by strong national prejudices and social affections. One of their conquerors, who knew them well, declares that he found them "simple, harmless, honest, and having as much truth in them as any people in the world." It is further noted of them, that if they can earn a competence in the neighbourhood where they have been brought up, they prefer remaining there to migrating into other lands holding out a more lucrative prospect. "Nothing but the extreme of hardship could drive the native cultivator from the fields of his fathers." They preferred enough at home to wandering far in quest of gold.

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In most parts of India the village community was, as it is still, the unit of social, industrial, and political existence. In each family the father or head of the household exercises an absolute authority. The dwelling is inviolable, and may

1 Malcolm, vol. ii. chap. i.

3 Malcolm, vol. ii. chap. i.

2 Munro, vol. i. p. 280.

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