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for-it is to caution the English reader against supposing that the native police officers have any pre-eminence in cruelty. The people practice torture on suspected criminals in cases which have not been brought before the public authorities, and some of the most cruel instances occur in this manner. We could immediately quote as examples, sepoys on a march, burning the fingers of villagers with oiled rags on a theft being committed in their camp-a school-master smearing pupils with sugared water and placing them for punishment on the nests of stinging ants,—and women servants being indecently tortured in families of respectable position to recover missing marriage ornaments, the loss of which was thought a bad omen. The efforts of the magistracy for the suppression of this evil, have thus been scantily supported by native public opinion; but still the use of violence towards prisoners has been so much extinguished that it is unknown, as the Commissioners observe, in neighbourhoods where the European officers reside, and is yearly decreasing. Happily this is no matter of opinion-every prisoner committed for trial is inspected by the medical oficer on reaching the zillah jail, and questioned by the judge as to his treatment by the police, and yet the Commissioners found on enquiry that “ few of the medi
cal men attached to zillah stations, have any experience of the practice of torture."
Such has been the origin and termination of the Torture Commission. It was appointed with the most benevolent intentions, but it would have carried more weight, if, from the bar of the supreme court, or other independent quarter, another member had been selected instead of Mr. J. B. Norton, whose praises of Mr. D. Seymour, and previous attacks on the administration of the country in the Athenæum newspaper, gave him a personal interest in the subject under enquiry, and prevented his coming to it with an unprejudiced mind. Mr. Norton is fully entitled to his opinion that India would be better governed with an open than with a covenanted civil service; but a person who has attacked the whole system of Government, and carried his opinions so far as to assert that all the Company's judicial officers exhibit a dead level of incapacity and ignorance, and that Madras has declined in prosperity, since educated English gentlemen presided over the law courts of its provinces in supercession of Hindoo pundits and Mohammedan cazees, was not sufficiently unbiassed to give weight to the Torture Commission. It was also a mistake to invite complaints by proclamation, and to promise payment of expenses to parties who came forward to complain.
The papers published with the report, show that a call upon the public servants, the missionaries, the engineer and medical
officers, and other English gentlemen scattered through the provinces, joined to a scrutiny of public records, would have obtain. ed the desired information, and these temporary jealousies, and mistrust between the people and the native officials, would have been avoided. But notwithstanding these drawbacks, it may be hoped that the good caused by the enquiry will ultimately preponderate. The information furnished to the Commissioners, and now published in a collected and handy form, throws much useful light on the habits and feelings of the people ; and the attention drawn to the subject will hasten the extirpation of the last remnants of oppression, whether in the shape of actual torture, or in acts of petty molestation. A spur will also be given, we trust, to the revision of the land assessment now in progress; and it is to this measure that we look with most confidence, next to the growth of feelings of self-respect and humanity, through the influence of European character and the spread of education.
Before taking leave of the Report, we may add that among much that is sad and grotesque, it contains some passages which raise a smile. It will surprise the English public to find that resort to the legal process of distraint and sale of property, is designated “ torture,” by some who have answered the public invitation to complain, and that the Commissioners themselves bring under that abhorred term such acts as placing a defaulter under temporary arrest—or seating him in the sun where natives of the highest caste ordinarily walk bareheaded-or obliging him to pay the legal expenses of a notice, or laying a temporary embargo on his cattle. Some of the parties also, who have supplied information, speak with such little real and personal knowledge of the subject, that we hear of native judges torturing prisoners, though no such officers exist, (Right Rev. A. Canoz, Appendix C.) and of witnesses in criminal cases being put to torture (Rev. S. G. Coyle, Appendix C.) We have, too, the honest indignation of a sturdy British merchant, called forth by Mr. Danby Seymour's attempt to explain away the fact that so little is known of torture, even in provinces where it has been alleged to abound. Mr. Glasson of Calicut observes (Appendix C.): “If Mr. Seymour's information is no better
generally than the specimen he gives in the following sentence,
viz.-British merchants who knew it (the existence of tor. • ture) were afraid to disclose it, because they feared their
position might be affected by the displeasure of the Indian (Government, it is not worth much. I, as one of that body, ' totally deny the charge, not only verbally, but in deeds.” Lest however, a warlike intention should be supposed in the event of
Mr. D. Seymour repeating his visit to India, we will add that the deeds referred to by Mr. Glasson, are previous exertions on his part to bring to light grievances and wrongs, for proof of which he refers to the public records.
Before ending our remarks the Madras Hindoo Association calls for a brief notice. It is composed almost entirely of natives at the presidency, not belonging to the Brahmanical class, and affords a gratifying sign of the progress of education, independence and wealth. Like, however, many other young societies, composed of partially educated men, it has displayed more sail than ballast, and has been remarkable for exaggeration, and a seeking after notoriety. To gain this latter object, it has continually inveighed against the Government, under which its members have risen to wealth and independence, and which has been wisely tolerant of its follies and imitations of English agitation. It was to assail the Government and its rivals of the Brahmanical order, who are the largest, though by no means the exclusive holders of the higher appointments in the provinces, that it revived accounts of obsolete tortures and acts of oppression, and brought them forward, as if still in active exis. tence. It failed to see, in its blind desire to attack, that this unjust accusation would redound to its own injury, as an enquiry was sure to show that the practices were entirely of native origin, and that the present remnant of them bas continued in spite of the efforts of the European officers for their suppression. The association must now bid“ a long farewell” to prospective greatness in the enjoyment of those judgeships, collectorates and seats in council, to which they have advanced such loud claims. Public opinion has now turned, and is for more European officers to protect the people from native officials; and the Indian Government has been actually charged with complicity in torture, for not having already taken this step, and for having followed Lord W. Bentinck's views, so recently in popular favor, of leaving administrative detail to native agency. The engineer has thus been “ hoisted with his own petard,” and though we regret the result on account of a meritorious native service, and the cause of national advancement, we must acknowledge a just nemesis as respects the members of the association, and exclaim :
"Nec lex justior ulla Quam necis artifices arte perire sna."
One word in conclusion regarding the Brahmin servants of Government, to whom the Commissioners make allusion in their Report, on account of the numerous public offices which they fill. So recently as the time of Sir J. Malcolm, it was our acknowledged policy to entrust the higher appointments exclusively to them, and their superior acquirements and influence with the people justified the choice, and in fact, made their aid indispensible. Times are now altered through the spread of education, and it has become equally just and politic to open the public service to merit in all classes of the community. But in doing this, let us avoid the vulgar error of rushing from one extreme to another, and now raising a cry against a body of men who have rendered valuable service to the state, and without whose aid, in the infancy of our rule, we could not have governed the country. To alienate them from us, and thus fall into the mistake which cost the French so dear by weakening their influence in southern India, is surely neither necessary nor wise.
Here our task ends, and we shall have accomplished our object if we moderate the indignation caused in the public mind by the bare idea of torture, and lead the subject to be considered in an impartial and dispassionate spirit. It is strange that while the administration of our magnificent Indian empire has called forth the wonder of the world, and the eulogies of distinguished foreigners, it should thus be assailed by parties among ourselves. But under a free Government, there will always be found persons who seek to obtain advancement and influence or notoriety by any means, as well as others who exhibit a righteous, though sometimes a hasty and misdirected zeal against any appearance of oppression or wrong. The result happily is a watchful scrutiny over public affairs, and continual amendment and progress; but there appears at the same time the singular paradox of our claiming the general applause and imitation of foreign nations, as the leaders of civilisation, while they can point to most gloomy and repulsive pictures of our administration painted by our own hands.
Fortunately, however, in this instance, the real state of the Madras presidency has been shown to the world by the loyalty and tranquillity of its provinces, during the late shock to our empire; and the officers who are engaged in its administration have now a right to expect that the idle calumny of its revenues being collected by torture, which should gratify none but slaveowners in America, and the rulers of Russia and Naples, will not be repeated. To show the feelings of the people themselves, we extract from the official gazette one of those numerous loyal addresses which the Madras Government has received from its subjects during the recent crisis. It was presented when Delli was still untaken, when the possible restoration of Mohammedan ascendancy in southern India, through the Hyderabad and Carnatic royal families, formed a subject of native conversation; and when the Government had only two regiments of European infantry at its command. This particular address has been selected as coming from a district which is frequently mentioned in the. Torture Report, and in which the Madras Hindoo association had established a branch society to spread its peculiar viewsTo The Right HONORABLE LORD HARRIS,
Governor in Council, Madras. “MY LORD,-We, the undersigned inhabitants of South Arcot, think it a duty that we owe as much to ourselves as to Governs ment, of which we are the faithful and happy subjects, to con(vey to your Lordship at this crisis, when that happiness is « attempted to be disturbed by the treacherous and savage pro
ceedings of the native soldiery in Bengal, our full and cordial participation in the feelings of sympathy and loyalty towards The British Government, already recorded by our brethren at the presidency. Indeed, the language adopted by the Madras inhabitants, as published now in the Fort St. George Gazette, so well and truly represents the views entertained by the population of this province, and we have no doubt of the other provinces, under this presidency, that any elaborate address on
our part would only involve a repetition of the very terms in ' which those views are embodied. We trust, however, that it ' will afford your Lordship gratification to learn that the ryot ' in the interior is as much interested, if not more so, in the ' preservation and increased prosperity of the British Government, as the merchant or the public servant; and that the time is happily long past when he was indifferent as to the country or nation to which his rulers belonged. For upwards of half a century the inhabitants of southern India have uninterruptedly enjoyed a peace and tranquillity to which they bad for cen
turies before been strangers; and the blessings of that peace, 'too numerous to be here detailed, have had, and do still have,
such direct and obvious bearing upon the condition of the ryots, " that it is with unfeigned abhorrence that they have viewed the
progress of the Bengal mutiny, and look upon its authors as the greatest curse that could befall them.
We have no hesitation therefore, my Lord, in endorsing our sincere and unqualified assent to the conviction expressed by our • Madras brethren, " that the overthrow of the British power in
India would be the greatest calamity that could befall the "natives.” But that is happily a contingency which, we are per
suaded, the might of the British Government is too strong to