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cities, I often wish I could take the farmer's opinion on the merits of the Bombay Land Settlement system with which the Indian Civil Servants have so much to do. In India it
is easy for the law to be extremely just to the tenant farmer, because the Government itself is the great landlord; and although the land-rent or tax is the sheet-anchor of our revenue, and the State has a great interest in raising its amount, the Indian officials to a man know that five out of every six or seven of the population are connected with the land, that it is therefore dangerous to excite that class against us, and that if we can only keep the great rural communities comfortable and on our side, we need not be much afraid of any attempts of other classes against the British rule. A very long experience and watching of both the various rack-renting systems and of those which leave a fairly large profit in the cultivator's hands have convinced our Indian managers of land revenue that the Government gains immensely in its rent roll by two things-carefully preventing the rent being fixed too high, and giving the tenant legal security for his own improvements, with a tenant-right by which the farm descends to his heirs and cannot be disturbed unless he ceases to pay the rent. Such a law was passed for Bombay in 1865 by that eminent ruler, Sir Bartle Frere, after an experience of the previous thirty years which had been devoted to classifying the soils, ascertaining market prices and farmers' expenses, surveying and mapping the lands, and fixing a judicial rent on each field. These great and interesting operations are worthy of some consideration in detail, and as I knew some of the founders, I would like to quote Sir Bartle Frere on the history and causes thereof, and show how it was that the small peasant farmers in South and West India got so long ago as good or better a tenure and protection against confiscation, against notice to quit, against competition by the out-bidding of outsiders, as the market-gardeners in the Vale of Evesham procured by an Act of Parliament in 1895. Sir Bartle Frere takes us back
to the years just before the Queen ascended the throne. About twenty years before then we had conquered the kingdom of Poona; the Native Court with all its expenses was a thing of the past; and, the war-prices of corn and fodder had sunk to those of profound peace. So that where a sovereign had been a light rent in the older period, fifteen shillings was now far too heavy a demand; many farmers were squeezed so hard that the revenue collector would take and sell their ploughing cattle, their last support. Some zealous native subordinates even inflicted horrible tortures in order to get these flagrant rents paid. We found that our tenants, rather than stand this, were moving away to the neighbouring Native States. We had to deal with the demoralization which ensues when the landlord gives uncertain remissions instead of going to the root of the
Rarely more than two-thirds of the culturable land were under cultivation; often as much as two-thirds was waste. Whole villages were being deserted, left, as the Marathas say, without one lamp. This was the result of our attempting in a time when all prices had fallen to levy the same rents as were paid in the most prosperous day of the Maratha Empire. We were killing the goose that laid the golden eggs. These evils were at last brought to the notice of the Governor, Sir Robert Grant, who then set his officers to make inquiry in the villages and devise some better system. They were told that mere direct increase of revenue was a secondary matter, and that they must rather look to the indirect effects of fixity of tenure and moderation of rent. They began by surveying the fields and classifying the soils. To use the words of Mr. Inverarity, the Revenue Minister who introduced the Bill, their experience led them to the leading principle of fixing a rent so moderate and so simple as to be easily and readily paid by a poor and simple population. They fixed the leases for thirty years; they announced that when a new lease was given the rent should not be raised on the tenants' improvements, but only on such general changes as a rise in prices or new markets.
They decreed that the lease should go from father to son, and be both hereditary and saleable. What was the result? Between 1838 and 1862 the wastes were cultivated, the villagers grew happy and increased and multiplied, a political danger was averted, and with all this the land revenue was nearly doubled, while arrears, which are everywhere a source of irritation, were seldom heard of, and remissions, which gall the honest and honourable tenantry, became exceptional instead of being part of the routine. These are the reasons which induced Sir Bartle Frere, a Bombay Civil Servant, who had watched the whole long process, to stereotype by Act of his Parliament the benefits which these able rent settlement officers, military men and civilians, had bestowed on one great area after another. Since then the land revenue has gone on increasing, and the tenant - right in many cases is worth twenty years' rent. The rural society becomes steadier and more law-abiding because of its great property stake; and one may say that agriculture, and with it loyalty to the Government, is based on a law as excellent in its pecuniary effects as it is suited to peasant peoples who are rooted in the soil, and whose village politics and customs are deep, hereditary concerns. The Hindu religion enjoins each man to beget a son, plant a tree, and dig a well. If he has a son, the farm is the boy's inheritance; if he plants a tree, the family get the fruit or timber; if he digs a well, which converts dry land into garden, as permanent and expensive an improvement of the soil as is the Galloway custom of removing and stacking the useless stones and rocks, the whole benefits go to the tenant-right farmer. It so happened that in my young days the first of the leases of thirty years. came to an end, one of the counties under me (Indapur) being the site of the first experiment. The prosperity had been so great that the settlement officers advised an increase of 50 per cent. on the old rents. But it was a poor district with very little rainfall, and after this proposal was sanctioned, the want of rain caused a general ruin to the crops, and I was
THIRD SERIES. VOL. IX.
besieged with petitions for remission. There was no time. to delay, as the crops were withering, and to satisfy myself about them I gave up my mornings to riding through the parishes with a notebook and pencil, while sending my clerks on the same errand to other villages on my right and left flanks. As the rupee is made of sixteen annas, so we call an average crop a rupee crop, a half-crop an eightanna crop, a quarter-crop a four-anna crop, just as if we said a shilling, a sixpenny and a threepenny crop. For such rough and rapid estimations my eyes were my only instruments. Arrived at camp, or in some temple or barn, I would compare notes with my clerks, and hear what the villagers had to say in the afternoon. They would tell me how deep in debt they were, and they brought the moneylenders to show me their accounts. In a week or two I made my report, advising the Governor, as a matter of grace and policy, not to press too hard. The new rent-roll would be more popular if we showed some leniency in this first year of dearth. After much thought I said, "Give
them an out-and-out remission; four annas of remission will please them more than letting half the rent stand in arrear.” The Government, which had ample experience, took this view, and gave its sanction. I have mentioned the moneylenders, for they play a great part in Indian economics. In so poor a country the peasants cannot do without them. But they exact heavy interest, and sometimes overcharge, and at times the villagers rise against them and slay them. To secure the peace, and with the policy of keeping the farmers contented, several laws have been passed to prevent them being sold up, requiring the County Court to examine the whole dealings, and to give time to pay by instalments. The money-lender's capital is wanted on the land, but any wholesale eviction of the peasants, by execution for debt, would cause most bitter feeling and tend towards rebellions.
It is with subjects like these that the Indian revenue officer is occupied all his life; and in dealing with them, speaking the language of the country, he learns many things
which are part of his stock-in-trade. As years go on, the Assistant becomes a Collector, ruling eight, ten, or twelve counties. After that he may rise to be a Commissioner over five or six Collectors, and then aspire to be a member of Government. Some, however, diverge into the judicial line, and as Assistant Judges and then Sessions Judges try civil cases, and hear appeals from the magistrates' sentences, and hold the assizes. Out of these judicial ranks some of the Judges of the High Court are selected. Others wish for service in the Native States, and the same man is sometimes at the Nizam's Court in the heart of India, while you next hear of him at Khatmandu in Nepal, on the Himalayan region, or at Bagdat or Bangalore. Occasionally a Civil Servant with a talent that way acts as inspector of schools or professor in a college; and those of a financial turn may get appointed to the Indian Exchequer or Postoffice or Currency Departments. And let me add, many of us can say that one man in his turn plays many parts, which is a source of great pleasure to versatile minds; and the interest of life is increased when sudden calls arise to deal with local disturbances or desolating famines or epidemic cholera, or such a calamity as the plague. The mere mention of these things explains the high salaries which are meant to compensate for exile and danger and the diseases of the tropics. The vast variety of work and circumstance also partly explains how it is that officers of broadly-contrasted tempers are equally successful; why, for instance, one taken from the Army often matches the Civilian in purely civil duties. In the same way we account for the opinion of most men in high commands, that the perfervid, industrious, wary, cautious, persevering sort of man of the North has been, and always will be, wanted for India, equally with the lads whose peculiar virtues are those of the great public schools of the South. The mere capacity of patient listening is of untold value. The natives of India who come to the officials usually belong to one of two classes: they either come with a