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indifferent in matters of religion. But he was a cold, unsympathetic, and hard master; cruel and selfish ; false and treacherous; immoral himself and indifferent to the morals of others, a drunkard, a “giant liar," and a miser. His Court was grossly immoral. His wives presented him with children who were not of his blood, but whom he acknowledged with the indifference of a man to whom honour was of no account. One was notoriously the son of a chintzweaver, and Dhulip Singh was generally reputed to be the son of a water-carrier named Gúlú.
Even in his administration, if he checked rapacity in others, he freely indulged in it himself, and the one guiding principle of his system was to screw as much as he possibly could out of his subjects. No rights were respected which conflicted with the pecuniary interests of the State, and if his rule was just, it was said to be so in the sense that all were oppressed alike. At best a military despotism, Rangit Singh's government aimed not to promote the welfare of the people, but to accumulate wealth for the Maharaja's treasury. His local governors knew what he expected from them, and directed their measures accordingly. Diwan Sawan Mull, one of the best and ablest amongst them, was said to have been thoroughly corrupt, and to have resorted to practices which would have brought him to ruin in any civilized State. But a people who had never known better times, and who had often experienced far worse, were grateful for such benefits as they derived from the Diwan's administration; they recognised his ability, they felt the stability of his rule, they saw him convert jungle-lands into oases of cultivation, and they were thankful and revered his memory.
Rangit Singh's death in June, 1839, brought his reputed son Kharrak Singh to the throne. But if his features bore some resemblance to the great Maharaja, it was soon apparent that, like Richard Cromwell, he had inherited none of his father's qualities as a ruler. His first act showed his ineptitude, for he attempted to supersede his late father's Prime Minister (Raja Dhian Singh) by a
creature of his own. The result was what might have been expected. Raja Dhian Singh had been trained in a hard school, and was a man of action. He knew his master to be incornpetent, and he refused to be cast aside. He entered the Darbar Hall, and in the presence of Kharrak Singh slew his miserable rival with his sword. The new Maharaja, unable to resent the violence of his powerful Diwan, shut himself up, and surrendered the government into the hands of his able son, Nao Nihal Singh. Kharrak Singh's feeble mind soon gave way, and he died a little more than a year after his father. Nao Nihal Singh was now the rightful heir to the throne, and had he lived to fulfil the promise of his youth, the history of the Panjab might not have been written as it is. But while passing under a gateway, on returning from the obsequies of his father, the youthful prince was killed by a falling stone, doubtless set rolling by a treacherous hand. The succession now passed to Sher Singh, one of the many sons who had been foisted on Rangit Singh, but a besotted drunkard and debauchee could not long maintain an empire such as the great Maharaja had founded. Не, too, fell under the hand of an assassin, leaving the son of the water-carrier Gúlú, the young Dhulip Singh, to bring the history of the Sikh Empire to a close.
I have now rapidly traced the rise and fall of three great Indian empires, a Moslem, a Mahratta, and a Sikh. They mark, as you will have observed, different periods of culture, and exhibit different dominant races and creeds striving for mastery, and displaying their capacity for government. I have endeavoured to bring out their good and bad points, to describe their successes and to indicate their failures. But in estimating their merits or demerits, we must, of course, bear in mind the surrounding conditions under which they each struggled for mastery, and we must not apply to them a standard applicable to other phases of social or political development. The picture intended to be presented is that of a native government at
its best, and according to a triple standard, representing the three most important nationalities which have influenced the history of India within the last three centuries. If this picture has been successfully drawn, as I have certainly endeavoured to draw it faithfully, it is one which offers abundant material for reflection and study. The Moslem, for instance, who points with pride to the Mogul Empire, will have to admit in candour that its glory is due to the elevation of principles which no extremely rigid or bigoted follower of the Arabian Prophet (to wit, Abdul Kadir Badauni) could fully reconcile to his conscience, and that this glory vanishes when, as in the reign of Alamgir, those principles are sacrificed to intolerant orthodoxy. The Mahratta or Sikh, who loves to recall the brave deeds of his national hero, of a Sivaji or a Rangit Singh, has to draw a veil over the crowded pages of his history which recount the murders, the treacheries, the deceits, and trickeries which would blacken any reputation. But where -I would venture to ask, and after making all due allowance for patriotic sentiment—is the Moslem, Mahratta, or Sikh, who, comparing the government under which he now lives with that of even an Akbar, or of a Sivaji, or of a Rangit Singh, could conscientiously say that the latter was as pure, as unselfish, as free, as beneficent, and as powerful, as the former? The question might be repeated from one end of India to the other, but the truthful answer re-echoing through the hills and valleys and plains would still bear witness to the incomparable superiority of the British administration.
On the other hand, let us never forget that it is only by means of the past that we can rise to the conquest of the future. Thus, the British Government itself has had much to learn from the histories to which I have referred. It has profited by experience, and it has seen the strong as well as the weak points of each of the preceding systems; where the one succeeded and where another failed; where a paramount power determined to rule with absolute impartiality could safely imitate, and where it was bound to reject or to innovate; where rocks and shoals were to be avoided, and where the path which led to progress and political and social development might safely be followed. Thanks to a succession of able governors, and, above all, to the zeal, single-hearted devotion, tact, and ability of our local officers, recruited for the most part from a service which is the pride as it is the mainstay of our Indian administration, we have succeeded as the outcome of a century of patient effort in framing a system of government which can safely challenge comparison with that adopted by any other foreign Government under similar conditions, and which has won the admiration of even our most unsympathetic critics.
The system of British administration in India is, in fact, the glory of the Anglo-Saxon capacity for government. It is based on justice, complete toleration and purity; it teaches respect and consideration for others; it fosters progress and enlightenment; it recognises no distinctions of creed, caste, or birth; and it treats all who are content to live loyally under one flag as fellow subjects of one Sovereign, whose sceptre is the emblem of freedom and civilization. Under the ægis of that sceptre, the diverse races of India, who once robbed, murdered, and pillaged each other, now live in peace, and all who love peace and desire prosperity and contentment for the people must pray that this sceptre may long continue to reign over a continent to which it has brought so many blessings.
THE PROPOSED LAW REGARDING THE ALIENATION OF AGRICULTURAL LAND
IN THE PANJÂB.
By B. H. BADEN-POWELL, M.A., C.I.E.,
THAT society, in all parts of India, has an essentially agricultural basis is a fact sufficiently well known and recognised. Five-sixths of the population gain their livelihood by cultivation ; and more than that number derive at least part of their income from the land. It is owing to this circumstance that the revenue derived from land has always been the sheet-anchor of State finance, and that the principle of taking a share of the produce of all cultivated land for the Treasury, is so ancient in origin and has been so persistently maintained. The methods of this revenuecollection have, in the course of centuries, necess
essarily varied. The “share” was at first a fixed proportion of the crop; at any rate, it was limited by a custom which was rarely or never infringed. But as time went on the State share became liable to increase at the will of the ruler (usually a conqueror): it was afterwards also converted into a money equivalent, and this soon obscured the original relation of the rate levied to the customary share.”
When British government, with its ideas of consistency, and respect for law and for secure and defined rights, was established in the various provinces, an important change came over the mode in which the “land-revenue assessed; and the position of the land-holders was affected accordingly. Perhaps I should rather say that new views of the land-holders' position were adopted, and that the mode of assessing the land-revenue varied accordingly; but the two things are in fact inseparable. However it may be expressed, a far-reaching change was necessitated