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William Henry Sleeman
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 897 pages of information about Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official.

5.  That unsound System prevailed in all departments during the early years of the nineteenth century.  ’In Bengal, the monopoly of salt in one form or other dates at least from the establishment of the Board of Trade there in 1765.  The strict monopoly of salt commenced in 1780, under a System of agencies.  The System introduced in 1780 continued in force with occasional modifications till 1862, when the several salt agencies were gradually abolished, leaving the Supply of salt, whether by importations or excise manufacture, to private enterprise.  Since then, for Bengal Proper, the supply of the condiment has been obtained chiefly by importation, but in part by private manufacture under a System of excise.’ (Balfour, Cyclopaedia, 3rd ed., s.v.  Salt.) At present the Salt Department is controlled by a single Commissioner with the Government of India, The fee payable for a licence to manufacture salt is fifty rupees.  It is inaccurate to describe the limitation imposed on the manufacture of salt as a monopoly.  Any one can sell salt, but it can be made only under licence.

6.  The author.

7.  The same observations, mutatis mutandis, are applicable to the magistracy of the country; and the remedy for all the great existing evils must be sought in the same means, the interposition of a body of efficient officers between the magistrate and the ‘thanadars’, or present head police officers of small divisions. [W.  H. S.] Much has been done to carry out this advice.  The ‘most efficient officers’ of the inland Customs department alluded to in the text were the European or Eurasian ‘uncovenanted’ Collectors of Customs and their assistants.  The allusion to Prince Husain and Prince Ali refers to the well-known tale in the Arabian Nights, ’The story of Prince Ahmad and the Fairy Peri-Banu’.  It is omitted, I believe, from Lane’s version.

CHAPTER 61

Peasantry of India attached to no existing Government—­Want of Trees in Upper India [1]—­Cause and Consequence—­Wells and Groves.

What strikes one most after crossing the Chambal is, I think, the improved size and bearing of the men; they are much stouter, and more bold and manly, without being at all less respectful.  They are certainly a noble peasantry, full of courage, spirit, and intelligence; and heartily do I wish that we could adopt any system that would give our Government a deep root in their affections, or link their interests inseparably with its prosperity; for, with all its defects, life, property, and character are certainly more secure, and all their advantages more freely enjoyed under our Government than under any other they have ever heard of, or that exists at present in any other part of the country.  The eternal subdivision of the landed property reduces them too much to one common level, and prevents the formation of that middle class which is the basis of all that is great and good in European societies—­the great vivifying spirit which animates all that is good above it in the community.[2] It is a singular fact that the peasantry, and, I may say, the landed interest of the country generally, have never been the friends of any existing government, have never considered their interests and that of their government the same; and, consequently, have never felt any desire for its success or its duration.[3]

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