Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official eBook

William Henry Sleeman
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 897 pages of information about Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official.
the System, to give up all the rent of the lands, and thereby convert all the farmers into proprietors of their estates, the case would not be much altered, while the Hindoo and Muhammadan law of inheritance remained the same; for the eternal subdivision would still go on, and reduce all connected with the soil to one common level; and the people would be harassed with a multiplicity of taxes, from which they are now free, that would have to be imposed to supply the place of the rent given up.  The agricultural capitalists who derived their incomes from the interest of money advanced to the farmers and cultivators for subsistence and the purchase of stock were commonly men of rank and influence in society; but they were never a numerous class.[2] The mass of the people in India are really not at present sensible that they pay any taxes at all.  The only necessary of life, whose price is at all increased by taxes, is salt, and the consumer is hardly aware of this increase.  The natives never eat salted meat; and though they require a great deal of salt, living, as they do, so much on vegetable food, still they purchase it in such small quantities from day to day as they require it, that they really never think of the tax that may have been paid upon it in its progress.[3]

To understand the nature of taxation in India, an Englishman should suppose that all the non-farming landholders of his native country had, a century or two ago, consented to resign their property into the hands of their sovereign, for the maintenance of his civil functionaries, army, navy, church, and public creditors, and then suddenly disappeared from the community, leaving to till the lands merely the farmers and cultivators; and that their forty millions of rent were just the sum that the Government now required to pay all these four great establishments.[4]

To understand the nature of the public debt of England a man has only to suppose one great national establishment, twice as large as those of the civil functionaries, the Army, Navy, and the Church together, and composed of members with fixed salaries, who purchased their commissions from the wisdom of our ancestors, with liberty to sell them to whom they please—­who have no duty to perform for the public,[5] and have, like Adam and Eve, the privilege of going to ‘seek their place of rest’ in what part of the world they please—­a privilege of which they will, of course, be found more and more anxious to avail themselves as taxation presses on the one side, and prohibition to the import of the necessaries of life diminishes the means of paying them on the other.

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Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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