« PreviousContinue »
East-Indies, and who will ruin the East-Indies as well as the West-Indies, inasmuch as he can produce his sugar much cheaper than either the one or the other." We have no doubt that Mr. Mc Queen, though a partisan, stated what he believed to be true; but we doubt the correctness of the statement, that the foreign slave-holder can produce sugar cheaper than the European cultivator in the East-Indies; but if it be so, the surest policy to remedy an evil so fatal to the views of the abolitionists of slavery is, not to protect the producer by free labour, who will then lean upon protection; but to let him be exposed to fair competition with the slave-holder, and humanity need not dread the consequence.
It should be recollected that all our conclusions respecting the ability of East-Indian sugar to compete in price with Brazil and Cuba sugars are founded upon data obtained principally at a period when the former was excluded from the home-market; when, unless sugar had reached a high price, by reason of a deficient supply from the West-Indies, there was no profitable sale of East-India sugar for home consumption. "I have entertained a very decided opinion," says Mr. Larpent,* no mean authority, "that whilst there was a surplus of West-India sugar here, the equalization of the duties was a matter of minor importance to India, except with reference to the mode of carrying on the trade in the dead-weight, for shipping; the moment, instead of a surplus, you had a deficiency, that instant it became of the utmost importance to India; and I consider it," he adds, "to be of great importance to the consumer also." The reduction of the duty on rum, and the impulse given to the sugar cultivation, by British capital, in India, have wrought wonderful effects there already. Before the equalization of the duties on rum was known there, the distillation had largely increased, the European and the native embarking with avidity in the speculation. "If Parliament will but equalize the duties," says one of our authorities in Bengal, "our rum will probably acquire an entire ascendancy in the home-market: sugar manufactories are springing up daily, and we shall soon be able to export 50,000 tons by the year."
Can any one, who knows the course of mercantile operations, doubt that this impulse given to the cultivation of sugar in India will not merely increase its quantity, but improve its quality, and if need be, reduce its price? As far as the latter ingredient is concerned, protection from competition will be an evil, for it will withdraw from the cultivator the most powerful incentive to study economy. In the outset, probably, an augmentation of demand and an extension of cultivation will raise the original cost of sugar, by raising the rent of land and the rate of labour. We, indeed, find, from the latest accounts, that such have already been their effects. But this evil is only temporary; competition will correct what is the pure effect of monopoly, by bringing more land, more produce, and more labour into the market; necessity will stimulate invention in the reduction of the cost of growth and manufacture, and the only way to impede this experiment upon the productive resources of India, is to encumber it with "protection."
*Commons' Ren. 9.400.
DIARY OF AN ASSISTANT SURGEON.
Artza a passage of five months and two weeks, the ship K―s anchored in the Madras roadsted, on the 18th of June, 182-. We were informed by the captain that we could not go on shore until an officer from the Government had visited us.
There is something in the aspect of a new country which warms the heart; the impressions of a first visit, as they are never repeated, so are they seldom forgotten. I arrived in India with a very strong predilection for it; a service and a sojourn there had been amongst my earliest waking dreams.
The anchorage-ground off Madras is in reality only what its name implies, a mere roadsted, exposed to every wind that blows, with a loamy bottom, and a tremendous triple surf, everlastingly rolling on to the shore, and in which no European boat could live an instant. Those who have seen a masulah boat going on shore will readily remember it, its crew, and its attendant sensations. Notwithstanding, however, its ill-appearance, experience has proved that every one of these boats would be a very safe speculation for underwriting. Madras roadsted literally swarms with sharks, of which fact, and of their rapacity, we had a melancholy proof during the evening of our being at anchor. An Arab ship, which lay alongside of us, was unshipping some horses; one of them unfortunately kicked himself out of the slings, and fell into the water, when he was immediately attacked, destroyed, and in great measure devoured, by the sharks; yet, in defiance of such terrible warning, one of our crew jumped overboard after sunset, and swam to a vessel, on board of which he knew there was an old friend. This vessel was a man-of-war brig, and when our skipper sent for him the next morning, the officer commanding refused to give him up, because he had entered his Majesty's service.
On the following morning, a boat came on board, with a non-commissioned officer, under whose charge we went on shore. From the beach to the fort, the distance is not great, and at first I thought the heat very little exceeded that of an English dog-day. Our first point was the town-major's office, where we were detained about half an hour, and from whence we proceeded to the office of the adjutant-general. The head of the department, Colonel C―y, was not present, but we had an interview with the assistant adjutantgeneral, Colonel C—ll.
The life of the former officer affords a serious lesson to every young man, that extraordinary luck alone is not sufficient to ensure prosperity. At the breaking out of the mutiny in 1809, he was, I believe, only a lieutenant of cavalry; on that occasion, he was one of the very few who had discretion enough to side with the Government; in consequence of which, at an age scarcely beyond seven-and-twenty, and as brevet major, he was advanced to the post of adjutant-general of the Madras army. This lucrative and influential situation he held for thirty years, and only relinquished it for one still more lucrative; yet he died in debt. He was very good-natured and hospitable, but not foolishly so; kind and friendly to every officer in the army who merited such feelings, and universally liked; but he wanted prudence. The conduct of the other gentleman affords a contrary example. He also, early in his career, entered the adjutant-general's department, and gradually worked his way up to the assistant adjutant-generalship. This post he retained for some years-until, indeed, he had completed his period of service; after which he retired on the full pay of his rank, with considerable savings from his official
pay and allowances; but, instead of coming to England, he joined a lucrative house of agency in Madras, in which I suppose he considerably increased his fortune, though at the expense of his health.
Thanks be to the functionary to whose suggestion is attributable the establishment of the cadets' quarters. Having transacted our little matters at the adjutant-general's office, we got into palanquins and went directly thither. I do not hesitate to confess that, however much circumstances changed their colouring afterwards, the earliest of my days in India are unmingled with a regret, unshadowed by a cloud. All within and without was sunshine; new scenes, new habits, unknown tongues, strange birds and reptiles, unimagined foliage, the freshness of early morning, the hot tranquillity of day, and the gaiety of the evening rides and drives, gave promise of a happy and a sunny future.
The cadets' quarters was, and still is, a large and commodious house, situated in an extensive compound, in the neighbourhood called the Spur Tank. Here-although, as I believed, perfectly capable of taking care of myself-I found myself placed under the friendly charge of (then) Captain (now Major) D—, than whom I do not believe it could have been possible to find an individual better qualified for his situation and its duties. There were several young officers, besides ourselves, all recently from England, quartered here. The captain was about forty years of age, but whose bald head, thin, spare frame, and wrinkled features, would most readily have gained him credit for twenty years more. His health had long been very delicate, and his promotion very slow; he belonged to the regiment which was at that time called the corps of "Lord Howe's boys." D had been twenty-four years in the service, and was only second regimental captain; he afterwards got brevet rank of major, and not very long since I met him in Regent Street, looking twenty years younger. Having quietly settled myself in my room at the quarters, and having, as a first essential step, engaged a maittee, a black valet de chambre, or rather valet de corps, I began to consider some of the circumstances of my new condition, and some necessary measures connected with it. Every thing seemed redolent of happiness; we were a party of pleasant companions; we dined at a regular mess; every one had bought a horse within the first week; but business was to be thought of. I had been informed by Captain D- that etiquette required me to call upon each of the three members of the Medical Board, inasmuch as the Board was my immediate superior authority. Consequently, I duly arrayed myself in the usual griffin's costume-white trowsers and waistcoat, with a red shell jacket without facings.
The senior member of the Medical Board was a Mr. S―g, a gentlemanly personage, rather stately, about fifty-seven years of age, and into whose presence I was ushered when he was sitting tête à tête with his newly-married lady. Mr. S. was a Scotchman, and I found him rather distant and reserved, and the preliminary conversation consisted in short sentences respecting the voyage. I was puzzled to find out the accessible point, until the conversation turned upon professional subjects, when the old gentleman gradually relaxed into a very complacent monologue respecting the state of the profession in England, and then passed into a comparative view of its former and present condition in India; he was, indeed, “laudator temporis acti." He favoured me with an hour's lecture, and a bland dismissal.
From hence I ordered the bearers to carry me to the house of the second member. It is surprising how shrewd and intelligent the palanquin-boys are; oftentimes they seem to have an intuitive understanding of one's wishes. I could not speak a word of Hindoostanee, nor did I find that they could of
English; but when I said, as I got into the palanquin, "Mr. H, Medical Board gentleman," away they went, and soon put me down at his door. Mr. H— was a man who had been five-and-thirty years in India. When my card had been handed in to him, he came forward to me, and, with a hearty shake of the hand, congratulated me on my arrival in the country. He had, as he soon told me, returned but a few months from Burmah, where he had been head of the medical department, and for his services in which he was subsequently dubbed (as he not very long since died) Sir Simon H-d. One of the first questions he asked me was, "Well, sir, and what do the good people in England think of the war ?" With a very gracious promise of his interest, which, by-the-bye, was not a toothful, he wished me good morning.
There remained now but the third member of the Board to call upon; and, by some singular accident, I found him full of the idea of going home next year to live in my own native county, H-shire. Something was said about ale; he asked me what sort of ale I thought very good; I answered, Welch ale. He then inquired what county I came from, and when I told him "from H-shire," it acted like a charm upon him, for he forthwith let me into his future plans, and inquired many particulars as to the county, with respect to sporting, economy, scenery, and so forth. He seemed highly gratified, and, when I was about to go, said, "Now, whatever I can do for you I will; but come and take a friendly dinner here to-morrow at four o'clock."
There are few things which I more detest than delivering letters of introduction; they are little better than soup-tickets, unless they are from direct influences, and to parties having actual power to serve. I took with me but three introductory ones; one of which I threw into the fire; a second I sent to the parties by a servant, soon after my arrival; the third I had reasons for delivering; it was from an influential member of Parliament to his cousin, one of the chief secretaries to Government, and consequently, as I conceived, might have it in his power, if I could put it into his inclination, to serve me. The first time I called at his private house he was from home; consequently, I left the letter and my card. For three days I heard nothing in reply. I hesitated for some time how to act, and at last made up my determination to sacrifice inclination and indisposition to probable self-interest. A chief secretary to Government in Madras seemed to me quite as great a man as a principal secretary of state in old England. Being resolved to do the thing effectually, I went in a palanquin to his house by eight o'clock in the morning; he was at home; I therefore sent in a card; immediately afterwards the boy returned, "Master send plenty compliments, please to come in." I was very agreeably surprised to be welcomed most cordially by a plain, farmer-like looking man, without any of the pomp of the civilian about him. "Of course," said he, "you have not breakfasted; so come, sit down along with me." As soon as breakfast was over, he apologized for turning me out, as he was obliged to be at Government-house at half-past nine; "but," said he, "you'll come and dine with me this evening at half-past seven." I accordingly went, and a splendid dinner we had, there being a large party. In the course of the evening, he promised to forward my interests in any way he possibly could, and requested me at all times to communicate with him on the subject. He was generally esteemed a thorough kind-hearted fellow he bore the characteristic sobriquet of " Farmer Dick." He died soon after of an abscess in the liver.
A young man, on his first arrival in India, is sadly teazed, and grossly cheated by his servants. As soon as he joins a regiment, his domestic wants,
it is true, are few, but for the supply of those few he is entirely dependent on his servants. I soon found myself in this dilemma. While at the cadets' quarters, the first servant I engaged was a fine high-caste sort of fellow, as dobash, at twelve rupees a month; but not one single thing could I get him to do. He would not condescend to carry a small parcel down into Madras, but must forsooth employ a coolie; and when I scolded him for being, as I considered, lazy, his answer was, "How I can do so? I master's dobashee; head servant never can do so." I soon, therefore, dismissed him. The next I hired was a Pariar, or no-caste man; a sulky-looking fellow; but he soon got into my ways, and I found him steady; but because I gave him a light box on the ear for a piece of stupidity of which he had been guilty, he would not stop with me but five days. I was rather sorry to part with him, and told him I was pleased with him, and that he might stay if he chose; but no; go he would, and did. There soon came to offer himself a little very dark fellow, who, by way of recommendation, produced what these gentry commonly call "plenty good character." By the paper given him by his last master, I found he was surnamed "Grasshopper," and a more appropriate nickname I have seldom known, for he jumped and hopped about just like one. By some mischance, Mr. Grasshopper got drunk the very first night, as I suspect, on a bottle of my brandy; so I bundled him off the next morning.
On my first arrival in Madras, and for some days after, the idea of such a thing as rain never once occurred to me; the trees and shrubs all looked beautifully verdant, but I quickly missed the grass-green turf; all under foot seemed sandy and glowing with heat. One morning, however, to my surprise, it began to rain, continued all that day, and the two next, without cessation; in fact, it fell in such torrents, that in the afternoon, when it cleared off, the pluviometer gave a measurement of twenty-two inches depth of rain. Madras is very low in situation, being a plain for many miles, and the consequence of such a fall of rain was, that places, which had been nothing but dry gullies of sand, ran with rapid and full-swollen rivers; large flats of country were converted into expanded lakes, hedges were carried away, and torrents overran the highways. The subsiding of the waters was followed by a wonderfully sudden resuscitation of the vegetable world.
The plan on which the houses are built at Madras gives, with the effect of this rain, a most beautiful appearance to the country. The native town, or, as it is called by the natives, Patna, is a miserable place, but the surrounding vicinity is just the contrary. There are wide, level, hard roads, shaded by thick-leaved trees, running in every direction, and intersecting one another; on both sides are hedge-rows of various shrubs, some odoriferous, some bearing fruit, and all of the deepest green. Within the grounds thus fenced are to be seen numbers of magnificent houses, stuccoed with white chunam, fronted with porticoes, and having the rooms shaded by green venetians. The compounds, in which the houses stand, are planted with banian, mango, tamarind, bamboo, and other trees, forming not only a grateful shade to the goats of the owner, but delightful to the passer-by. At such a time as this, it struck me that Madras greatly surpassed Geneva, barring the Lake.
What a change has taken place in the condition of the town and neighbourhood of Madras within these fifty years! About the year 1646, the EastIndia Company obtained a grant of ground from the Nabob of the Carnatic, confirmed by the Mogul at Delhi; this grant extended five miles along the shore, and one mile inland; and upon this the Company built. The town, at its early establishment and for a hundred years afterwards, consisted of three