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LECTURE XII.

BENGAL-CONCLUSION

EXCEPTIONAL CHARACTER OF BENGAL AND ITS PEOPLE-THE BENGAL LIEU

TENANT-GOVERNORSHIP_NATURAL FEATURES, AREA, AND POPULATIONPRODUCTS SCENERY CLIMATE - CITIES-ART-HINDUS AND MOHAMMEDANS—LORD MACAULAY'S DESCRIPTION OF THE BENGÁLIS—THEIR EXTRAORDINARY EFFEMINACY- THE PERMANENT SETTLEMENT-ZEMINDARS AND RYOTS—THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE PERMANENT SETTLEMENT-LOSS OF PUBLIC REVENUE-CONFISCATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE PEASANTRYWEAKNESS OF THE GOVERNMENT-ABSENCE OF RECORDS OF AGRICULTURAL RIGHTS — FORMER CONSTITUTION OF THE BENGAL GOVERNMENT-ITS INEFFICIENCY-A SEPARATE GOVERNMENT CONSTITUTED—-IMPROVEMENTS IN THE ADMINISTRATION-DIFFICULTY OF PROBLEMS TO BE SOLVED GREAT INCREASE IN RENTALS OF THE ZEMINDARS AND LOSS BY THE RYOTS-CONSEQUENT INJUSTICE TO OTHER PROVINCES-MAINTENANCE OF CONDITIONS OF THE PERMANENT SETTLEMENT-CLAIMS OF THE ZEMINDARS FOR EXEMPTION FROM TAXATION—THE PROPER REMEDIES FOR EXISTING EVILSRATES ON THE LAND-CHANGES IN THE BENGAL RENT-LAW-CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE IN BEHÁR—THE TENANCY ACT-EFFECTS OF ENGLISH EDUCATION—ATTITUDE OF THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING BENGÁLIS-POLITICAL AGITATION-NEGLECT OF SOCIAL QUESTIONS_REASONS FOR AVOIDING DISCUSSION—THE EMPLOYMENT OF NATIVES IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE—THE PRINCIPLES TO BE OBSERVED AND AVOIDED POLITICAL HYPOCRISY — THE DUTY OF MAINTAINING OUR DOMINION-OFFICES TO BE RETAINED BY ENGLISHMEN—THE SO-CALLED NATIVES OF INDIA OFTEN AS MUCH FOREIGNERS AS ENGLISHMEN-THE MANLIER RACES OF INDIA CANNOT BE RULED THROUGH BENGÁLIS—CONCLUSION—THE RESULTS OF BRITISH GOVERNMENT—THE POPULARITY OF OUR GOVERNMENT-LORD LAWRENCE's OPINION—REASONS WHY OUR GOVERNMENT CANNOT BE POPULAR-THE PRINCIPLES ON WHICH OUR GOVERNMENT MUST BE CARRIED ON.

I HAVE endeavoured to give you some general idea of what India is, and to illustrate the manner in which the administration of a British province is carried on, and I have told you something of the government of the Native Princes who still rule a third part of India and a fifth of its population. Before concluding these lectures I propose to give some sketches of another great British Province, Bengal. I am the more desirous of doing this because Englishmen are frequently under the impression that Bengal and Bengális are types of India and its people, the truth being that there is no province which is in all respects so exceptional, and no people so curiously distinct.

I have explained the various significations which the name Bengal has had at different times. It now usually means the country included within the Bengal Lieutenant-Governorship, but this again includes four provinces—Bengal Proper, comprising the tracts between the Ganges and Brahmaputra, and the deltas of those rivers ; Behár, on the north-west of Bengal Proper, adjoining the North-Western Provinces, to which in its physical character it is very similar ; Chota Nagpur, a wild and hilly country between Bengal Proper and Central India ; and Orissa, south-west from Calcutta, the country of the river Máhánadi, with the sea on its eastern side.

A description of any one of these provinces would be wholly inapplicable to the rest. Their physical conditions, the character of the population, and their languages are all different. The Lieutenant-Governorship of Bengal covers an area as large as that of France, and contains 67,000,000 people. As Sir William Hunter has observed, its elements exhibit every stage of human enlightenment and superstition, from the sceptical educated classes, represented by the Hindu gentleman who distinguishes himself at a London Inn of Court, to the hill chieftain, who a few years ago sacrificed an idiot on the top of a mountain to obtain a favourable decision in a Privy Council appeal.'1 Although I shall have to

· Imperial Gazetteer of India, Art. `India.'

make some references to Behár, it is almost solely of Bengal Proper that I now propose to speak. It is the largest and most populous and richest of the provinces that make up the Lieutenant-Governorship. It has an area of more than 70,000 square miles, and contains a population of 35,500,000.

Bengal Proper is everywhere intersected by the channels and tributaries of the Ganges and Bráhmaputra. Some two hundred miles from the sea the two rivers begin to throw out branches, and lower down they join their waters. Sir William Hunter has given, in the ‘Imperial Gazetteer of India,' a graphic description of this part of the province :

* The delta of the Ganges,' he says, 'where it borders on the sea, becomes a labyrinth of creeks and rivers, running through the dense forests of the Sundarbans, and exhibiting during the annual inundations the appearance of an immense sea. Higher up, the rice-fields, to the extent of thousands of square miles, are submerged. The scene presents to a European eye a panorama of singular novelty and interest—the crops covered with water; the ears of grain floating on the surface; the stupendous embankments, which restrain, without altogether preventing, the excesses of the inundations; and peasants in all quarters going out to their daily work with their cattle in canoes or on rafts. The navigable streams which fall into or diverge from the Ganges intersect the country in every direction, and afford abundant facilities for internal communication. In many parts, boats can approach, by means of lakes, rivulets, and water-courses, to the door of almost every cottage. The lower region of the Ganges is the richest and most productive portion of Bengal, and abounds in valuable produce.'

The inundation of the Brahmaputra produces similar conditions. The rivers in Lower Bengal render, to a great extent, the services which are rendered in other countries by the roads. In many parts of the province a well-to-do man keeps his boat as elsewhere he would keep his cart. Railways have penetrated into some of the districts, but they will not diminish the usefulness of the rivers or the traffic which they carry. Marts are held every year, on a great scale, at convenient places on the chief rivers, and the agricultural produce of the country is carried off in all directions by the navigable channels. The list of the useful products of Bengal would be a long one. Almost everything is provided in abundance that a people in a tropical climate requires. Rice, jute, indigo, opium, oilseeds, and tea are the principal articles which come into the export trade from Calcutta, but tea is only cultivated on the mountainous borders of the province, and not in Bengal Proper, and the opium comes from Behár and the North-Western Provinces. The great agricultural staple, more important than any other, is rice which constitutes the chief food of the people.

Although the endless stretches of the rice fields are monotonous, few flat countries can be more beautiful than parts of Bengal. A constant succession of admirable pictures is afforded by the reaches of the rivers, busy with traffic; the boats with their great sails; the cocoanuts, and other palms, huge figs, tamarinds and mangoes, bamboos and plantains ; the villages, with tanks green with slime and water-lilies ; neat cottages covered with creeping gourds and cucumbers and melons ; the delicate forms of the men and women, in scanty but graceful costume--these, and a thousand picturesque details, and the colouring of its hot and steamy atmosphere, make Bengal one of the most beautiful countries of India. Nor is it so disagreeable for Englishmen to live in as might be supposed. Although it has not the advantage of the pleasantly cold winter of Northern India, the heat of the summer is tempered by the greater moisture

and by the nearness of the sea. Heat like that of June at Agra or Lahore is unknown, and for three or four months in the winter the climate is very agreeable.

Although there is hardly any part of India where trade is so active, there are few cities and important towns. With the exception of Calcutta, which with its suburbs contains 870,000 people, and is in population the second city in the British Empire, there is hardly a town in Bengal Proper which, according to a European standard, can be called large. Dacca, with 79,000 people, is the largest. Almost the whole population is rural. There are scarcely any manufactures, except of common cloth and other articles which can be made by the ordinary village artisans. Bengal has never, within historical times, been distinguished, as other Indian countries have been, for excellence in art. The native portion of Calcutta, although full of wealth, can hardly be surpassed in mean ugliness ; people who are comparatively rich are often content to live in hovels; and among the zemindars and rájas of Bengal, with incomes which even in England would be thought immense, there is hardly one who lives in a house which in its architecture and decoration is not detestable. In this respect the modern native city of Bombay is a striking contrast to that of Calcutta. The western and eastern capitals of India have grown up under not very dissimilar circumstances; but while the latter, in its native quarter, is everywhere contemptible, the former can show streets which in picturesqueness and decoration are inferior to those of few modern cities in Europe. The admirable Indian styles of architecture which are living arts in other provinces are practically unrepresented in Bengal.

Throughout nearly the whole of Bengal Proper the

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