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Rambles and recollections of an Indian official!
Major-General Sir W. H. Sleeman, K.C.B.

The people of Britain are described by Diodorus Siculus (Book V, chap. 2) as in a very simple and rude state, subsisting almost entirely on the produce of the land, but as being 'a people of much integrity and sincerity, far from the craft and knavery of men among us, contented with plain and homely fare, and strangers to the luxuries and excesses of the rich'.

n India we find strict veracity most prevalent among the wildest and half-savage tribes of the hills and jungles in Central India, or the chain of the Himālaya mountains; and among those where we find it prevail most, we find cattle-stealing most common; the men of one tribe not deeming it to be any disgrace to lift, or steal, the cattle of another.

I have known the man among the Gonds of the woods of Central India, whom nothing could induce to tell a lie, join a party of robbers to lift a herd of cattle from the neighbouring plains for nothing more than as much spirits as he could enjoy at one bout.

I asked a native gentleman of the plains, in the valley of the Nerbudda, one day, what made the people of the woods to the north and south more disposed to speak the truth than those more civilized of the valley itself.

'They have not yet learned the value of a lie,' said he, with the greatest simplicity and sincerity, for he was a very honest and plain-spoken man.

Veracity is found to prevail most where there is least to tempt to falsehood, and most to be feared from it. In a very rude state of society, like that of which I have been speaking, the only shape in which property is accumulated is in cattle; things are bartered for each other without the use of a circulating medium, and one member of a community has no means of concealing from the other the articles of property he has.

If they were to steal from each other, they would not be able to conceal what they stole—to steal, therefore, would be no advantage. In such societies every little community is left to govern itself; to secure the rights, and enforce the duties, of all its several members in their relations with each other; they are too poor to pay taxes to keep up expensive establishments, and their Governments seldom maintain among them any for the administration of justice, or the protection of life, property, or character.

All the members of all such little communities will often unite in robbing the members of another community of their flocks and herds, the only kind of property they have, or in applauding those who most distinguish themselves in such enterprises; but the well- being of the community demands that each member should respect the property of the others, and be punished by the odium of all if he does not.[1]

It is equally necessary to the well-being of the community that every member should be able to rely upon the veracity of the other upon the very few points where their rights, duties, and interests clash. In the very rudest state of society, among the woods and hills of India, the people have some deity whose power they dread, and whose name they invoke when much is supposed to depend upon the truth of what one man is about to declare.

The 'pīpal' tree (Ficus religiosa) is everywhere sacred to the gods, who are supposed to sit among its leaves and listen to the music of their rustling. The deponent takes one of these leaves in his hand, and invokes the god who sits above him to crush him, or those dear to him, as he crushes the leaf in his hand, if he speak anything but the truth; he then plucks and crushes the leaf, and states what he has to say.[2]

The large cotton-tree is, among the wild tribes of India, the favourite seat of gods still more terrible,[3] because their superintendence is confined exclusively to the neighbourhood; and having their attention less occupied, they can venture to make a more minute scrutiny into the conduct of the people immediately around them.

The 'pīpal' is occupied by one or other of the Hindoo triad, the god of creation, preservation, or destruction, who have the affairs of the universe to look after;[4] but the cotton and other trees are occupied by some minor deities, who are vested with a local superintendence over the affairs of a district, or perhaps, of a single village.[5]

These are always in the view of the people, and every man knows that he is every moment liable to be taken to their court, and to be made to invoke their vengeance upon himself, or those dear to him, if he has told a falsehood in what he has stated, or tells one in what he is about to state. Men so situated adhere habitually, and I may say religiously, to the truth; and I have had before me hundreds of cases in which a man's property, liberty, or life has depended upon his telling a lie, and he has refused to tell it to save either; as my friend told me, 'they had not learned the value of a lie', or rather, they had not learned with how much impunity a lie could be told in the tribunals of civilized society.

In their own tribunals, under the pīpal-tree or cotton-tree, imagination commonly did what the deities, who were supposed to preside, had the credit of doing; if the deponent told a lie, he believed that the deity who sat on the sylvan throne above him, and searched the heart of man, must know it; and from that moment he knew no rest—he was always in dread of his vengeance; if any accident happened to him, or to those dear to him, it was attributed to this offended deity; and if no accident happened, some evil was brought about by his own disordered imagination.[6]

In the tribunals we introduce among them, such people soon find that the judges who preside can seldom search deeply into the hearts of men, or clearly distinguish truth from falsehood in the declarations of deponents; and when they can distinguish it, it is seldom that they can secure their conviction for perjury.

They generally learn very soon that these judges, instead of being, like the judges of their own woods and wilds, the only beings who can search the hearts of men, and punish them for falsehood, are frequently the persons, of all others, most blind to the real state of the deponent's mind, and the degree of truth and falsehood in his narrative; that, however well-intentioned, they are often labouring in the 'darkness visible' created by the native officers around them.

They not only learn this, but they learn what is still worse, that they may tell what lies they please in these tribunals; and that not one of them shall become known to the circle in which they move, and whose good opinion they value.

If, by his lies told in such tribunals, a man has robbed another, or caused him to be robbed, of his property, his character, his liberty, or his life, he can easily persuade the circle in which he resides that it has arisen, not from any false statements of his, but from the blindness of the judge, or the wickedness of the native officers of his court, because all circles consider the blindness of the one, and the wickedness of the other, to be everywhere very great.

Arrian, in speaking of the class of supervisors in India, says: 'They may not be guilty of falsehood; and indeed none of the Indians were ever accused of that crime.'[7] I believe that as little falsehood is spoken by the people of India, in their village communities, as in any part of the world with an equal area and population. It is in our courts of justice where falsehoods prevail most, and the longer they have been anywhere established, the greater the degree of falsehood that prevails in them.

Those entrusted with the administration of a newly-acquired territory are surprised to find the disposition among both principals and witnesses in cases to tell the plain and simple truth. As magistrates, they find it very often difficult to make thieves and robbers tell lies, according to the English fashion, to avoid running a risk of criminating themselves.

n England, this habit of making criminals tell lies arose from the severity of the penal code, which made the punishment so monstrously disproportionate to the crime, that the accused, however clear and notorious his crimes, became an object of general sympathy.[8]

In India, punishments have nowhere been, under our rule, disproportionate to the crimes; on the contrary, they have generally been more mild than the people would wish them to be, or think they ought to be, in order to deter from similar crimes; and, in newly- acquired territories, they have generally been more mild than in our old possessions.

The accused are, therefore, nowhere considered as objects of public sympathy; and in newly-acquired territories they are willing to tell the truth, and are allowed to do so, in order to save the people whom they have injured, and their neighbours generally, the great loss and annoyance unavoidably attending upon a summons to our courts.

In the native courts, to which ours succeed, the truth was seen through immediately, the judges who presided could commonly distinguish truth from falsehood in the evidence before them, almost as well as the sylvan gods who sat in the pīpal- or cotton-trees; though they were seldom supposed by the people to be quite so just in their decisions. When we take possession of such countries, they, for a time at least, give us credit for the same sagacity, with a little more integrity.

The prisoner knows that his neighbours expect him to tell the truth to save them trouble, and will detest him if he does not; he supposes that we shall have the sense to find out the truth whether he tells it or not, and then humanity to visit his crime with the punishment it merits, and no more.

The magistrate asks the prisoner what made him steal; and the prisoner enters at once into an explanation of the circumstances which reduced him to the necessity of doing so, and offers to bring witnesses to prove them; but never dreams of offering to bring witnesses to prove that he did not steal, if he really had done so; because the general feeling would be in favour of his doing the one, and against his doing the other.

Tavernier gives an amusing sketch of Amīr Jumla presiding in a court of justice, during a visit he paid him in the kingdom of Golconda, in the year 1648. (See Book I, Part II, chap. 11.)[9]

I asked a native law officer, who called on me one day, what he thought would be the effect of an Act to dispense with oaths on the Korān and Ganges water, and substitute a solemn declaration made in the name of God, and under the same penal liabilities, as if the Korān or Ganges water had been in the deponent's hand.

'I have practised In the courts thirty years, sir,' said he, 'and during that time I have found only three kinds of witnesses—two of whom would, by such an Act, be left precisely where they were, while the third would be released by it from a very salutary check.'

'And, pray, what are the three classes into which you divide the witnesses in our courts?'

'First, sir, are those who will always tell the truth, whether they are required to state what they know in the form of an oath or not.'

'Do you think this a large class?'

'Yes, I think it is; and I have found among them many whom nothing on earth could make to swerve from the truth; do what you please, you could never frighten or bribe them into a deliberate falsehood. The second are those who will not hesitate to tell a lie when they have a motive for it, and are not restrained by an oath. In taking an oath they are afraid of two things, the anger of God and the odium of men.

'Only three days ago, 'continued my friend,' I required a power of attorney from a lady of rank, to enable me to act for her in a case pending before the court in this town. It was given to me by her brother, and two witnesses came to declare that she had given it.

"Now," said I, "this lady is known to live under the curtain; and you will be asked by the judge whether you saw her give this paper; what will you say?"

They both replied: "If the judge asks us the question without an oath, we will say yes—it will save much trouble, and we know that she did give this paper, though we did not really see her give it; but if he puts the Korān into our hands we must say no, for we should otherwise be pointed at by all the town as perjured wretches—our enemies would soon tell everybody that we had taken a false oath."

'Now,' my friend went on, 'the form of an oath is a great check upon this sort of persons. The third class consists of men who will tell lies whenever they have sufficient motive, whether they have the Korān or Ganges water in their hands or not. Nothing will ever prevent their doing so; and the declaration which you propose would be just as well as any other for them.'

'Which class do you consider the most numerous of the three?'

'I consider the second the most numerous, and wish the oath to be retained for them.'

'That is of all the men you see examined in our courts, you think the most come under the class of those who will, under the influence of strong motives, tell lies if they have not the Korān or Ganges water in their hands?'


'But do not a great many of those, whom you consider to be included among the second class, come from the village communities—the peasantry of the country?'


'And do you not think that the greatest part of those men who tell lies in the court, under the influence of strong motives, unless they bear the Korān or Ganges water in their hands, would refuse to tell lies, if questioned before the people of their villages among the circle in which they live?'

'Of course I do; three-fourths of those who do not scruple to lie in our courts, would be ashamed to be before their neighbours, or the elders of their village.'

'You think that the people of the village communities are more ashamed to tell lies before their neighbours than the people of towns?'

'Much more[10] here is no comparison.'

'And the people of towns and cities bear in India but a small proportion to the people of the village communities?'

'I should think a very small proportion indeed.'

'Then you think that in the mass of the population of India out of our courts, and in their own circles, the first class, or those who speak truth, whether they have the Korān or Ganges water in their hands or not, would be found more numerous than the other two?'

'Certainly I do; if they were always to be questioned before their neighbours or elders, or so that they could feel that their neighbours and elders would know what they say.'

This man is a very worthy and learned Muhammadan, who has read all the works on medicine to be found in Persian and Arabia; gives up his time from sunrise in the morning till nine, to the indigent sick of the town, whom he supplies gratuitously with his advice and medicines, that cost him thirty rupees a month, out of about one hundred and twenty that he can make by his labours all the rest of the day.

There can be no doubt that, even in England, the fear of the odium of society, which is sure to follow the man who has perjured himself, acts more powerfully in making men tell the truth, when they have the Bible in their hands before a competent and public tribunal, and with a strong worldly motive to tell a lie, than the fear of punishment by the Deity in the next world for having 'taken his name in vain' in this.

Christians, as well as other people, are too apt to think that there is yet abundance of time to appease the Deity by repentance and reformation; but they know that they cannot escape the odium of society, with a free press and high tone of moral and religions feeling, like those of England, if they deliberately perjure themselves in open court, whose proceedings are watched with so much jealousy.

They learn to dread the name of 'perjured villain' or 'perjured wretch', which would embitter the rest of their lives, and perhaps the lives of their children.[11]

In a society much advanced in arts and the refinements of life, temptations to falsehood become very great, and require strong checks from law, religion, or moral feeling. Religion is seldom of itself found sufficient; for, though men cannot hope to conceal their transgressions from the Deity, they can, as I have stated, always hope in time to appease Him.

Penal laws are not alone sufficient, for men can always hope to conceal their trespasses from those who are appointed to administer them, or at least to prevent their getting that measure of judicial proof required for their conviction; the dread of the indignation of their circle of society is everywhere the more efficient of the three checks; and this check will generally be found most to prevail where the community is left most to self-government—hence the proverb, 'There is honour among thieves'.

A gang of robbers, who are outlaws, are, of course, left to govern themselves; and, unless these could rely on each other's veracity and honour in their relations with each other, they could do nothing. If Governments were to leave no degree of self-government to the communities of which the society is composed, this moral check would really cease—the law would undertake to secure every right, and enforce every duty; and men would cease to depend upon each other's good opinion and good feelings.[12]

There is perhaps no part of the world where the communities of which the society is composed have been left so much to self- government as in India. There has seldom been any idea of a reciprocity of duties and rights between the governing and the governed; the sovereign who has possession feels that he has a right to levy certain taxes from the land for the maintenance of the public establishments, which he requires to keep down rebellion against his rule, and to defend his dominions against all who may wish to intrude and seize upon them; and to assist him in acquiring the dominions of other princes when favourable opportunities offer; but he has no idea of a reciprocal duty towards those from whom he draws his revenues.

The peasantry from whom the prince draws his revenues feel that they are bound to pay that revenue; that, if they do not pay it, he will, with his strong arm, turn them out and give to others their possessions—but they have no idea of any right on their part to any return from him. The village communities were everywhere left almost entirely to self-government; and the virtues of truth and honesty, in all their relations with each other, were indispensably necessary to enable them to govern themselves.[13]

A common interest often united a good many village communities in a bond of union, and established a kind of brotherhood over extensive tracts of richly cultivated land. Self-interest required that they should unite to defend themselves against attacks with which they were threatened at every returning harvest in a country where every prince was a robber upon a scale more or less large according to his means, and took the field to rob while the lands were covered with the ripe crops upon which his troops might subsist; and where every man who practised robbery with open violence followed what he called an 'imperial trade' (pādshāhī kām)—the only trade worthy the character of a gentleman.

The same interest required that they should unite in deceiving their own prince, and all his officers, great and small, as to the real resources of their estates; because they all knew that the prince would admit of no other limits to his exactions than their abilities to pay at the harvest. Though, in their relations with each other, all these village communities spoke as much truth as those of any other communities in the world; still, in their relation with the Government, they told as many lies;—for falsehood, in the one set of relations, would have incurred the odium of the whole of their circles of society—truth, in the other, would often have involved the same penalty.

If a man had told a lie to cheat his neighbour, he would have become an object of hatred and contempt—if he told a lie to save his neighbour's fields from an increase of rent or tax, he would have become an object of esteem and respect.[14] If the Government officers were asked whether there was any truth to be found among such communities, they would say, No, that the truth was not in them; because they would not cut each other's throats by telling them the real value of each other's fields.

If the peasantry were asked, they would say there was plenty of truth to be found everywhere except among a few scoundrels, who, to curry favour with the Government officers, betrayed their trust, and told the value of their neighbours' fields. In their ideas, he might as well have gone off, and brought down the common enemy upon them in the shape of some princely robber of the neighbourhood.

Locke says: 'Outlaws themselves keep faith and rules of justice one with another—they practise them as rules of convenience within their own communities; but it is impossible to conceive that they embrace justice as a practical principle who act fairly with their fellow highwaymen, and at the same time plunder or kill the next honest man they meet.' (Vol. i, p. 37.)

In India, the difference between the army of a prince and the gang of a robber was, in the general estimation of the people, only in degree—they were both driving an imperial trade, a 'pādshāhī kām'. Both took the auspices, and set out on their expedition after the Dasahrā, when the autumn crops were ripening; and both thought the Deity propitiated as soon as they found the omens favourable;[15] one attacked palaces and capitals, the other villages and merchants' storerooms.

The members of the army of the prince thought as little of the justice or injustice of his cause as those of the gang of the robber; the people of his capital hailed the return of the victorious prince who had contributed so much to their wealth, to his booty, and to their self- love by his victory.

The village community received back the robber and his gang with the same feelings: by their skill and daring they had come back loaded with wealth, which they were always disposed to spend liberally with their neighbours. There was no more of truth in the prince and his army in their relations with the princes and people of neighbouring principalities, than in the robber and his gang in their relations with the people robbed.

The prince flatters the self-love of his army and his people; the robber flatters that of his gang and his village—the question is only in degree; the persons whose self-love is flattered are blind to the injustice and cruelty of the attack—the prince is the idol of a people, the robber the idol of a gang. Was ever robber more atrocious in his attacks upon a merchant or a village than Louis XIV of France in his attacks upon the Palatine and Palatinate of the Rhine?

How many thousand similar instances might be quoted of princes idolized by their people for deeds equally atrocious in their relations with other people? What nation or sovereign ever found fault with their ambassadors for telling lies to the kings, courts, and people of other countries?[16]

Rome, during the whole period of her history, was a mere den of execrable thieves, whose feelings were systematically brutalized by the most revolting spectacles, that they might have none of those sympathies with suffering humanity, none of those 'compunctious visitings of conscience', which might be found prejudicial to the interests of the gang, and beneficial to the rest of mankind.

Take, for example, the conduct of this atrocious gang under Aemilius Paulus, against Epirus and Greece generally after the defeat of Perseus, all under the deliberate decrees of the senate: take that of this gang under his son Scipio the younger, against Carthage and Numantia; under Cato, at Cyprus—all in the same manner under the deliberate decrees of the senate.

Take indeed the whole of her history as a republic, and we find it that of the most atrocious band of robbers that was ever associated against the rest of their species. In her relations with the rest of mankind Rome was collectively devoid of truth; and her citizens, who were sent to govern conquered countries, were no less devoid of truth individually—they cared nothing whatever for the feelings or the opinions of the people governed; in their dealings with them, truth and honour were entirely disregarded.

The only people whose favourable opinion they had any desire to cultivate were the members of the great gang; and the most effectual mode of conciliating them was to plunder the people of conquered countries, and distribute the fruits among them in presents of one kind or another.

Can any man read without shuddering that it was the practice among this atrocious gang to have all the multitude of unhappy prisoners of both sexes, and of all ranks and ages,—who annually graced the triumphs of their generals, taken off and murdered just at the moment when these generals reached the Capitol, amid the shouts of the multitude, that their joys might be augmented by the sight or consciousness of the sufferings of others? (See Hooke's Roman History, vol. iii, p. 488; vol. iv, p. 541.)

'It was the custom that, when the triumphant conqueror tumed his chariot towards the Capitol, he commanded the captives to be led to prison, and there put to death, that so the glory of the victor and the miseries of the vanquished might be in the same moment at the utmost.' How many millions of the most innocent and amiable of their species must have been offered up as human sacrifices to the triumphs of the leaders of this great gang! The women were almost as brutalized as the men; lovers met to talk 'soft nonsense', at exhibitions of gladiators.

Valeria, the daughter and sister of two of the first men in Rome, was beautiful, gay, and lively, and of unblemished reputation. Having been divorced from her husband, she and the monster Sylla made love to each other at one of these exhibitions of gladiators, and were soon after married.

Gibbon, in speaking of the lies which Severus told his two competitors in the contest for empire, says, 'Falsehood and insincerity, unsuitable as they seem to the dignity of public transactions, offend us with a less degrading idea of meanness than when they are found in the intercourse of private life. In the latter, they discover a want of courage; in the other, only a defect of power; and, as it is impossible for the most able statesmen to subdue millions of followers and enemies by their own personal strength, the world, under the name of policy, seems to have granted them a very liberal indulgence of craft and dissimulation.'[17]

But the weak in society are often obliged to defend themselves against the strong by the same weapons; and the world grants them the same liberal indulgence. Men advocate the use of the ballot in elections that the weak may defend themselves and the free institutions of the country, by dissimulation, against the strong who would oppress them.[18]

The circumstances under which falsehood and insincerity are tolerated by the community in the best societies of modern days are very numerous; and the worst society of modern days in the civilized world, when slavery does not prevail, is immeasurably superior to the best in ancient days, or in the Middle Ages. Do we not every day hear men and women, in what are called the best societies, declaring to one individual or one set of acquaintances that the pity, the sympathy, the love, or the admiration they have been expressing for others is, in reality, all feigned to soothe or please?

As long as the motive is not base, men do not spurn the falsehood as such. How much of untruth is tolerated in the best circles of the most civilized nations, in the relations between electors to corporate and legislative bodies and the candidates for election? between nominators to offices under Government and the candidates for nomination? between lawyers and clients, vendors and purchasers? (particularly of horses), between the recruiting sergeant and the young recruit, whom he has found a little angry with his widowed mother, whom he makes him kill by false pictures of what a soldier may hope for in the 'bellaque matribus detestata' to which he invites him?[19]

There is, I believe, no class of men in India from whom it is more difficult to get the true statement of a case pending before a court than the sepoys of our native regiments; and yet there are, I believe, no people in the world from whom it is more easy to get it in their own village communities, where they state it before their relations, elders, and neighbours, whose esteem is necessary to their happiness, and can be obtained only by adherence to truth. Every case that comes before a regimental court involves, or is supposed to involve, the interest or feelings of some one or other of their companions; and the question which the deponent asks himself is-not what religion, public justice, the interests of discipline and order, or the wishes of his officers require, or what would appear manly and honourable before the elders of his own little village, but what will secure the esteem, and what will excite the hatred, of his comrades.

This will often be downright, deliberate falsehood, sworn upon the Korān or the Ganges water before his officers.

Many a brave sepoy have I seen faint away from the agitated state of his feelings, under the dread of the Deity if he told lies with the Ganges water in his hands, and of his companions if he told the truth, and caused them to be punished. Every question becomes a party question, and the 'point of honour' requires that every witness shall tell as many lies about it as possible.[20]

When I go into a village, and talk with the people in any part of India, I know that I shall get the truth out of them on all subjects as long as I can satisfy them that I am not come on the part of the Government to inquire into the value of their fields with a view to new impositions, and this I can always do; but, when I go among the sepoys to ask about anything, I feel pretty sure that I have little chance of getting at the truth; they will take the alarm and try to deceive me, lest what I learn should be brought up at some future day against them or their comrades.

The Duke of Wellington says, speaking of the English soldiers: 'It is most difficult to convict a prisoner before a regimental court-martial, for, I am sorry to say, that soldiers have little regard to the oath administered to them; and the officers who are sworn well and truly to try and determine according to the evidence, the matter before them, have too much regard to the strict letter of that administered to them.'

Again: 'The witnesses being in almost every instance common soldiers, whose conduct this tribunal was instituted to control, the consequence is that perjury is almost as common an offence as drunkenness and plunder, &c.'[21]

In the ordinary civil tribunals of Europe and America a man commonly feels that, though he is removed far from the immediate presence of those whose esteem is necessary for him, their eyes are still upon him, because the statements he may give will find their way to them through the medium of the press.

This he does not feel in the civil courts of India, nor in the military courts of Europe, or of any other part of the world, and the man who judges of the veracity of a whole people from the specimens he may witness in such courts, cannot judge soundly.

Shaikh Sādī, in his Gulistān, has the following tale: 'I have heard that a prince commanded the execution of a captive who was brought before him; when the captive, having no hope of life, told the prince that he disgraced his throne.

The prince, not understanding him, tumed to one of his ministers and asked him what he had said. "He says," replied the minister, quoting a passage from the Korān, "God loves those who subdue their passions, forgive injuries, and do good to his creatures."

The prince pitied the poor captive, and countermanded the orders for the execution. Another minister, who owed a spite to the one who first spoke, said, "Nothing but truth should be spoken by such persons as we in the presence of the prince; the captive spoke abusively and insolently, and you have not interpreted his words truly".

The prince frowned and said, "His false interpretation pleases me more than thy true one, because his was given for a good, and thine for a malignant, purpose; and wise men have said that 'a peace-making lie is better than a factious or anger exciting truth'."'[22]

He who would too fastidiously condemn this doctrine should think of the massacre of Thessalonica, and how much better it would have been for the great Theodosius to have had by his side the peace- making Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan, than the anger-exciting Rufinus, when he heard of the offence which that city had committed.[23]

In despotic governments, where lives, characters, and liberties are every moment at the mercy, not only of the prince but of all his public officers from the highest to the lowest, the occasions in which men feel authorized and actually called upon by the common feelings of humanity to tell 'peacemaking lies' occur every day—nay, every hour, every petty officer of government, 'armed with his little brief authority', is a little tyrant surrounded by men whose all depends upon his will, and who dare not tell him the truth—the 'point of honour' in this little circle demands that every one should be prepared to tell him 'peace-making lies'; and the man who does not do so when the occasion seems to call for it, incurs the odium of the whole circle, as one maliciously disposed to speak 'anger-exciting or factions truths'.

Poor Cromwell and Anne Boleyn were obliged to talk of love and duty toward their brutal murderer, Henry VIII, and tell 'peace-making lies' on the scaffold to save their poor children from his resentment. European gentlemen in India often, by their violence surround themselves with circles of the same kind, in which the 'point of honour' demands that every member shall be prepared to tell 'peace-making lies', to save the others from the effects of their master's ungovernable passions—falsehood is their only safeguard; and, consequently, falsehood ceases to be odious.

Countenanced in the circles of the violent, falsehood soon becomes countenanced in those of the mild and forbearing; their domestics pretend a dread of their anger which they really do not feel; and they gain credit for having the same good excuse among those who have no opportunity of becoming acquainted with the real character of the gentlemen in their domestic relations—all are thought to be more or less tigerish in these relations, particularly before breakfast, because some are known to be so.[24]

I have known the native officers of a judge who was really a very mild and worthy man, but who lived a very secluded life, plead as their excuse for all manner of bribery and corruption, that their persons and character were never safe from his violence; and urge that men whose tenure of office was very insecure, and who were every hour in the day exposed to so much indignity, could not possibly be blamed for making the most of their position.

The society around believed all this, and blamed, not the native officers, but the judge, or the Government, who placed them in such a situation. Other judges and magistrates have been known to do what this person was merely reported to do, otherwise society would neither have given credit to his officers nor have held them excused for their malpractices.[25]

Those European gentlemen who allow their passions to get the better of their reason among their domestics do much to lower the character of their countrymen in the estimation of the people; but the high officials who forget what they owe to themselves and the native officers of their courts, when presiding on the bench of justice, do ten thousand times more; and I grieve to say that I have known a few officials of this class.

We have in England known many occasions, particularly in the cases of prosecutions by the officers of Government for offences against the State, where little circles of society have made it a 'point of honour' for some individuals to speak untruths, and for others to give verdicts against their consciences; some occasions indeed where those who ventured to speak the truth, or give a verdict according to their conscience, were in danger from the violence of popular resentment.

Have we not, unhappily, in England and among our countrymen in all parts of the world, experience of a wide difference between what is exacted from members of particular circles of society by the 'point of honour', and what is held to be strict religions truth by the rest of society? Do we not see gentlemen cheating their tradesmen, while they dare not leave a gambling debt unpaid?

The 'point of honour' in the circle to which they belong demands that the one should be paid, because the non-payment would involve a breach of faith in their relations with each other, as in the case of the members of a gang of robbers; but the non-payment of a tradesman's bill involves only a breach of faith in a gentleman's relations with a lower order. At least, some gentlemen do not feel any apprehension of incurring the odium of the circle in which they move by cheating of this kind.

In the same manner the roué, or libertine of rank, may often be guilty of all manner of falsehoods and crimes to the females of the class below him, without any fear of incurring the odium of either males or females of his own circle; on the contrary, the more crimes he commits of this sort, the more sometimes he may expect to be caressed by males and females of his own order.

The man who would not hesitate a moment to destroy the happiness of a family by the seduction of the wife or the daughter, would not dare to leave one shilling of a gambling debt unpaid—the one would bring down upon him the odium of his circle, but the other would not; and the odium of that circle is the only kind of odium he dreads. Appius Claudius apprehended no odium from his own order—the patrician—from the violation of the daughter of Virginius, of the plebeian order; nor did Sextus Tarquinius of the royal order, apprehend any from the violation of Lucretia, of the patrician order—neither would have been punished by their own order, but they were both punished by the injured orders below them.

Our own penal code punished with death the poor man who stole a little food to save his children from starvation, while it left to exult in the caresses of his own order, the wealthy libertine who robbed a father and mother of their only daughter, and consigned her to a life of infamy and misery. The poor victim of man's brutal passions and base falsehood suffered inevitable and exquisite punishment, while the laws and usages of society left the man himself untouched.

e had nothing to apprehend if the father of his victim happened to be of the lower order, or a minister of the Church of Christ; because his own order would justify his refusing to meet the one in single combat, and the other dared not invite him to it, and the law left no remedy.[26]

Take the two parties in England into which society is politically divided. There is hardly any species of falsehood uttered by the members of the party out of power against the members of the party in power that is not tolerated and even applauded by one party; men state deliberately what they know to be utterly devoid of truth regarding the conduct of their opponent; they basely ascribe to them motives by which they know they were never actuated, merely to deceive the public, and to promote the interests of their party, without the slightest fear of incurring odium by so doing in the minds of any but their political opponents.

If a foreigner were to judge of the people of England from the tone of their newspapers, he would say that there was assuredly neither honour, honesty, nor truth to be found among the classes which furnished the nation with its ministers and legislators; for a set of miscreants more atrocious than the Whig and Tory ministers and legislators of England were represented to be in these papers never disgraced the society of any nation upon earth.

Happily, all foreigners who read these journals know that in what the members of one party say of those of the other, or are reported to say, there is often but little truth; and that there is still less of truth in what the editors and correspondents of the ultra journals of one party write about the characters, conduct, and sentiments of the members of the other.

There is one species of untruth to which we English people are particularly prone in India, and, I am assured, everywhere else.

It is this. Young 'miss in her teens', as soon as she finds her female attendants in the wrong, no matter in what way, exclaims, 'It is so like the natives'; and the idea of the same error, vice, or crime, becomes so habitually associated in her mind with every native she afterwards sees, that she can no more separate them than she can the idea of ghosts and hobgoblins from darkness and solitude.

The young cadet or civilian, as soon as he finds his valet, butler, or groom in the wrong, exclaims, 'It is so like blacky—so like the niggers; they are all alike!'

And what could you expect from him? He has been constantly accustomed to the same vicious association of ideas in his native land—if he has been brought up in a family of Tories, he has constantly heard those he most reverenced exclaim, when they have found, or fancied they found, a Whig in the wrong, 'It is so like the Whigs—they are all alike—there is no trusting any of them.'

If a Protestant, 'It is so like the Catholics; there is no trusting them in any condition of life.'

The members of Whig and Catholic families may say the same, perhaps, of Tories and Protestants. An untravelled Englishman will sometimes say the same of a Frenchman; and the idea of everything that is bad in man will be associated in his mind with the image of a Frenchman.

If he hears of an act of dishonour by a person of that nation, 'It is so like a Frenchman—they are all alike; there is no honour in them.' A Tory goes to America, predisposed to find in all who live under republican governments every species of vice and crime; and no sooner sees a man or woman misbehave than he exclaims, 'It is so like the Americans—they are all alike; but what could you expect from republicans?'

At home, when he considers himself in relation to the members of the parties opposed to him in religion or politics, they are associated in his mind with everything that is vicious; abroad, when he considers the people of other countries in relation to his own, if they happen to be Christians, he will find them associated in his mind with everything that is good, or everything that is bad, in proportion as their institutions happen to conform to those which his party advocates.

A Tory will abuse America and Americans, and praise the Austrians. A Whig will, perhaps, abuse the Austrians and others who live under paternal or despotic governments, and praise the Americans, who live under institutions still more free than his own.

This has properly been considered by Locke as a species of madness to which all mankind are more or less subject, and from which hardly any individual can entirely free himself. 'There is', he says, 'scarce a man so free from it, but that if he should always, on all occasions, argue or do as in some cases he constantly does, would not be thought fitter for Bedlam than civil conversation.

I do not here mean when he is under the power of an unruly passion, but in the steady, calm course of his life. That which thus captivates their reason, and leads men of sincerity blindfold from common sense will, when examined, be found to be what we are speaking of.

Some independent ideas, of no alliance to one another, are, by education, custom, and the constant din of their party, so coupled in their minds, that they always appear there together, and they can no more separate them in their thoughts than if they were but one idea, and they operate as if they really were so.' (Book II, Chap. 33.)

Perjury had long since ceased to be considered disgraceful, or even discreditable, among the patrician order in Rome before the soldiers ventured to break their oaths of allegiance. Military service had, from the ignorance and selfishness of this order, been rendered extremely odious to free-born Romans; and they frequently mutinied and murdered their generals, though they would not desert, because they had sworn not to do so.

To break his oath by deserting the standards of Rome was to incur the hatred and contempt of the great mass of the people—the soldier dared not hazard this. But patricians of senatorial and consular rank did not hesitate to violate their oaths whenever it promised any advantage to the patrician order collectively or individually, because it excited neither contempt nor indignation in that order. 'They have been false to their generals,' said Fabius, 'but they have never deceived the gods. I know they can conquer, and they shall swear to do so.' They swore, and conquered.

Instead of adopting measures to make the duties of a soldier less odious, the patricians tumed their hatred of these duties to account, and at a high price sold an absolution from their oath. While the members of the patrician order bought and sold oaths among themselves merely to deceive the lower orders, they were still respected among the plebeians; but when they began to sell dispensations to the members of this lower order, the latter also, by degrees, ceased to feel any veneration for the oath, and it was no longer deemed disgraceful to desert duties which the higher order made no effort to render less odious.

'That they who draw the breath of life in a court, and pass all their days in an atmosphere of lies, should have any very sacred regard for truth, is hardly to be expected. They experience such falsehood in all who surround them, that deception, at least suppression of the truth, almost seems necessary for self-defence; and, accordingly, if their speech be not framed upon the theory of the French cardinal, that language was given to man for the better concealment of his thoughts, they at least seem to regard in what they say, not its resemblance to the tact in question, but rather its subserviency to the purpose in view.' (Brougham's George IV.)

'Yet, let it never be forgotten, that princes are nurtured in falsehood by the atmosphere of lies which envelops their palace; steeled against natural sympathies by the selfish natures of all that surround them; hardened in cruelty, partly indeed by the fears incident to their position, but partly too by the unfeeling creatures, the factions, the unnatural productions of a court whom alone they deal with; trained for tyrants by the prostration which they find in all the minds which they come in contact with; encouraged to domineer by the unresisting medium through which all their steps to power and its abuse are made.' (Brougham's Carnot.)

But Lord Brougham is too harsh. Johnson has observed truly enough, 'Honesty is not necessarily greater where elegance is less'; nor does a sense of supreme or despotic power necessarily imply the exercise or abuse of it. Princes have, happily, the same yearning as the peasant after the respect and affection of the circle around them, and the people under them; and they must generally seek it by the same means.

I have mentioned the village communities of India as that class of the population among whom truth prevails most; but I believe there is no class of men in the world more strictly honourable in their dealings than the mercantile classes of India.

Under native governments a merchant's books were appealed to as 'holy writ', and the confidence in them has certainly not diminished under our rule. There have been instances of their being seized by the magistrate, and subjected to the inspection of the officers of his court.

No officer of a native government ventured to seize them; the merchant was required to produce them as proof of particular entries, and, while the officers of government did no more, there was no danger of false accounts.

An instance of deliberate fraud or falsehood among native merchants of respectable station in society is extremely rare. Among the many hundreds of bills I have had to take from them for private remittances, I have never had one dishonoured, or the payment upon one delayed beyond the day specified; nor do I recollect ever hearing of one who had.

They are so careful not to speculate beyond their means, that an instance of failure is extremely rare among them. No one ever in India hears of families reduced to ruin or distress by the failure of merchants or bankers; though here, as in all other countries advanced in the arts, a vast number of families subsist upon the interest of money employed by them.[27]

There is no class of men more interested in the stability of our rule in India than this of the respectable merchants; nor is there any upon whom the welfare of our Government and that of the people more depend. Frugal, first upon principle, that they may not in their expenditure encroach upon their capitals, they become so by habit; and when they advance in life they lay out their accumulated wealth in the formation of those works which shall secure for them, from generation to generation, the blessings of the people of the towns in which they have resided, and those of the country around.

It would not be too much to say that one-half of the great works which embellish and enrich the face of India, in tanks, groves, wells, temples, &c., have been formed by this class of the people solely with the view of securing the blessings of mankind by contributing to their happiness in solid and permanent works.[28]

'The man who has left behind him great works in temples, bridges, reservoirs, and caravanserais for the public good, does not die,' says Shaikh Sādī,[29] the greatest of Eastern poets, whose works are more read and loved than those of any other uninspired man that has ever written, not excepting our own beloved Shakspeare.[30] He is as much loved and admired by Hindoos as by Muhammadans; and from boyhood to old age he continues the idol of the imaginations of both.

The boy of ten, and the old man of seventy, alike delight to read and quote him for the music of his verses, and the beauty of his sentiments, precepts, and imagery.[31]

It was to the class last mentioned, whose incomes are derived from the profits of stock invested in manufactures and commerce, that Europe chiefly owed its rise and progress after the downfall of the Roman Empire, and the long night of darkness and desolation which followed it.

It was through the means of mercantile industry, and the municipal institutions to which it gave rise, that the enlightened sovereigns of Europe were enabled to curb the licence of the feudal aristocracy, and to give to life, property, and character that security without which society could not possibly advance; and it was through the same means that the people were afterwards enabled to put those limits to the authority of the sovereign, and to secure to themselves that share in the government without which society could not possibly be free or well constituted. Upon the same foundation may we hope to raise a superstructure of municipal corporations and institutions in India, such as will give security and dignity to the society; and the sooner we begin upon the work the better.[32]


1. Johnson says: 'Mountaineers are thievish because they are poor; and, having neither manufactures nor commerce, can grow rich only by robbery. They regularly plunder their neighbours, for their neighbours are commonly their enemies; and, having lost that reverence for property by which the order of civil life is preserved, soon consider all as enemies whom they do not reckon as friends, and think themselves licensed to invade whatever they are not obliged to protect.' [W. H. S.] The quotation is from A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland.

The observations in the text apply largely to the settled Hindoo villages, as well as to the forest tribes.

2. Ficus religiosa is the Linnaean name for the 'pīpal'. Other botanists call it Urostigma religiosum. In the original edition the botanical name is erroneously given as Ficus indicus. The Ficus indica (F. Bengalensis, or Urostigma B.) is the banyan. A story is current that the traders of a certain town begged the magistrate to remove a pīpal-tree which he had planted in the market-place, because, so long as it remained, business could not be conducted. They knew 'the value of a lie'.

3. The red cotton, or silk-cotton, tree, when in spring covered with its huge magnolia-shaped scarlet blossoms, is one of the most magnificent objects in nature. Its botanical name is Salmalia malabarica (Bombax malabaricum; B. heptaphyllum). This is the tree referred to in the text. The white silk-cotton tree (Eriodendron anfractuosum; Bombax 'pentandrum; Ceiba pentandra; Gossampinus Rumphii) has a more southern habitat. (Balfour, Cyclopaedia, 3rd ed., s.v. 'Salmalia' and 'Eriodendron'.)

4. The pīpal is usually regarded as sacred only to Vishnu, the Preserver. The Ficus indica, or banyan, is sacred to Siva, the Destroyer, and the Butea frondosa (Hind. 'dhāk', 'palās', or 'chhyūl ') to Brahmā, the Creator, or δημιουργός.

5. The sacred trees and plants of India are numerous. 'Balfour (Cyclop., 3rd ed., s.v. 'Sacred') enumerates eighty, and the list is by no mean complete. The same author's article, 'Tree', may also be consulted. The minor 'deities' alluded to by the author are the real gods of popular rural Hinduism. The observations of Mr. William Crooke, probably the best authority on the subject of Indian popular religion, though made with reference to a particular locality, are generally applicable.

'Hinduism certainly shows no signs of weakness, and is practically untouched by Christian and Muhammadan proselytism. The gods of the Vedas are as dead as Jupiter, and the Krishna worship only succeeds from its marvellous adaptability to the sensuous and romantic side of the native mind. But it would be too much to say that the creed exercises any real effect on life or morals. With the majority of its devotees it is probably more sympathetic than practical, and ranks with the periodical ablutions in the Ganges and Jumna, and the traditional worship of the local gods and ghosts, which really impress the rustic. He is enclosed on all sides by a ring of precepts, which attribute luck or ill-luck to certain things or actions. These and the bonds of caste, with its obligations for the performance of marriage, death, and other ceremonies, make up the religions life of the peasant.

'Nearly every village and hamlet has its local ghost, usually the shrine of a childless man, or one whose funeral rites remained for some reason unperformed. In the expressive popular phrase, he is 'deprived of water' (aud). The pious make oblations to his cenotaph twice a year, and propitiate his ghost with offerings of water to allay his thirst in the lower world. The primaeval serpent-worship is perpetuated in the reverence paid to traditional village-snakes. Of the local ghosts some are beneficent. Sometimes they are only mischievous, like Robin Goodfellow, and will milk the cows, and sour the milk, or pull your hair, if you wander about at night in certain well-known uncanny places. A more dangerous demon is heard in the crackling of the dry leaves of the date-tree in the night wind; and some trees are haunted by a vampire, who will drag you up and devour you, if you venture near them in the darkness.' (N.W.P. Gazetteer, 1st ed., vol. vii. Supplement, p. 4.) See also the same author's work Popular Religion and Folklore of Northern India, 2nd ed., 2 vols. Constable, 1896.

6. Compare the story of Rāmkishan in Chapter 25. Books on anthropology cite many instances of deaths caused by superstitious fears.

7. Arrian, Indica, chap. 12: 'The sixth class consists of those called "superintendents". They spy out what goes on in country and town, and report everything to the king where the people have a king, and to the magistrates where the people are self-governed, and it is against use and wont for them to give a false report;—but indeed no Indian is accused of lying.' (McCrindle, Ancient India, as described by Megasthenes and Arrian, Trübner, 1877, p. 211).

Arrian uses the word επiσκοποι; in the Fragments of Megasthenes quoted by Diodorus and Strabo, the word is έφοροι. The people referred to seem to be the well-known 'news-writers' employed by Oriental sovereigns (ante, chapter 33, note 7); a simple explanation missed by McCrindle (op. cit. p. 43, note).

The remark about the truthfulness of the Indians appears to be Arrian's addition. It is not in the Fragment of Megasthenes from which Arrian copies, and the falsity of the remark is proved by the statement (ibid., p. 71) that 'a person convicted of bearing false witness suffers mutilation of his extremities'. But in Fragment XXVII from Strabo (op. cit., p. 70) Megasthenes says, 'Truth and virtue they hold alike in esteem'; and in Fragment XXXIII (ibid., p. 85) he asserts that 'the ablest and moat trustworthy men' are appointed έφοροι.

8. Up to the year 1827 'grand larceny', that is to say, stealing to a value exceeding twelve pence, was punishable with death. The Act 7 George IV, cap. 28, abolished the distinction of grand and petty larceny. In 1837, the first year of Queen Victoria's reign, the punishment of death was abolished in the case of between thirty and forty offences. Other statutes have further mitigated the ferocity of the old law.

9. The year was 1652, not 1648 (Tavernier, Travels, transl. Ball, vol. i, p. 260, note). The passages describing the criminal procedure of Amīr Jumla are not very long, and deserve quotation, as giving an accurate account of the administration of penal justice by an able native ruler.

'On the 14th [September] we went to the tent of the Nawāb to take leave of him, and to hear what he had to say regarding the goods which we had shown him. But we were told that he was engaged examining a number of criminals, who had been brought to him for immediate punishment. It is the custom in this country not to keep a man in prison; but immediately the accused is taken he is examined and sentence is pronounced on him, which is then executed without any delay. If the person whom they have seized is found innocent, he is released at once; and whatever the nature of the case may be, it is promptly concluded. . . .

'On the 15th, at seven o'clock in the morning, we went to the Nawāb, and immediately we were announced he asked us to enter his tent, where he was seated with two of his secretaries by him. . . . The Nawāb had the intervals between his toes full of letters, and he also had many between the fingers of his left hand. He drew them sometimes from his feet, sometimes from his hand, and sent his replies through his two secretaries, writing some also himself. . . .

'While we were with the Nawāb he was informed that four prisoners, who were then at the door of the tent, had arrived. He remained more than half an hour without replying, writing continually and making his secretaries write, but at length he suddenly ordered the criminals to be brought in; and after having questioned them, and made them confess with their own mouths the crime of which they were accused, he remained nearly an hour without saying anything, continuing to write and to make his secretaries write, . . .

'Among these four prisoners who were brought into his presence there was one who had entered a house and slain a mother and her three infants. He was condemned forthwith to have his feet and hands cut off, and to be thrown into a field near the high road to end his days. Another had stolen on the high road, and the Nawāb ordered him to have his stomach slit open and to be flung in a drain, I could not ascertain what the others had done, but both their heads were cut off. While all this passed the dinner was served, for the Nawāb generally eats at ten o'clock, and he made us dine with him.' (Ibid., pp. 290-3.)

Such swift procedure and sharp punishments would still be highly approved of by the great mass of Indian opinion in the villages.

10. Misprinted 'much less' in original edition.

11. The new Act, V of 1840, prescribes the following declaration: 'I solemnly affirm, in the presence of Almighty God, that what I shall state shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth',—and declares that a false statement made on this shall be punished as perjury. [W. H. S.]

The law now in force is to the same effect. This form of declaration is absolutely worthless as a check on perjury, and never hinders any witness from lying to his heart's content. The use of the Korān and Ganges water in the courts has been given up.

12. The tendency of modern India is to rely too much on formal law and the exercise of the powers of the central government. The contemplation of the vast administrative machinery working with its irresistible force and unfailing regularity in obedience to the will of rulers, whose motives are not understood, undoubtedly has a paralysing influence on the life of the nations of India, which, if not counteracted, would work deep mischief. Something in the way of counteraction has been done, though not always with knowledge. The difficulties inherent in the problem of reconciling foreign rule with self-government in an Asiatic country are enormous.

13. But panegyrics on the self-government of Indian villages must always be read with the qualification that the standard of such government was low, and that hundreds of acts and omissions were tolerated, which are intolerable to a modern European Government.

Hence comes the difficulty of enforcing numerous reforms loudly called for by European opinion. The vast Indian population hates reform and innovation for many reasons, and, above all, because they involve expense, which to the Indian mind appears wholly unwarrantable.

14. The same phenomenon is observable in rural Ireland, where, as in India, an unhappy history has generated profound distrust and dislike of official authority. The Irish peasant has always been ready to give his neighbour 'the loan of an oath', and a refusal to give it would be thought unneighbourly. An Irish Land Commission and an Indian Settlement Officer must alike expect to receive startling information about the value of land.

15. Ante, chapter 49, text at [16].

16. Hume, in speaking of Scotland in the fifteenth century, says, 'Arms more than laws prevailed; and courage, preferably to equity and justice, was the virtue most valued and respected. The nobility, in whom the whole power resided, were so connected by hereditary alliances, or so divided by inveterate enmities, that it was impossible, without employing an armed force, either to punish the most flagrant guilt, or to give security to the most entire innocence.

Rapine and violence, when employed against a hostile tribe, instead of making a person odious among his own clan, rather recommended him to their esteem and approbation; and, by rendering him useful to the chieftain, entitled him to the preference above his fellows.' [W. H. S.]

17. Gibbon, chap. 5. The remark refers to Septimius Severus.

18. The Ballot Act became law in 1872.

19. All that the author says is true, and yet it does not alter the fact that Indian society is and always has been permeated and paralysed by almost universal distrust. Such universal distrust does not prevail in England. This difference between the two societies is fundamental, and its reality is fully recognized by natives of India.

20. Compare the author's account of the fraudulent practices of the Company's sepoys when on leave in Oudh. (Journey through the Kingdom of Oude, vol. i, pp. 286-304.)

21. The editor has failed to find these quotations in the Wellington Dispatches.

22. This is the first story in the first chapter of the Gulistān. The Mishkāt-ul-Masābih (Matthews, vol. ii, p. 427) teaches the same doctrine as Sādī: 'That person is not a liar who makes peace between two people, and speaks good words to do away their quarrel although they should be lies; and that person who carries good words from one to another is not a tale-bearer.'

23. Gibbon, chapter 27. In the year A.D. 390 Botheric, the general of Theodosius was murdered by a mob at Thessalonica. Acting on the advice of Rufinus, the emperor avenged his officer's death by an indiscriminate massacre of the inhabitants, in which numbers variously estimated at from 7,000 to 15,000 perished. The emperor quickly felt remorse for the atrocity of which he had been guilty, and submitted to do public penance under the direction of Ambrose.

24. The sum total of truth in India would not, I fear, be appreciably increased if every European had the temper of an angel.

25. The editor has never known a reputation for corruption in any way lower the social position of an official of Indian birth.

26. The argument in the anthor's mind seems to be that the unveracity practised and condoned by certain classes of the natives of India on certain occasions is, at least, not more reprehensible than the vices practised and condoned by certain classes of Europeans on certain occasions.

27. Since the author wrote the above remarks, the conditions of Indian trade have been revolutionized by the development of roads, railways, motors, telegraph, postal facilities, and exports. The Indian merchant has been drawn into the vortex of European and American commerce. He is, in consequence, not quite so cautions as he used to be, and is more liable to severe loss or failure, though he is still, as a rule, far more inclined to caution than are his Western rivals.

The Indian private banker undoubtedly is honest in ordinary banking transactions and anxious to maintain his commercial credit, but he will often stoop to the most discreditable devices in the purchase of a coveted estate, the foreclosure of a mortgage, and the like. His books, nowadays, are certainly not 'appealed to as holy writ', and many merchants keep a duplicate set for income-tax purposes.

The happy people of 1836 had never heard of income tax. Private remittances are now made usually through the post office or the joint-stock banks, which did not exist in the author's days. In recent times failures of banks and merchants have been frequent.

28. These observations, which are perfectly true, form a corrective to the fashionable abuse of the Indian capitalist, whose virtues and merits are seldom noticed.

29. The editor has not succeeded in tracing this quotation, but several passages to a similar effect occur in the Gulistān.

30. I ought to except Confucius, the great Chinese moralist. [W. H. S.]

31. For a brief notice of Sādī (Sa'dī) see ante, chapter 12, note 6. The Gulistān is everywhere used as a text-book in schools where Persian is taught. The author's extant correspondence shows that he was fascinated by the charms of Persian poetry, even during the first year of his residence in India.

32. The work was 'begun upon' many years ago, and 'a superstructure of municipal corporations and institutions' now exists in every part of India. But 'the same foundation' does not exist. The stout burghers of the mediaeval English and German towns have no Indian equivalents.

The superstructure of the municipal institutions is all that Acts of the Legislature can make it; the difficulty is to find or make a solid foundation. Still, it was right and necessary to establish municipal institutions in India, and, notwithstanding all weaknesses and defects, they are of considerable value, and are slowly developing.

The book




1893 1915




Annual Fairs held on the Banks of Sacred Streams in India


Hindoo System of Religion


Legend of the Nerbudda River


A Suttee on the Nerbudda


Marriages of Trees—The Tank and the Plantain—Meteors—Rainbows


Hindoo Marriages


The Purveyance System


Religious Sects—Self-government of the Castes—Chimneysweepers—Washerwomen —Elephant Drivers


The Great Iconoclast—Troops routed by Hornets—The Rānī of Garhā—Hornets' Nests in India


The Peasantry and the Land Settlement




The Silver Tree, or 'Kalpa Briksha'—The 'Singhāra', or Trapa bispinosa, and the Guinea-Worm


Thugs and Poisoners


Basaltic Cappings of the Sandstone Hills of Central India—Suspension Bridge—Prospects of the Nerbudda Valley—Deification of a Mortal


Legend of the Sāgar Lake—Paralysis from eating the Grain of the Lathyrus sativus


Suttee Tombs—Insalubrity of deserted Fortresses


Basaltic Cappings—Interview with a Native Chief—A Singular Character


Birds' Nests—Sports of Boyhood


Feeding Pilgrims—Marriage of a Stone with a Shrub


The Men-Tigers


Burning of Deorī by a Freebooter—A Suttee


Interview with the Rājā who marries the Stone to the Shrub—Order of the Moon and the Fish


The Rājā of Orchhā—Murder of his many Ministers


Corn Dealers—Scarcities—Famines in India


Epidemic Diseases—Scape-goat


Artificial Lakes in Bundēlkhand-Hindoo, Greek, and Roman Faith




Pestle-and-Mortar Sugar-Mills—Washing away of the Soil


Interview with the Chiefs of Jhānsī—Disputed Succession


Haunted Villages


Interview with the Rājā of Datiyā—Fiscal Errors of Statesmen—Thieves and Robbers by Profession


Sporting at Datiyā—Fidelity of Followers to their Chiefs in India—Law of Primogeniture wanting among Muhammadans




The Suicide-Relations between Parents and Children in India


Gwālior Plain once the Bed of a Lake—Tameness of Peacocks


Gwālior and its Government


Contest for Empire between the Sons of Shah Jahān


Aurangzēb and Murād Defeat their Father's Army near Ujain


Dārā Marches in Person against his Brothers, and is Defeated


Dārā Retreats towards Lahore—Is robbed by the Jāts—Their Character


Shāh Jahān Imprisoned by his Two Sons, Aurangzēb and Murād


Aurangzēb Throws off the Mask, Imprisons his Brother Murād, and Assumes the Government of the Empire


Aurangzēb Meets Shujā in Bengal, and Defeats him, after Pursuing Dārā to the Hyphasis


Aurangzēb Imprisons his Eldest Son—Shujā and all his Family are Destroyed


Second Defeat and Death of Dārā, and Imprisonment of his Two Sons


Death and Character of Amīr Jumla


Reflections on the Preceding History


The Great Diamond of Kohinūr


Pindhārī System—Character of the Marāthā Administration—Cause of their Dislike to the Paramount Power


Dhōlpur, Capital of the Jāt Chiefs of Gohad—Consequence of Obstacles to the Prosecution of Robbers


Influence of Electricity on Vegetation—Agra and its Buildings


Nūr Jahān, the Aunt of the Empress Nūr Mahal, over whose Remains the Tāj is built


Father Gregory's Notion of the Impediments to Conversion in India—Inability of Europeans to speak Eastern Languages


Fathpur-Sīkrī—The Emperor Akbar's Pilgrimage—Birth of Jahāngīr


Bharatpur—Dīg—Want of Employment for the Military and the Educated Classes under the Company's Rule


Govardhan, the Scene of Kriahna's Dalliance with the Milkmaids




Declining Fertility of the Soil—Popular Notion of the Cause


Concentration of Capital and its Effects


Transit Duties in India—Mode of Collecting them


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


Public Spirit of the Hindoos—Tree Cultivation and Suggestions for extending it


Cities and Towns, formed by Public Establishments, disappear as Sovereigns and Governors change their Abodes


Murder of Mr. Fraser, and Execution of the Nawāb Shams-ud- dīn


Marriage of a Jāt Chief


Collegiate Endowment of Muhammadan Tombs and Mosques


The Old City of Delhi


New Delhi, or Shāhjahānābād


Indian Police—Its Defects—and their Cause and Remedy


Rent-free Tenures—Right of Government to Resume such Grants


The Station of Meerut—'Atālīs' who Dance and Sing gratuitously for the Benefit of the Poor


Subdivisions of Lands—Want of Gradations of Rank—Taxes


Meerut-Anglo-Indian Society


Pilgrims of India


The Bēgam Sumroo



Abolition of Corporal Punishment—Increase of Pay with Length of Service—Promotion by Seniority


Invalid Establishment


Thuggee and the part taken in its Suppression by General Sir W. H. Sleeman, K.C.B., by Captain J. L. Sleeman

Supplementary Note by the Editor

Additions and Corrections

Maps Showing Author's Route


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