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their homes, sent to whatever part of the island their strength and skill may be most profitably exerted; subjected to a discipline infinitely more strict, summary, and arbitrary, than even martial law; and all this without any alleged right but custom, or any assigned necessity but the pecuniary advantages derived from their labours. In so far as unhappiness is excited in the minds of a class of people by degrading and debasing them, or, what is nearly the same thing, by emancipating another class of subjects politically in the same situation, the Chaliahs are in a worse state than before the promulgation of Mr. North’s proclamation.
Without acknowledging the natural right of the Chaliahs to an equal degree of political freedom with the other castes, or holding out a hope of a liberation from the thraldom they now labour under, we have, by consulting in some degree their comforts, endeavoured to render them more efficient for our immediate purposes, and less reluctant instruments of our desire of gain. Their monthly pay has lately been increased from three to five rix dollars. This sum is, however, considerably below" the rate of labour in the chief town of the district where they are employed,” and much less than the pay and other advantages given to native troops. A native pioneer, who voluntarily engages to serve government for a limited number of years, who receives a bounty and an annual suit of clothing, who cannot be punished for crimes but by a court-martial, who is entitled to pay and regular medical attendance during sickness, who by the prescriptive law of usage has a claim upon government for a pension during life, should he be lamed in the service, or should his constitution be exhausted, receives a regular pay of eight rix dollars per month. Comparison is necessary to form a due estimate of the limited degree of remuneration the Chaliahs receive for their compulsory labour.
Those peelers, who happen to have a small portion of land, cultivate it to great disadvantage, in consequence of being so much employed in the service of government. In general, they let it out to some other person for cultivation, and receive as a remuneration one-fourth, one-third, or one-half of the produce, according to the nature of the ground and other circumstances. · Notwithstanding the sovereign influence of long-established habit, in reconciling mankind to yield to the invasions of the powerful, and however assiduously means have been taken to impress the Chaliahs with a sense of their political degradation, many of them feel their chains, and murmurs of discontent, though not loud, are sufficiently distinct to be heard. Independently of the self-debasement caused by long.continued and hopeless servitude, the mean condition of the people, and their unresisting temper, powerfully operate to prevent a loud expression of their feelings. The history of the world tells us that the artificial division of mankind into different castes and hereditary classes, with the unnatural depression and exclusion of the lower orders, never could have been established without much resistance and great oppression; and a state of society of this kind cannot be maintained without a participation of the same arbitrary measures which established such a system of oppression.
Like the other inhabitants of India, the Chaliahs are gentle, passive, and servilely submissive to their superiors. The natives of all warm climates áre much less conscious of their own dignity, have less of the spirit of independence, and submit to wear the yoke of servitude with infinitely less reluctance, than the inhabitants of temperate regions. But is it politic or expedient to proscribe a whole class of people, however submissive they may be to the dictates of arbitrary control? Or is it necessary to punish the evasion of an impost with a punishment seldom inflicted in civilized countries but for the greatest crimes ? An objection may likewise be made to referring the infliction of that punishment to the arbitrary opinion of an individual, who may be not only interested in the affair, but irritated when he commands the application of the lash. Oppressed as the Chaliahs are, many of them entertain some desire for information, and endeavour to give their children a certain degree of education. In 1814, there were 2,000 peelers employed, and of that number, Mr. Maitland, the superintendent of cinnamon plantations, ascertained that 420 could read and write.
As a tax, the constrained collection and forced deliveries of cinnamon by the Chaliahs is injurious, and attended by much inconvenience. It is in direct opposition to two acknowledged principles with regard to taxation: first, that taxes ought to fall as equally as possible on every member of society, in proportion to his means of contribution. This principle is in practice completely reversed. The wealthy, and those who enjoy a comparatively elevated rank, pay less to the state than the Chaliahs. Secondly, that the contribution to the state ought to be fixed, and not left to the arbitrary mandate of collectingofficers of whatever degree. The uncontrolled will of a superintendent may very materially increase the amount of the impost, or, what is the same thing, command a larger monthly delivery of cinnamon, and extend the time of collection. The temptations to evade this impost form a very important objection to the policy of such a plan of taxation. Regarding the sum paid monthly to the Chaliahs while they are employed, instead of being below the wages paid to ordinary labourers, it ought to be higher. Wages are in general (and ought always to be) modified by the nature of employment. Unwholesome, disagreeable, and involuntary employments should be well-paid. In countries where the subject is free, any of these circumstances tend to raise wages above the ordinary level. The unhealthiness and fatiguing nature of the employment of the Chaliahs is frequently very great, and the disagreeableness of their task may be imagined by the compulsory and odious manner in which they are forced to execute it. The advantages derived to the state, by compelling the Chaliahs to prepare and deliver a certain quantity of cinnamon, without granting even that remuneration which is usually allowed for voluntary labour, is the paramount cause of continuing this oppressive impost. A mask. is, however, endeavoured to be thrown over this undoubted truth. By some it is stated that they are accustomed to this degree of servitude, and that they readily submit to their condition. True, the caste has been habituated to oppression ; but is this one of those circumstances that long custom or habit legalizes? They submit, but in no other manner than the weak do to the powerful.
An author, who has lately published an account of Guiana, observes, that the negroes, who are numerous, must be kept in awe by severity of discipline. He endeavours to justify this practice by alleging that it lessens the unhappiness of the slaves : “impossibility of attainment,” says he, never fails to annihilate the desire of enlargement, and rigid treatment, suppressing every hope of liberty, makes them peaceably submit to slavery.”
Collecting cinnamon is no state-emergency, that requires a general sacrifice from every member of the society to rectify. Labour is the only commodity of the poorer classes of society, and common honesty forbids the forcible abstraction of any man's property, far less the sole prop of the poor. It is likewise hinted, that if we were to emancipate the Chaliahs, the other castes, who call themselves superior (or who in other words are less oppressed), would
consider the measure an innovation, in fact an infringement of the privileges of their order. Can it be reckoned a dangerous innovation to cease to oppress? Are we to enter into a compact with one portion of society to crush another by precluding them from the benefits arising from their industry? It is true that in Ceylon, as in every other country where slavery, or a great inequality of freedom, exists, those who are free are remarkably jealous and proud of their freedom. Too often unaccustomed to consider freedom a common blessing, to which all ranks and conditions of men have a natural claim, they deem it an enjoyment connected with rank and privilege, and of course consider those, who have neither rank nor privilege, to have no right to freedom, not even to that degree of it which enables a man to reap a due reward for his labour. These native aristocrats value their rank and dignity in society by the degree of debasement to which the excluded class is reduced; the very envy of the degraded class is a source of pleasure to them; their self-importance is flattered and their vanity inflated by every demonstration of a sense of their assumed superiority.
A late publication regarding Ceylon contains the following passage with respect to the Chaliahs: “ The importance of their present employment under government has rendered them ambitious and vain; they are of a turbulent disposition, and it is difficult to rule them. Prone to insult the castes which are superior to them, they have long aimed at attaining the privileges of the Vellales. The lands of the Chaliahs are almost free from contribution to government, and they have privileges not enjoyed by other subjects in the colony."
This account is incorrect, evidently arising from imperfect information. “ Ambitious and rain” are terms very inapplicable to the state and disposition of these unfortunate people. That they are not of a turbulent disposition, or difficult to rule, is a fact known to eve one who has the slightest acquaintance with them, or who knows how the maha-badde department is conducted. “Prone to insult,” &c.: how can a people, depressed as the Chaliahs now are, insult any caste? If to wish to escape the oppressive exertion of power be construed into a desire to attain the same degree of civil liberty as the Vellales, is there any thing reprehensible in such a design? and is it the author's wish that the Vellales should enjoy a nionopoly of personal liberty in Ceylon? In regard to the impost levied by government upon the lands of the Chaliahs, the author's assertion is unfounded. Since Mr. North's proclamation of 1801, the Chaliahs pay the same contribution to government from their crops that is exacted from the other possessors of land. The privileges peculiar to the Chaliahs are neither more nor less than the following: they are allowed to cross, without payment, the ferries of some of the large rivers, provided they have but a light load; secondly, their dhonies are free from anchorage-dues. During the time they are not employed in peeling cinnamon, associations of a few individuals are formed, who sometimes freight small craft and carry on a little trade in salt, arrack, &c., which they export from one part of the coast to the other. The immunity from these imposts is hardly worth the acceptance of the Chaliahs; certainly not worth mentioning as a privilege of any consequence.
Oppressive laws, administered by a humane administrator, lose much of their severity; they may even acquire a character of benevolence. The maha-badde is, at present, under the superintendence of James Maitland, Esq., an office for which he is peculiarly well-qualified. He is intimately acquainted
• Bertolacci on the Revenue, &c. of Ceylon. Asiat. Jouru V.S.VOL.12.No.48.
with the manners and customs of the Chaliahs, and having acquired a know. ledge of the Singhalese language, he is able to hear the complaints of the people without the intervention of those frequently corrupt sources of informiation, head-men and interpreters. Humane, liberal, and affable, he is easy of access to the lowest individual of the castc, by which means he greatly suppresses, if he does not completely extinguish, the most cruel of all oppressions (particularly in Indian establishments), the tyranny of inferior officers. By establishing a plan of rewarding individuals, whose industry and conduct render them good examples to others, he has now rarely occasion to resort to corporal punishment. He never punishes a person until due care has been taken to investigate all the circumstances of the case, and to hear the defence of the accused. By a patient and uninterrupted attention to the welfare of the people under his charge, and by his many other amiable qualities, he has gained the respect and esteem of the whole caste, who yield infinitely more prompt obedience to an expression of his wishes than they ever did when the lash of terror was unintermittingly suspended over their heads. It was under his auspices that the monthly pay was increased, and he has been able also to obtain for them some other trilling marks of attention from government. Colombo, 1819.
This paper, as the reader observes, was written some years ago; but we find, on reference to the report of Col. Colebrooke, one of the Commissioners of Inquiry in Ceylon, dated 31st January 1832, that “the duty of collecting the cinnamon and the labour of cultivating the gardens, and of cutting and peeling the cinnamon, are still compulsorily performed by a class of people (Chaliahs), who are annually assembled from the districts in which they reside, and as they are taken for several months from their homes, and from other profitable occupations, and are subject to much exposure in the forests, where they contract fevers, the service is still obnoxious to them, and often fatal: desertions are accordingly very frequent.” The report further states, that the number of male Chaliahs registered in the districts of Colombo and Galle (whose children are liable to the same service) is 16,489; that in addition to the Chaliahs, other labourers are sometimes employed, and that the average number annually employed is 20,000!
The present governor of Ceylon, Sir R. Wilmot Horton, enjoys the enviable distinction of having proclaimed the real abolition of this hateful system, An order of the King in Council was published in the Ceylon Gazette, of the 29th September 1832, abolishing the system of forced labour, which has prevailed in the island from time immemorial.-Editor.
SHEA'S TRANSLATION OF MIRKHOND.
It is a matter of no small surprise that, in this inquisitive age, so little should still be known by the reading public of Oriental histories and traditions. Motives are certainly not wanting, when we consider the intimate connection, commercial and political, especially in the last three centuries, between the natives of the East and the West. The difficulties, to those who had never visited the Oriental regions, of obtaining any clear ideas on the subject, have been, till within these few years, almost insuperable. Languages were to be studied with trifling aid, and allusions were to be understood, which could be only known by familiar acquaintance with the modes of acting and thinking of the people themselves. These difficulties, however, are happily disappearing. Dictionaries, grammars, and well-selected passages from the best authors, edited by scholars of profound skill and judgment, are constantly issuing from the press, so that the student finds ample means of mastering the peculiarities of Oriental diction. But to those, whose pursuits and tastes do not lead them to the acquisition of languages, and whose desires are limited to a philosophical acquaintance with the Oriental mind, such knowledge is still very difficult of attainment.
Whatever merits may justly be claimed by the East-India Company for their patronage of those who have contributed to smooth the road to the knowledge of the Oriental languages, they have not, perhaps, availed themselves of the ample means within their reach of spreading, by the aid of translations from native writers, a more general knowledge of Oriental literature, morals, and science. A liberal expenditure in the diffusion of such knowledge would not have been reckoned amongst the least of the benefits their administration of the government of that extraordinary empire has conferred upon India. If, however, they have been wanting in this respect, the subject has not been overlooked in this country. The translations that have appeared within the last three years, under the auspices of the Oriental Translation Fund, may be hailed as the commencement of a new era in the diffusion of Oriental knowledge; and as entitling that institution to the best thanks of those, who are impressed with a sense of the importance of stu · dying man under all his various influences and aspects.
The work before us is a translation of an interesting portion of Mirkhond's history of the East, the Rauzal-us-Safa, or Garden of Pleasure. Mirkhond, the author, flourished in the thirteenth century. His history commences with traditions, long current in the East, of various orders of beings and of events many ages prior to the creation of man. The Jins, Perís, Dívs and Afríts, their various gradations of impiety towards Allah, and its consequences to themselves; the machinations of Eblis, and his impious arrogance in refusing to offer adoration to Adam, together with the leading events in the lives of Adam and the succeeding patriarchs (the latter por
History of the Early Kings of Persia, from Kaiomars, the first of the Peshdadian Dynasty, to the Conquest of Iran by Alexander the Great. Translated from the original Persian of Mirkhond, entitled the Rausat-us-Safa, with Notes and Mustrations, by David SHEA, of the Oriental Department in the Hon. East-India Company's College, Herts. London, printed for the Oriental Translation Fund. Murray. Parbury, Allen and Co. 1832. pp. 441. 8vo.