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tablishment for its protection, and raises up a host of spies and informers, and contemners of the law throughout the country: and in addition to the foregoing, by taxes on industry,* which are fatally destructive of that elastic principle of man in his social state, whereby he is enabled to repair the misfortunes which untoward events may have created ? Or, as in India, by a system of taxation, which fairly, lightly, and uninquisitorially presses on every individual; which rises and falls with general, not partial prosperity; which makes it the paramount benefit of the Government to preserve peace, foreign and domestic; to augment, by every possible means, the quantity and quality of territorial produce; to provide easy, cheap, and expeditious transit by land and water, to the most profitable markets; and thus, influenced by fixed and comprehensive principles of universal utility, most beneficently unites the governed and the governing by the least dissoluble ties of mutual self-interest? The many advantages of the latter procedure over the former is apparent; in an essentially agricultural country like India the greater part of taxation must ultimately fall upon the rent of land, it is therefore highly advantageous that the source whence the income of the state is derived should be as direct as possible. The economists of France, and I believe many
England on five hundred and sixty-six different articles ! of these, five hundred and ten articles produced only £20,903 revenue, the cost of collecting which did not fall short of half a million sterling. Such is the admirable system of English customs, which theorists propose for adoption in India!!
* For instance, the tax on paper in England injures the makers of machinery, type-founders, ink-makers, printers, engravers, bookbinders, booksellers, stationers, paper-stainers, and many other trades: this destructive duty on paper varies from fifty to one hundred and fifty per cent.! The penalties are monstrous, and the laws relating thereto so confused, that no person almost can avoid unintentionally infracting them! This is a specimen of English legislation in matters of revenue : too many of similar instances could be pointed out.
of their disciples in this country, assert that all taxation finally rests upon land : if this be even partially true, how much preferable is the Asiatic to the European mode of taxation ; for, as Dr. Adam Smith justly remarks,“ daties of custom and excise are contributed for the support of the state, rather in proportion to a man's humour than to his revenue ; the hospitable paying more than their proper quota, and the parsimonious less, while those who reside out of the country, contribute nothing for the security of the
government or state whence their revenue is derived."* The opinions of this celebrated philosopher on the land revenue of India, will be better understood by the following quotations from his works :
“ In Indostan and in several other governments of Asia, the revenue of the sovereign is almost altogether from a land tax or land rent, which rises or falls with the produce of the land. The great interest of the sovereign, therefore, is that his revenue is in such countries necessarily and immediately connected with the cultivation of the land, with the greatness of its produce, and with the value of its produce. But in order to render that produce both as great and as valuable as possible, it is necessary to procure to it as extensive a market as possible, and consequently to establish the freest, the easiest, and the least expensive communication between all the different parts of the country. But the revenue of the sovereign does not, in any part of Europe, arise chiefly from a land tax or land rent; in all the great kingdoms of Europe perhaps the greater part of it may ultimately depend upon the produce of the land, but that dependency is neither so immediate nor so evident. In Europe, therefore, the sovereign does not feel himself so directly called upon to promote the increase both in quantity and
* Ireland affords a remarkable illustration of this doctrine; an immense portion of the principal wealth of the island, the landed rental, is drawn out of the country, and contributes to swell the resources of England, while the consumption of custom and excise articles by the proprietors takes place also in England; had the taxation been fixed on the land, the Duke of Devonshire, the Marquis of Abercorn, and other great landed proprietors would have been obliged to contribute their quota to the exigencies of the state, and the necessaries and comforts of life would have been the cheaper obtained by the bulk of the people, but as the case now stands the whole fiscal weight falls on the poor, i. e. the mass of the people; the Duke of Devonshire, the Marquis of Abercorn, &c. pay nothing to Ireland.
value of the produce of the land, or by maintaining good roads and canals, to provide the most extensive markets for the produce.”. Wealth of Nations, book v. p. 104.
In another place, he thus argues on the equitable' system of land revenues :
“ The attention of the landlord is a particular and minute consideration of what is likely to be the most advantageous application of every inch of ground upon his estate. The principal attention of the sovereign ought to be to encourage, by every means in his power, the attention both of the landlord and the farmer, by allowing both to pursue their own interest in their own way, and according to their own judgment, by giving to both the most perfect security that they shall enjoy the full recompense of their own industry; and by procuring to both the most extensive market for every part of their produce, in consequence of establishing the easiest and safest communications both by land and by water, through every part of his own dominions, as well as the most unbounded freedom of exportation to the dominions of all other princes.
“ If by such a system of administration a tax of this kind could be 80 managed as to give, not only no discouragement, but, on the contrary, some encouragement to the improvement of the land, it does not appear likely to occasion any other inconveniency to the landlord, except always the unavoidable one of being obliged to pay the tax. In all the variations of the state of society; in the improvement and in the declension of agriculture ; in all those in the standard of the coin, a tax of this kind would, of its own accord, and without any attention of government, readily suit itself to the actual situation of things, and would be equally just and equitable in all those different changes.”Wealth of Nations, book v. p. 270.
Dr. Smith assigns a reason why land is a much more proper subject of direct taxation than “stock;" namely, because the ascertaining of the latter would be inquisitorial, its fluctuation more variable, and the proprietor of land is a citizen of the state, whereas “ stook” is easily removeable. All who have observed the character of the Hindoos, are aware how much they dread any thing like an inquisition as to their private financial condition ; many, indeed, possessed of considerable wealth have every appearance роverty, while the jealousy with which they view an approach
ing knowledge of an European to their domestic habits, shews they have not entirely subdued their fears, that the present rulers of India would act like their predecessors in squeezing from their subjects the uttermost farthing, beyond what might be necessary to support life on the lowest possible scale of animal existence. To be sure, Mr. Rickards and the Westminster Reviewer for 1832 says, that such is the case; they assert that the Hindoos are as heavily taxed by the East-India Company, as they were by the Mahomedan government. To endeavour to prove this Mr. Rickards has written two immense volumes, but they present such a mass of contradictory testimony, and are so opposed to his evidence before Parliament, that it is difficult where to expose their absurdity most ; his constant assertion is, that the Company “invariably proclaim the savage right to seize upon half the gross produce of the land as a tax;* thus treading in the steps of their unrighteous predecessors, the Mahomedans." This statement is incorrect in many particulars; first, as to the Government exacting half the gross produce :-under the permanent settlement there were three parties whose shares ran thus:
The ryot or cultivator 50 per cent. of the produce of the land.
In Bombay it is less than the foregoing imaginary assessment, and according to the evidence of Mr. Elphinstone the revenue is still in the course of reduction: in Madras it is yet less than at either of the other settlements; Gross produce ..
100 Government Assessment by survey
45 Twenty-five per cent. deducted
111 Sirkar or Government share
* Rickards' India, vol. i. p. 285.
If consideration be had to the vast quantity of waste land brought into cultivation under the operation of the permanent settlement, and the immense amount of land held rent-free, * I am rather under than above the mark in stating, that even the nominal Government revenue from the land throughout all India is not one-fourth, much less one-half of the produce of the soil !
Now, not only is Mr. Rickards incorrect with respect to “ the Company's grand source of oppression, the enormous amount of the land-tax, upwards of fifty per cent.,"+ but he has also grossly (I had almost said intentionally) erred in asserting that the Hindoos are as heavily taxed by the Company as they were by the Mahomedans ; I say intentionally, for Mr. Rickards repeatedly shews that there was no limit to Mahomedan taxation but what their wretched subjects could bear without being deprived of life; he proves, indeed, that the Mussulmans did not destroy the bees, for that would have left them no honey for the ensuing year, but they took every particle of honey beyond what was immediately necessary to the end in view—reproduction ;£ when
* In the ceded and conquered provinces of the Doab, the rent-free lands amount to 44,95,177 beegahs. In the lower provinces of Bengal exclusive of Cuttack, Lord Teignmouth stated the rent-free lands to be in amount according to investigation, 83,75,942 beegahs. Indeed in some districts the lands held rent-free are more than one-half in quantity than those paying revenue to Government. Mr. Colebrooke gives the following estimate of some pergunnahs :
In Shereføbad and Tajpur.. beegahs - 298,275 524,909
590. Mr. R. quotes (p. 281) an extract from the Hedaya, Book ix. chap. 7, to shew that “it is lawful to take the whole of the persons
Free Lands. Cultivated.