« PreviousContinue »
tributed, considerably, to lessen the great demand which was made by those states, for the produce of Bengal, when Dehli and Ispahan enjoyed reigns of grandeur and vigour. When it is considered, that the Moghul court, whether in it's splendour or wealth, exceeded that of all other nations; that the numerous governors, interspersed throughout the provinces, adopted the manners of sovereign princes and that all their more luxurious articles of dress were fabricated in Bengal; we must conclude, that the discontinuation of such a traffic has produced strong effects. In describing this commercial event, which has brought an evident change in the quality of the trade of Bengal, I am not authorized, by any fpecific knowledge, to fay, that a general injury has been felt by the country; prehaps, the losses which have been sustained are counterpoised by the augmentation of the cargoes, though of a different species, which are now transported, annually, to Europe.
HAVING already noticed the large influx of European fpecie, or bullion, in this country, and the cause of the cessation of this traffic, I will offer some desultory sentiments, on the subject of the diminution of the coin in Bengal, of which, grevious complaints have long existed. During the Mahometan administration, private wealth was usually expended on the spot where it had been acquired ; and though severity and oppression might have been exercised in the accumulation, yet, by it's quick circulation, through the many channels of luxury, the country at large was improved and embellished, without any decrease of the general currency. It
may be urged, that the expenditure of Europeans, in their public and private buildings, has, adequately, supplied the wants of the artizan and labourer. But, I am led to hazard an opinion, that this amount falls much short of that applied by the preceding princes to the construction of mosques, baths, Hindoo temples, grand reservoirs of water, spacious gardens, together with a variety of costly private edifices. These modes of expence are neither adapted to the genius, or inclination, of Europeans, who have no religious passion to gratify, nor are they impelled, by patriot zeal, to raise monuments of grandeur in India ; but holding themselves the moveable tenants of the day, they are eager to reach their native home, that they may there enjoy the fruits of their labour.
As the remittance of English property to Europe could not be sufficiently attained, by means of public bills, the servants of the Company, and private merchants, have been often driven to the necessity of exporting specie, though such a medium be attended with heavy loss ; or they are induced to throw their cash into foreign funds, whereby their enemies, or at least, their rivals, are enriched. The injurious tendency of this limitation of public remittance, having been so severely felt, and repeatedly represented to the superior Government in England, it is to be expected that the channel of conveying property from India, will be opened in so efficient a manner, that the necessity of pursuing, in future the destructive alternative of exporting gold and silver, or employing foreign agents, will be, wholly, obviated. As the private cash taken up in
India will be invested in Indian produce, and sent to Europe, for
From the period of Arungzebe's death, * until nearly the date
# This Prince died, A. D. 1707.
+ A crore of rupees, or million sterling, has been sent in the course of one year from Bengal to Delhi.
fisted formerly between this port and Pegue, Siam, and the Malay. ilands, now feebly remains; and, unless some favourable change is. speedily effected, bears the appearance of a total failure. Though these branches of commerce, silver bullion, gold-dust and precious stones, were introduced into Bengal ; from whence, in return raw and wrought fills, coarse cotton cloths, opium, and salt petre, were exported. It hath also been alledged, that, within these late years, the maritime trade of Bengal has received a check from an embargo, or, what is tantamount, an excessive high duty laid on the importation of foreign salt. This restriction has reduced the number: of ships, and leffened the considerable exportation of grain, which, before that period, annually took place at the port of Calcutta :: yet, though it may have injured the exterior commerce, the revenue of the Ganges falt has been increased, by this restriction, to an amount never produced at any former period.
It is painful, perhaps not just, to expatiate on the defects, or the misfortunes of a country, and hold them out to public view ; without proposing remedies for the ills that are exhibited. The scantiness of knowledge, will only permit me to say, that as the welfare of the British dominion in India, ultimately depends on the prosperity of Bengal, no labour should be thought irksome, no rational plan left untried, which may improve its revenne, or encourage its trade.
On the 29th of May I arrived at Berhampore. In this cantonment, which is large and commodious, are stationed three regiments of sepoys, and a battalion of Europeans. On the 15th of
Junë, made an excursion to Mooreshedabad, and it's environs, that I might view the theatre on which those interesting schemes had been agitated, which, after a series of intrigue and blood-shed, advanced the English to the dominion of a wealthy kingdom.
At the distance of a mile below the city, and on the opposite bank of the river, stands the burying place of Ali Verdy Khan, known also in India by the name of Mahobut Jung; a man, who, by his abilities as a soldier and a statesman, raised himself from a private condition, to the Subahdarry of Bengal. He maintained an obstinate war with the Mahrattas, for the space of eight years, and was, after an obstinate struggle, obliged to cede to them the diftricts of Kuttack.
Not far from the tomb of Mahobut Jung, lies interred his nephew, Seraje-ud-Dowlah, well known in English history, by his capture of Fort William, and afterwards, confining the unfortunate garrison in a close dungeon ; where moft of them died from the severity of their situation. The fate of this young man was fimilar to that of many an Eastern Prince; of such, especially, who experience a reverse of fortune.-Seraje-ud-Dowlah was betrayed by Meer Jaffier, at the battle of Plassey, and assassinated a short time after, by his order. Were the conduct of Meer Jaffier to be tried by the law of natural affections, or by the rules of private honor, it must appear tainted with a die of deep hue. Mahobut Jung, thinking to secure to his succeífor the attachment of Meer Jaffier, bestowed on this officer, the highest office of Government, Yol, I.