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and it being announced that they differed, instead of being locked up without meat, drink, or firing until they agreed, they were requested to deliver their opinions with their reasons, which they straightway proceeded to do. The result may be stated with tolerable accuracy thus: by ten to one they were of opinion that the old Common Law recognized perpetual copyright. By six to five they were of opinion that the statute of Queen Anne had destroyed this right. The House of Lords adopted the opinion of the majority, reversed the decree of the Court below, and thus Thomson's Seasons became your Seasons, my Seasons, anybody's Seasons. But by how slender a majority! To make it even more exciting, it was notorious that the most eminent judge on the Bench (Lord Mansfield) agreed with the minority; but owing to the combined circumstances of his having already, in a case practically between the same parties and relating to the same matter expressed his opinion, and of his being not merely a judge but a peer, he was prevented (by etiquette) from taking any part, either as a judge or as a peer, in the proceedings. Had he not been prevented (by etiquette), who can say what the result might not have been?

Here ends the story of how authors and their assignees were disinherited by mistake, and forced to content themselves with such beggarly terms of enjoyment as a hostile legislature doles out to them. As the law now stands, they may enjoy their own during the period of the author's life, plus seven years, or the period of forty-two years, whichever may chance to prove the longer.

So strangely and so quickly does the Law color men's notions of what is inherently decent, that even authors have forgotten how fearfully they have been abused and how cruelly robbed. Their thoughts are turned in quite other directions. I do not suppose they will care for these old-world memories. Their great minds are tossing on the ocean which pants dumbly-passionate with dreams of royalties. If they could only shame the English-reading population of the United States to pay for their literature, all would be well. Whether they ever will, depend upon themselves.-AUGUSTIN BIRRELL, in Macmillan's Magazine.


WHEN Joseph wished to pick a quarrel with his brethren he affected to think them a special commission sent to inquire into the state of Egypt. What he disapproved of then is now become a necessity for a country still further in the remote East. For the be lief has at last become generally disseminated that this land of fabu

lous splendor and luxury is unproductive for the purposes of its average inhabitants; while some experts, going still further, argue that the people of India are in a state of chronic misery, and that this state is caused by the rapacity and incompetence of the British Government there. The question, therefore, is more than one of economic curiosity. The politician, seeking a justification of his country's power, and the young man about to enter on a course of service in the country, are both specially bound to learn the truth about this matter; and even the ordinary English citizen is not without a motive for acquainting himself with the facts in regard to which his citizenship and franchise give him a real-however small -responsibility.

The claims of the ultra-optimists need not detain us. They can point to many splendid benefits conferred by the British Government of India; to the pacification that has succeeded a long anarchy; to the penal code by which crime has been defined and an approximation made to certainty of punishment; to a vigorous police and a skillful attempt at the rectification of natural evils by canals and forest administration; to roads and railways by which the produce of the land is carried to the sea; and to a vast development of import and export commerce.

But all these things hardly avail to soothe the critics or moderate their censure; and, indeed, there is a great per contra to be set down against them. The tonnage of Indian ports carries but little benefit to the inland laborers; nay, it appears, for a time at least, to bring some increase to their sufferings; as, for example, by raising the price of produce and carrying food away from their doors, while it fails either to raise the rate of their wages or to diminish that of the interest of their debts. The administration, if good, is costly; being carried on-in its higher grades at least-by imported agency which demands very high remuneration. The capital out of which the resources of the country are developed has been chiefly raised in Europe; and the plant, stores, and munitions of war have to be largely imported from abroad. It has been asserted that in these various ways, from thirty to forty millions of pounds sterling are annually taken from a population, the bulk of which lives-when it does live on the minimum of subsistence.

These imputations are in some sense true, and they can be only met on one line. The peoples of India are poor, and their scale of living is low; the only justification for British rule over them must be the showing, if possible, that it has improved their condition, and that this improvement is being maintained.

Now, the truth is very apt to be forgotten that there is no evidence of an authentic time in which the condition of the general public in India was otherwise than hopelessly miserable. Hereditary

bondsmen, their situation has oscillated between the oppression of irresponsible despotism and the devastation of bandits and disbanded armies. The reins of the Pathan Kings of Delhi present an unbroken series of calamity and persecution, the records of which are only limited by the indifference of the chroniclers. One of these Sultans was told by his Chief Kázi, whom he had consulted on the subject of taxation, that the Hindus were taxable to the extent of the lawful "tribute," which was to be levied "with every circumstance of ignominy and contempt." But the Sultan replied that he acknowledged no legal limits, and was resolved that "no Hindu should have more left him than would buy flour and milk enough to keep him alive." Another, later and more enlightened, increased the poll-tax of the Hindus in order that the small minority of his own fellow-believers might be freed from taxation; and he adds, in the record of his administration made by his own hand, that he destroyed Hindu temples wherever found, and put to death all who persevered in idol worship after due warning.

If it be objected that these were barbarous days and too remote for comparison, let us turn to the days of Akbar, commonly regarded as "palmy." Akbar broke with the Muslim lawyers, abolished the poll-tax, and took the Hindus into his employ. It was now the turn of the followers of the Prophet to taste of the cup of which the Hindus had long been forced to drink. Contumacious Mohammedans were punished by exile, and even with death; the Primate was deposed, the Church was stripped of its endowments and disestabished, the mosques were desecrated and turned into stabling for the imperial cavalry. As for the land, it was held under the strongest assertion of State-ownership, or distributed among grantees; the actual cultivators being assessed at one-third of the gross produce. Of the great officers of the State and army, all but a small fraction belonged to the class of the conquering immigrants of their descendants; when a rich man died his estate was confiscated. Such was Akbar's famous system. His grandson collected and withdrew from public use treasure estimated by a European observer at about twelve millions of modern sterling, which probably represents more than half a year's net revenue of the period; besides which he had an enormous accumulation of precious stones. The next Emperor restored the poll-tax, thereby doubling the taxation of the Hindus, of whom he gradually but completely purged the public service. The tribunals were practically closed to the Hindus-about 75 per cent. of the population-because the Emperor insisted on a monopoly of Muslim law. What that meant may be understood by imagining a Hebrew Prime Minister substituting the Levitical code for the common law of England.

At length the combination of fanaticism and maladministration

culminated. The Empire broke up. One Minister assumed independence in Audh, another in the Deccan. The Mahrattas overspread the country with floods of predatory horse, and collected tribute everywhere. The Persians invaded Hindustan, and plundered Delhi. Society became dissolved. Dow, writing in 1775, says:—

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The country was torn to pieces by civil war and every species of domestic confusion all law and religion were trodden under foot; the bonds of private friendship and connection, as well as of society and government, were broken; and every individual-as if amid a forest of wild beasts-could rely upon nothing but the strength of his own right arm."

Tod, the historian of Rajputána, gives like testimony, taken from a native record of the time:-"The people thought only of present safety misery was disregarded by those who escaped it; and man, centered solely in himself, felt not for his kind." James Skinner, who served in Sindhia's army about twenty years later, shows that things were not mending:-"So reduced was the actual number of human beings, and so utterly cowed their spirit, that the few villages that did continue to exist at great intervals, had scarcely any communication with each other, and that communication was often cut off by a single tiger known to haunt the road." About the end of the century Arthur Wellesley gave the following description of this miserable remnant :-"They are the most mischievous, deceitful race of people that I have even seen or read of. I have not yet met with a Hindu who had one good quality, and honest Mussulmans do not


Let the praisers of past time take whichever period they will, and compare it with the present state of things. In British India the people are as dense, per square mile, as in the most populous parts of Europe. Primary education, though not compulsory, is general. Each division has its own laws, administered largely-almost universally-by judges of its own creed and color. Universities are in full work. The incidence of the land revenue has been reduced to one-half the net produce, about a third of Akbar's rate. Other taxation falls at an average rate of 4 per cent. of the ratio that obtains iu England; and, if it be true that "thirty or forty millions" are spent on or by foreigners, not more than half of the smaller sum goes out of the country. The rest is spent in India, and it surely does not much matter to the country at large whether it be spent by British officers and soldiers, or whether it be spent, and hoarded, by Mohammedans and Hindus. There is more money in circulation than there ever was before, and the rate of wages has risen for skilled labor-at a rate far higher than any rise in the price of the necessaries of life.

Yet, amidst all these signs of improvement, there remains that general depression of the level of human existence which leads to constant complaints of the "Poverty of India," and which, in effect, constitutes a perpetual reproach to a nation that has undertaken to manage the affairs of these helpless communities. Such an undertaking can only be justified in the forum of modern opinion, if it can be shown that the process by which the condition of the people has been improved is still going on, and that "less bad" is in the way to be converted into something better. If the constituencies are to stop their ears and fold their hands in idle optimism, it is much to be feared that the human nature which is present in all public men may take refuge in routine and mutual admiration, until some catastrophe worse than that of '57 awakes them when too late. No ideal height of perfection is arrived at yet. Far too much of the work of India is still done by Europeans, far too large a portion of her revenues is expended on warlike and political estab lishments and on unprofitable undertakings. The rate of wages for unskilled labor is insufficient for respectable existence, in times of scarcity fails to support existence at all.

A moderate statement is sure to displease extreme persons of both sides. Nevertheless, declamations about "thirty or forty millions" -as if ten millions of pounds sterling was a kind of negligable quantity-do not not convey any real moral. The Home charges when the last decennial report was made up were:

Net expenditure chargeable against revenue
Capital expenditure on productive public works
Remittances (net)

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This is the sum drawn for in 1882-3, and realized by the sale of "Secretary of State's Bills;" and it was below the average of the past ten years. It included items of which no reasonable native of India ought to complain; such as interest on debt and guaranteed railways, and the purchase of stores; things that it has not been found possible to produce, as yet, in India. The salaries of Indian councilors and officials at the Secretary's Office cannot be materially diminished so long as the present method of government continues to exist. The pensions and furlough allowances follow the same rule: so long as any European officers are employed, they must have leave to Europe; and when they retire they are entitled to a provision for their old age, part of which comes from enforced savings or

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