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The revenue of China amounts to about eighty- Book I. four millions of ounces of silver. Of this revenue,
Chap. iv. about thirty-three millions is paid in money, and about fifty-one millions in grains, rice, &c., con
Ryots. sumed for the most part by the local administration of the provinces. A portion only, of the value of about six millions of ounces, is annually remitted to Pekin. The receipt of this huge revenue, in the primitive shape of agricultural produce, is a striking proof that the power and means of the Emperor of China, like those of other eastern sovereigns, are intimately connected with, or rather founded on, his rights as universal proprietor of the soil".
There are other considerable countries in Asia in which we have good reason to conclude, that ryot rents prevail ; consisting, first, of the countries between Hindostan and China, the Birman Empire, and its dependencies, Cochin China, &c.; and, secondly, of the states inhabited by agricultural Tartars, north of the Himalaya mountains and east of Persia, SamarcanBokhara, and the states of Little Bucharia: but the peculiar modifications the system may receive in these countries, and the details of the relations there between landlord and tenant, are at present even more out of our reach than in the case of China.
Bulletin des Sciences, No. 5, Mai 1829. p. 314.
Воок І. Chap. iv. Sect. 6.
Mixture of other Rents with Ryot. On examining, where we are able to do it minutely, the state of the countries in which ryot rents prevail
, we are immediately struck with the fact, that they are sometimes mixed up with both labor rents and metayer rents. The land then presents a strange complication of interests. There is an hereditary tenant, liable to a produce rent to the crown, and by custom and prescription irremoveable while he pays it. This same tenant, receiving some assistance in seed and implements, pays a second produce rent to another person, whose character fluctuates between that of an hereditary officer of the crown, and that of a subordinate proprietor ; and sometimes a third rent is paid to this subordinate proprietor, in labor, exerted on land cultivated for his exclusive benefit.
To begin with the labor rents, thus engrafted on ryot rents.
The Ryot of Bengal often grants a plot of his ground to a ploughman who assists him. This is a pure labor rent, paid by the under-tenant. The Zemindars often demand from the ryots themselves, a certain quantity of labor, to be performed on their domain lands. This demand is often excessive, and is the source of grievous oppression and frequent complaint, both in India and Persia. When moderate however, it is considered legal, and then forms another labor rent, paid by the ryot himself.
The Agas of Turkey often force the rayahs of Book I. their Zaims or Timars, to perform a certain number
Chap. iv. of days' work on their own private farms. This is unquestionably altogether an illegal exaction; but Ryot is so customary that it must be counted in practice as an additional rent.
Metayer rents too have a constant tendency to spring up and engraft themselves on ryot rents throughout Asia, wherever the moderation and efficiency of the government is such as to ensure protection to the property advanced to the cultivator, or wherever the relation of the party advancing stock to the cultivator, is such as to give a peculiar power of enforcing payment, and a peculiar interest in assisting cultivation. Both the government and the Zemindars in India occasionally advance seed and stock to the ryot. The government reluctantly, and only when it cannot avoid it: the lands thus cultivated on the part of government, are called coss and comar; and to get them into the hands of ryots, who can cultivate themselves, seems to have been always an object of policy. The Zemindars more readily and habitually make such advances, and as their share of the produce is then regulated wholly by their private bargain with the ryot, he no doubt is occasionally much oppressed: but this is not always
In Persia particularly, this arrangement is considered the best for the tenant; because in that country, it is only in this case, that the Zemindar or subordinate proprietor undertakes to ward off the extortion of the officers of the crown, and to settle with them himself.
Book I. Chap. iv. Sect. 7.
Summary of Ryot Rents. THERE is nothing mischievous in the direct effect of ryot rents. They are usually moderate; and when restricted to a tenth, or even a sixth, fifth, or fourth of the produce, if collected peacefully and fairly, they become a species of land tax, and leave the tenant a beneficial hereditary estate. It is from their indirect effects, therefore, and from the form of government in which they originate, and which they serve to perpetuate, that they are full of evil, and are found in practice more hopelessly destructive of the property and progress of the people, than any form of the relation of landlord and tenant known
The proprietary rights of the sovereign, and his large and practically indefinite interest in the produce, prevent the formation of any really independent body on the land. By the distribution of the rents which his territory produces, the monarch maintains the most influential portion of the remaining population in the character of civil or military officers. There remain only the inhabitants of the towns to interpose a check to his power : but the majority of these are fed by the expenditure of the sovereign or his servants. We shall have a fitter opportunity to point out, how completely the prosperity, or rather the existence, of the towns of Asia, proceeds from the local expenditure of the
As the citizens are thus destitute
from their position of real strength, so the Asiatic Boox I.
Chap. iv. sovereigns, having no body of powerful privileged Sect. 7. landed proprietors to contend with, have not had the motives which the European monarchs had, Rents. to nurse and foster the towns into engines of political influence, and the citizens are proverbially the most helpless and prostrate of the slaves of Asia. There exists nothing therefore in the society beneath him, which can modify the power of a sovereign, who is the supreme proprietor of a territory cultivated by a population of ryot peasants. All that there is of real strength in such a population, looks to him as the sole source not merely of protection but of subsistence: he is by his position and necessarily a despot. But the results of Asiatic despotism have ever been the same: while it is strong it is delegated, and its power abused by its agents; when feeble and decliving, that power is violently shared by its inferiors, and its stolen authority yet more abused. In its strength and in its weakness it is alike destructive of the industry and wealth of its subjects, and all the arts of peace; and it is this which makes that peculiar system of rents, on which its power rests, particularly objectionable and calamitous to the countries in which it prevails.
In countries cultivated by ryots, the wages of the main body of the people are determined by the rent they pay, as is the case it will be remembered under all varieties of peasant rents. The quantity of produce being determined by the fertility of the soil, the extent of his allotments of land, and the skill, industry, and efficiency of the ryot : the divition of that produce on which his wages depend, is