1902 Encyclopedia > Bengal

Bengal




BENGAL (or, as it is often more precisely designated, i) " Lower Bengal"), the largest and most populous of the twelve local governments of British India, comprising the lower valleys and deltas of the Ganges and Brahmaputra, lies between 19° 18' and 28° 15' N. lat., and between 82° and 97° E. long. Excluding Assam, which was erected into a separate administration in February 1874, Bengal now in-cludes the four great provinces of Bengal Proper, Behar, Orissa, and Chhota or Chutia Nagpur ; and forms a Lieu-tenant-Governorship with an area of 203,473 square miles, and a population of 64,444,379 souls. Including Assam, which, until the spring of 1874, was a part of Bengal, the area was 248,231 square miles, and the population 66,856,859. This great lieutenant-governorship, excluding Assam, contains one-third of the total population of British India, and yields a revenue of £17,687,072, or over one-third of the aggregate revenues of the Indian empire. It is bounded on the N. by Assam, Bhutan, and Nepal; on the S. by Burmah, the Bay of Bengal, and Madras; on the W. by an imaginary line running between it and the adjoining lieutenant-governorship of the North-Western oProvinces, and by the plateau of the Central Provinces; and on the E. by the unexplored mountainous region which separates it from China and Northern Burmah. The terri-tory, thus hemmed in, except at its north-western angle, by the unchangeable land-marks of nature, consists chiefly of two broad river valleys. By the western one, the Ganges brings down the wealth and the accumulated waters of Northern India. The eastern valley forms the route by which the Brahmaputra, after draining the Thibetan pla-teau far to the north of the Himalayas, and parting round their passes not far from the Yangtse-Kiang and the great river of Cambodia, ends its boisterous journey of 1800 miles. These valleys, although for the most part luxuriant alluvial plains, are diversified by spurs and peaks thrown out from the great mountain systems which wall them in on the north-east and south-west. They teem with every product of nature, from the fierce beasts and irrepressible vegetation of the tropics, to the stunted barley which the hill-man rears, and the tiny furred animal which he hunts within sight of the unmelting snows. Tea, indigo, turmeric, lac, waving white fields of the opium-poppy, wheat and innumerable grains and pulses, pepper, ginger, betel-nut, quinine and many costly spices and drugs, oil-seeds of sorts, cotton, the silk mulberry, inexhaustible crops of jute and other fibres; timber, from the feathery bamboo and coronetted palm to the iron-hearted sal tree—in short, every vegetable product which feeds and clothes a people, and enables it to trade with foreign nations, abounds. Nor is the country destitute of mineral wealth. The districts near the sea consist entirely of alluvial formations; and, indeed, it is stated that no substance so coarse as gravel occurs throughout the Delta, or in the heart of the pro-vinces -within 400 miles of the river mouths. But amid the hilly spurs and undulations on either side, coal, and iron and copper ores, hold out a new future to Bengal, as capital increases under the influence of a stable government, and our knowledge of the country becomes more exact. The coal-fields on the west have for exactly a century been worked by English enterprise; in 1868 they yielded 664,933 tons, and more in the two following years. In the east, the coal measures of Assam, which province was separated from Bengal in 1874, still await the opening out of the country and improved facilities of transport. The climate varies from the snowy regions of the Himalayas to the tropical vapour-bath of the Delta and the burning winds of Behar. The ordinary range of the thermometer on the plains is from about 52° Fahr. in the coldest month to 103° in the shade in summer. Anything below 60° is considered very cold; and by care in the hot weather the temperature of well-built houses rarely exceeds 95°. The rainfall also varies greatly; from 500 to 600 inches per annum at Chara Punji (Cherra Pooujee) on the range between Silhet and Assam, to an average of about 37 inches in Behar, and about 65 inches on the Delta.
THE RIVERS.—But the secret of Bengal is its rivers. These untaxed highways bring down, almost by the motive power of their own current, the crops of Northern India to the sea-board,—an annual harvest of wealth to the trading classes, for which the population of the Lower Provinces neither toil nor spin. Lower Bengal, indeed, exhibits the two typical stages in the life of a great river. In the nor-thern districts the rivers, like our English ones, run along the valleys, receive the drainage from the country on either side, absorb broad tributaries, and rush forward with an ever increasing volume. But near the centre of the pro-vinces the rivers enter upon a new stage of their career. Their main channels bifurcate, and each new stream so created throws off its own set of distributaries to right and left. The country which they thus enclose and intersect forms the Delta of Bengal. Originally conquered by the fluvial deposits from the sea, it now stretches out as a vast dead level, in which the rivers find their velocity checked, and their current no longer able to carry along the silt which they have brought down from Northern India. The streams, accordingly, deposit their alluvial burden in their channels and upon their banks, so that by degrees their beds rise above the level of the surrounding country. In this way the rivers in the Delta slowly build themselves up into canals, which every autumn break through or over-flow their margins, and leave their silt upon the adjacent flats. Thousands of square miles in Lower Bengal annually receive a top-dressing of virgin soil, brought free of expense a quarter of a year's journey from the Himalayas,—a system of natural manuring which renders elaborate til-lage a mere waste of labour, and which defies the utmost power of over-cropping to exhaust its fertility. As the rivers creep further down the Delta, they become more and more sluggish, and their bifurcations and. interlacings more complicated. The last scene of all is a vast amphibious wilderness of swamp and forest, amid whose solitudes theii network of channels insensibly merges into the sea. Here the perennial struggle between earth and ocean goes on, and all the ancient secrets of land-making stand disclosed. The rivers, finally checked by the dead weight of the sea, deposit their remaining silt, which emerges as banks or blunted promontories, or, after a year's battling with the tide, adds a few feet or, it may be, a few inches to the fore-shore.
The Ganges, which enters on the western frontier, and runs diagonally across Bengal, gives to the country its peculiar character and aspect. About 200 miles from its mouth it spreads out into numerous branches, forming e, large delta, composed, where it borders on the sea, of a labyrinth of creeks and rivers, running through the dense forests of the Sundarbans, and exhibiting during the annual inundation the appearance of an immense sea. At this time the rice fields to the extent of many hundreds of square miles are submerged. The scene presents to a European eye a panorama of singular novelty and interest; —rice fields covered with water to a great depth; the

oars of grain floating on the surface; the stupendous embankments, which restrain, without altogether prevent-ing, the excesses of the inundations; and peasants in all quarters going out to their daily work with their cattle in canoes or on rafts. The navigable streams which fall into the Ganges intersect the country in every direction, and afford great facilities for internal communication. In many parts boats can approach by means of lakes, rivulets, and water-courses, to the door of almost every cottage. The lower region of the Ganges is the richest and most productive portion of Bengal, abounding in valuable pro-ducá. Another mighty river by which Bengal is intersected is the Brahmaputra, the source of whose remotest tributary is on the opposite side of the same mountains which give rise to the Ganges. These two rivers proceed in diverging courses until they are more than 1200 miles asunder ; and again approaching each other, intermix their waters before they reach the ocean. The other principal rivers in Bengal are the Ghagra, Son, Gandak, Kusi, Tistá; the Húglí (Hoogly), formed by the junction of the Bhágirathi aod Jalangi; and farther to the west, the Damodar and líúpná-ráyan ; and in the south-west, the Mahánadl, or great river of Orissa. In a level country like Bengal, where the soil is composed of yielding and loose materials, the courses of the rivers are continually shifting, from the wearing away of their different banks, or from the water being turned off by obstacles in its course into a different channel. As this channel is gradually widened the old bed of the river is left dry. The new channel into which the river flows is, of course, so much land lost, while the old bed con-stitutes an accession to the adjacent estates. Thus, one man's property is diminished, while that of another is enlarged or improved; and a distinct branch of jurisprud-ence has grown up, the particular province of which is the definition and regulation of the alluvial rights alike of private property and of the state.
THE PEOPLE.—Within the provinces under the Lieu-tenant-Governor of Bengal dwell a great congeries of peoples, of widely diverse origin, speaking different lan guages, and representing far separated eras of civilisation. They amounted in 1872 (including Assam, which then formed part of Bengal), to 66,850,859 souls, or over a million and a quarter more than the whole inhabitants of England and Wales, Sweden, Norway, Denmark (with J utland), Greece, and all the Ionian Islands, with the total white population, Indians and Chinese, of the United States. The problem of government in Bengal, however, is not one of numbers. It is intensified and infinitely complicated by the fact, that while this vast population is ruled by a single head, it consists of elements so dissimilar as to render it impracticable to place them under any one system of administration. They exhibit every stage of human progress, and every type of human enlightenment and superstition,—from the sceptical educated classes, represented by the Hindu gentleman who distinguishes himself at a London Inn of Court and harangues the British public in the Brighton Pavilion, or from a metro-politan platform, to the hill chieftain, who lately sacrificed an idiot on the top of a mountain to obtain a favourable decision in a Privy Council appeal. A large section of the people belongs to the august Aryan race, from which we ourselves descend, having a classical language more kin-dred to our own than those of the Welsh or Scottish Highlanders. We address the Deity and His earthly representatives, our father and mother, by words derived from roots common to the Christian and the Hindu. Nor does the religious instinct assume a wider variety of mani-festations, or exhibit a more striking series of metamor-phoses, among the European than among the Indian branches of the race. Theodore Parker and Comte are better known to the rising generation of Hindus in Bengal than any Sanskrit theologian. On the same bench of a Calcutta college sit youths trained up in the strictest theism, others indoctrinated in the mysteries of the Hindu trinity and pantheon, with representatives of every link in the chain of superstition—from the harmless offering of flowers before the family god to the cruel rites of Kali, whose altars in the most civilised districts of Bengal, as lately as the famine of 1866, were stained with human blood. Indeed, the very word Hindu is one of absolutely indeterminate meaning. The census officers employ it as a convenient generic to include 42J millions of the popu-lation of Bengal, comprising elements of transparently distinct ethnical origin, and separated from each other by their language, customs, and religious rites. But Hinduism, understood even in this wide sense, represents only one of many creeds and races found within Bengal The other great historical cultus, which, during the last twelve centuries, did for the Semitic peoples what Christianity accomplished among the European Aryans, has won to itself one-third of the whole population of Bengal. The Muhammadans exceed 20j millions of souls; and the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal is, so far as numbers go, as great a Musalruan power as the Sultan of Turkey himself. Amid the stupendous catastrophes of the seasons, the river inundations, famines, tidal waves, and cyclones of the lower provinces of Bengal, the religious instinct works with a vitality unknown in European countries, where the forces of nature have long yielded to the control of man. Until the British Government stepped in with its police, and canals, and railroads, between the people and what they were accustomed to consider the dealings of Providence, scarcely a year passed without some terrible manifestation of the power and the wrath of God. Marhatta invasions from Central India, piratical devastations on the sea-board, banditti who marched about the interior in bodies of 50,000 men, floods which drowned the harvests of whole districts, and droughts in which a third of the population starved to death, kept alive a sense of human powerlessness in the presence of an Omnipotent fate with an intensity which the homilies of a stipendiary clergy fail to awaken. Under the Muhammadans a pestilence turned the capital into a silent wilderness, never again to be re-peopled. Under our own rule, it is estimated that 10 millions perished within the Lower Provinces alone in the famine of 1769-70 ; and the first surveyor-general of Bengal entered on his maps a tract of many hundreds of square miles as bare of villages, and " depopulated by the Maghs."
POPULAR RELIGIONS.—The people of Bengal, thus con-stantly reminded by calamity of a mysterious Supreme Power, have always exhibited deep earnestness in their own modes of propitiating it, and a singular susceptibility to new forms of faith. Great tidal waves of religion have again and again swept over the provinces within even the brief period of the Christian era. Islam was one of many reformed creeds offered to them, and several circumstances combined to render its influence more widely spread and more permanent than that of its rivals. It was the creed of the governing power ; its missionaries were men of zeal, who spoke to the popular heart; it brought the good news of the unity of God and the equality of man to a priest-ridden and a caste-ridden people. Above all, the initiatory rite made relapse impossible, and rendered the convert and his posterity true believers for ever. Forcible conversions are occasionally recorded, with several well-known instances of Hindus becoming apostates from their ancient faith to purchase pardon for crimes. Such cases, however, were few in number, and belonged to the higher ranks. It would also appear that a Mughul adventurer now and then

circumcised off hand the villages allotted to him in fief. But it was not to such measures that Islam owed its per-manent success in Bengal. It appealed to the people, and it derived the great mass of its converts from among the poor. It brought in a truer conception of God, a nobler ideal of the life of man, and offered to the teeming low castes of Bengal, who had sat for ages despised and abject on the outermost pale of the Hindu community, free entrance into a new social organisation. So far as local tradition and the other fragmentary evidence which survives enable a modern inquirer to judge, the creed of Muhammad was here spread neither by violence nor by any ignoble means. It succeeded because it deserved to succeed. Nevertheless, it has conspicuously failed to alter the permanent religious conceptions of the people. The initiatory rite separated the Musalmans from the rest of the Bengali population, and elevated the heterogenous low-caste converts into a respectable community of their own. But the proselytes brought their old superstitions with them into their new faith. Their ancient rites and modes of religious thought reasserted themselves with an intensity that could not be suppressed, until the fierce white light of Semitic monotheism almost flickered out amid the fuligi-nous exhalations of Hinduism. A local writer, speaking from personal acquaintance with the Musalman peasantry in the northern districts of Lower Bengal, states that not one in ten can recite the brief and simple kalmd or creed, whose constant repetition is a matter of almost unconscious habit with Muhammadans. He describes them as " a sect which observes none of the ceremonies of its faith, which is ignorant of the simplest formulas of its creed, which worships at the shrines of a rival religion, and tenaciously adheres to practices which were denounced as the foulest abominations by its founder." Fifty years ago these sen-tences would have truly described the Muhammadan peasantry, not only in the northern districts, but through-out all Lower Bengal. In the cities, or amid the serene palace life of the Musalman nobility and their religious foundations, a few Maulvis of piety and learning calmly carried on the routine of their faith. But the masses of the rural Musalmans had relapsed into something little better than a mongrel breed of circumcised low-caste Hindus. Since then, one of those religious awakenings so character-istic of India has passed over the Muhammadans of Bengal. Itinerant preachers, generally from the north, have wandered from district to district, calling on the people to return to the true faith, and denouncing God's wrath on the indif-ferent and unrepentant. A great body of the Bengali Musalmans have purged themselves of the taint of Hinduism, and shaken off the yoke of ancient rural rites. The revival has had a threefold effect—religious, social, and political. It has stimulated the religious instinct among an impressionable people, and produced an earnest desire to cleanse the worship of God and His prophet from idolatry. This stern rejection of ancient superstitions has widened the gulf between the Muhammadans and the Hindus. Fifty years ago the Bengali MusalmAns were simply a recognised caste, less widely separated from the lower orders of the Hindus than the latter were from the Kulin Brahmans. There were certain essential points of difference, of a doctrinal sort, between the Hindu and Muhammadan villager; but they had a great many rural customs and even religious rites in common. The Muhammadan hus-bandman theoretically recognised the one Semitic God; but in a country subject to floods, famines, the devastations of banditti, and the ravages of wild beasts, he would have deemed it a simple policy to have neglected the Hindu festivals in honour of Krishna and Durga. The Bengali peasantry no longer look to their gods, but to the officer in charge of the district, for protection; and when he fails them, instead of offering expiatory sacrifices to Kali, they petition Government, or write violent letters to the verna-cular press. The reformed Muhammadan husbandmen now stand aloof from the village rites of the Hindus. They have ceased to be merely a separate caste in the rural or-ganisation, and have become a distinct community, keeping as much apart from their nominal co-religionists of the old unreformed faith as from the idolatrous Hindus. This social isolation from the surrounding Hindus is the second effect of the Musalman revival in Bengal. Its third result is political, and affects ourselves. A Muhammadan like a Christian revival strongly reasserts the duty of self-abnegation, and places a multitude of devoted instruments at the disposal of any man who can convince them that his schemes are identical with the will of God. But while a return to the primitive teachings of Christ means a return to a religion of humanity and love, a return to Muhammadan first principles means a return to a religion of intoler-ance and aggression. The very essence of Musalman Puritanism is abhorrence of the InfideL The whole conception of Islam is that of a church either actively militant or conclusively triumphant—forcibly converting the world, or ruling with a rod of iron the stiff-necked unbeliever. The actual state of India, where it is the Musalmans who are in subjection, and the unbeliever who governs them, is manifestly not in accord with the primitive ideal; and many devout Muhammadans of the reformed faith have of late years endeavoured, by plots and frontier attacks, to remove this anomaly. The majority are not actively hostile, but they stand aloof from our institutions, and refuse to coalesce with the system which the British Government has imposed on Bengal. Their rebel camp beyond our frontier has forced us into three expedi-tions, which has broken their military power; and the calm, inexorable action of the courts has stamped out the chronic abetment of rebellion by Muhammadans within Bengal.
Besides the 42J millions aggregated under the name of Hindus, and the 20 J millions of Musalmans, a great residue remains. These consist, with the exception of two very small bodies of Christians and Buddhists, of semi-aboriginal and distinctly non-Aryan races. They number over 3^ millions, equalling almost exactly the population of Scot-land. These peoples dwell, for the most part, among the lofty ranges and primeval forests which wall in Bengal on the north, east, and south-west, or upon the spurs and hilly outworks which these mountain systems have thrown forward upon the lowlands. Some of them represent the simplest types of social organisation known to modern research. Their rudimentary communities are separated by religion, custom, and language from each other and from the dwellers on the plains. Many of them, till lately, looked upon war as the normal condition of human society, and on peace as an unwelcome temporary break in their existence. For ages they have regarded the lowland Hindus as their natural enemies, and in turn have been dealt with as beast3 of chase by the more civilised inhabi-tants of the valleys. Within the present generation human sacrifice continued to be an obligatory rite among them— a rite so deeply graven upon their village institutions, and so essential to the annually recurring festivals of their religious year, as to seriously occupy the Indian legis-lature, and to require a special agency to suppress it. To this day instances of the detestable practice occur; and their extreme jealousy of anything like foreign rule renders it the wisest policy to leave them as much as possible under their own hamlet communities and petty chiefs. Nevertheless, they form the most hopeful, ma-terial yet discovered in Bengal for the humanising in-fluences of Christianity, and of that higher level of

morality and religious hope which Christian missions represent.
GOVERNMENT.—Nor are the diversities in race and reli-gion among the 66f millions of-. Bengal less marked than their different capacities for self-government, and the vary-ing degrees to which they can be subjected to administrative control. They exhibit every stage of political develop-ment, from the great municipality based upon English models, with powers of self-taxation and a public .debt of its own, down to the primitive hill-hamlet, which pays no rent, acknowledges no higher tenure than the aboriginal one of priority of occupation, clings to its ancient system of nomadic husbandry, and is scarcely aware of any power superior to that of its own tribe fathers. Including Assam, which up to February 1874 formed a part of Bengal, the territories under the Lieutenant-Governor consist of five great provinces, each of which speaks a language of its own, and has a separate political and ethnical history. For administrative purposes these five provinces are divided into 58 districts, of which 36 are regulation districts, whose advanced state has rendered it expedient to place them under the complete system of Anglo-Indian law; while 22 are non-regulation districts, in which this has not yet been found practicable. The latter contain territories of three distinct classes. The first of them consists, for the most part, of newly-acquired territory, to which the general regulations have never been extended in their entirety. The second, of tracts inhabited by primitive races specially exempted from the operation of the regulations, to whom a less formal code of law is better adapted. The third, of semi-independent or tributary states, administered, or partly administered by British officers. The management of the whole is firmly concentrated in a single man, the Lieu-tenant-Governor of Bengal, who is answerable to the Govern-ment of India, and through it to Her Majesty's ministers and Parliament. His responsibility is divided by no executive council, as in Madras or Bombay. All orders issue through his secretaries in his own name; and although his policy is subject to the watchful control of the Govern-ment of India, represented by the Viceroy, yet to the Lieutenant-Governor personally belongs the reputation or disgrace of a successful or an inglorious administration. In making laws for his people he is assisted by a legislative council, composed partly of his principal officers, partly of leading members of the non-official European and Native communities. In his legislative, as in his executive func-tions, a power of control, amounting if needful to veto, rests with the Government of India—a power which, from the English talent for harmonious proconsular rule, is very seldom exercised. The administration is conducted by a body of covenanted civilians, supplemented by a few military officers in the less civilised districts, and aided by a staff of subordinate officials. The civilians are appointed direct from England, enter into a bond with the Secretary of State, and give securities for the discharge of their highly responsible duties. In 1871 they numbered 260 men. The military officers belong to the staff corps of the Bengal army, and are employed to the number of 52 in the backward tracts, which do not require so exact an administration, and cannot'afford to pay for the cost of it. The subordinate district officials are appointed in Bengal by the Lieutenant-Governor, and consist chiefly of natives and Anglo-Indians; but several departments, such as the educational, telegraph, and public works, are now officered to a certain extent by gentlemen engaged direct from England The revenues raised in the territories under the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal amounted in 1871-72 to £17,687,072. Of this sum, £16,713,636 accrued from 'he imperial taxes laid on by the Government of India, an1! £973,436, from provincial, municipal, and rural taxa-

tion. The total cost of government was only £6,338,968, leaving a surplus from this single one of the Indian local governments of £11,348,104. It is scarcely too much to say, that so long as the British power retains the port of Calcutta and the rich provinces under the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, it would have sufficient revenue to effect the reconquest of India if any accident should happen in the Panjab or north-west. The vast income which the Lower Provinces yield is not altogether derived from their people. China pays an annual tribute of over 5 millions in the shape of opium duty, and the inland parts of India contribute about a third of a million to the customs of Bengal. Taking the total thus obtained from other terri-tories at a little over 6 millions, the population under the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal pays, in round figures, 11 \ millions a year, or about 3s. 5d. a head. This includes imperial, provincial, municipal, and rural taxation of every sort.


The return which the Government gives for this light taxation may be briefly summed up as follows :—It assures to the provinces absolute protection from foreign enemies. The army employed in the territories under the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal numbers only 11,554 officers and men, exclusive of a detachment- of Madras Native infantry stationed at Cattack, in Orissa, and numbering about 600 men—making a gross total of troops in Bengal of about 12,000 men. Of this small force 4662 are massed in Calcutta and its environs, with a view to their proximity to the sea-board, rather than with an eye to the internal requirements of the country ; 6892 guard the frontiers, with detachments on the line of railway, which now form8 the great highway of Bengal; a detachment of about 600 effective troops of the Madras Native infantry is stationed in Orissa. Taking 12,000 as the total military force stationed in Bengal, 3000 consist of European troops and English officers, and 9000 of Native officers and men. The Government is a purely civil one, the existence of any armed force being less realised than in the quietest county of England; and of the 66| millions of people under the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, probably 40 millions go through life without once seeing the gleam of a bayonet or the face of a soldier. Internal order and protection to person and property are secured by a large army of police. This force consists of two elements : a regular constabulary introduced by the English Government, numbering 33,913 men in 1871, and costing £584,059 to the state; and aa indigenous police developed out of the rural watch of the ancient Hindu commonwealth, numbering 184,645 men, and costing £435,336 a year, paid by grants of land, or by the villages and landowners. The total number of the Bengal police amounts therefore to 217,558, or one man to every 307 of the population; and, excluding uninhabited swamps and hill jungles, about one policeman to each square mile of area. This minute supervision costs just over a million sterling a year, being at the rate of £4, 2s. l|d. per square mile, or 3Jd. per head of the population.
A great system of state education has been rapidly developed since 1854. In 1871-72 the Government and aided schools numbered 4383, with 7292 teachers, and 163,280 pupils,—maintained at a total cost of £194,716, of which Government contributed rather under one-half, or £89,649. The total annual cost of education per pupil was £1,12s. 9d., of which Government bore under one-half, or 15s.; the remainder being obtained from school fees, local subscriptions, &c. Besides those, there were 10,907 ascertained schools not receiving aid from the state, with 11,026 teachers, and 169,917 pupils. In addition to these, there is a vast number of petty hedge schools in Bengal, of which no statistics exist. The total of state and ascertaintd


private schools in 1871, was 15,290, with 18,318 teachers, and 333,197 pupils.
The cheapness of labour, as compared with European countries, enables the Government to perform its other functions at an equally small cost. It has brought courts very near to the door of the peasant, and established a eystem of registration by which proprietary rights and transfers are cheaply and absolutely ascertained. A great department of public works has spread a network of roads over the country, connecting Bengal by railways with other parts of India, and, in districts which specially require it, is endeavouring to exercise some degree of control over the rivers and the natural water-supply, on which the safety of a tropical people depends. An organised system of emigration watches over the movements of the landless classes, from the overcrowded or unfertile districts of the west to the rich under-populated territories on the east, and to colonies beyond the seas. Charitable dispensaries and a well-equipped medical department struggle to com-bat the diseases and epidemics which from time imme-morial have devastated the Delta, and place the opera-tions of European surgery within the reach of the poorest peasant. The whole cost of civil administration for the 66| millions of Bengal amounts, as already stated, to £6,338,968, or under Is. lid. per head. An unfet-tered vernacular press makes known the views of the people to their rulers, and municipal institutions are developing the ancient Hindu capacity for self-govern-ment from the village to the municipal stage of human society.
LOCAL DIVISIONS.—The following table exhibits the four provinces at present under the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, along with Assam, which until February 1874 was within it.

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The word BENGAL is derived from Sanskrit geography, and applies strictly to the country stretching south-wards from Bhagalpur to the sea. The ancient Banga formed one of the five outlying kingdoms of Aryan India, and was practically conterminous with the Delta of Bengal. It derived its name, according to the etymo-logy of the Pandits, from a prince of the MahAbharata, to whose portion it fell on the primitive partition of the country among the Lunar race of Dehli. But a city called Bangala, near Chittagong, which, although now washed away, is supposed to have existed in the Muhammadan period, appears to have given the name to the European world. The word Bangala was first used by the Musal-mans ; and under their rule, like the Banga of old Sanskrit times, it applied specifically to the Gangetic delta, although the latter conquests to the east of the Brahmaputra were eventually included within it. In their distribution of the country for fiscal purposes, it formed the central province of a governorship, with Behar on the N.W., and Orissa on the S.W., jointly ruled by one deputy of the Dehli emperor. Under the English the name has at different periods borne very different significations. Francis Fernandez applies it to the country from the extreme east of Chittagong to Point Palmyras in Orissa, with a coast line which Purchas esti-mates at 600 miles, running inland for the same distance, and watered by the Ganges. This territory would include the Muhammadan province of Bengal, with parts of Behar and Orissa. The loose idea thus derived from old voyagers became stereotyped in the archives of the East India Com-pany. All its north-eastern factories, from Balasor, on the Orissa coast, to Patna, in the heart of Behar, belonged to the " Bengal Establishment," and as our conquests crept higher up the rivers, the term came to be applied to the whole of Northern India. The Presidency of Bengal, in contradistinction to those of Madras and Bombay, eventu-ally included all the British territories north of the Central Provinces, from the mouths of the Ganges and Brahmaputra to the Himalayas and the Panjab. The term Bengal con-tinues to be officially employed in this sense by the military department of the Government of India. But during the last forty years the tendency to a more exact order of civil administration has gradually brought about a corresponding precision in the use of Indian geographical names. The North-Western Provinces date their separate existence from 1831. Since that year they stand forward under a name of their own as the North-Western Provinces, in contra-distinction to the Lower Provinces of Bengal. Later annexations have added new territorial entities, and the northern Presidency is now mapped out into four separate governments—the North-Western Provinces, Oudh, Panjab, and Lower Bengal. Three of the provinces of the present Lieutenant-Governorship of Bengal—namely, Bengal proper, Behar, and Orissa—consist of great river valleys ; the fourth, Chhota or Chutia Nagpur, is a mountainous region which separates them from the Central India plateau. Orissa embraces the rich deltas of the Mahanadf and the neigh-bouring rivers, bounded by the Bay of Bengal on the S.E., and walled in on the N.W. by tributary hill states. Pro-ceeding westward, the province of Bengal proper stretches along the coast from Orissa to British Burmah, and inland from the sea-board to the Himalayas. Its southern por-tion is formed by the united deltas of the Ganges and Brahmaputra; its northern consists of the valleys of these great rivers and their tributaries. Behar lies on the north-west of Bengal proper, and comprises the higher valley of the Ganges, from the spot where it issues from the territories of the Lieutenant-Governor of the North-Western Provinces. Between Behar and Orissa, but stretching further westward and deep into the hill country, lies the province of Chhota or Chutia Nagpur.
ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISIONS.—For administrative pur-poses, the Lieutenant-Governorship of Bengal, excluding the recently separated province of ASSAM (see under that heading), is divided into 47 districts. The details of the area and population of these, presented in the following table, are taken, with few exceptions, from the census returns of 1872 :—

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PRINCIPAL CROPS.—The chief products of the province have been already enumerated. The great staple crop is rice, of which there are three harvests in the year,—the boro, or spring rice; dus, or autumn rice; and dman, or winter rice. Of these the last or winter rice is by far the most extensively cultivated, and forms the great harvest of the year. The dman crop is grown on low land. In May, after the first fall of rain, a nursery ground is ploughed three times, and the seed scattered broadcast. When the seed-lings make their appearance another field is prepared for transplanting. By this time the rainy season has thoroughly set in, and the field is dammed up so as to retain the water. It is then repeatedly ploughed until the water becomes worked into the soil, and the whole reduced to thick mud. The young rice is then taken from the nursery, and trans-planted in rows about 9 inches apart. If, by reason of the backwardness of the season, the nursery ground cannot be prepared by the sowing-time in April or May, the aman rice is not transplanted at all In such a case the husband-men in July or August soak the paddy in water for one day to germinate, and plant the germinated seed not in a nursery plot, but in the larger fields, which they would otherwise have used to transplant the sprouts into. It is very seldom, however, that this procedure is found neces-sary, Aman rice is much more extensively cultivated than dus, and in favourable years is the most valuable crop, but being sown in low lands is liable to be destroyed by exces-siva rainfall Harvest takes place in December or January. A us rice is generally sown on high ground. The field is ploughed when the early rains set in, ten or twelve times over, till the soil is reduced nearly to dust, the seed being sown broadcast in April or May. As soon as the young plants reach 6 inches in height, the land is harrowed for the purpose of thinning the crop and to clear it of weeds. The crop is harvested in August or September. Boro, or spring rice, is cultivated on low marshy land, being sown in a nursery in October, transplanted a month later, and harvested in March and April. An indigenous description of rice, called uri or jaradhdn, grows in certain marshy tracts. The grain is very small, and is gathered for con-sumption only by the poorest. No tabulated statistics of cultivation exist; but in 1872-73 the quantity of rice exported from Bengal to foreign ports amounted to 288,955 tons, of the value of £1,685,170. Oil-seeds are very largely grown over the whole of Bengal, particularly in the Behar and Assam districts. The principal oil-seeds are sarisha (mustard), til (sesamum), and tisi, or masina (linseed). Exports of oil-seeds are principally confined to linseed, of which 107,723 tons were exported in 1872-73, of the value of £1,077,348. Jute (pal or kosta) now forms a very important commercial staple of Bengal. The cultivation of this crop has rapidly increased of late years. Its prin-cipal seat of cultivation is Eastern Bengal, where the sup-perior varieties are grown. The crop grows on either high or low lands, is sown in April, and cut in August. In 1872 the area under jute cultivation in Bengal was estimated at 925,899 acres, and the yield at 496,703 tons. Jute exports from Bengal amounted in 1872-73 to 353,097 tons, value £4,127,943. Jute manufactures, in the shape of gunny bags, cloth, rope, <fec, were also exported to the value of £187,149. Indigo cultivation and manufacture is princi-pally carried on with European capital. In Bengal proper the industry has languished of late years, and the area under indigo cultivation greatly fallen off. In Behar, on the other hand, the area of indigo lands has increased. The annual out-turn for all Bengalis estimated at about 75,000 maunds, valued at nearly two millions sterling. Two crops of indigo are raised in the year : one sown in April or May before the setting in of the rains, and cut in August or September; the other sown in October as the waters subside, and cut in the following July. The crop of 1872 was considerably above the average, the total exports amounting to 5962 tons, of the value of £2,704,080. Tea cultivation is the other great industry carried on by Euro-pean capital. The cultivation is principally confined to Assam, which province was recently separated from the Lieutenant-Governorship, and to the northern Bengal dis-trict of Darjiling. In the other localities in which tea is grown, Chhota Nagpur and Chittagong, cultivation is at present only carried on on a small scale. Tea cultivation has enormously extended of late years, and the gardens are, as a general rule, well filled with plants, highly cultivated and carefully managed. Including Assam, the total area held under the Waste Land Rides by persons connected with the tea industry, amounted in 1872 to 804,582 acres. Of this area 70,341 acres are returned as actually cultivated with tea, but this is probably too low an estimate. The exports of tea in 1872-73 amounted to 17,641,070 R>, valued at £1,567,561. Besides what is exported, there is an increasing local consumption of Indian tea. In 1860 the total out-turn of tea did not exceed one million lb. The cultivation of opium is a Government monopoly; no person is allowed to grow the poppy except on account of the Government. The manufacture is carried on at two separate agencies,—that of Benares in the North-Western Provinces, of which the head station is at Ghazipur; and that of Behar, with its head station at Patna. Annua! engagements are entered into by the cultivators, under a system of pecuniary advances, to sow a certain quantity of land with poppy, and the whole produce in the form of opium is delivered to Government at a fixed rate. The area under poppy cultivation in the Behar agency, situated entirely within Bengal, in 1872, amounted to 330,925 acres; in the Benares agency to 229,430 acres, total, 560,355 acres. The number of chests of opium sold at the Government sales in Calcutta in 1872, was 42,675, the amount realised was £6,067,701, and the net revenue, £4,259,376. The cultivation of the cinchona plant in Bengal was introduced as an experiment about 1862, in a valley of the Himalayas in Darjiling district, and the enter-prise has already attained a point which promises success. There are now (1874) about 2000 acres of Government cinchona plantations in Darjiling.
MINERAL PRODUCTS.—A brief statement has already been given of the principal minerals of Bengal. The coal mines of Raniganj, within Bardwan district, however, demand somewhat more special notice. In this field there were, in 1872, altogether 44 mines worked, of which 19 turn out more than 10,000 tons of coal per annum apiece. In the larger and better mines, coal is raised by steam power from pits and galleries; and in the smaller mines or work-ings, by hand labour from open quarries. In the Raniganj coal-field alone, 61 steam engines, with an aggregate of 867 horse-power, are at work. Only one seam or set of seams of less thickness than 8J feet is worked, and the average thickness of the seams at the Raniganj mines is about 15 or 16 feet. The pits are mostly shallow, very few are more than 150 feet deep. The Bengal Coal Company, with its mines at Raniganj and westwards, is able to raise from them 220,000 tons of coal annually. Salt manufacture was formerly a Government monopoly, principally carried on along the sea-coast of Orissa and in Midnapur district. An account of the manufacture of salt by means of evapora-tion by fire is given in the account of BALASOR (q.v.) The process of manufacture by means of solar evaporation will be described in the account of PURI district. Government abandoned its monopoly of salt manufacture many years ago, and it is now carried on by private parties on their own account, subject to a Government duty in Bengal of 8s. 8d. a cwt. levied at the place of production. Salt duties

vary in different parts of India, necessitating the main-tenance of expensive and cumbrous customs lines. This year (1874) an attempt has been made towards the abolition of the Orissa customs line, by means of a graduated scale of salt duty within Orissa, rising by degrees from the Madras duty of 4s. lOd. a cwt. in the extreme south of the province, to the Bengal duty of 8s. 8d. a cwt. in the extreme north. At the present day the greater quantity of salt consumed in Bengal is imported by Liverpool ships from the Cheshire mines. In 1872 the Bengal salt duty yielded a net revenue of £2,610,286.
TRADE.— NO complete statistics of the internal trade of Bengal exist. The Ganges, the Brahmaputra, and on a much smaller scale, the Mahanadi in Orissa, with the Eastern Bengal Railway and the great East Indian Line, form the main arteries of commerce. From these main channels a network of minor streams, and a fairly adequate although not yet complete syetem of raised roads, radiate to the remotest districts. The chief articles of internal traffic are the vegetable and mineral productions enumerated above. The larger transactions of commerce are conducted in the great cities, such as Calcutta and Patna, and in a number of purely market centres, such as Nawabganj and Sirajganj, which have recently grown up under British rule. The smaller operations of trade are effected by means of village markets and countless hats or open air weekly bazars in every district. The external trade of Bengal is practi-cally confined to Calcutta. There are about ten other ports on the Bay of Bengal, the most important of which is the rice port of Chittagong. But for general purposes the foreign and interportal commerce of Calcutta may be taken to re-present that of the province. In 1871-72 it stood thus : exports from Calcutta, £32,771,152; imports, £21,365,677; total, £54,136,829. The chief articles of export are rice, opium, indigo, jute, tea, oil-seeds, silk, cotton, and fibres. Chief imports, Manchester goods, wooUens, salt, coal, iron, metals, liquors, and oilmen's stores.
HISTORY.—The history of so large a province as Bengal forms an integral part of the general history of India. (See INDIA.) The northern part, Behar, formed a powerful kingdom in Sanskrit times, and its chief town, Patna, is identified as the Palxbothra of the Greeks. The Delta or southern part of Bengal lay beyond the ancient Sanskrit polity, and was governed by a number of local kings belonging to a pre-Aryan stock. The Chinese travellers, Fa Hiang in the 5th century, and Hiouen Thsang in the 7th century, found the Buddhist religion prevailing through-out Bengal, but already in a fierce struggle with Hinduism— a struggle which ended about the 9th or 10th century in the general establishment of the latter faith. Until the end of the 12th century Hindu princes governed in a number of petty principalities, till, in 1199, Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khilji was appointed to lead the first Musalman invasion into BengaL The Muhammadan conquest of Behar dates from 1200 A.D., and the new power speedily spread south-wards into the Delta. From about this date until 1340 Bengal was ruled by governors appointed by the Muham-madan emperors in the north. From 1340 to 1539 its governors asserted a precarious independence, and arrogated the position of sovereigns on their own account. From 1540 to 1576 Bengal passed under the rule of the Pathan or Afghan dynasty, which commonly bears the name of Sher Shah. On the overthrow of this house by the power-ful arms of Akbar, Bengal was incorporated into the Mughul empire, and administered by governors appointed by the Dehli emperor, until the treaties of 1765, which placed Bengal, Behar, and Orissa under the administration of the East India Company. Until 1854 Bengal remained under the Governor-General of India as governor, his place being supplied, during his absence in other parts of India,

== TABLE ==

FIFTH PERIOD
Governors of Bengal and Governors-General of India under the East India Company, 1765-1854. 1765, Lord Clive; 1767, Harry Verelst; 1769, John Carrier; 1772, Warren Hastings; 1785, Sir John Macpherson; 1786, Marquis Cornwallis; 1793, Sir John Shore (Lord Teignmouth) ; 1798, Sir Alured Clarke (pro. tern.) ; 1798, Marquis Wellesley ; 1805, Marquis Cornwallis ; 1806, Earl of Minto ; 1813, Marquis of Hastings ; 1823, John Adam (pro. tern.); 1823, Earl Amherst: 1828, Lord William Cavendish Bentinck; 1835, Sir Charles Metcalf; 1836, Earl Auckland; 1842, Earl of Ellenborough ; 1844, Viscount Hardinge ; 1848, Marquis of Dalhousie.


SIXTH PERIOD. Bengal under Lieutenant-Governors, 1854-1874.
Sir Frederic Halliday ; Sir John Peter Grant; Sir Cecil Beadon ; Sir William Grey; Sir George Campbell; Sir Richard Temple.
English connection with Bengal.—The East India Com-pany formed its earliest settlements in Bengal in the first half of the 17th century. These settlements were of a purely commercial character. In 1620 one of the Company's factors dates from Patna; in 1624-36 the Company estab-lished itself, by the favour of the emperor, on the ruins of the ancient Portuguese settlement of Pippli, in the north of Orissa ; in 1640-42 the patriotism of an English sur-geon, Mr Gabriel Boughton, obtained for us establishments at Balasor, also in Orissa, and at Hugli, some miles above Calcutta. The vexations and extortions to which the Company's early agents were subjected more than once almost induced them to abandon the trade, and in 1677-78 they threatened to withdraw from Bengal altogether. In 1685, the Bengal factors, driven to extremity by the oppression of the Mughul governors, threw down the gauntlet; and after various successes and hair-breadth escapes, purchased from the grandson of Aurangzeb in 1696, the villages which have since grown up into Calcutta, the metropolis of India During the next fifty years the English had a long and hazardous struggle alike with the Mughul governors of the province and the Marhatta armies which invaded it. In 1756 this struggle culminated in the great outrage known as the Black Hole of Calcutta, followed by Clive's battle of Plassey and capture of Calcutta, which avenged it. That battle, and the subse-quent years of confused fighting, established our military supremacy in Bengal, and procured the treaties of 1765, by which the provinces of Bengal, Behar, and Orissa passed under our administration. To Warren Hastings (1772-85) belongs the glory of consolidating our power, and convert-ing a military occupation into a stable civil government. To another member of the civil service, John Shore, after-wards Lord Teignmonth (1786-93), is due the formation of a regular system of Anglo-Indian legislation. Acting through Lord Cornwallis, then Governor-General, he ascer-tained and defined the rights of the landholders in the soil. These landholders under the native system had, for the most part, started as collectors of the revenues, and gradu-ally acquired certain prescriptive rights as quasi-proprietórs of the estates entrusted to them by the Government. In 1793 Lord Cornwallis declared their rights perpetual, and made over the land of Bengal to the previous quasi-proprie-tors or zaminddrs, on condition of the payment of a fixed land tax. This great piece of legislation is known as the Permanent Settlement of the Land Revenue. But the Cornwallis code, while defining the rights of the proprie-tors, failed to give adequate recognition to the rights of the under-tenants and the cultivators. His Regulations formally reserved the latter class of rights, but did not legally define them, or enable the husbandmen to enforce them in the courts. After half a century of rural disquiet, the rights of the cultivators were at length carefully formulated by Act X. of 1859. This measure, now known as the land law of Bengal, effected for the rights of the under-holders and cultivators what the Cornwallis code in 1793 had effected for those of the superior landholders. The status of each class of person interested in the soil, from the Government as suzerain, through the zaminddrs or superior landholders, the intermediate tenure-holders, and the under-tenants, down to the actual cultivator, is now clearly defined. The Act dates from the first year after the transfer of India from the Company to the Crown; for, meanwhile, the mutiny had burst out in 1857. The trans-actions of that revolt chiefly took place in Northern India, and will be found under the article on the North-Western Provinces; the uprising, although fierce and for a time perilous to our supremacy, was quickly put down. In Bengal it began at BARRACKPUR (q.v.), was communicated to Dacca in Eastern Bengal, and for a time raged in Behar, producing the memorable defence of the billiard-room at Arrah by a handful of civilians and Sikhs,—one of the most splendid pieces of gallantry in the history-of the British arms. Since 1858, when the country passed to the Crown, the history of Bengal has been one of steady and peaceful progress. The two great lines of railway, the East Indian and the Eastern Bengal, have been completed; and a third, the Northern Bengal Railway, is now in progress. Trade has enormously expanded; new centres of commerce.have sprung up in spots which not long ago were eilent jungles; new staples of trade, such as tea and jute, have rapidly attained importance; and the coal-fields and iron ores are beginning to open up prospects of a new and splendid era in the internal development of the country.
The best acconnt of Bengal as at present constituted is to 1»
found in the administration reports of Sir George Campbell, K. C. S. I ,
when lieutenant-governor of Bengal, in 1871-72 and 1872-73.
These reports are of an official character, and embody the results of
the census of 1872. Among non-official works Colonel Dalton'a
great volume on The Ethnology of Bengal holds a conspicuous place.
This splendid quarto condenses the personal observations of a long
career spent among the people. Stewart's History of Bengal, a work
which was admirable when first published, is now fifty years out of
date, and stands in much need of re-editing. The journals of the
Asiatic societies in London, Paris, and especially Calcutta, are still
the great storehouses for original research. The Calcutta Review
contains many valuable articles, which the index to its first fifty
volumes renders easily available. The present writer has endea-
voured in his Annals of Rural Bengal, and in his two volumes on
Orissa; or, the Vicissitudes of an Indian Province under Native and
British Rule, to present to the general reader the result of his re-
searches with regard to this part of India. (W. W. H.)




Footnotes

1 The census of the Duars of Jalpaiguri was taken in 1869-70, at the time of the land settlement, and the details of the population, according to religion, were not ascertained for this part of the district. The details, therefore, do not agree with the total population. 8 Census taken at the time of settlement. Details not ascertained.
s This area is exclusive of 5341 square miles of unsurveyed Sundarbans, and one or two minor tracts; total area of all Bengal, 203,473 square miles.











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