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state of internal hostility became habitual. • Every village, says Colonel Malcolm, has become an object of dispute ; and • there are few, if any, in the Penjáb, the rule of which is not « contested between brothers or near relations.
It is however remarkable, that notwithstanding this state of disunion, there exists a species of federal connexion among the Sikhs, and a sort of general government to which they all profess obedience. It is denominated the Khalsa, a word which is understood to have a mystical import, and to denote that sacred institution which was appointed by Guru Govind, and to which it is the civil and religious duty of every Sikh to conform. A great national council, called Gúrú-matả, is the principal organ. Of this every chief is a member; and it is understood to have a supreme authority over the federal body. The chiefs, however, take care that it shall not be often convened. It is only intended to act in times of great national emergency, when the united councils and arms of the nation are required. It is always held at Amritsar, where it is summoned and arranged by a set of religious devotees, called Alkalis, who have a great influence on its resolves. It is supposed to act under the immediate inspiration of the Divine Being; and a federative chief, or head, who denominates himself the servant of the Khalsa, may be regarded as its executive organ. It was natural, however, that the power of this assembly should decline ; and from what we are told by Colonel Malcolm we may infer, that it is nearly destroyed. The last Guru-mata was called in 1805, when the British army pursued Holkar into the Penjab.
• It was summoned to decide on those means by which they could best avert the danger by which their country was threatened, from the presence of the English and Mhahratta armies. But it was ata tended by few chiefs: and most of the absentees, who had any power, were bold and forward in their offers to resist every resolution to which this council might come. The intrigues and negotiations of all appeared, indeed, at this moment, to be entirely directed to objects of personal resentment, or personal aggrandizement; and every shadow of that concord, which once formed the strength of the Sikh nation, seemed to be extinguished.'
Under the numerous petty sovereigns of the Sikh nation, • who are all descended from Hindu tribes, there being no in
stance of a Singh of a Muhamedan family attaining high * power,' the people may be considered as consisting chiefly of two classes; the cultivators of the ground, and soldiers.
According to the system of revenue which is established in the country, and on which the condition of the husbandman depends, one-half of the produce of the soil is held to belong to the severeign, the other to the cultivator ; ' but the chief never
• levies the whole of his share': and in no conntry, perhaps, is • the rayat, or cultivator, treated with more indulgence.' The division of the country, which by oceasioning internal wars is the cause of other calamities, is in one respect favourable to the body of the people ; as it enables them to abandon the territory of a chief whom they dislike, and speedily to find protection under the government of another. As the revenue of sovereigns, who derive their income from the soil, is immediately affected by a dimination of cultivators, a sort of competition is excited among the chiefs, to excel in that species of conduct which is best calculated to ensure their residence. Hence an appearance of attention and conciliation from the chief towards his followers, and an air of considerable independence in the people, is generally visible among the Sikhs. The same cause produced similar effects among the Hindus ; and accounts for the care of the ryet which their maxims of policy enjoin.
The peculiar disciples of the martial patriarch, Guru Govind, to whom he gave the name of Singh, or lion, are all devoted to arms, though not all soldiers. They are all horsemen. The Sikhs have no infantry, except for the defence of forts and villages. They have the Hindu cast of countenance, all the activity of the Mharattas, and far greater strength of body, from a more plentiful diet, and a more cool and salubrious climate. They are bold, snd somewhat rough in their address. Their courage, Colonel Malcolm represents as equal to that of any natives of India ; -- when wrought upon by prejudice or reli• ligion, quite desperate.' They use swords and spears ; and most of them now carry match-locks; though the bow and arrow, in which they anciently excelled, are not yet entirely abandoned. Their horses are not of a superior description to those of the Mharattas; but both they and their riders are capable of enduring great privations and fatigne.
Of the moral character of the Sikhs, our author speaks in very favourable terms.
• The Sikhs,' he says, have been reputed deceitful and cruel ; but I know no grounds upon which they can be considered more so than the other tribes of India. They seemed to me, from all the intercourse I had with them, to be more open and sincere than the Mharattas, and less rude and savage than the Afghans. They were indeed become, from national success, too proud of their own strength, and too irritable in their tempers, to have patience for the wiles of the former ;-and they retain, in spite of their change of manners and religion, too much of the original character of their Hindu ancestors, to have the constitutional ferocity of the latter. The Sikh soldier is, generally speaking, brave, active, and cheerful-without polish, but destitute neither of sincerity nor attachment. And if he
often appears wanting in humanity, it is not so much to be attributed to his national character, as to the habits of a life which, from the condition of the society in which he is born, is generally passed in scenes of violence and rapine. The kh merchant, or the culti. vator, if he is a Singh, or follower of Guru Govind, differs little in character from the soldier, except that his occupation renders him less presuming and boisterous. He also wears arms; and is, from education, prompt to use them, whenever his individual interest, or that of the community in which he lives, requires him.'
They despise luxury, and pride themselves in the coarseness of their fare. But in the indulgence of their sexual passions, they are accused of great libertinism and debauchery.
Beside the followers of Guru Govind, a portion it appears of the Sikhs profess to hold exclusively the doctrines of the original founder of the sect, and are exempted from the exercise of arms. The civil officers, our author says, to whom the chiefs intrust their accounts, the management of their property, their revenue concerns, and the conduct of their negociations, are in general of this description of the Kalasa caste, followers of Nanac, and educated solely for peaceful occupations, in which they often become very expert and intelligent.
« Their character differs widely from that of the Singhs. Full of intrigue, pliant, versatile and insinuating, they have all the art of the lower classes of Hindus, who are usually employed in transacting business ; from whom indeed, as they have no distinction of dress, it is very difficult to distinguish them.'
Their law is all unwritten. Nothing is consigned to any express form of words. There is no definition of any thing. The custom of the country, the custom of the court, (that is to say, as far as the judge is pleased to be governed by those customs), and the will of the judge-are the circumstances which guide the decision. Ainong the Hindus, some of the sacred books, among the Mohamedans the Khoran, are used as the books of law. Among the Sikhs there is no such reference to any sacred books; and their situation is, in all probability, so much the better :--for the Koran or Hindu books, afford scarcely any rules or principles of law, which are not so vague as to speak any language which the interpreter chuses to give them; and while their authority is sufficient to supersede that of the natural dictates of justice and equity, which are the only guides of the Sikh Judges,--the Hindu or Mahomedan has only to find or to feign a principle of his book, which may enable him to decide as he pleases.
According to the general practice of rude nations, among whom the sovereign is also the judge, the chiefs or petty kings
of the Sikhs administer justice in person. The heads of vilJages are also vested with judicial power: And there is a species of arbitration court, called Penchayat, or court of five, which is known in every part of India, under the native governments; and as it is generally formed of the men of the best reputation in the place, is in high esteem. In disputes of property, the litigants may chuse to which of these tribunals they will apply; but their decisions are final. No complication is added to these disputes, nor is their settlement retarded, by multiplied forms, and the interests of lawyers. The parties meet in the presence of the judge, represent their own cases, produce their witnesses, and the decision is pronounced. • A • Sikh priest,' says Sir John Malcolm, who has been several
years in Calcutta, gave this outline of the administration of justice among his countrymen. He spoke of it with rapture ; • and insisted, with true patriotic prejudice, on its great supe• riority over the vexatious system of the English government; • which was, he said, tedious, vexatious, and expensive; and • advantageous only to clever rogues.' The worthy Sikh, we doubt not, had his prejudices;--but he seems to us to have been a very sensible person,
Art. X. Memoirs of the Private and Public Life of William
Penn. By Thomas Clarkson, M. A. 8vo. 2 vol. pp. 1020, London. 1813.
It is impossible to look into any of Mr Clarkson's books, with
out feeling that he is an excellent man—and a very bad writer. Many of the defects of his composition, indeed, seem to be directly referable to the amiableness of his disposition.An earnestness for truth and virtue, that does not allow him to waste any thought upon the ornaments by which they may be recommended--and a simplicity of character which is not aware that what is substantially respectable may be made dull or ridiculous by the manner in which it is presented—are virtues which we suspect not to have been very favourable to his reputation as an author. Feeling in himself not only an entire toJeration of honest tediousness, but a decided preference for it upon all occasions over mere elegance or ingenuity, he seems to have transferred a little too hastily to books those principles of judgment which are admirable when applied to men ; and to have forgotten, that though dulness may be a very venial fault in a good man, it is such a fault in a book as to render its goods
ness of no avail whatsoever. Unfortunately for Mr Clarkson, moral quailties alone will not make a good writer ; nor are they even of the first importance on such an occasion : And accordingly, with all his philanthropy, piety, and inflexible honesty, he has not escaped the sin of tediousness,--and that to a degree that must render him almost illegible to any but Quakers, Reviewers, and others, who make public profession of patience insurmountable. He has no taste, and no spark of vivacity-not the vestige of an ear for harmony-and a prolixity of which modern times have scarcely preserved any other example. He seems to have a sufficiently sound and clear judgment, but no great acuteness of understandiny; and, though visibly tasking himself to judge charitably and speak candidly of all men, is evidently beset with such an antipathy to all who persecute Quakers, or maltreat Negroes, as to make him very unwilling to report any thing in their fa
On the other hand, he has great industry--scrupulous veracity—and that serious and sober enthusiasm for his subject, which is sure in the long-run to disarm ridicule, and win upon inattention and is frequently able to render vulgarity impressive, and simplicity sublime. Moreover, and above all, he is perfectly free from affectation; so that, though we may be wearied, we are never disturbed or offended-and read on, in tranquillity, till we find it impossible to read any more.
It will be guessed, however, that it is not on account of its literary merits that we are induced to take notice of the work before us. William Penn, to whose honour it is wholly devoted, was, beyond all doubt, a personage of no ordinary standard—and ought, before this time, to have met with a biographer capable of doing him justice. He is most known, and most deserving of being known, as the settler of Pennsylvania ; but his private character also is interesting, and full of those peculiarities which distinguished the temper and manners of a great part of the English nation at the period in which he lived. His theological and polemical exploits are no less characteristic of the man and of the times ;-though all that is really edifying in this part of his history might have been given in about one twentieth part of the space which is allotted to it in the volumes of Mr Clarkson.
William Penn was born in 1644, the only son of Admiral Sir W. Penn, the representative of an antient and honourable family in Buckingham and Gloucestershire. He was regularly educated; and entered a Gentleman Commoner at Christ's Church, Oxford, where he distinguished himself very early for his proficiency both in classical learning and athletic exercises. When he was only about sixteen, however, he was rous,