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xxxix

THE

CALCUTTA REVIEW.

ART. I.-1. Lieut. Macpherson's Report upon the Khonds of the

Districts of Ganjam and Cuttack. Calcutta, G. H. Huttmann,

Bengal Military Orphan Press, 1842. 2. Various Official Documents (hitherto unpublished.)

In the ninth number of this work appeared a condensed epitome of all the information which we could glean, whether from published reports or hitherto unpublished official documents, on the subject of the Khonds—their country, the mode in which we were suddenly brought in contact with them, as well as the social and religious characteristics by which they are so peculiarly distinguished.

In the twelfth number of our work, we furnished,-exclusively from official documents rendered accessible to us by the liberal policy of Lord Hardinge-a detailed account of the first series of Government measures for the extirpation of the atrocious system of human sacrifice among this singular remnant of the ancient indigenous tribes of India. These measures, though infinitely creditable alike to the Government and its accredited agents,- from a comparative ignorance of the inner life and structure of Khond Society as well as inadequate apprehensions of the real nature and extent of the difficulties involved in the attempt,--did not terminate in any satisfactory results. Still, they were not wholly profitless as regarded the ultimate realization of the main object contemplated. Far from it. In a preparatory point of view, they were of essential service. They helped to shew how very deeply the abhorrent rite of the Meriah sacrifice had struck its roots into the physical, social, and moral being of the Khond tribes hitherto visited— like the aged pine on the mountain's brow, insinuating its downward fibres into every crevice of the rock, with such outspreading force and cleaving tenacity, that to sever it from its commanding position, might seem equivalent to the rending of the rock itself into fragments. They served effectually to expose the utter insufficiency of some of the plans and processes which had been benevolently suggested,— fairly tried-weighed in the balances of

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experiment and found wanting. They tended to lay bare the radical—the suicidal evils involved in such an undertaking being conducted in contiguous districts, by the agents of two independent local jurisdictions, under the guidance of two independent Governments, such as those of Madras and Bengal. They conclusively demonstrated that isolated, occasional, desultory efforts, however congruous in themselves and vigorous in execution, must ever end in disappointment; and, consequently, that nothing could prove commensurate to the great design, short of a combined, sustained, continuous and systematic

effort, based on the suggestions of past observation and experiment, and prosecuted, it might be, for years, with unrelaxed and untiring energy.

Impressed, at length, with such views and sentiments, or views and sentiments somewhat akin to these, and in order to pave the way for more effective measures, the Supreme Government resolved to depute an officer on a special mission into Khondistan -a special mission of preparatory inquiry, rather than of immediate action. The opening of routes and passes through the wild tracts—the encouraging of the commercial intercourse between the hills and the plains by all available means, and the establishing of fairs or marts for that purposethe raising of a semi-military police force from among the hill men, upon a footing similar to that of the Paik company of Cuttack :—these and other kindred objects of a general character were those to which his attention was to be chiefly and more immediately confined; while, in regard to the great ulterior purpose aimed at, viz. the abolition of the Meriah rite, the injunction was, that “he should cautiously approach any inquisition into human sacrifices.”

The officer nominated for the prosecution of this important mission was Captain Macpherson. And we are bound to say, that never was there an appointment more honorable to the Government or to the object of its choice. It was altogether one of high disinterested principle, with which sinister favouritism had nothing to do. During the Goomsur war in 1836-7, Captain Macpherson, while on survey under orders of the Commissioner of Goomsur and Souradah, through his own indefatigable industry, obtained possession of copious materials which he carefully arranged and reduced into the form of an elaborate report. This report, which he was called on to submit for the consideration of Government, contained, as formerly indicated, † a full, clear, systematic, and authoritative

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dissertation on the whole subject of the Khonds-shedding on every topic, whether primary or subordinate, a full and steady light which we look for in vain elsewhere. Such a document could not but recommend its author to a highminded Government-exclusively and disinterestedly bent, in this instance at least, on a notable philanthropic achievement. To the talent for original and recondite research displayed in this report, and to the courage and patience exhibited under the personal toil and fatigue voluntarily encountered in prosecuting it—and to these chiefly, if not alone, was Captain Macpherson indebted for the patronage of Government. In a word, he received the appointment simply and solely because, from the multiplied proofs of superior fitness which his own labours had afforded, he was honestly adjudged to be the best qualified for the successful accomplishment of its leading objects.

During the prosecution of preliminary enquiries, respecting the parts visited, their resources, the different classes of their population, and other topics of a general character, it was deemed proper that the Government of Madras should superintend the proceedings, and that their more immediate control should be in the hands of the local agent to that Government. In other words, the officer appointed, though his mission was a special one, was not to act directly, as an independent agent, under the orders of the higher authorities, either at Madras or Calcutta. He was only to be head assistant for Khond affairs to the Commissioner or Madras Governor's agent in the Ganjam province.

Since the parts, formerly visited and reported on by Captain Macpherson, lay to the north in the hilly regions of Goomsur and Boad, his purpose now was to ascend the Ghats to the south of Goomsur, and stretching westward between it and Chinna Kimedy. This, accordingly, he did in December 1841. In pursuit of the special objects of his mission, his route lay through the Khond district of Pondacole, with its six thousand inhabitants; and Bori with its twelve or fifteen thousand. At Guddapore and Sonapore in Bori, he was also visited by Khonds from the fertile and populous district of Guladye, with its seven or ten thousand souls; as also from the Hill parts of Bodoghoro; from Kimedy, both southward and westward, to the boundaries of the Jeypore and Kalahundy Zemindaries; and from the tracts which lie towards the west and north-west, as far as Shubernagherry.

These were the limits of his enquiries, owing to severe sickness which soon disabled himself and nearly the whole of his attendants.

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