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Florence Nightingale Letters

[Letter, Sir John Lawrence, Baron to Florence Nightingale, February 1, 1878] Lawrence, John Laird Mair, 1811-1879 Feb 1, 1878

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 23, Queen's Gate Gardens S.W. 1 Feby. 1878 Dear Miss Nightingale With reference to your last note, I write a line to say that I am satisfied of Mr. Prinsep's safety in your hands; he is to call on you on Saturday at 5 P.M. As to the Ryots of India their condition is different in various parts of India. As a rule I should say that of late years their condition for the most part has improved, except where the country has suffered from drought and famine - the Hindoo Cultivators are industrious, economical, and even parsimonious - their general tendency is to save; the Mahomedans are the reverse in all three points. The only exception to the above picture is that all classes are extravagant in the marriages of their children, getting into debt beyond measure on that account. Legal enactments might do something for them, but the best hope is in improved education Then as regards Irrigation, the case alas is different in different parts of the Country - in some Provinces rain is so scarce and so uncertain that Irrigation is greatly desired, and readily paid for - in other parts rain is plentiful, and with rare exceptions, pretty certain there the tendency is to hold off, and not take the Canal water until the rains fail - again, in some parts many wells for Irrigation exist and the water is near the surface, and the labour of irrigating the fields is light - and in such cases the people desire no change. I do not think that the Cultivators when irrigating their lands from Canals are oppressed by the Native Officials - certainly not in those parts of India with which I am best acquainted. I lived for some years in the vicinity of Canals, and the complaints of the Cultivators were very rare. In the first instance when Canals were opened, the water rent has been pitched too high and people have refused to take it on such terms - they should be nursed into taking it by low rates, increasing in degree as they learn to appreciate its value. I will tell you more if you desire it when we meet, which I hope will be (unless I hear from you to the contrary) on Saturday the 9th Feby. about 5 P.M., or at any time you desire. Yours sincerely, Lawrence


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