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despair, one after another, almost every man, who preferred his duty to the company to the interest of their servants, has been driven from that court.
This, sir, has been their conduct; and it has been the result of the alteration which was insensibly made in their constitution. The change was made insensibly; but it is now strong and adult, and as public and declared, as it is fixed beyond all power of reformation. So that there is none who hears me, that is not as certain as I am, that the company, in the sense in which it was formerly understood, has no existence. The question is not, what injury you may do to the proprietors of India stock; for there are no such men to be injured. If the active, ruling part of the company, who form the general court, who fill the offices, and direct the measures (the rest tell for nothing), were persons who held their stock as a means of their subsistence, who in the part they took were only concerned in the government of India, for the rise or fall of their dividend, it would be indeed a defective plan of policy. The interest of the people who are governed by them would not be their primary object; perhaps a very small part of their consideration at all. But then they might well be depended on, and perhaps more than persons in other respects preferable, for preventing the peculation of their servants to their own prejudice. Such a body would not easily have left their trade as a spoil to the avarice of those who received their wages. But now things are totally reversed. The stock is of no value, whether it be the qualification of a director or proprietor; and it is impossible that it should. A director's qualification may be worth about two thousand five hundred pounds-and the interest, at eight per cent. is about one hundred and sixty pounds a year. Of what value is that, whether it rise to ten, or fall to six, or to nothing, to him whose son, before he is in Bengal two months, and before he descends the steps of the council chamber, sells the grant of a single contract for forty thousand pounds ? Accordingly the stock is bought up in qualifications. The vote is not to protect the stock, but the stock is bought to acquire the vote; and the end of the vote is to cover and support, against justice, some man of power, who has made an obnoxious fortune in India ; or to maintain in power those who are actually employing it in the acquisition of such a fortune ; and to avail themselves in return of his patronage, that he may shower the spoils of the East, “barbaric pearl and gold,” on them, their families, and dependents. So that all the relations of the company are not only changed, but inverted. The servants in India are not appointed by the directors, but the directors are chosen by them. The trade is carried on 'with their capitals. To them the revenues of the country are mortgaged. The seat of the supreme power is in Calcutta. The house in Leadenhall-street is nothing more than a change for their agents, factors, and deputies to meet in, to take care of their affairs, and support their interests; and this so avowedly, that we see the known agents of the delinquent servants marshalling and disciplining their forces, and the prime spokesmen in all their assemblies.
Every thing has followed in this order, and according to the natural train of events. I will close what I have to say on the incorrigible condition of the company, by stating to you a few facts that will leave no doubt of the obstinacy of that corporation, and of their strength too, in resisting the reformation of their servants. By these facts you will be enabled to discover the sole grounds upon which they are tenacious of their charter. It is now more than two years that, upon account of the gross abuses and ruinous situation of the company's affairs, (which occasioned the cry of the whole world long before it was taken up here,) we instituted two committees to inquire into the mismanagements by which the company's affairs had been brought to the brink of ruin. These inquiries had been pursued with unremitting diligence, and a great body of facts was collected and printed for general information. In the result of those inquiries, although the committees consisted
different descriptions, they were unanimous. They joined in censuring the conduct of the Indian administration, and enforcing the responsibility upon two men, whom this House, in consequence of these reports, declared it to be the duty of the directors to remove from their stations, and recall to Great Britain, “because they had acted in a manner repugnant to the honour and policy of this nation, and thereby brought great calamities on India, and enormous expenses on the East India Company."
Here was no attempt on the charter. Here was no question of their privileges. To vindicate their own honour, to support their own interests, to enforce obedience to their own orders,-these were the sole object of the monitory resolution of this House. But as soon as the general court could assemble, they assembled to demonstrate who they really were. Regardless of the proceedings of this House, they ordered the directors not to carry into effect any resolution they might come to for the removal of Mr. Hastings and Mr. Hornby. The directors, still retaining some shadow of respect to this House, instituted an inquiry themselves, which continued from June to October, and, after an attentive perusal and full consideration of papers, resolved to take steps for removing the persons who had been the objects of our resolution, but not without
a violent struggle against evidence. Seven directors went so far as to enter a protest against the vote of their court. Upon this the general court takes the alarm: it re-assembles; it orders the directors to rescind their resolution, that is, not to recall Mr. Hastings and Mr. Hornby, and to despise the resolution of the House of Commons. Without so much as the pretence of looking into a single paper, without the formality of instituting any committee of inquiry, they superseded all the labours of their own directors and of this House.
It will naturally occur to ask, how it was possible that they should not attempt some sort of examination into facts, as a colour for their resistance to a public authority, proceeding so very deliberately, and exerted, apparently at least, in favour of their own? The answer, and the only answer, which can be given, is, that they were afraid that their true relation should be mistaken. They were afraid that their patrons and masters in India should attribute their support of them to an opinion of their cause, and not to an attachment to their power. They were afraid it should be suspected that they did not mean blindly to support them in the use they made of that power. They determined to show that they at least were set against reformation; that they were firmly resolved to bring the territories, the trade, and the stock of the company, to ruin, rather than be wanting in fidelity to their nominal servants and real masters, in the ways they took to their private fortunes.
Even since the beginning of this session, the same act of audacity was repeated, with the same circumstances of contempt of all the decorum of inquiry on their part, and of all the proceedings of this House. They again made it a request to their favourite, and your culprit, to keep his post; and thanked and applauded him, without calling for a paper which could afford light into the merit or demerit of the transaction, and without giving themselves a moment's time to consider, or even to understand, the articles of the Maratta peace. The fact is, that for a long time there was a struggle, a faint one indeed, between the company and their servants. But it is a struggle no longer. For some time the superiority has been decided. The interests abroad are become the settled preponderating weight both in the court of proprietors and the court of directors. Even the attempt you have made, to inquire into their practices and to reform abuses, has raised and piqued them to a far more regular and steady support. The company has made a common cause, and identified themselves, with the destroyers of India. They have taken on themselves all that mass of enormity; they are supporting what you have reprobated; those you condemn they applaud; those you order home to answer for their conduct,
they request to stay, and thereby encourage to proceed in their practices. Thus the servants of the East India Company triumph, and the representatives of the people of Great Britain are defeated.
I therefore conclude, what you all conclude, that this body, being totally perverted from the purposes of its institution, is utterly incorrigible ; and because they are incorrigible, both in conduct and constitution, power ought to be taken out of their hands; just on the same principles on which have been made all the just changes and revolutions of government that have taken place since the beginning of the world.
I will now say a few words to the general principle of the plan which is set up against that of my right honourable friend. It is to re-commit the government of India to the court of directors. Those, who would commit the reformation of India to the destroyers of it, are the enemies to that reformation. They would make a distinction between directors and proprietors, which, in the present state of things, does not, cannot exist. But a right honourable gentleman says, he would keep the present government of India in the court of directors; and would, to curb them, provide salutary regulations ;-wonderful ! That is, he would appoint the old offenders to correct the old offences; and he would render the vicious and the foolish wise and virtuous, by salutary regulations. He would appoint the wolf as guardian of the sheep; but he has invented a curious muzzle, by which this protecting wolf shall not be able to open his jaws above an inch or two at the utmost. Thus his work is finished. But I tell the right honourable gentleman, that controlled depravity is not innocence; and that it is not the labour of delinquency in chains that will correct abuses. Will these gentlemen of the direction animadvert on the partners of their own guilt ? Never did a serious plan of amending any old tyrannical establishment propose the authors and abettors of the abuses as the reformers of them. If the undone people of India see their old oppressors in confirmed power, even by the reformation, they will expect nothing but what they will certainly feel, a continuance, or rather an aggravation, of all their former sufferings. They look to the seat of power, and to the persons who fill it; and they despise those gentlemen's regulations as much as the gentlemen do who talk of them.
But there is a cure for every thing. Take away, say they, the court of proprietors, and the court of directors will do their duty. Yes; as they have done it hitherto. That the evils in India have solely arisen from the court of proprietors, is grossly false. In many of them, the directors were heartily concurring; in most of them, they were encouraging, and sometimes commanding ; in all they were conniving.
But who are to choose this well-regulated and reforming court of directors ? Why, the very proprietors who are excluded from all management, for the abuse of their power. They will choose, undoubtedly, out of themselves, men like themselves; and those who are most forward in resisting your authority, those who are most engaged in faction or interest with the delinquents abroad, will be the objects of their selection. But gentlemen say, that when this choice is made, the proprietors are not to interfere in the measures of the directors, whilst those directors are busy in the control of their common patrons and masters in India. No, indeed, I believe they will not desire to interfere. They will choose those whom they know may be trusted, safely trusted, to act in strict conformity to their common principles, manners, measures, interests, and connexions. They will want neither monitor nor control. It is not easy to choose men to act in conformity to a public interest against their private: but a sure dependence may be had on those who are chosen to forward their private interest, at the expense of the public. But if the directors should slip, and deviate into rectitude, the punishment is in the hands of the general court, and it will surely be remembered to them at their next election.
If the government of India wants no reformation ; but gentlemen are amusing themselves with a theory, conceiving a more democratic or aristocratic mode of government for these dependencies, or if they are in a dispute only about patronage; the dispute is with me of so little concern, that I should not take the pains to utter an affirmative or negative to any proposition in it. If it be only for a theoretical amusement that they are to propose a bill ; the thing is at best frivolous and unnecessary. But if the company's government is not only full of abuse, but is one of the most corrupt and destructive tyrannies that probably ever existed in the world (as I am sure it is), what a cruel mockery would it be in me, and in those who think like me, to propose this kind of remedy for this kind of evil !
I now come to the third objection, that this bill will increase the influence of the crown. An honourable gentleman has demanded of me, whether I was in earnest when I proposed to this House a plan for the reduction of that influence. Indeed, sir, I was much, very much, in earnest. My heart was deeply concerned in it; and I hope the public has not lost the effect of it. How far my judgment was right, for what concerned personal favour and consequence to myself, I shall not presume to determine; nor is its