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effect upon me of any moment. But as to this bill, whether it increases the influence of the crown, or not, is a question I should be ashamed to ask. If I am not able to correct a system of oppression and tyranny, that goes to the utter ruin of thirty millions of my fellow-creatures and fellow-subjects, but by some increase to the influence of the crown, I am ready here to declare that I, who have been active to reduce it, shall be at least as active and strenuous to restore it again. I am no lover of names ; I contend for the substance of good and protecting government, let it come from what quarter it will.
But I am not obliged to have recourse to this expedient. Much, very much the contrary. I am sure that the influence of the crown will by no means aid a reformation of this kind; which can neither be originated nor supported, but by the uncorrupt public virtue of the representatives of the people of England. Let it once get into the ordinary course of administration, and to me all hopes of reformation are gone. I am far from knowing or believing, that this bill will increase the influence of the crown. We all know, that the crown has ever had some influence in the court of directors; and that it has been extremely increased by the acts of 1773 and 1780. The gentlemen who, as a part of their reformation, propose“ more active control on the part of the crown,” which is to put the directors under a secretary of state, especially named for that purpose, must know, that their project will increase it further. But that old influence has had, and the new will have, incurable inconveniences, which cannot happen under the parliamentary establishment proposed in this bill. An honourable gentleman’, not now in his place, but who is well acquainted with the India Company, and by no means a friend to this bill, has told you, that a ministerial influence has always been predominant in that body; and that to make the directors pliant to their purposes, ministers generally caused
persons meanly qualified to be chosen directors. According to his idea, to secure subserviency, they submitted the company's affairs to the direction of incapacity. This was to ruin the company, in order to govern it. This was certainly influence in the very worst form in which it could appear. At best it was clandestine and irresponsible. Whether this was done so much upon system as that gentleman supposes, I greatly doubt. But such in effect the operation of government on that court unquestionably was ; and such, under a similar constitution, it will be for ever. Ministers must be wholly removed from the management of the affairs of India, or they will have an influence in its patronage. The thing is inevitable. Their scheme of a new secretary of state, with a more vigorous “control," is not much better than a repetition of the measure which we know by experience will not do. Since the year 1773 and the year 1780, the company has been under the control of the secretary of state's office, and we had then three secretaries of state. If more than this is done, then they annihilate the direction which they pretend to support; and they augment the influence of the crown, of whose growth they affect so great an horror. But in truth this scheme of reconciling a direction really and truly deliberative with an office really and substantially controlling, is a sort of machinery that can be kept in order but a very short time. Either the directors will dwindle into clerks, or the secretary of state, as hitherto has been the course, will leave every thing to them, often through design, often through neglect. If both should affect activity, collision, procrastination, delay, and, in the end, utter confusion must ensue.
7 Governor Johnstone.
But, sir, there is one kind of influence far greater than that of the nomination to office. This gentlemen in opposition have totally overlooked, although it now exists in its full vigour; and it will do so, upon their scheme, in at least as much force as it does now. That influence this bill cuts up by the roots : I mean the influence of protection. I shall explain myself :- The office given to a young man going to India is of trifling consequence.
But he that goes out an insignificant boy, in a few years returns a great nabob. Mr. Hastings says he has two hundred and fifty of that kind of raw materials, who expect to be speedily manufactured into the merchantable quality I mention. One of these gentlemen, suppose, returns hither, laden with odium and with riches. When he comes to England, he comes as to a prison, or as to a sanctuary; and either is ready for him, according to his demeanour. What is the influence in the grant of any place in India, to that which is acquired by the protection or compromise with such guilt, and with the command of such riches, under the dominion of the hopes and fears which
power is able to hold out to every man in that condition? That man's whole fortune, half a million perhaps, becomes an instrument of influence, without a shilling of charge to the civil list; and the influx of fortunes which stand in need of this protection is continual. It works both ways; it influences the delinquent, and it may corrupt the minister. Compare the influence acquired by appointing for instance even a governor-general, and that obtained by protecting him. I shall push this no further. But I wish gentlemen to roll it a little in their own minds.
The bill before you cuts off this source of influence. Its design and main scope is to regulate the administration of India upon the principles of a court of judicature; and to exclude, as far as human prudence can exclude, all possibility of a corrupt partiality, in appointing to office, or supporting in office, or covering from inquiry and punishment, any person who has abused or shall abuse his authority. At the board, as appointed and regulated by this bill, reward and punishment cannot be shifted and reversed by a whisper. That commission becomes fatal to cabal, to intrigue, and to secret representation, those instruments of the ruin of India. He that cuts off the means of premature fortune, and the power of protecting it when acquired, strikes a deadly blow at the great fund, the bank, the capital stock of Indian influence, which cannot be vested any where, or in any hands, without most dangerous consequences to the public.
The third and contradictory objection is, that this bill does not increase the influence of the crown. On the contrary, that the just power of the crown will be lessened, and transferred to the use of a party, by giving the patronage of India to a commission nominated by parliament, and independent of the crown. The contradiction is glaring, and it has been too well exposed to make it necessary for me to insist upon it. But passing the contradiction, and taking it without any relation, of all objections that is the most extraordinary. Do not gentlemen know, that the crown has not at present the grant of a single office under the company, civil or military, at home or abroad? So far as the crown is concerned, it is certainly rather a gainer; for the vacant offices in the new commission are to be filled up by the king.
It is argued as a part of the bill, derogatory to the prerogatives of the crown, that the commissioners named in the bill are to continue for a short term of years, too short in my opinion; and because, during that time, they are not at the mercy of every predominant faction of the court. Does not this objection lie against the present directors ; none of whom are named by the crown, and a proportion of whom hold for this very term of four years? Did it not lie against the governor-general and council named in the act of 1773—who were invested by name, as the present commissioners are to be appointed in the body of the act of parliament, who were to hold their places for a term of years, and were not removable at the discretion of the crown? Did it not lie against the re-appointment, in the year 1780, upon the very same terms?
Yet at none of these times, whatever other objections the scheme might be liable to, was it supposed to be a derogation to the just prerogative of the crown, that a commission created by act of parliament should have its members named by the authority which called it into existence? This is not the disposal by parliament of any office derived from the authority of the crown, or now disposable by that authority. It is so far from being any thing new, violent, or alarming, that I do not recollect, in any parliamentary commission, down to the commissioners of the land-tax, that it has ever been otherwise.
The objection of the tenure for four years is an objection to all places that are not held during pleasure; but in that objection I pronounce the gentlemen, from my knowledge of their complexion and of their principles, to be perfectly in earnest. The party (say these gentlemen) of the minister who proposes this scheme will be rendered powerful by it; for he will name his party friends to the commission. This objection against party is a party objection ; and in this too these gentlemen are perfectly serious. They see that if, by any intrigue, they should succeed to office, they will lose the clandestine patronage, the true instrument of clandestine influence, enjoyed in the name of subservient directors, and of wealthy, trembling, Indian delinquents. But as often as they are beaten off this ground, they return to it again. The minister will name his friends, and persons of his own party.- Whom should he name? Should he name his adversaries ? Should he name those whom he cannot trust? Should he name those to execute his plans, who are the declared enemies to the principles of his reform? His character is here at stake. If he proposes for his own ends (but he never will propose) such names as, from their want of rank, fortune, character, ability, or knowledge, are likely to betray or to fall short of their trust, he is in an independent House of Commons; in a House of Commons which has, by its own virtue, destroyed the instruments of parliamentary subservience. This House of Commons would not endure the sound of such names. He would perish by the means which he is supposed to pursue for the security of his power. The first pledge he must give of his sincerity in this great reform will be in the confidence which ought to be reposed in those
For my pa
my part, sir, in this business I put all indirect considerations wholly out of my mind. My sole question, on each clause of the bill, , amounts to this :-Is the measure proposed required by the necessities of India? I cannot consent totally to lose sight of the real wants of the people who are the objects of it, and to hunt after every matter of party squabble that may be started on the several provisions. On the question of the duration of the commission I am clear and decided. Can I, can any one who has taken the smallest trouble to be informed concerning the affairs of India, amuse himself with so strange an imagination, as that the habitual despotism and oppression, that the monopolies, the peculations, the universal destruction of all the legal authority of this kingdom, which
have been for twenty years maturing to their present enormity, combined with the distance of the scene, the boldness and artifice of delinquents, their combination, their excessive wealth, and the faction they have made in England, can be fully corrected in a shorter term than four years ? None has hazarded such an assertion—none, who has a regard for his reputation, will hazard it.
Sir, the gentlemen, whoever they are, who shall be appointed to this commission, have an undertaking of magnitude on their hands, and their stability must not only be, but it must be thought, real;—and who is it will believe, that any thing short of an establishment made, supported, and fixed in its duration, with all the authority of parliament, can be thought secure of a reasonable stability? The plan of my honourable friend is the reverse of that of reforming by the authors of the abuse. The best we could expect from them is, that they should not continue their ancient, pernicious activity. To those we could think of nothing but applying control ; as we are sure that even a regard to their reputation (if any such thing exists in them) would oblige them to cover, to conceal, to suppress, and consequently to prevent, all cure of the grievances of India. For what can be discovered, which is not to their disgrace? Every attempt to correct an abuse would be a satire on their former administration. Every man they should pretend to call to an account would be found their instrument, or their accomplice. They can never see a beneficial regulation, but with a view to defeat it. The shorter the tenure of such persons, the better would be the chance of some amendment.
But the system of the bill is different. It calls in persons in no wise concerned with any act censured by parliament; persons generated with, and for, the reform, of which they are themselves the most essential part. To these the chief regulations in the bill are helps, not fetters; they are authorities to support, not regulations to restrain them. From these we look for much more than innocence. From these we expect zeal, firmness, and unremitted activity. Their duty, their character, binds them to proceedings of vigour ; and they ought to have a tenure in their office which
precludes all fear, whilst they are acting up to the purposes of their trust; a tenure without which none will undertake plans that require a series and system of acts. When they know that they cannot be whispered out of their duty, that their public conduct cannot be censured without a public discussion ; that the schemes which they have begun will not be committed to those who will have an interest and credit in defeating and disgracing them, then we may entertain hopes. The tenure is for four years, or during their good behaviour. That good behaviour is as long as they are