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“ tion either to be ascribed to them, or to a desire of “ conciliating their favour ; while all acts of grace or “ liberality are referred either to the representations “ of local superiors in India, or to the interference of “ his Majesty's Government. These conclusions are “ often unjust, but they are always made; and they “ operate to prevent those feelings of respect and at“ tachment, which it is so desirable men should enter“ tain for that authority under which they are placed. “ Those feelings, however, never can be maintained “ in large classes, by a system that employs no means “ but those of circumscribed rules and cold inanimate “ justice. There must be parts of the community 6. kindled into warmer sentiments than such means “ can ever inspire, or a government will never acquire " the popularity which it is essential for it to possess. “ This ingredient of rule is singularly wanting in the “ Company's government. It has few if any zealous “ and active advocates, to meet those attacks with " which it is continually assailed; and the conse“ quence is, that though serious reflection should “ teach the great body of those who are in its service " that no change is likely to be for their advantage, “ all that they are in the daily habit of hearing and “ reading is calculated to make a different impression “ upon their minds."*
In moving that the petition as to the Stamp Tax be brought up, it was stated, with reference to the renewal of the Company's charter :
6. The question will be taken up in haste, decided “ in haste, and we shall crowd the discussions into a “ few weeks, and postpone all discussion until the
" eve * Vide Political History of India, vol. ii, page 118.
“ eve of decision. If this be a wise course, and if “ it be not advisable to enter into preliminary discus“ sions on this great question, I am yet to learn the « first rudiments of prudence and policy; but the “ course which I have alluded to is too accordant with “ past practice, not to find favour in the eyes of some 6 persons.
• What has been the history of India and of this “ question ? For a long time the subject is utterly “ neglected; at length, forcing itself upon the atten“ tion of Parliament, it is suddenly taken up, tu“ multuously debated for a few hours, in a few days
spread over a few weeks in a session; and, in the “ end, a hurried bargain struck for the lease of this “ great empire for twenty years longer. In the in“ terval, the perpetual impatience of Parliament inter“ dicts the most intrepid member in the House from “ bringing the subject under its consideration, until “ perhaps the very day before the settling day be“ tween the steward and the tenant, when perhaps
some increase in the rent, or some variation in the covenant, is agreed to. Such is the history of the con
duct of Parliament towards India, in the successive “ periods of 1773, 1783, 1794, and 1813. Our In“ dian legislation has advanced by springs and jerks. “ What could have been expected from such a system " and from such management, forming, as it does, a “ perfect exemplification of a system—which combines “ evils that seem to be irreconcilable : slow without “ deliberation, sudden without vigour? When the “ subject came upon us on former occasions, there " was not much time for deliberation—all was hurry “ and precipitation; scarce a moment's time was de
sir voted to it, and consideration and inquiry were out “ of the question."
It is impossible that any other inference should be drawn by the public from the foregoing remarks, coming from such an authority, than that the renewal of the charter at each of the periods alluded to was a measure that could not bear either scrutiny or discussion, and was therefore smuggled through Parliament. But what are the facts ? It may be asserted without fear of contradiction, that the records possessed by the public on the affairs of India are more voluminous than on any other subject on which Parliament has legislated.''
To revert to the period immediately following the grant of the Dewanny in 1765, when Parliament took into consideration various questions regarding the affairs of India, they legislated amongst other matters on a point which cannot but be familiar to the right hon. member who is so powerful an advocate for the rights and liberties of the subject, viz. the act as to the declaration of dividends, on which the division in the House of Commons was 59 to 44, and against which nineteen Peers entered their dissent in the House of Lords as a measure “ highly dangerous to the property of the subject.”
In the earliest stages the Legislature thus appears to have been alive to the affairs of India. But to notice the first period alluded to, viz. 1773. So far from the matter being then passed over, it was pointedly adverted to in the King's speech on the opening of Parliament in January 1772.
The consequence was the appointment of two Committees by the House of Commons: one a Secret Committee, for the express purpose of inquiring into
the * Vide Parliamentary Debates, 17th June 1828.
the affairs of the East-India Company. No less than fourteen, voluminous reports were laid before the House, in which every branch of the Company's concerns was discussed and fully investigated : their debts and credits ; - their revenue derived from commerce and territory; — and the system under which their affairs were conducted, both abroad and at home. The result was the act of 1773, commonly called “the Regulating Act,” which may be considered in a great measure as the foundation of the existing system.
Immediately prior to the period when a further arrangement between the public and the Company was to take place, a Parliamentary Committee appointed in 1782 laid eleven reports before the House, in which a complete review was taken of the concerns of the East-India Company, and of the management of the whole of their affairs, foreign and domestic, political as well as commercial.
In 1783-4, at the opening of Parliament, the King's speech adverted to the affairs of India. The result of the measures adopted in that session, which led to the retirement of Mr. Fox from his Majesty's councils, are too well known to need recapitulation in this place.
The third period pointed out is that of 1793. The subject had been matter of discussion between the Government and the Company from 1791. Every opportunity was afforded to the merchants and manufacturers in different parts of the country to submit their opinions and views. A reference to the parliamentary proceedings will shew that the most ample accounts were laid before both Houses. A full statement of the Company's affairs, together with a series of resolutions, were submitted to Parliament in the month of Fe
bruary, containing an outline of the bill then intended to be brought in. In April those resolutions underwent discussion in a Committee of the whole House, when they were agreed to. Amendments were moved on the bill, in its several stages through the House of Commons, by Mr. Fox. In corroboration of the foregoing statement, and likewise to shew the attention which was then paid to the subject, the following extract is given from a report of a Committee of the House of Commons in 1810, which report will be again alluded to.
The Committee in fixing upon 1793 as the period from whence to commence their inquiry, state that “ on the occasion of renewing the charter in 1793, “ every exertion was employed for the discovery of the “ extent of the Company's resources, both political " and commercial, and calculations were made with o every practicable attention to accuracy, grounded “ upon the actual experience of preceding years, as “ it regarded both receipt and expenditure.
“ The propriety of taking this as the period for the o commencement of an investigation, is still further “ established by the consideration, that the arrange“ ment then made was upon the most extensive scale, “ embracing the entire state of the concern, both « abroad and at home; and a line was drawn for the “ distribution of the expenditure in India, whether s for the expences of government or the intere stupon “ the debts. A principle was also established for the « application of the surplus produce of the revenues, “ which, on the calculations above adverted to, was “ fairly expected to arise.”
From 1793 to 1813, not less than six reports of Committees of the House of Commons were laid before Parliament on the affairs of India.