Page images
PDF
EPUB

PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS.

The object originally contemplated in the present work was to record facts rather than to offer opinions regarding the system under which the government of India is conducted.

In submitting a few preliminary observations to a Supplement, which brings down the Analysis, comprising a continuation of the Brief Historical Sketch, and the Laws, to the present time, no departure from the original plan has been intended.

Great and permanent benefits have been conferred on the Indian community, by the important legislative provisions carried into effect during the last session, which provisions are contained in this volume.

Other subjects connected with India were likewise brought under the consideration of Parliament, which, although not leading to any practical results, presented opportunities for the expression of sentiments and opinions, which condemn, in no very measured terms, the present mode of governing that extensive and interesting empire.

Two questions were brought forward by a distinguished member, whose statements on matters relating to India, from the high judicial station which he formerly so honourably filled in that country, and his subsequent connexion with the Company at home, cannot fail to carry with them, and often deservedly, great weight.

The

The one is a personal case, that of Mr. O'Reilly.

The other a general one, the petition against the stamp act lately imposed by the Bengal Government.

The claim of Mr. O'Reilly for redress from the Court of Directors, for losses which he represents to have sustained by the negligence of the East-India Company, was brought before the House of Commons on the 18th of April last. It was urged on the attention of the House as a case “ in which a family had sus. .' “ tained a heavy pecuniary loss, by the negligence, the “ gross negligence (I will not say moral misconduct) “ and want of care of the public money, which is a “ most serious offence in a public body."

It will be perceived, on a perusal of the documents laid before the House of Commons on the 25th June and 7th July, that neither the Court of Directors, nor their Government of Madras nor its servants, have been in any way parties to, or are responsible for the loss sustained by Mr.O'Reilly. In support of this assertion, it may be sufficient to quote the following opinion of His Majesty's Attorney and Solicitor-General, which confirmed the opinion given by Mr. Serjeant Bosanquet, the standing counsel to the Company, viz. “ that neither the East-India Company nor any other a persons were liable to make good the losses OC“ casioned by the insolvency of Mr. Ricketts.”

If the case is one which has no ground of claim beyond that of an appeal to the liberality of the EastIndia Company, it should be brought forward under such an avowal, and not as founded on grounds imputing to the Company“ gross negligence, not to “ say moral misconduct.”

It is impossible not to observe the earnestness with which the Company are called upon to exercise libe

rality when the occasion suits, whilst at the same moment they are held up as conducting their affairs on principles regardless of economy : clearly shewing that no occasion is lost, where an opportunity offers, for impugning the principles which govern their proceedings, whether relating to a personal or a general question.

· The other subject is that of the Tax on Stamps, which was brought before the House of Commons on the 17th June last, when a petition was presented from the inhabitants of Calcutta against that measure. The coarse invectives contained in a publication attributed to a highly favoured servant of the Company, who has taken a prominent part in the question, and whose hostility to the Company appears to have increased in exact proportion with the increase of the advantages which he has derived in their service, are merely alluded to as shewing the justice of the following observations by Sir John Malcolm, who cannot be supposed to cherish any indisposition towards the service, civil or military, in both branches of which he has so highly distinguished himself.

“ It is a remarkable fact, that those whose interests, “ as a body, the Company are so prompt to defend, “ are not so sensible as might be expected of the “ safety they derive from this intermediate authority. “ The causes of this are obvious: the highest and “ most distinguished of these public officers, whose “ opinions and actions have a great influence over the “ rest, are too often discontented at their condition, “ and hostile to this branch of the Indian administra“ tion. The supposed disposition of the Court to “ look chiefly to expenditure, occasions every reduc

« tion

« PreviousContinue »