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monopoly of the East India Company. He ought to raise his voice against this monopoly. He should stand ready, willing, aud even anxious, to petition Parliament, that it will give the Company notice, that the Charter will not be renewed. If every man would petition, the notice would be given, the Charter would expire, the trade to India would be thrown open, and every individual in the United Kingdom, besides the small number which has been already excepted, would be materially benefited by the change.
To the people of this country in general, to earthenware manufacturers, to iron masters, to silk throwsters and weavers, to workmen, to shop-keepers, to masons, carpenters, shoe-makers, tailors, and every other trade and calling, and also to every profession, is the East India question of vast importance. No person who has not given particular attention to the subject, can be at all aware of the extent and magnitude of the evils that arise to him out of the Company's monopoly. Indeed, the injury done by it to every one is scarcely credible; yet it is hardly possible to ascertain the whole amount of injury that each man really sustains. It may, however, awaken attention, call forth a spirit of inquiry, and superinduce a disposition to petition the legislature on the subject, if some of the injurious effects of the present mode of trading to India and China be brought into view. Nor is it too much to say, that a full development of the mischiefs resulting from the Company's monopoly, would prove this question to be far more important than was the Catholic question, than is the Corn question, or than can be any other public question which stands connected with the interests of this country.
Such a development would show that our empire is groaning under a complication of the greatest commercial difficulties with a market at command, were it but opened, in which all the goods we could make, not only by hand, but also by machinery, might find a ready sale. It would evince, that the opening of India, China, and the Eastern world, generally, to our numerous enterprising merchants and capitalists, would not only create vents for disposing readily of our cotton and woollen goods, our hardware, our earthenware and china, and various other articles of British manufacture; but give us back in return, tea, sugar, indigo, cotton-wool, raw silk, spices, and all the productions of the Indies, China, and other parts of the East, at about one half the present prices; and produce such an increase in the imports and exports, as would augment very considerably the revenues arising from that department, and enable Government to dispense with a great part, or the whole of the assessed and other taxes, which are so grievously burthensome to all classes of the community. But even farther than this, a full development of the subject would prove that the abrogation of this monopoly, and the establishment of a system of Free Trade to India and China, would be the most effectual mode of abolishing the horrid slavery of the West Indies, and of spreading the holy and purifying doctrines of Christianity over both the latter and the former countries.
If all this would result from a discontinuance of the Company's Charter, and the introduction of an unfettered system of trading, it must be the imperious duty of every Englishman to step forward, if in no other way, at least as a petitioner of Parliament-for his own sake, for the sake of his posterity, and for the good of the country, to do this act of long, far too long, neglected justice.
And be it remembered, that in asking Government not to renew the charter, it is not solicited to take any thing from the Company; but merely requested not to give it that to which it has no right, no claim, and which cannot be given to it, without manifest injustice, and extensive and permanent injury to twenty millions of Britons, and three hundred millions of Asiatics. And that the inhabitants of those countries are suffering many privations, while they are deriving no advantages from the charter, can be made most evident.
It can be demonstrated, that two millions and a half sterling are paid annually for tea alone by the people of Great Britain, more than the same quantity of tea could be had for, after paying the same duty as at present, if it were allowed to be bought of the Hamburgh Merchants; and the difference would be greater still, were our own merchants permitted to bring it from China to the various ports of
this country. The probability is, that the consumption of tea would then be doubled; and in exchange for this additional quantity, the Chinese would take a corresponding quantity of our manufactured goods; this would give a stimulus to all those branches which depend on the manufacturing interest, and these again to others, till all parties would eventually be benefited.
To follow out the foregoing positions to their legitimate consequences-to exhibit the leading particulars and bearings of the East India question-and to show that the Potting business, the Iron, the Silk, the Woollen and Cotton businesses, the Agricultural, the Landed and the Shipping Interests, the learned Professions, all kinds of mechanics, artisans, and labourers, and even pensioners and placemen, are deeply interested in the discontinuance of the Charter, will be the object of a future paper.
The Natural Growth of British Trade prevented by the East India Company's Monopoly.
From The Staffordshire Mercury,' Oct. 31.
INCASE a healthy, fast-growing youth of fifteen, so effectually with steel habiliments, as to obstruct completely the further augmentation of his bulk and height, and he will very soon become sickly. If medicine be then administered, and the compression still continued, the patient daily gets worse, and a prolongation for some time of physicking and growth restraining, either kills him outright, or, at least, makes a cripple of him for the remainder of his days.
The trade of Great Britain is but too truly the growing youth; the East India Company's Monopoly, the case of steel fastened on it; and the various expedients had recourse to for bettering its sad condition, so much medicine administered to the sickly patient, not only without any permanently good effects, but, whilst the compression remains in all its force, with manifest injury to the unhappy sufferer. The skill, the capital, the machinery, and the commercial spirit of this country, are stamina of so energetic and expansive a nature, as would invigorate our trade, and accelerate its growth almost illimitably, had they room and freedom. But they are cramped and almost paralysed by that very Company which ought, and was designed to be, their defence and support. A plain statement of facts will clearly prove the truth of this assertion.
The Company's mode of carrying on business is not calculated to augment our exports to India and China, and give us back in return, on advantageous terms, the produce of those countries. Self-aggrandisement is the almost exclusive object of the Company; and it so happens, that an unshackled interchange of commodities, an unrestrained extension of trade between Great Britain and the Eastern World, is not compatible with that object; and therefore the latter is sacrificed to the former. There must be no more merchandize carried on between those two countries, than just suits the various domestic and foreign arrangements of the Company; and the selling prices must be exactly conformable to those arrangements. And, although private merchants have been allowed a partial communication with certain parts of India, from the year 1814, yet they are so completely bound hand and foot, by the Company's restrictive enactments, as to be unable to move an inch without special leave. So numerous and formidable are the impediments to the forwarding of those merchants' goods, from the coast to the interior; and so heavy, and so often repeated, are the custom imposts during the journey, that an expenditure of four months of time, and more than 100 per cent. of money, is incurred, in conveying such goods from Calcutta to Delhi, a distance of about one thousand miles. By such delays, and additions to the expence, the retail prices of articles are at last raised so high, as to place them quite beyond the reach of the great bulk of the natives, and to keep the consumption, amongst even the upper classes of the people, very considerably below what it otherwise would be. We are assured, on the very respectable authority of Bishop Heber, that the inhabitants of India evince a general desire to procure the various articles of British manufacture, but they are unable to do so. That inability evidently arises from
the wretched and oppressive system pursued by the Company. Here then are nearly one hundred millions of persons, who would gladly wear our cotton and woollen cloths, use our earthenware and hardware, and consume the many articles which we wish to sell, and pay us in money's worth a price that would amply remunerate manufacturer and merchant, if the latter could trade to India without the intervention of the Company.
With regard to China, the case is still worse. The British trade with that vast empire is wholly engrossed by the Company. Tea is the principal commodity brought therefrom; and to make the several parts of the system agree, the Company pays cash for nearly all the tea purchased; and this too, while the Chinese would prefer British manufactures to money. Yes, strange as the anomaly may seem, the Chinese want the very articles which we have to sell, and would gladly give us their tea for them, but are obliged to buy such articles of the Americans and other nations, while our warehouses are crammed, our manufactories are standing idle, and our workmen are out of employ for want of a market! And to make the matter, if possible, still worse, the tea is made to pay for the losses the Company sustains by its peculiar and defective mode of doing business; for the average price at the sales before the duty is laid on, is 3s. per lb. whilst at Hamburgh it is only 1s. 31d. per lb. This makes a difference to the consumers of the thirty millions of pounds which are used annually in the United Kingdom, of two 'millions six hundred thousand pounds sterling! That is, in other words, two millions and a half extra must be paid yearly for tea, because our manufactured goods are not sent to China in exchange! But even this is not all. China has a population of perhaps nearly three hundred millions, and they, like the inhabitants of India, evince a desire for our cottons, woollens, hardwares, and other articles. These we could supply them with cheaper than they could obtain similar articles from other nations, or manufacture such themselves. By the establishment of a free trade, therefore, they would probably take, for many years to come, as many of those goods as we could make.
On the other hand, if tea were sold at nearly 2s. per lb. less than it is at present, (as we see would be the case, were the tea trade opened to private merchants,) the quantity consumed would be correspondingly augmented. The present consumption may be taken at about two pounds per head annually for each adult in the United Kingdom; but it is unquestionably true, that most persons would use at least four pounds per year each, if they could easily obtain it. An increase of trade, and so great a reduction in the price of tea, would render it easy to be obtained, and then double the present quantity would be wanted from China; and this again would benefit that country, and enable it to extend still farther its commerce with this.
Here, then, are India and China, which together contain one third of the whole population of the globe, offering markets for the advantageous sale of as large a quantity as we could produce of those goods, the want of sale for which causes nearly all the miseries in which this nation is involved.
Yet these markets are at present comparatively useless to this manufacturing country, solely in consequence of the East India Company's monopoly. Much is often said about the importance of a free trade to the continent, to North or South America; that is, to some ten, twenty, or fifty millions of people; whereas a free trade to India and China would extend to b tween three and four hundred millions. It is evident that the difference in results would be commensurate with the difference in population; viz. seven, eighteen, or thirty fold.
No argument can, after this, be necessary to show that this great increase in our exports, and in the consumption of tea, and other articles brought in exchange for our manufactures, must augment the revenue, raise the value of land and other property, and English produce of every description, and advance this country to a higher point of prosperity than it has hitherto attained. It is, then, necessary, for the good of the nation, that the East India Company's Charter should be discontinued. And that it would be as just as it is necessary not to renew it, will be shown in a future article.
THE JUSTICE OF NOT GRANTING THE EAST INDIA COMPANY A RENEWAL OP ITS CHARTER.
From The Staffordshire Mercury,' Nov. 7.
No doubt the two principal reasons which have been heretofore assigned for the renewal of the East India Company's Charter, will be re-urged for another renewal, when the question shall again come before Parliament; they are these:-the Company is in debt, and must have its Charter renewed to enable it to liquidate that debt; and it would be an act of manifest injustice not to renew the Charter, because the numerous India Stock-holders would be thereby deprived of property which either they or their predecessors have actually purchased. These reasons deserve consideration, and by all means let them have it. To be just, is to obey a great fundamental law of nature; a law emanating from an essential attribute of the Deity, embodied in the golden rule, Do unto others as you would have others do unto you,' and required by the peace, the good, the very existence of society; therefore, fiat justitia ruat cœlum; and let justice be done to the country at large-to every one, as well as to the Company and the holders of India Bonds. But it is a sad truth, that in order to do justice, possessions must sometimes be taken from those who happen to hold them, that they may be placed in the hands of the rightful owners. The country is the rightful owner of the advantages that may be derived from a free trade to India and China. The Charter operates to deprive it of those advantages; and to do justice to the country, the Charter must be allowed to expire. It is sorry logic, to say the country has from time to time given away its right to the Company, and that as the latter has calculated on a repetition by the former of the same thoughtless act, and has made arrangements accordingly, it would therefore be most cruelly unjust in the country to disappoint expectations so formed, by turning round and declaring We will not henceforth give away that right which it is of vital importance to retain in our own keeping.' Such arguing (for reasoning it is not) is as miserable as that of the knave, who had contrived to wheedle a little master out of his weekly pocket money for some years; and when the lad attained understanding to perceive that he had been wickedly cajoled, and refused to part with his money, said to the young gentleman,
Oh, but you must continue to give it to me, for I have now received it so many years, and my expenditure has been so long arranged according to my income, that I cannot possibly do without it, and to withhold it now, would be most unjust.' And the conduct of this knave would be still more reprehensible, if an agreement had actually been entered into, that he should receive the money for seven years only, and yet, despite of that positive agreement, he demanded a renewal of the bargain, and a continuance of the payments.
The Company's present Charter expires in 1834; and when it was granted, there was no understanding, written or verbal, that it should be renewed; consequently, there could be nothing like injustice in Parliament's saying to the Company, Your chartered privileges will terminate in about four years, and as we are under no pledge to continue them by the grant of a new Charter, and as the vital interests of the country require that the rights vested in you, should, according to the spirit and letter of your Charter, revert to the people, they will be allowed to return it into their hands.' No one would be so ridiculous as to blame a landlord who should inform his tenant that the lease which expires four or five years hence, will not be renewed because he wants the land himself. Nor would the tenant have any right to claim a prolongation of his lease, should he have contrived to get deeply into debt. A ludicrous story, indeed, it would be for a lessee to tell the proprietor, that his affairs were much involved, and therefore he must have a new lease for another twenty-one years; and it would be still more ludicrous, if, at the expiration of that period, he came again, insisting that a renewal for another period of twenty-one years must be granted, because his debts were greater than before!
This is an exact portraiture of the conduct of the Company. The argument drawn from its debts for a renewal of the Charter, is as worthless as that of the supposed tenant, or of the fellow who coaxed little master out of his pocket money. When the Charter was renewed, the Company's debts amounted to about five millions
sterling. To enable it to liquidate those debts, the Charter was said to be renewed. But has it had this effect? Quite the reverse. The debts of the Company are now said to amount to twenty-five millions! At this rate, another twenty years' Charter will swell the debt to sixty millions. And, eventually, the grand conclusion from the Company's profound logical premises will be, that an everlasting Charter must be granted, that the debt may go on increasing without end. Here are pretty inconsistencies. The Company is in debt, and wishes to get out, because to be in debt is a bad thing. The Charter, instead of helping it out of this pitiable state, sinks it deeper in; and yet, not to renew this Charter would be most unjust! This is tantamount to asserting, that it is an act of injustice to take a bad bargain off a man's hands; or to release him from a losing contract, that he may get no farther into debt. Positively, it is sheer nonsense. Let justice be done, indeed! Well, let it be done, and then the country will have restored to it the right, too long given away, of trading freely to India and China, and of disposing of as many manufactured goods as possible.
But what is to become of the owners of India stock? Must they all-men, women, and children-be reduced to beggary or starvation? No. There is no necessity for injuring one of them in the slightest degree. There are surely persons to be found quite as honest as the East India Directors; and there are practicable methods of enabling some other persons to pay the dividends. If those dividends now come out of the East India trade, they can be more easily obtained from that trade when it is free. Let them be paid out of a duty laid on for that specific purpose. Should this be objected to, then let the demands of India Stock-holders be placed to the national account, and liquidated by the additional revenue which a free trade would produce. This would pay them all off in five years. The country would be glad to pay both interest and principal, if the Eastern trade were opened to every one who chose to embark in it; and the country would soon be a gainer of many hundred fold by the change. Private merchants would not employ useless hands on board their vessels, nor pay large salaries to worse than useless officers at home or abroad; and, consequently, goods would be transported from one country to another at considerably less expense. This must lower their selling prices, and augment the demand. If it be true that the expense of mere freightage of merchandize, conveyed on the Company's system of doing business, be more than three times that which would be incurred by the usual modes adopted by private merchants in transacting the same business, then it is most evident that this difference, added to the greater one between a free trade and the Company's close monopoly, must, if allowed to operate, soon increase our exports and imports beyond all the precedents with which we are acquainted.
If it would not be just, under all these circumstances, to let the Company's Charter expire without supplying its place by a new one, then it is not just for a youth to be free from his master at the expiration of his indenture; for a landowner to take his land under his own care at the termination of the tenant's lease; or for a patent to become obsolete, after the period for which it has been granted has elapsed.
He would be silly indeed, who should maintain that the general introduction of the proposed rail-road and steam-carriage system will be an act of injustice, committed against all those who are concerned with canals and horses; and propose that a charter should be granted to the canal and coach companies, by which they might prevent passengers and goods going by steam. And he is not less silly who talks of the injustice of not renewing the East India Company's charter. Such a renewal would be a complete bar to improvement. The Company has no right, no claim, to that renewal, and can obtain it only by doing injustice, and the greatest injury, to the whole kingdom.
If the inhabitants of Great Britain are just to themselves, and just to their posterity, they will, as soon as Parliament shall assemble, come simultaneously forward to petition that the charter may not again be renewed; that the injurious monopoly may no longer be continued; and that the nation may no more be deprived of its right to the trade of India and China.