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since the establishment of the present Indian system (hy thc Bills of 1784 and 1799,) either of those ideas have been entertained by any of our most celebrated practical statesmen. Of late years especially, the territorial government of India, and the trade between India and Europe have been regarded as, under that system, inseparably united; constituting a fabric of unprecedented grandeur, extent, and solidity, which it would be rash, presumptuous, and dangerous, in the idie view of speculative or uncertain advantages, to disturb. Even Mr. Fox, although on former occasions an avowed enemy of the East India Company, declared himself, in the House, of Commons, to be of this opinion, when last in office.
It could not, therefore, but have been with surprise, astonishment, and regret, that the East India Company learnt, in the month of April last, that his Majesty's present Ministers had then recently adopted views upon this subject, very different not only from any which had been entertained by their predecessors, but even from any which they had themselves, in the course of their discussions with the Company, respecting the renewal of the Charter, hitherto avowed.
It is the more essential that these new propositions of the Ministers should be examined, in every possible point of view, before the decision of the Legislature upon them is called for, since, by that decision, it is very evident, will be ultimately determined the fate not only of the East India Company, and their private rivals, but of India and of Britain.
The pending question between his Majesty's Ministers and the East India Company, it appears to me, may be thus succinctly stated. The President of the Board of Controul, speaking in the name of all the Ministers, informs the Court of Directors, that the government of the territorial dominions, and the monopoly of the China trade, shall remain with the Company, as at present; but that they must renounce their exclusive right to the trade between India and Europe. Against this project, the Court of Directors remonstrate; and say, “ To what purpose leave us the government of our Asiatic territories, and the trade to China, if you, at the same time, deprive us of the bulwark (!he exclusive privilege of employing ships to India), by which alone they
can be effectually supported? Or, in other words, “ if you establish an engine (the privilege to individuals of sending ships of all sorts and sizes, from all the ports of Great Britain to India), by which they must both be eventually destroyed?"
The question, then, which we have here to examine, appears to be strictly this :-Whether the dangers apprehended by the East India Company to the safety of their Asiatic territories and China trade, from the indiscriminate admission of the ships of individuals to the trade of India, be imaginary, fallacious and pretended, or founded in foresight, wisdom, and experience?
Before entering on this inquiry, it may be proper to remark, that all the opponents of the Company have either egregiously mistaken, or affected to mistake, the real nature of the question. They have all regarded or affected to regard the trade to India as a monopoly, which, as shall be presently shown, is very contrary to the true state of the case. Some of them have represented it as a losing trade; and, with sufficient inconsistency, have accused the East India Company of selfishness, in seeking to preserve a losing trade. With a still higher degree of inconsistency, they have manifested the most eager desire to participate in this “ losing trade;" as if presuming themselves capable, as individuals, with capital and other advantages 80 greatly inferior to the Company, of converting it into a profitable one. While, indeed, they affect grounds of public utility, they show, by the whole tenor of their reasoning, that in seeking to invade the privileges of the East India Company, they have no other view than the fallacious one, in this case, of private gain. It was necessary to their object to represent the interests of the public, and of the East India Company, as at variance, and utterly irreconcileable ; and their own interests as identified with those of the public. It also happened that, in the comparatively stagnant state of commerce and manufactures last year, the persons most immediately suffering under those evils, like drowning men grasping at straws, were led to hail the era of the termination of the Company's exclusive privileges, and of the establishment of an Open Trade to India, as that of the termination of their own misfortunes. In considering an open trade, and an increased consumption of British Commodities in India, as synonimous terms, they all seemed
to concur. ignorant of the character of the inhabitants of Asia, they regarded the regulated trade of the Company, as that which alone prevented this increase of consumption. They branded it with the name of Monopoly; and armed with the authority of Dr. Adam Smith, they declared all monopolies to be mischievous, and, with that of Thomas Paine, to be contrary to the imprescriptible rights of man. ,
The consequences of the admission of these principles would go much farther, than those who have advanced them, to serve particular purposes, could wish. They would go the length of laying open the trade to India to all the world. But we shall limit our reasoning to the boundaries of the British empire. If, upon the principle of universal right, the trade to India be laid open to some parts, with what justice can the same privilege be withheld from other parts of the British dominions? If it be an inherent right in the merchants of Bristol, Liverpool, and Glasgow, to trade with India, is it not equally so in the inhabitants of the Orkney and Shetland Islands, of the West Indies and North America?
To argue seriously, or at any length, against these abstract and inapplicable doctrines, must here, I should apprehend, be unnecessary. The East India Company, however, while they refuse to bow to the authority of such wild and vague hypotheses, have done themselves honor by not narrowing the question, as if it only involved the opposing interests of different bodies of men. The Court of Directors have, on the contrary, throughout their correspondence with Ministers, argued the case as it may be supposed to affect, in every grand view of policy and expediency, the interests of the nation at large; considering their constituents not as an isolated Corporation, but as members of the state, identified, in all their relations, with the great body of the community.
It is a notorious fact that the trade to India, so far from being of the nature of a monopoly, is already as open and unrestrained as is consistent with just and rational views of public utility, The tonnage, which, under the idea of extending the commerce of individuals, has been appropriated to private trade, by the Bill of 1793, is four times greater than has ever been claimed by those for whom it was intended.' Of sixty-three thousand tons allotted for this purpose, during the last six years, only sixteen thousand (about one fourth) were filled up; leaving forty-seven thousand tons to be paid for by the Company, on account of the Public.
Here is no monopoly, or impolitic restrictions on trade. On the contrary, greater facilities are held out to the private Merchant, and that too at a great inconvenience and enormous expense to the Company, than he chooses to avail himself of. If more tonnage than the law allots, had been required for the accommodation of the private trader, the libeial conduct of the Company in other respects evinces that they would have readily granted it.
They did actually, on several occasions, allow to private traders from India several thousand tons more than was allotted by law. The fact, indeed, is that, although a certain quantity of tonnage is specified by the act of 1793, for the accommodation of the individual Merchant, it was for the discretion of the Court of Directors to have allowed more, had it been required.
Did they not, with the most commendable liberality, offer the County of Cornwall to export annually to China, twelve hundred tons of tin, freight free;" although, were they only to consult their oun convenience, they could supply that niarket with the same article upon better terms from various parts of India ? Have they not, upon a similar principle of accommodation, made an annual sacrifice of £.50,000, for the special encourageinent of the woollen manufactures of this country ?
To call a trade, conducted upon such principles, a monopoly, is equally contrary to reason, and to fact.
But, besides allotting more tonnage annually to individual Merchants, than these have been disposed to occupy, the Company have shared, in another way, the fruits of their commerce with the public. The payments which they have, at various periods, made to the state, from 1768 to 1812, amount to £:5,135,319; or at the rate
i Vide Papers respecting the negociation for a renewal of the East India Com. pany's exclusive Privileges, &c. p. 129.
á z Ibid. p. 89.
of one hundred thousand pounds, and upwards, annually;' to say nothing of the immense revenue arising from their well-regulated trade. Bi .,
“ It is a solecism," as has been well and truly observed by an eloquent Proprietor of East India Stock,2 « to call that trade a monopoly, which admits the whole country to a partnership in its eventual gains; and which allows any Merchant, or Trader, to export to or import from India, to an extent considerably beyond what bas ever been claimed.” That is not a monopoly, of which every person, and every association, by purchasing stock, may be come members; whose sales are regulated, the prices being left at the pleasure of the buyers; and their amount annually laid before Parliament. The East India Company, in short, is not a private Corporation, trading exclusively; but the British nation, trading under legislative regulations to India.
It will not be supposed, by any man of sense, that the Company would be disposed to make the great sacrifices, which have been bere alluded to, merely to humor the caprices, or to fall in with the false notions of interest of particular descriptions of men, had they not powerful motives, arising from other sources than those of mere commercial profit, for wishing to retain the exclusive privilege of the navigation to India : for this alone, if I understand the matter right, is what the Company contend for, as essential not only to the security of their China Trade, but to the permanent safety of their Indian empire. They will, I am persuaded, have no objection to make the farther sacritice of allotting to the use of the private Merchants, as much more tonnage, thạy was granted by the Act of 1793, as there may arise a demand for. But surely, since this can be showp to be essential to the safety of their dominions, they have a right to expect that all trade to India should continue to be carried on, in ships, under their immediate controul, or exclusively in their service.
The question, then, as it at present stands, between luis Majesty's Ministers and the East India Company, does not respect the ex
· Vide Papers respecting the negociation, &c. p. 57.
? Mr. Randle Jackson--vide his speech delivered at a Geveral Court of Pro. prie lors, 5th May 1812, p. 13,