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hen upon theni. Mr. Francis is a
Upon that subject, therefore, I - form no opinion but what I take from his authority. The idea of forcing every thing to an artificial equality, has something at first view very captivating in it. It has all the appearance imaginable of justice and good order ; and very many persons, without any sort of partial purposes, have been led to adopt such schemes, and
them with great earnestness and warmth. Though I have no doubt that the minute, laborious, and very expensive cadastre which was made by the late King of Sardinia has done no sort of good; and that, after all his pains, a few
years will restore all things to their first inequality; yet it has been the admiration of all the reforming financiers of Europe; I mean the official financiers as well as the speculative. You know that it is this very rage for equality which has blown
up the flames of this present cursed war in America. I am, for one, entirely satisfied
that the inequality which grows out of the nature of things by time, custom, succession, accumulation, permutation, and improvement of property, is much nearer that true equality, which is the foundation of equity and just policy, than any thing that can be contrived by the tricks and devices of human skill. What does it amount to but that, after some little jumbling, come men have better estates than others. I am certain, that when the financial system is but tolerably planned, it will catch property in spite of all its doublings, and sooner or later those who have most will pay most ; and this is the effective equality, which circumstances will bring about of themselves, if they are left to their own operation.
* This paper of Mr. Francis has given me one idea, which, I confess, I had not before (indeed it has given me several), and it is an idea which affords me satisfaction. I find that Mr. Francis thinks that the occupier of the soil, and not the Government, is, the true proprietor of the land in Bengal. I
did not understand before, that a sort of custom had given them a preference; but that on the whole Zemindars did not stand on so good a footing as our copyholders in England, or even as the holders of churchleases. Their custom of annual letting seemed much to favour this notion. I am glad to find I was mistaken ; for, whatever the practice may be, I am sure that every thing which favours the stability of property is right, and does much for the peace, order, and civilization of any country.
· I write with little consideration, and less knowledge of the subject. We make an hundred blunders in a matter so very remote from our situation, and our local circumstances and customs. But if I guess rashly in such things, I do not persevere obstinately in my errors. I am afraid that Mr. Francis begins, by his distance, to make very nearly as mistaken judgments on our affairs here, as we do on his in India. He thinks, alas! that Parliament troubles itself with these matters. We were, indeed, busy enough
about them until the East India Company was put into the hands of the Court. Since that time, a most religious silence is kept about those affairs. Government is sure to throw them immediately out, if any one's forward zeal prompts him to bring thein before us. Nothing but the approaching expiration of the agreement with the public can submit it again to our instrumental consideration. Something will then be done. If more can be done for confirming the power of the Crown over the Company, as to its exterior form, like other forms, it will, I fancy, be suffered to continue,
• When you write to Mr. Francis, pray put him in mind of me, and thank him for his permission to you to communicate his very valuable paper, of which I neither have made, nor shall make any improper or indiscreet use.
I have written to him a letter, which I hope will not be wholly useless, about the first object of my heart, our friend William Burke. You are happy that you have our friend - under the immediate
protection of one who knows so well what
The perusal of Mr. Francis's Memorial led Mr. Burke's mind, which had been for some years employed in attending to Indian affairs in general, into accurate and extensive inquiries concerning that specific part of the condition of the Zemindars. * When Mr. Francis returned in 1781, he was enabled to make himself master of the subject; besides being very greatly assisted in the attainment of knowledge upon other questions concerning India. It is not doubted that the information and views which Mr. Burke had derived from Mr. Francis, and other
* Mr. Francis, in a letter from Bengal to Lord North, afterwards published by Debrett, presents us with a very masterly account of the Zemindars, and other ranks and classes of natives; and also a clear and striking view of the political interests both of India and the Company,