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in his assignation of motives, entered into a detailed discussion of Fox's statement of the finances of the Company; insisting that their affairs were by no means in that desperate state which Fox alledged. The Proprietors and Directors of the East India Company petitioned the house not to pass a bill, operating as the confiscation of their property and annihilation of their charters, without proving specific delinquency that might merit the forfeiture of their privileges and property; asserting, that proved delinquency alone could justify such a bill, and desiring the charges and proofs might be brought forward. The people, in general, were strongly impressed by the arguments of the opposers of the bill, and the representation of those whose rights and property it appeared to affect. Burke made, at the second reading, a speech equal for eloquence to any he had ever produced ; whether, however, in the accuracy of his information, in the justness of his conclusions, in the truth of what he advanced, and the wisdom of what he proposed, he
equalled his own efforts on other occasions, was not then so evident.
Burke admitted, to the fullest extent, that the charter of the East India Company had been sanctioned by the King and Parliament; that the Company had bought it, and honestly paid for it; and that they had every right to it, which such' a sanction and such a purchase could convey. Having granted this to the opponents of the bill, he maintained, that, notwithstanding that sanction and purchase, the proposed change ought to take place. He proceeded on the great
and broad grounds of ethics, arguing that no special covenant, however sanctioned, can authorize a violation of the laws of morality; that if a covenant operates to the misery of mankind, to oppression and injustice, the general obligation to prevent wickedness is antecedent and superior to any special obligation to perform a covenant ; that Parlia. ment had sold all they had a right to sell ; they had sold an exclusive privilege to trade, but not a privilege to rob and oppress; and
that if what they sold for the purposes of commerce was made the instrument of
oppression and pillage, it was their duty, as the guardians of the conduct and happiness of all within the sphere of their influence and controul, to prevent so pernicious an operation. After laying down this as a fundamental principle, he proceeded to argue that there had been, and were, the most flagrant acts of oppression in India by the servants of the Company; that the whole system was oppressive from the beginning of the acquisition of territorial possession. He entered into a detail of the principal instances of pillage, rapine, violence, and despotism, attributed to the English, and dwelt with great energy and pathos on those acts of which he alledged Mr. Hastings to be guilty.
On this subject he brought forward. the principal heads of what afterwards occupied so much of his attention in the prosecution of the Governor-General. His imagination, warming as he went along, figured to him,
that the only monuments by which the pro. ceedings of the British were distinguished, were waste and desolation. Other
conquerors, he said, of every description, had left some monument either of state or beneficence behind them. • If their passion or their avarice drove the Tartar hordes to acts of rapacity or tyranny, there had been time enough in the short life of man to repair the desolations of war by the acts of munificence and peace. But under the English government all this order was reversed. Our conquest there, after twenty years, was as crude as it had been the first day. The natives scarce knew what it was to see the
grey head of an Englishman. Young men (almost boys) governed there, without society and without sympathy with the natives. They had no more social habits with the people than if they still resided in England; nor indeed any species of intercourse, but that which was necessary to the making a sudden fortune with a view to a remote settlement. Animated with all the avarice of age, and all the impetuosity of youth, they rolled in one
after another, wave after wave, and there was nothing before the eyes of the natives but an endless, hopeless prospect of new flights of birds of
with appetites continually renewing for a food that was continually wasting. Were we to be driven out of India this day, nothing would remain to tell that it had been possessed, during the inglorious period of our dominion, by any thing better than the ouran-outang, or the tyger.'. The peroration was an eulogium on his friend Fox as the mover of the bill. After a very animated general panegyric, he entered on the praises of the bill, anticipating the fervent and adoring gratitude with which he and the supporters of it would be regarded in India. He said, " There was riot a tongue, a nation, à religion in India, 'which would not bless the presiding care and manly beneficence of that house and of him who proposed to them this great work. Their names would never be separated before the throne of the Divine Goodness, in whatever language or with