Page images

of Parliament. Although Burke's speech on this occasion contained very great ingenuity, yet the main arguments were necessarily a repetition of what had been frequently urged before. The motion was negatived without a division.

Several bills were proposed by Pitt respecting India affairs, preparatory to his great plan for managing India. His bill was nearly the same as that which had been rejected by the preceding Parliament. Its principal opponents were Mr. Francis, Mr." Eden, and Fox. Burke did not enter much into its merits. It proceeded on a principle different from that of Fox,—that the affairs of the Company were not in a desperate state; that the Company were fully competent to the management of their commercial con

It proposed that the dominion of the territorial possessions should be placed under the controul of the Executive Government; and that a Board should be instituted for this purpose, to consist of the Ministers


for the time being. He considered this plan as the most efficient for the prevention of the oppression of the Company's servants in India, and for the preservation and improvement of our political interests in that country; and that, on the whole, it would remedy the evil, without the confiscation of property, or the disfranchisement of a

great corporale body.' Fox represented it as a half measure, and inefficient as to its professed object, and that it increased to an enormous degree the influence of the Crown ; that the Commissioners proposed by his bill could only be removed upon an address from Parliament ; that his plan was open and responsible ; that the Board of Controul, by Pitt's bill, depended entirely on the Crown, and that any or all of its members might be removed, if they should contradict the mandates of the advisers of the Crown ; that the negative of the Board of Controul to those appointments, left nominally to the Directors, made that Board really the Directors, Fox affirmed that openness marked every

[ocr errors]

part of his own bill, but that Pitt's was a dark delusive scheme to take away by sap the claims of the Company.

[merged small][ocr errors]

A very common observation concerning the East India bill of Mr. Pitt is, that it did circuitously what Mr. Fox's bill proposed to do directly. They must be very superficial reasoners who do not see the following material difference. The nominees projected by Mr. Fox would have possessed an influence that would have secured him and his friends in power, even though the confidence of the King and country should be withdrawn: the plan of Mr. Pitt would not give either to him or his friends an influence which would have secured him in power, if the, confidence of the King or country were withdrawn. By Mr. Fox's plan there might be a Minister who held his place by a new and unconstitutional tenure: Mr. Pitt's did not admit the possibility of such a tenure. The appointments by Mr. Pitt's bill were to be held during pleasure, agreeably

to the general analogy of executorial offices under the Crown: the appointments, according to Mr. Fox's bill, were to be held contrary to that general analogy, and to both the theory and practice of the Constitution. By Mr. Pitt's bill the political direction was to be vested in those whose offices in the State implied the admission of their political capacity: by Mr. Fox's, both political and commercial details, principles, and operations, were to be submitted to individuals not holding offices that implied the admission of their political capacity, and not known for education or habits that would have fitted them for superintending mercantile transactions. I am far from wishing to assert any thing disrespectful to any of the individuals ; I merely state a fact, that the gentlemen he proposed for managing the affairs of merchants were not known to be experienced in trade; that those in whom he wished to be vested the management of the pecuniary concerns of persons whom he asserted to be insolvent, were not known as accountants.

[ocr errors]

During the Parliament which was now commenced, the uncommon genius and eloquence of Burke were treated by many in the house with a disrespect which they never before experienced. It must be confessed, that the richness of his mind very often diffused itself into too great prolixity. Beautiful, sublime, and pathetic, as many of his luxuriant expatiations were, they did not always tend to promote the business at issue. Were Homer to recite his grandest descriptions, his most pathetic episodes, or most exact characteristics of human nature, to an assembly of men engaged on special business, that recital might be very probably considered as an interruption to their own affairs. It might also happen, that there might be in such an assembly of men, fully competent to the details of business, many who might have neither taste to relish, nor understanding to comprehend such excellencies. In such a situation, a man of the greatest genius might naturally expect to meet with checks. Burke, besides, was very irritable, and often hurried by passion


[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »