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meditate a fraudulent bankruptcy, to calculate his probable profits upon the money he takes up to vest in business. Did the Company, when they bought goods on bonds bearing eight per cent interest, at ten and even twenty per cent discount, even ask themselves a question concerning the possibility of advantage from dealing on these terms?
The last quality of a merchant I shall advert to is the taking care to be properly prepared, in cash or goods in the ordinary course of sale, for the bills which are drawn on them. Now I ask, whether they have ever calculated the clear produce of any given sales, to make them tally with the four million of bills which are come and coming upon them, so as at the proper periods to enable the one to liquidate the other. No, they have not. They are now obliged to borrow money of their own servants to purchase their investment. The servants stipulate five per cent on the capital they advance, if their bills should not be paid at the time when they become due; and the value of the rupee on which they charge this in- _ terest is taken at two shillings and a penny. Has the Company ever troubled themselves to inquire whether their sales can bear the payment of that interest, and at that rate of exchange? Have they once considered the dilemma in which they are placed,— the ruin of their credit in the East Indies, if they refuse the bills, —the ruin of their credit and existence in England, if they accept them?
Indeed, no trace of equitable government is found in their politics, not one trace of commercial principle in their mercantile dealing: and hence is the deepest and maturest wisdom of Parliament demanded, and the best resources of this kingdom must be
strained, to restore them,—that is, to restore the countries destroyed by the misconduct of the Com— pany, and to restore the Company itself, ruined by the consequences of their plans for destroying what they were bound to preserve.
I required, if you remember, at my outset, a proof that these abuses were habitual. But surely this is not necessary for me to consider as a separate head ; because I trust I have made it evident beyond a doubt, in considering the abuses themselves, that they are regular, permanent, and systematical.
I am now come to my last condition, without which, for one, I will never readily lend my hand to the destruction of any established government, which is, — that, in its present state, the government of the East India Company is absolutely incorrigible.
Of this great truth I think there can be little doubt, after all that has appeared in this House. It is so very clear, that I must consider the leaving any power in their hands, and the determined resolution to continue and countenance every mode and every degree of peculation, oppression, and tyranny, to be one and the same thing. I look upon that body incorrigible, from the fullest consideration both of their uniform conduct and their present real and virtual constitution.
If they had not constantly been apprised of all the enormities committed in India under their authority, if this state of things had been as much adiscovery to them as it was to many of us, we might flatter ourselves tl-at the detection of the abuses would lead to their reformation. I will go further. If the Court of Directors had not uniformly condemned every act which this House or any of its committees had condemned, if the language in which they expressed their disapprobation against enormities and their authors had not been much more vehement and indignant than any ever used in this House, I should entertain some hopes. If they had not, on the other hand, as uniformly commended all their servants who had done their duty and obeyed their orders as they had heavily censured those who rebelled, I might say, These people have been in an error, and when they are sensible of it they will mend. But when I reflect on the uniformity of their support to the objects of their uniform censure, and the state of insignificance and disgrace to which all of those have been reduced whom they approved, and that even utter ruin and premature death have been among the fruits of their favor, I must be convinced, that in this case, . as in all others, hypocrisy is the only vice that never can be cured.
Attend, I pray you, to the situation and prosperity of Benfield, Hastings, and others of that sort. The last of these has been treated by the Company with an asperity of reprehension that has no parallel. They lament “ that the power of disposing of their property for perpetuity should fall into such hands.” Yet for fourteen years, with little interruption, he has gov_ erned all their affairs, of every description, with an absolute sway. He has had himself the means of heaping up immense wealth ; and during that whole period, the fortunes of hundreds have depended on his smiles and frowns. He himself tells you he i: incumbered with two hundred and fifty young gentle men, some of them of the best families in England, all of whom aim at returning with vast fortunes to Europe in the prime of life; He has, then, two hun
tired and fifty of your children as his hostages for your good behavior; and loaded for years, as he has been, with the execrations of the natives, with the censures of the Court of Directors, and struck and blasted with resolutions of this House, he still maintains the most despotic power ever known in India. He domineers with an overbearing sway in the assemblies of his pretended masters; and it is thought in a degree rash to venture to name his offences in this House, even as grounds of a legislative remedy.
On the other hand, consider the fate of those who have met with the applauses of the Directors. Colonel Monson, one of the best of men, had his days shortened by the applauses, destitute of the support, of the Company. General Clavering, whose pane— gyric was made in every dispatch from England, whose hearse was bedewed with the tears and hung round with the eulogies of the Court of Directors, burst an honest and indignant heart at the treachery of those who ruined him by their praises. Uncommon patience and temper supported Mr. Francis a while longer under the baneful influence of the commendation of the Court of Directors. His health, however, gave way at length; and in utter despair, he returned to Europe. At his return, the doors of the India House were shut to this man who had been the object of their constant admiration. He has, indeed, escaped with life; but he has forfeited all expectation of credit, consequence, party, and following. He may well say, “ Me nemo ministro fur erit, atque ioleo nulli comes ezeo.” This man, whose deep reach of thought, whose large legislative conceptions, and whose grand plans of policy make the most shining part of our Reports, from whence we have all learned our lessons, if we have learned any good ones,-- this man, from whose materials those gentlemen who have least acknowledged it have yet spoken as from a brief, —this man, driven from his employment, discountenanced by the Directors, has had no other reward, and no other distinction, but that inward “ sunshine of the soul” which a good conscience can always bestow upon itself. He has not yet had so much as a good word, but from a person too insignificant to make any other return for the means with which he has been furnished for performing his share of a duty which is equally urgent on us all.
Add to this, that, from the highest in place to the lowest, every British subject, who, in obedience to the Company’s orders, has been active in the discovery of peculations, has been ruined. They have been driven from India. When they made their appeal at home, they were not heard ; when they attempted to return, they were stopped. No artifice of fraud, n0 violence of power, has been omitted to destroy them in character as well as in fortune.
Worse, far worse, has been the fate of the poor creatures, the natives of India, whom the hypocrisy of the Company has betrayed into complaint of oppression and discovery of peculation. The first women in Bengal, the Ranny of Rajeshahi, the Ranny of Burdwan, the Ranny of Ambooah, by their weak and thoughtless trust in the Company’s honor and protection, are utterly ruined : the first of these women, a person of princely rank, and once of correspondent fortune, who paid above two hundred thousand a year quit-rent to the state, is, according to very credible information, so completely beggared as to stand in need