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shall be assembled; and that, at the present moment, their dividend may, in strictness, be considered as unprovided for.
Tuesday, January 19, 1819. The writers, who have recently undertaken to defend and justify the opposition of the Court of Directors to any extension of the Import Trade from India to the out-ports of the kingdom, have laid a peculiar stress upon an opinion conveyed in that part of Mr. Dundas's letter of the second of April, 1800, in which that Minister was considering “ the agents to be employed at home; to manage the private trade of individuals from India, and to take care of their interests in the cargoes of the returning ships.” He states his opinion, that“ there is no use of any interference by the Company; that the great interest to be attended to on the part of the Company is, that no goods come from India that are not deposited in the Company's warehouses; and that the goods, so imported, be exposed at the Company's sales, agreeably to the rules prescribed for that purpose."
In taking ground upon any principle, it is necessary to ascertain whether it applies to the case in point. That it was a great interest to the East India Company to watch and control the trade carrying on under their own licenses, is obvious; and this the Company could not effectually do, unless that Trade, on its return from India, was brought under their own eye, and collected within the sphere of their own control ; which is confined to the Port of London. But the case, to which this argument is now applied by the advo. cates for the Company, is so essentially deficient, that the principles appear to be wholly inapplicable. In this new case, the extended trade would be carried on, not under the Company's licenses, but under the provision of Parliament; and the protection and control of that trade would become the care, not of the Company, but of
the executive government. Here then the deterniination of that trade would be governed, not by the separate interest of the Company (which alone came within the scope of Mr. Dundas's argument), but by the combined interests of the Company and the public at large. To this combined interest, Mr. Dundas's argument was not directed ; and it is a fallacy in seasoning, to apply a partia argument to a general case.
But, let us grant what these advocates assumé ; that the opinion here delivered by Mr. Dundas, does really apply to the case in question. May not that have happened at the present day, which actually did happen with regard to the regulations of the Charter of 1793? Might not new light be thrown upon a subject in 1813, which was supposed to have been thoroughly investigated in 1800? And, as the candor and openness of Mr. Dundas caused him, in 1800, to avow, that the provisions of 1793 were inadequate, and prompted him strenuously to recommend the adoption of a new principle; is it not possible that, taking into his view all the circumstances which bear upon the question at the present day, he might, had his life been spared, have been convinced, that the extraordinary and unforeseen changes which have taken place in the political and commercial world, might have now rendered it, sot only expedient, but necessary to relax, in some degree, upon the point of the import trade from India ?
At an early period of the present discussion, Ministers appear to have entertained the same maxim, of confining the Impost Trade from India to the Port of London. They were afterwards led, by a full exposition of all the various interests which remonstrated against that close restriction, to deem it just and expedient to propose (and wise and politic for the East India Company to consent), that such of the principal oul-ports as possessed the means whereby smuggling could best be guarded against, should participate with London in the import trade from India; reserving exclusively to London, the whole of the trade from China. This alteration of their original plan was suggested by them to the Court of Directors, not as a relaxation of the existing privileges of ihe Company (which was the nature of Mr. Dundas's proposition in 1900), but as a qualification ta take place under a new Charter.
When Mr. If Indian-built, treating w
When Mr. Dundas suggested to the Directors the new principle, of admitting Indian-built ships as the vehicle for carrying on the private trade, he was not treating with them concerning the renewal of their Charter; for they had then an unexpired term of fourteen years, in the privileges conferred upon them by the Act of 1793. His proposition, as has been just observed, went to a relaxation of an important part of those subsisting privileges ; for which he sought to gain their acquiescence; and as his opinion was decided and avowed, “ that the ostensible form of Government for India, with all its consequent detail of patronage, must remain as it now is, and that the monopoly of that trade ought properly to continue in the hands of the East India Company;" it was prudent and seasonable in him to dwell upon that point.
Have not the Ministers of the present day evinced the same opinion? Have they not proposed, to leave the patronage of India, and the exclusive profits of the China Trade, with the Company Does not the China Trade ensure the employment of all the large ships in the service of the Company; together with the continued engagement, in that line of service, of the Commanders and Officers of those ships ; and also, of every other description of person now connected with that (the largest ) branch of the Company's concerns ? Have not Ministers proposed to confine the private trade with India to ships of four hundred tons and upwards ; thereby leaving to the owners of such of the smaller ships now in the service of the Company, as by possibility may not be required for their commerce, the advantage (which establishment in any line of business must always give) of finding employment from those who, under the proposed extension, may engage in that trade ? Hare not Ministers, in proposing that the Government of India should continue to be administered through the organ of the Company, proposed to them the continuance of the peculiar and great benefit, of carrying on their commerce by means of the revenue of that Government? Whereas, the private adventurers must trade upon their own capitals, or at a heavy charge of interest,
How is it, then, that we hear so much of the loss which our Navy must sustain, from the large ships of the Company being withdrawn from the Eastern Trade; of the distress to which the Cominanders and Officers, and the numerous classes of artificers and others connected with those ships, are to be exposed? Why are we told, that the East India Docks will be left empty, and the Proprietors be reduced to apply to Parliament for an indemnification? Can it possibly happen, that all these calamities, so heavily denounced, should arise out of a permission to be granted to private ships, returning from India, to proceed to certain ports to be designated ; more advantageously situated for their trade than the Port of London? A permission, which the Directors themselves are of opinion will not long be made use of to any great extent; for they have told us, that the adventurers in those private ships will be disappointed in their speculations; and they have adverted to the mass of individual loss which must ensue from the delusion, as furnishing a strong argument, why Government ought not to yield to the importunity of the Merchants of the out-ports.
From all that has been stated, it would appear, that instead of the exaggerated picture of distress, which the advocates for a closemonopoly to the Port of London have represented as the necessary consequence of relieving commerce from its present restrictions, we ought to entertain a well founded expectation; that every class and description of persons, who now find employment in the Indian Trade, will continue to have their industry called into action in the same line of employment, and even to a greater extent, in some instances, than is now experienced. For, unless the union of interests, which has so recently taken place between the City of London and the East India Company, should have the effect of preventing all competition between the Merchants of London (formerly so eager to participate in the trade with India) and the Merchants of the out-ports; it cannot fail to happen, from the spirit of enterprise which has uniformly distinguished the Metropolis, that the Port of London, to which the whole Indiu Trade would be generally open, will furnish its full proportion of the new adventurers; and thus amply fill up that void, which the East India Company affirm would be created in the Port of London, hy diverting so much of the Indian Trade to the out-ports: more especially, as all the houses of Indian agency, which have been formed since the Act of 1793, are established within the Metropolis.
Since this is the just prospect, which the adoption of the condițions proposed by Goverumeut as the terms for the renewal of the
Company's Charter, opens to our view ; since the share which the London Merchants may take in the enlargement of the trade, would not fail to supply employment for all that industry, which the Court of Directors assert will be interrupted and suspended; while, at the same time, the extension of that advantage will create new sources of industry in various parts of the kingdom, without impairing or diminishing that of London ; whose will be the awful responsibility, if, by an obstinate rejection of terms capable of yielding consequences so extensively beneficial to the community, the Charter of the Company should not be renewed ; and if the disastrous effect should in consequence be produced, in London and its vicinity, of “ a suspended industry, mterrupted employment," and all the train of sufferigs and calamities which has been drawn out? Who will be chargeable, before the country, with “ the loss and waste of establishments which have cost upwards of a million sterling-of shipping, to the amount of many millions of a numerous and respectable class of warehouse keepers, clerks, and superior servants, joined to three thousand laborers, and their families of tradesmen of various descriptions, who have incurred a very great expense for the conduct of their business ? » Who will be chargeable, in fact, with all this destruction ? Will it be the Government, who desire the East India Company to keep their Indian Empire, and their exclusive China trade? Or will it be the Conductors of the East India Company, who shall suffer this great machine suddenly to stop its action, because their limited exclusire privileges are not made perpetual ?
Friday, January 22, 1813.. GRACCHUS is charged, by some of the champions of the East India Company, with error and a want of candor, because he has represented the Directors to have maintained, that opening the