Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

trol? Was there not a noble lord, for in- | be found any traces of that influence in stance, who used, when he had himself the present House of Commons ? Had no the honour to be a member of the House | Nabobs, with hard names, found their of Commons, to inveigh vehemently way into that House since the year 1784 ? against that unfortunate, and as the noble Had no New Romney, and a variety of lord (Mulgrave) then termed it, “ ac. | other boroughs that memory might sugcursed” American war? that ruinous and gest, felt the happy effects of Indian in. 4 starvation" war, which a learned friend Auence? Had oot a Nabob descended on of his (Mr. Dundas) was at that time New Romney, like another Jupiter, in a somewhat more than suspected of abet- shower of gold ? Such things were ru. ting? Was not the noble lord accustomed moured. The fact was, the Bill of his to reprobate Treasury interference, and right hon. friend, Mr. Fox, like his now the undue influence of Treasury letters ? mind, was manly and open. He was above Were there no such things in existence, the meanness of concealment, and scorned as the exertion of that influence, and the the scandalous baseness of a lie. His life circulation of those letters? He remem- and manners, whatever they were, were bered when a learned friend of his and the public; they were explicit and avowed. noble lord used to wage eternal war on His right hon. friend had asserted, and those topics, and yet they were now per asserted openly, that the patronage and fectly cordial; other members of that the power were inseparable; and as the Board had formerly stood forward equally best possible guard against abuse, he had opposite as partizans; there was, never placed the patronage in the hands of hotheless, nothing like a smack of coalition nourable men with complete responsiin all this! It was doubtless an agreement bility. What did the other Bill do? His of parts, a harmony, a fitness arising from expression failed him. He could not find the absence of every thing rough and an adequate term to describe its operation excrescept, all asperities were smoothed on this side Bow-street! It stole the pa. down, and the conjunction was perfect and tronage, and put it in the pockets of the complete !--His lordship took occasion to Board of Control ; it took that by stealth, mention lord North in this part of his which it dared not avow and claim as a speech, and said the noble lord laboured right. The noble and learned earl had under a severe misfortune, inficted by the said, if those who brought in the Bill of hand of Providence, but he bore it pa- 1783 thought so highly of it as they pretiently and cheerfully, deriving abundant tended to do, he advised them to go to comfort from the resources of his own the general election with that Bill in their mind, and the attachment, friendship, and hands. Be it so; his honourable friends daily resort of those, who professed them would take the hint; and as they now un. selves his adherents in the hour of his derstood from the noble and learned earl, power and prosperity, and having so pro- that a general election was near, they fessed themselves on principles of sincerity would be proud to rest their claims to and honour, still remained the noble lord's public favour on the test of comparison zealous friends. The noble lord, perhaps, between the two Bills. Delusion was now felt his consolation not a little heightened over, and misrepresentation and falsehood by the absence of those, who had basked stood confuted and detected. His right in the sunshine of his better fortune, but hon. friend had reason to be proud on that who felt the first northerly blast too strong day, nor was that his only triumph. Out for their constitutions to endure, vigorous of place, he possessed patronage, and paand robust as some of them were.-The tronage of the noblest kind--the protection noble and learned earl had taken pains to of defenceless millions. A species of papaint the patronage, given the Board of tronage more congenial to his mind than Commissioners by the Bill of 1783, in any other description of patronage whatbroad and glaring colours. Had the Board ever. The unremitting exercise of that of Control no patronage? Had they no patronage was the best answer to the shace of the appointments of the late calumny and slander which, in the hour of Governor-general of Bengal, the Governor popular phrenzy, industrious clamour had of Madras, and the Commander in chief?cast upon his name. The great political The Board of Commissioners, the noble principle of his right hon. friend was that and learned earl had said, would have of an honest and amiable ambition, the overwhelmed both Houses of Parliament reverse of low cunning and sordid avarice. witle Ladian influence. Were there not to His lordship concluded his speech with a declaration that his hon. friends would go , during a preceding debate. He lamented to the next general election, confident of that the anecdotes which he then heard, success, with the India Bills in their hands; I had made so little impression on his mind, that of 1783 in one hand, as commented that he did not now recollect for what upon by its enemies, and the Bill of 1784 purpose they had been introduced. With in the other, as . now explained by its regard to the power of originating disfriends!

| patches, on which so much had been said, The Lord Chancellor contended, that he thought the difference of opinion on the object of the present Bill did not that part of the question related more to relate to the question of right between the words than to substance; for, it would not. crown and the subject, but had been surely, be contended, that the Board of brought forward on general principles of Control, in allowing or amending the dispolicy; on grounds that did not concern patches of the Court of Directors were so the private rights of the Company, but tied down by act of parliament, that they solely respected the management of their could not suggest a single idea which bad territorial, civil, and military concerns. not been laid before them; and yet this The real state of the question was not was all the originating power they claimed whether the Act of 1784 was a wise and except in cases where the Directors neg. proper measure, but whether the present lected to send any dispatches at all. As Bill is a just exposition of that Act. He to the appropriation of the revenue, if it insisted that it was a fair declaration of was admitted that the Board of Control the powers vested in the commissioners were invested with the management and for the affairs of India, and that so far | direction of the civil and military govern. from giving them additional powers, it ment of India, it was absurd to contend restrained them from the exercise of some that they were not to have the power of which they possessed under the former directing the application of the revenue to Act. They had voluntarily dispensed the necessary purposes of the arrangement with the patronage which they might have of those concerns. These were, in fact, exercised, for, they had voluntarily called the only two points on which there was for checks to limit their powers; this, any material difference of opinion; and he surely, was no proof that they were de. appealed to the words of the Act of 1784, sirous of extending their influence. The which his noble friend (lord Camden) had learned lord had desired to know whether so fairly stated, that the Bill was a fair inthe commissioners of bankrupts had a terpretation of that Act; that it was not a power of appropriating the effects of bank question which ought to be left to the derupts, without the consent of the party. / termination of the courts in WestminsterThey certainly had a power to direct the hall; but that as a measure of general application of the funds of every bankrupt policy, it belonged only to Parliament to for the benefit of the creditors, just in the determine it. The construction contended same manner as the commissioners for the for, was no stretch whatever of the original affairs of India could apply the territorial Act. The face of the noble marquis, revenues of that country to the payment | indeed, spoke denial; yet, he could venture of the troops which were necessary for its to assert, that he was well grounded in his defence. This was a position which be position. conceived made more for his argument The Marquis of Lansdowne expressed than against it; but admitting the full his surprise at the doctrine which the force of what the learned lord had argued Lord Chancellor had thought proper to that if the defence of their possessions maintain, when he contended that the should leave them nothing for the purposes present was a question which ought not of investment, they must of necessity to be left to the courts in Westminsterbecome bankrupts, would their situation hall. He should be glad to know on what be much mended, if they were suffered to foundation this species of general policy apply their whole territorial revenues to rested? Was not the general policy of commercial purposes, and leave their pos- this country founded upon its law, upon sessions to the mercy of an enemy? Was its constitution, upon its freedom and this the way to save them from ruin and were not the law and the constitution bankruptcy? He lamented that he had not synonimous terms ? Would the learned an opportunity of consulting the calcula- lord presume to say that the great quesa, tions, which a noble marquis (Lansdowne) tions resulting from the government, the had, with so much ingenuity, reasoned upon finance, and the trade of the empire, did

not rest solely for support upon the prin-| thought it should not be delayed a moment; ciples of the constitution, under the direc- he was ready to join any party, either in tion of the courts of law? Was that fund or out of power, to effectuate so desirable amental principle, the trial by jury, to be a purpose. It appeared to him of such attacked by an authority whose peculiar magnitude, and, indeed, it had appeared duty it was to protect it? Were the elo so to the nation at large; for, it seemed to quent and powerful arguments of the noble him, that every measure of government lord near him (turoing to lord Loughbo- bad, for many years past, and during the rough) to be passed over in this light and progress of several successive administra. trivial manner? If such was the new-fangled tions, either primarily or ultimately turned interpretation of general policy from such upon Indian politics. He next adverted a quarter, it was an ill omen indeed! As to the precipitancy with which the Bill to the sarcasms which the learned lord had had been hurried through the House. It been pleased to direct against him, he should was, undoubtedly, highly important in neither be deterred by the looks, howsoever many points of view, yet three days had commanding, nor the talents of the learned been deemed sufficient for the discussion lord, from asserting his opinions in that of a question of such magnitude. He said House on any public question. The he had that morning looked into the hislearned lord was welcome to profit from tory of the Bill of 1784, and found that its his calculations, if he wished to reap the progress had also been marked with similar benefit of them. Knowing them to be haste, when only a few peers attended the founded in truth, he was not ashamed to House ; yet to that « well-digested law" look him in the face, and to tell him that we were now called to look up for the the present Bill was a base violation of the government of our dominions, and the rights and privileges of the East India management of the affairs of the East India Company. He insisted, that by the Act Company. Could he have conceived that of 1784, the power of appropriating the such precipitancy would have been suffered revenue did not follow the right of control to prevail, he certainly should have attended which the commissioners claimed over the the first day, when the Bill was brought civil and military concerns of the Company, up. Unwilling as he was to trouble the and that it was not the necessary conse- House, although he had much reason to quence of a power of control. It was true, thank the noble members for their kind indeed, that the executive government of indulgence to his feeble arguments, yet he France had the sole appropriation of its should have called for papers-he should revenues, and to this the present low state have demanded the Court of Directors to of its finances was owing. Let those who appear at the bar of that House, and upon doubted this, look at that great financier, their oaths have declared what construction Neckar; let them consult a very consider they had put upon the Act of 1784, and able man who was once at the head of the have answered whether they had consi. finances of that country, and who was now dered themselves as having surrendered present (M. Calonne); they will demon- all the power and patronage of the Comstrate the impolicy of that maxim, and pany, the origination of dispatches, and the show it is contrary to the principles of good application of the revenues, into the hands government, by the bad effects it has pro. of the Board of Control. And even if this duced in the decline of the finances of question had been affirmed, he was bound France. Louis the 14th, unhappily, for in duty to oppose the present Bill, as a his subjects, preferred the tinselled vanity most dangerous extension of power, which of being a conqueror, to the solid happi- he was well assured would alarm the neighness of his people, arising from a well. bouring powers.--He believed that the regulated commerce and government. He affairs of the Company abroad could not trusted, that whatever resolution might be be in better hands than they were at preadopted with regard to the renewal of the sent. He reflected with pleasure on his Company's charter, government would being the first man who had suggested consider the rights of the stockholder and that lord Cornwallis was a proper person of the creditor. The noble marquis ac- to assume the reins of government in knowledged, that a great and comprehen- Bengal, and sir Archibald Campbell had sive system for that government was been appointed by him governor of Jabecome absolutely necessary. He, for maica on the recommendation of merit one, was ready to go immediately into the solely; for it was well known that some of subject with expedition and effect. He that gentleman's relations were hostile to (VOL. XXVII.]

[S]

his politics; but he desired that the Board | not but behold this extraordinary Bill with of Control might be limited to the powers yet greater alarm, when it has been avowed of control, and not invested with the powers that it is intended to operate as an act of of appropriation, Power was a dangerous indemnity for past measures not explicitly engine in whatever bands it was placed.- stated. Surely it is a proposition absurd The noble marquis declared it was a pleas and monstrous on the very face of it, to ing reflection to him, that at the conclusion call upon this House to declare what was of the late peace, he and his colleagues in and is law, subject to provisions which, office had laid down their plan for the shall be. A declaration so qualified is a conduct of India affairs. It was, to suffer new species of bill of indemnity, which the patronage to remain in the hands of unlike all others, does content itself with the Company, but to control them so far holding forth terms of protection against as to divert their attention from the idle the penal consequences of an illegal act schemes of power and extension of terri- committed, but retrospectively alters and tory, to the more solid and beneficial views reverses the nature and essence of the acof trade, from which he was convinced tion itself from its very origin, if certain that every permanent degree of strength prospective conditions be subsequently and power must ultimately be derived to l observed. a commercial country. He was convinced “ 2dly. Because the preamble of the prethat the Company, under proper regula- sent Bill, which must be presumed to set tions, might extend the trade to a very forth the legal grounds of the proposed great degree indeed. It would not be too declaration, does not appear to us in reality bold, perhaps, to assert, that in a few years to contain any such grounds. It offers it might be increased ten-fold. He then nothing more than partial and pieced expointed out the different parts of that tracts from various sections of the 24th quarter of the globe where fresh sources of his present Majesty, two of which evi. of trade might be discovered, and applied dently convey only general powers to be to the infinite benefit of the kingdom. He exercised in such manner as in the said appealed to the House upon the dangerous Act is directed," that is, subject to limita. tendency of the Bill; but added, let the tions and modifications not recited in the fate of the question be what it may preamble; and the third of these extracts, perhaps it was already determined- he which is taken from the conclusion of the must rest satisfied in having done his duty alth section of the Act above mentioned, to his country and posterity, in having is in truth part of the clause imperative on given his determined opposition to the the Directors, not enabling to the ConBill. .

missioners; binding the former to obey the 1. The House divided on the question, orders of the latter (that is all such orders That the Bill do pass: Contents, 71; Not as they may lawfully issue under ather contents, 28.

parts of the Act), but not conferring on the

datter any portion of distinct power. Their - Protest against the East India Declara- powers, whatever they may be, must be tory Bill. The following protest was sought in the enabling claqses of the Act, entered against the passing of the Bill : il by which alone this imperative clause can '.'* Dissentient,

be construed, but of which not a trace is 1 " Because we object altogether to the to be discovered in the preamble. : very style and form of the present Bill, in- " 3dly. Because the limitations and re. asmuch as it purports to be a Declaratory straints on the power of the Commission. Bill of a kind as dangerous in its applica.ers, which are now imposed for the first tion as it is certainly unusual, if not new in time in this Bill, carry with them an injits principle. If the Act of the 24th of his tation highly derogatory to the honour Majesty be clearly expressed, any decla. and wisdom of this House, inasmnch as ration of its sense is evidently unnecessary; they imply, that in the very moment if it be worded, whether from accident or when this House felt the most tender ap design, in dark equivocal terms, we con- prehensions for the safety of chartered ceive that, in order to do away every rights, and when they were most anxiously ambiguity, the mode most open and can alarmed for the consequences of transferdid in itself, as well as most regular and ring the power and patronage of the Comconformable to the usage of parliament, pan y even for a time, they consciously and would have been by a bill to explain and deliberately passed an aci, by which those amend, and not to declare. And we can rights were to be superseded, and that power and patronage in effect vested in / at least, invade, perhaps in a great measure the Board of Control for ever, without finally baffie, all political responsibility: sufficient checks and guards to protect for they have a power of administering to the one, or to prevent the corrupt use of their clerks and other officers an oath of the other. The authors of these limiting secrecy framed for the occasion by them. and restraining clauses have left to the selves; and they possess in the India majority of this House no other refuge House the suspicious instrument of a Ser from the imputation of this inconsistency, cret Committee, consisting only of the but in an ignorance of that meaning, which chairman, the deputy chairman, and one ve are now called upon to declare. other director, all bound to them by an · "4thly. Because, if any such limita- oath. Through these they bave sent an tions and restraints be indeed necessary, arrangement for paying the debts of the the provisions of this Bill, we are per- Nabob of Arcot, beneficial to individuals, suaded, must prove nugatory and ineffi injurious to the Company, and fundament, cient.

ally contradicting the plain principle of an “ 5thly. Because coupling the Act of express clause in that very Act by which the 24th of his Majesty with all its accu- their own Board was instituted; and mulated explanations and amendments, through these they have concurred to and understanding the powers there con- transmit a dispatch, altered too by themferred on the Commissioners to the extent selves, on a subject of mere trade, over implied in the preamble and limiting clau- which they profess to disclaim all right of ses of the present Bill, the system esta management. After such examples we blished by ihut Act, in truth realises all must confess, that our imaginations cannot the dangers which were ever attributed to figure to us any description of business, another measure then recently rejected by which may not be sheltered behind the this House, and is certainly fruitful of for thick veil of the Secret Committee; and midable mischiefs proper to itself, friendly from our past experience, relative to the to corrupt intrigue and cabal, hostile to first of these transactions, ve are so justly all good government, and especially ab- sensible of the great advantages with wbich horrent from the principles of our popular the servants of the crown must argue on constitution.

such topics before an assembly constitu, “ The patronage of the Company (and tionally disposed to a general confidence this seems to be the most serious terror to in them, that we should be sanguine indeed, the people of England) the Commission did we but expect any considerable check ers enjoy in the worst mode, without that to be given to the possible misconduct of responsibility which is the natural security the Board of Control, by the fears of a against malversation and abuse. They parliamentary inquiry. cannot immediately appoint, but they “ 6thly. Because the operation of this bave that weight of recommendation and Bill, and of the Act, the meaning of which influence which must ever inseparably at- it is to declare, ought to haye been limited tend on substantial power, and which in to the duration of the existing charter. the present case has not any where been Whatever may be the right of the legislaattempted to be denied.

ture to subject the trade and the general « Should this fail them in the first in revenues of the Company to the inspection stance, they can intimidate and encou- and control of the Board of Commis. rage: they can suppress the approbation sioners, nominated by the Crown, so long and censure of the Directors on their own as the Company continue in the enjoyment servants; they can substitute blame for of an exclusive trade, and in the managepraise, and praise for blame, or they may ment of great territorial revenues, we instantly recall whomsoever the Directors must, however, maintain, that to perpe. may appoint against their will: and this tuate such inspection, and to render the they may repeat, till they ultimately com signatures of that Board necessary to all pel the Directors harassed and over-awed, the Company's dispatches of every kind, to nominate the man whom the Commissi- / when they may carry on their trade merely oners may wish to favour. Nor is this dis as a commercial corporation, without any posal of patronage without responsibility, | monopoly, and when they may remain in the only evil that characterizes the system ; the management only of their own proper all the high powers and prerogatives with estates, is a measure of injustice wholly which the Commissioners are vested, they unprecedented, and an example liable to may exercise invisibly, and thus for a period much reasonable jealousy in a commercial

| country like Great Britain.

« ZurückWeiter »