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priating the savings of one article This proposition greatly alarmto the support of another ; and ed, not only the gentlemen who that there was no doubt that the were more immediately interested admiralty board would present a in the affairs of the Company, but very clear state of their accounts those who considered it merely as an whenever it was required, and invasion of legal rights, and the would wish for nothing more, than principles of the constitution in gethe most minute enquiry into their neral. It accordingly occafioned conduct.
one of the warmest debates that had With respect to the charge that been known for some time. had been made, in regard to the The plea of distress was exaunaccounted part of the money, mined, and alledged to be only temwhich had been granted for the ser- porary, by a deficiency of present vice of the year 1771, it was said, cath; but it was infilted, that in that in the hurry of the late war, point of solvency, 'the Company many of the King's fhips had been was in the highest degree of credit. built of green timber, so that upon That the minister himself had adthe alarm with Spain, most of them mitted this fact. That the gross had been found unfit for service; abuses committed in India, had and that the over plus money had rendered it necessary to appoint been applied to the purpose of re. a set of gentlemen, in whom the pairs, by which means the navy confidence of the Company, whole was at present in a very respectable interest was at stake, was placed, condition. After a very warm de- to reform those abuses and regulate bate, the motion past without a their affairs ; by whose interpofidivision.
tion, notwithstanding the expence, In a little more than a week af- vast sums might be, and probably ter its institution, the president of would be, saved to the Company; the secret committee surprized a that it was a new system of coa. considerable part of the House, duct, as well as mode of arguwho considered the shortness of the ment, that because people were dir. wch time, and the magni- tressed, they thould not be per
• tude of the subject of mitted to take proper measures to 774 enquiry, by a report on retrieve their affairs ; that this was the affairs of the India Company. a proposal for an ex poft fa&o law, In this report it was stated, that and was to restrain the Company though the Company were much from doing what was already lediftrefied in money matters, they gally done; that the report was were, notwithstanding, preparing founded upon a false principle, the to send out an expensive commit- alledged motive being to preserve fion of supervision to India, which the Company from a farther emwould ftill add to that distress ; and barrassment in the present state of that it was the opinion of the their affairs, by their running into committee, that a bill should an extraordinary expence; wherebe brought in to restrain them as the expences of the supervision for a limited time, from sending were to be paid, and paid only, out any such commillion of luper- out of the savings which it might visors.
be productive of in India, and
could have no possible effect on pany, have judged it expedient their present diftrelies at home. that a rettraint should be laid upon That the Company, notwithstand- them in respect to that meaiure, ing the full powers with which and that as no restrains could posthey were legally furnished, for the fably be laid but by act of parliamanagement of their internal af. ment, it was necessary to bring in fairs, and the appointment of their a bill for that purpose. Doubts fervants, had shewn so great an at- were also raised in the debate tention and deference to parlia. (though no more than doubts) ment, that though the supervisors whether the Company could lewere appointed, and the gentlemen gally iffue such a commission. If in readiness to depart, they had they could, it was asserted, that already suspended the commission, the Company could not give their only upon hearing that the House commissioners proper and effectual had begun an enquiry into their authority without the aid of parliaaffairs, and were determined it ment; nor were they, under whole should not take place, till the issue government all thole abuses had of that enquiry. That the report arisen, in the least equal to the corftrikes at the very charter and con- rection of them. ftitution of the Company; was un In order to elude the 'present precedented, and unparliamentary ; temper, and to prevent the eita. and it was hoped would be dismiss blishment of a precedent so fatal fed, in such a manner, as should to their rights, two gentlemen who vindicate the honour of the House, were directors of the India Comand prevent such attempts for the pany, and then in their places as future.
members, offered to pledge themIn answer to these arguments the selves to the House, that ihe forminister declared, that no hostile pension should not be taken off, intentions whatever were conceived nor the supervisors suffered to de. aginit the Company; that it was part, until such a progress was the intention of parliament, and made in the present enquiry, as great with of administration, to should afford full satisfaction, both render it a great and glorious Com- with respect to the state of their pany, and to feitle it upon the affairs, and the propriety of the molt permanent foundation ; but mealure. that they were entering into a very . This proposal was rejected. It expensive commision, at a time, was said, that though the Comthat from their former misconduci, pany might for the present have their difresies were so great, as resolved to suspend the departure to put thein under the necessity of of the supervisors, nothing but an applying to the public for a loan act of parliament could make that of money, and that they owed con- resolution effectual; that they fiderable arrears to government; might rescind on one day, their that it was undoubtedly the duty of own resolutions or measures of the parliament to preserve them fion preceding ; that the opinion or ruin; that the committee which promises of the whole court of di. had been appointed by the House rectors could afford no security in o inspect :1.c affairs of the Coin this respect, as the direction was
inferior inferior to the general courts, where vantage of the distress principally their a&ts were liable to be over- caused by that plunder, to deprive ruled by the proprietors; and that them of their charter, and overan advantage might be taken dur- throw their constitution ; fuft they ing the Christmas recess, of send. tempt and terrify them into a ruiing the supervisors far out of the nous extravagance of grants and reach of parliament. That this dividends, and then, as a punishbill was no invasion of any charter, ment, deprive them of whatever it was only an act to prevent a pof- this extravagance had left. That sible evil; to prevent the Company indeed the minister was lavish in from crowning all their former his declarations of his friendly inextravagance, by entering into an tentions towards the Company; unnecessary and ruinous expence, and these declarations must be con. when they were just upon the brink fidered as a full compensation for of bankruptcy.
every thing they suffered. It was On the other fide, the whole farther said, that this bill must be measure, as well as the unconsti- productive of the most fatal consc. tutional nature of the committee quences with respect to the other from which it originated, were funds, and put an end to all confi. condemned in the most severe and dence in the public faith ; and it pointed terms. It was said to be was asked with great bitterness, neither more nor less than a bill what security there could be in a to suspend the laws of the land ; country, where the royal charters, that it was subversive of rights, repeatedly ratified and confirmed which the Company not only en- by acts of parliament, could give enjoyed by charter, but had pur- no permanent establishment to pro. chased from the public, for high perty. That the argument of exand valuable considerations. That pence was a mese pretext to cover it disgraced the dignity of parlia- worse designs. That it was ad. ment, by a wanton exertion of ay- mitted some sort of supervision was thority, without a motive ; that too necessary; and the objection of exmany complaints were already loud. pence was equally applicable to ly and publicly made, that every any sort of supervision. As to the minifterial job was adopted as soon want of powers, it was said, that as proposed, without regard to rea- if there was any defeet of that fort fon, argument, or consequences, in the Company's charter, they whereby the respect and confidence, might be given with equal effect to so essential to the nature of parlia. the commissioners who are legally ment, were sunk to a degree that appointed, and without any viola. could scarcely be paralleled in the tion of the rights or charter of the worft of times. That administra- Company. tion had found out an admirable To these and many other tricmethod of rendering the Company tures, the distresses and extravagreat and glorious; they began, gance of the Company, the necesby plandering them, under the lity of observing the strictest æco. name of an agreement, of above nomy in their affairs, together with two millions, and now put the last a due regard for their welfare, hand to the work, by taking ad. which was so intimately connected with that of the state, and a just duties, the indemnity upon tea, attention to the security of their and the stipulated 400,000 l. little creditors, were deemed in general less than two millions annually fufficient answers ; it was also in- from the Company. That the lat. filted on, hat this measure was no ter had loft by the indemnity agree. invasion of their rights; and that ment, from its first commence. if it had, the legislature had an un- ment, at least one million, of which questioned right to interfere, to 700,000 l. went to government, prevent their running headlong to and the remainder to the purchasruin. Upon a division, the ques. ers. It was also shewn, chat governtion was carried by a great majo. ment had profited, extraordinarily, sity, being supported by 114 votes, by the Company, within the last against 43 only, who opposed the five years, to the vast amount of bringing in of the bill.
3,395,000 l. viz. by the produce In the farther progress of this of the annual ftipulated sum, bill, a petition, couched in the 2,200,000 l. and by the increase #trongest terms, was presented of the revenue, compared on a me. against it by the India Company; dium with the five preceding years, and several of their servants, con. 1,195,000l. That the whole of lifting of the examiner of the re- the Company's receipts of dividend cords, the auditor of Indian ac- during the same period, scarcely counts, the accountant general, amounted to 900,000 l. more than and the superintendant of the cul- fix per cent. upon its capital, which som-house accounts, 'were exa- was the lowelt trading dividend mined by the Company's desire, that had ever been made during at the bar of the House of Com. the most expensive and dangerous mons, in order as well to thew a war. It appeared upon the whole, true itate of their affairs, as the that the Company's mercantile misconduct and disobedience of profits during the above period their servants abroad, and the con- amounted, on an average, to fequent neceflity of the supervision. .464,000 l. annually, which would In the course of these examinations have afforded a dividend of twelve it appeared, that the exorbitances and a half per cent. so that while and oppreffiops Atill continued to government profited to the great be committed by the Company's amount we have mentioned, the fervants in India. Through their Company and proprietary, instead own imprudence, in asking need- of benefiting a single shilling, loft Jess or improper questions, a full considerably of the dividend, which fhare of those charges were brought the profits on their trade only directly home to some of those gen- would have afforded. Thence they tlemen who were then fitting in the argued, that far from being delinHoufe.
quents, their merits with the pubIt appeared, that since the year lic were unparalleled by any ex. 1765, the Company's expences had ample. That the abuses commitincreased from 700,0001. to the ted by their servants were fuch as enormous sum of 1,700,000 l. an- they could not prevent, because nually. It also appeared that go. they could not foresee; that when vernment had received by the net they were known, they endeavoured
by reiterated orders from home to gentleman would have had an op correct them; that they had pre- portunity of founding his opinion pared various commissions for that upon matters as they appeared to purpose ; one under Lord Clive ; himself, and of requiring such exà fecond, which had been unfor- planations as he thought necessary; tunately loft ; and a third, which, that the time unavoidably spent in contrary to their rights, was now such an investigation would afford proposed to be rescinded. They leisure for cool deliberation, and contended, that parliament could for digesting in some degree the not take this step, as being con- several parts of such complicated trary to public faith. The matters matter; whereby random opinions of fact in the petition were ftated and hasty reports, framed in a by the evidence with clearness and hurry, and without a possibility of precision. We have been the more seeing all the sides of the subject, particular in this detail, as it will would be precluded ; and at the andoubtedly excite the admiration , same time, the parties concerned of future ages, to consider the power would have an equitable opportuand opulence which had been once nity of attending to their respective in the possession of a Company of interests, clearing up doubtful English merchants. .
points, rectifying mistakes, and the A second report had been made satisfaction of knowing the ground during this time by the secret com- upon which measures were to be mittee, which contained a long founded, in whose consequences statement of the Company's affairs; they were so deeply affected. of their debts, credits, and effe&s, On the other hand it was urged, both at home and abroad. It was that the committee had acquitted objected that this piece was fo over itself of its truit with the most dis. loaded with figures and accounts, tinguished fidelity, and had difand so full of intricacies, that it patched and gone through so comcould afford but little information, plicated a business in less time than (except what was taken for granted. could be expected; which could from the gross sums) within the not have been done, if the comnarrow time that such information mittee had been open, and subject could be necessary, with respect to to debate on the several articles. · the present bill. This state of their That it is no wonder that matters affairs was considered by the Com. of account in such a business should pany and its friends as a very un- appear to produce different con. favourable, if not unfair, represen- clufion's, according to the different tation of them; and drew many manner of viewing and stating ftrictures upon the committee, the them. But unless direct fallifica. darkness of its proceedings, and tion were proved, the House must the doubtful information that could necessarily abide by the statement be obtained through such a me- of those whom they had chosen for dium. It was again lamented, that the purpose. a fair and open enquiry had not Upon the third reading of the been carried on, according to the bill, council was heard in behalf happy genius and spirit of the En- of the Company, afrer which great glih conftitution, by which every debates arose. It was advanced by