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any other country. The right honourable gentleman, whose eloquence and whose abilities would lend a grace to deformity, had appealed to your passions, and pressed home to your hearts the distressed situation of the unhappy natives of India. A situation which every man most deeply deplore, and anxiously with to relieve; but ought the right honourable gentleman to proceed to the protection of the oppressed abroad, by enforcing the most unparallelled oppression at home? Is the relief to be administered in Asia, to be grounded on violence and injustice in Europe? Let the House turn their eyes to the very extraordinary manner in which the very extraordinary bill now un«Ier consideration has been introduced. When the right honourable gentleman opened it to the House on Tuesday se'nnight, he urged the indispensable necessity of the measure as its only justification; and in order to carry that necessity to the conviction of the House, he gave such a state of the Company's affairs, as to convey to the ideas of almost every gentleman present, that the Company were bankrupts to the amount of eight millions. f_Mr. Fox shook his head.] I am ready to admit that the right honourable gentleman did not expressly fay so; but I shall still contend, that the manner in which the right honourable gentleman stated their affairs conveyed that idea. It has been entertained by most of those who heard the right honourable gentleman, it has been entertained by the public, and it has been entertained by the Company. The right honourable gentleman has himself confessed, he made several omissions in his former state of the Company's affairs: omissions he certainly did rnake; omissions, gross, palpable, and prodigious. What is the consequence? the Company flatly denied the right honourable gentleman's statement. They prepare an account of the true state of their affairs; they produce it at the bar of the House; they establish its authenticity by the concurrent testimony of their accountant and auditor. What happens then? The right honourable gentleman declares it is incumbent on Jiim to clear his own character, and that can only be done by
D 4 refuting refuting and falsifying the Company's statement of their affairs To the enormous amount of twelve millions. Arduous and difficult as this task is, the right honourable gentleman enters upon it with a degree of spirit peculiar to the boldness of his character. He acknowledges that the Company's paper must be deprived of its credit some how or other; and he proceeds in a most extraordinary manner to effect a purpose he had just told you was so necessary to himself. The right honourable gentle man ran through the account with a volubility that rendered comprehension difficult, and detection impossible. I attempted to follow Mr. Fox through his commentary; and thongh it is impossible, upon first hearing such a variety of assertions, to investigate the truth of all of them, and completely refute their fallacy, I will undertake to shew that the rijht honourable gentleman has unfairly reasoned upon some of the articles, grossly misrepresented others, and wholly passed by considerations material to be adverted to, in order to. ascertain what is the true state of the Company's affairs. I must justify the Company's giving themselves credit for 4,200,000l. as the debt from Government, on the ground, that as they have advanced the full principal of the sum to Government, they have a right to give themselves credit for the whole of it; and the more especially, as on the other side they make themselves debtors for 2,992,4401. borrowed, to enable them to make the loan to Government of 4,200,000l. The money .due for subsistence of prisoners in a former war, for the expences of the expedition against Manilla, and for hospital expencts, shew that the Company were not to blame for inserting them on the credit side cs their account. The right honourable gentleman has such a happy talent of rendering even the driest subject lively, that his pleasant allusion to the charge of one halfpenny for bread in Falslaff's tavern bill, when he came to take notice of the ioool. amount of silver remaining in the Treasury of the East-India Company, so far caught.my fan,cy, that it was not till a minute or two afterwards that I
glances .glanced my eye a little higher in the same page of the Company's account, and saw an entry of money to the amount of 142,794l. The right honourable gentleman has taken such advantage to display his oratory, that the House have been lost in a blaze of eloquence, and so dazzled with the lustre and brilliancy of the right honourable gentleman's talents, that they have been deprived of the exercise of their sober reason, and rendered incompetent to weigh the propriety of the Company's making any mention of debts, some of which they expressly declare will be lingering in their payment, and others -which they acknowledge to be precarious.
The last matter urged against the Company, viz. their capital, is, to my mind, the most extraordinary of any thing I ever met with. I have often heard, when traders are bankrupts, or when it becomes necessary that their affairs should be vested in the hands of trustees, that it is incumbent on them to discover the whole amount of their debt to others 5 but I rjever before knew, that it was either incumbent on them to state, or necessary for the creditors to know, how much they x>wed themselves. I must deny that there is any deficiency whatever in their capital; contending, on the other hand, that the Company, though distressed, are by no means insolvent, and that they ought to be allowed an opportunity of proving the whole of the statement of their affairs at the bar of the House. The right honourable Secretary has accused the temerity os the Company in bringing before this House the accounts of the Company in a state exceedingly fallacious. He has asked what indignation and censure is due to the indivir dual who dared to have tb,us trisled with truth, with decency, and with the dignity of the House? What then mail be said of a Minister, who ventures to rife up in his place, and impose on the House a statement every way absurd and errcneous? On these, and many other accounts, I am clearly for deferring the debate.
flsr. William Pitt, Nov. 27, 1783.
It is not only agreed, but demanded, by the right honours-" ble gentleman, [Mr. Pitt] and by those who act with him, that a whole system ought to be produced; that it ought not to be an half measure; that it ought to be no palliative; but a legislative provision, vigorous, substantial, and effective. I believe that no man who understands the subject can doubt for a moment, that those must be conditions of any thing deserving the name of a reform in the Indian Government; that any thing short of them would not only be delusive, but, in this matter, which admits no medium, noxious in the extreme.
To all the conditions proposed by his adversaries, the mover of the bill perfectly agrees; and on his performance of them he rests his cause. On the other hand, not the least objection has been taken with legard to the efficiency, the vigour, or the completeness of the scheme, I am therefore warranted to assume, as a thing admitted, that the bills accomplish what both sides of the House demand as essential. The end is completely answered, so far as the direct and immediate object is - concerned.
But though there are no direct, yet there are various collateral objections made; objections from the effects, which this plan of reform for Indian Administration may have on the privileges of great public bodies in England, from its probable influence on the constitutional rights, or on the freedom and integrity of the several branches of the Legisla-i ture.
Before I answer these objections, I must beg leave to observe, that if we are not able to contrive some method of governing India well, which will no* of necessity become the means of governing Great Britain ill, a ground is laid for their eternal separation; but none sot sacrificing the people of that country to our constitution. I am, however, far from being persuaded that any such incompatibility of interest does at all exist. On the contrary, I am certain that every means effectual to preserve India from oppression, is a guard;
to. to preserve the British constitution from its worst corruption. To shew this, I will consider the objections, which I think, ars
ist, That the bill is an attack on the chartered rights of men.
adly, That it increases the influence of the Crown. 3dly, That it does not increase, but diminishes, the influence of the Crown, in order to promote the interests of certain Ministers and their party.
4thly, That it deeply affects the national credit. As to the first of these objections, I,must observe, that the phrase of " the chartered rights of men,'" is full of affectation, and very unusual in the discussion of privileges conferred by charters of the present description. But it is not difficult to discover what end that ambiguous mode of expression, so often reiterated, is meant to answer.
The rights of mot, that is to fay, the natural rights of mankind, are indeed sacred things; and if any public measure is proved mischievously to affect them, the objection ought to be fatal to that measure, even if no charter at all could be set up against it. If these natural rights are farther affirmed and declared by express covenants; if they are clearly defined and secured against chicane, against power, and authority, by written instruments and positive engagements, they are in a still better condition: they partake not only of the sanctity of the object so secured, but of that solemn public faith itself which secures an object of such importance. Indeed this formal recognition, by the sovereign power, of an original right in the subject, can never be subverted, but by rooting up the holding radical principles of government, and even of society itself. The charters which we call by distinction great, are public instruments of this nature; I mean the charters of King John and King Henry the Third. The things secured by these in struments may, without any deceitful ambiguity, be very fitly galled the chartered rights of men* ￼