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These charters have made the very name of a charter dear to the heart of every Englishman. But, Sir, there may be, and there are, charters, not only different in nature, but formed on principles the very reverse of those of the Great Charter. Of this kind is the charter of the East-India Company. Magna Charta is a charter to restrain power, and to destroy monopoly. The East-India charter is a charter to establish monopoly, and to create power. Political power and commercial monopoly are not the rights of men ; and the rights to them derived from charters, it is fallacious and fophistical to call “ the chartered rights of men." These chartered rights (to speak of such charters, and of their effects, in terms of the greatest possible moderation) do at least suspend the natural rights of mankind at large; and in their very frame and constitution are liable to fall into a direct violation of them.
It is a charter of this latter description (that is to say, a charter of power and monopoly) which is affected by the bill Ix-fore you. This bill, Sir, without question, does affect it; it dnes affect it essentially and substantially. But, having stated to you of what description the chartered rights are which this bill touches, I feel no difficulty at all in acknowledging those chartered rights in their fullest extent. They belong to the Company in the suręst manner; and they are secured to that body by every sort of public sanction. They are staniped by the faith of the king; they are stamped by the faith of ParJament; they have been bought for money—for money honefly and fairly paid; they have been bought for a valuable consideration, over and over again.
I therefore freely adınit to the East-India Company their claim to exclude their fellow subjects from the commerce of half the globe. I admit their claim to administer an annual territorial revenue of seven millions sterling; to command an army of fixty thousand men; and to dispose (under the control of a Sovereign, imperial discretion, and with the due observance of the natural and local law) of the lives and fortunes of thirty
• millions millions of their fellow creatures. All this they poffefs by charter, and by acts of Parliament, in niy opinion, without a fhadow of controversy.
Those who carry the rights and claims of the Company the farthest, do not contenå for more than this; and all this I freely grant. But, granting all this, they must grant to me, in my turn, that all political power which is set over men, and that all privileges claimed or exercised in exclusion of them, being wholly artificial, and, for so much, a derogation from the natural equality of mankind at large, ought to be some way or other exercised ultimately for their benefit.
If this is true with regard to every species of political doini-. nion, and every description of commercial privilege, none of which can be original, self-derived rights, or grants for the mere privilege or benefit of the holders, then such rights, or privileges, or whatever else you chuse to call them, are all in the strictest sense a trust; and it is the nature and essence of every trust to be rendered accountable; and even totally to cease, when it fubftantially varies from the purposes for which alone it could have a lawful existence.
This I conceive, Sir, to be true, of trusts of power vested in the highest hands, and of such as seem to hold of no human creature. But about the application of this principle to fubordinate, derivative trusts, I do not fee how a controversy can be maintained. To whom then would I make the East-India Company accountable? Why, to Parliament to be sure; to Parliament, from whom their trust was derived; to Parliament, which alone is capable of comprehending the magnitude of its object, and its abuse; and alone capable of an effectual legislative remedy. The very charter which is held out to exclude Parliament from correcting malversation with regard to the high trust vested in the Company, is the very thing which at once gives a title, and imposes a duty on us to interfere with effect, wherever power and authority, originating from our
felves, are perverted from their purposes, and become inftruments of wrong and violence.
If Parliament, Sir, liad nothing to do with this charter, we might have some sort of epicurean excuse to stand aloof, indifferent spectators of what passes in the Company's name in India and in London. But if we are the very cause of the evil, we are in a fpecial manner engaged to the redress; and for us paffively to bear with oppreffions committed under the fanction of our own authority, it is in truth and reason for this House to be an active accomplice in the abuse. ,
That the power notoriously, grossly abused, has been bought from us, is very certain. But this circumstance, which is urged against the bill, becomes an additional motive for our interference, left we should be thought to have sold the blood of millions of men for the base confideration of money. We fold, I admit, all that we had to sell; that is, our authority, not our control. We had not a right to make a market of our duties.
I ground myself, therefore, on this principle: that if the abuse is proved, the contract is broken; and we re-enter into all our rights; that is, into the exercise of all our duties. Our own authority is indeed as much a trust originally, as the Company's authority is a truft derivatively; and it is the use we make of the resumed power that must justify or condemn us in the resumption of it. When we have perfected the plan laid before us by the right honourable mover, the world will then fee what it is we destroy, and what it is we create. By that test we stand or fall; and by that test I trust that it will be found in the issue, that we are going to supersede a charter abused to the full extent of all the powers which it could abuse, and exercised in the plenitude of despotism, tyranny, and corruption; and that, in one and the same plan, we provide a real chartered security for the rights of men, cruelly violated under that charter.
This bill, and those connected with it, are intended to form the Magna Chartå of Hindoftan. Whatever the treaty of Westphalia is to the liberty of the Princes and free cities of the Empire, and to the three religions there professed-whatever the Great Charter, the Statute of Tallage, the Petition of Right, and the Declaration of Right, are to Great Britain, these bills are to the people of India. Of this benefit, I am certain, their condition is capable; and when I know that they are capable of inore, my vote ihall most assuredly be for our giving to the full extent of their capacity of receiving; and no charter of dominion shall stand as a bar in my way to their charter of safety and protection.
The strong admission I have made of the Company's rights, I am conscious of it, binds me to do a great deal. I do not pre. sume to condemn those who argued a priori, against the propriety of leaving such extensive political powers in the hands of a company of merchants. I know much is, and much more may be said against such a fystem. But, with my particular ideas and sentiments, I cannot go that way to work. I feel an insuperable reluctance in giving my hand to destroy any established institution of Government, upon a theory, however plausible it may be. My experience in life teaches me nothing clear upon the subject. I have known inerchants with the sentiments and the abilities of great statesmen; and I have seen persons in the rank of statesmen, with the conceptions and character of pedlars. Indeed, my observations have furnished me with nothing that is to be found in any habits of life or education, which tends wholly to disqualify men for the functions of Government, but that, by which the power of exercising those functions is very frequently obtained, I mean a fpirit and habit of low cabal and intrigue; which I have never, in one instance, feen united with a capacity for sound and manly policy.
To justify us in taking the administration of their affairs out of the hands of the East-India Company, on my principles, I must see several conditions. ift, The object affected by the abuse should be great and important. 2d, The abuse affecting this great object, ought to be a great abuse. 3d, It ought to be habitual, and not accidental. 4th, It ought to be utterly incurable in the body as it now stands constituted. All this ought to be inade as visible to me as the light of the sun, before I should strike off an atom of their charter. A right honourable gentleman (Mr. Pitt] has said, and said, I think, but once, and that very slightly, (whatever his original demand for a plan might seem to require) that “there are abuses in the Company's government.” If that were all, the scheme of the mover of this bill, the scheme of his learned friend, and his own scheme of reformation (if he has any) are all equally needless. There are, and inust be, abuses in all governments. It amounts to no more than a nugatory propofition. But before I consider of what nature these abuses are, of which the gentleman speaks so very highly, permit me to recal to your recollection the map of the country which this abused chartered right affects. This I shall do, that you may judge whether in that map I can difcover any thing like the first of my conditions; that is, whether the object affected by the abuse of the East-India Company's power be of importance sufficient to justify the measure and means of reform applied to it in this bill. .
With very few, and those inconsiderable intervals, the British doininion, either in the Company's name, or in the names of Princes absolutely dependent upon the Company, extends from the mountains that separate India from Tartary, to Cape Comorin, that is, one-and-twenty degrees of latitude!
In the northern parts, it is a solid mass of land, about eight hundred miles in length, and four or five hundred broad. As you go southward, it becomes narrower for a space. It afterwards dilates; but narrower or broader, you possess the whole eastern and north-eastern coast of that vast country, quite from the borders of Pegu. Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, with Benares;
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