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for the advantage of any man, contrary to the strictest principles of honour and justice; and that so far from reaping any benefit myself from the expedition, I returned to England many thousand pounds out of pocket.
Lord Clive, March 30, 1772.
Indostan was always an absolute, despotic government. The inhabitants, especially of Bengal, in inferior stations, are servile, mean, submissive, and humble. In superior stations, they are luxurious, effeminate, tyrannical, treacherous, venal, cruel. The country of Bengal is called by way of distinction, the paradise of the earth: it not only abounds with the necessaries of life to such a degree as to furnish a great part of India with its superfluity, but it abounds with very curious and valuable manufactures, sufficient not only for its own use, but for the use of the whole globe. The silver of the West and the gold of the East have for many years been pouring into that country, and goods only have been sent out in return. This has added to the extravagance and luxury of Bengal.
From time immemorial it has been the custom of that country, for an inferior never to come into the presence of a superior without a present. It begins at the Nabob, and ends at . the lowest man that has an inferior. The Nabob has told me, that the small*presents he received amounted to three hundred thousand pounds a year; and I can believe him, because I know that I might have received as much during my last government. The Company's servants have ever been accustomed to receive presents. Even before we took part in the country troubles, when our possessions were very confined and limited, the Governor and others used to receive presents; and I will . take upon me to asiert, that there has not been an officer commanding His Majesty's fleet, nor an officer commanding His Majesty's army, not a Governor, nor a Member of Council, nor any other person, civil or military, in such a station as to have connection with the country government, who has not
received presents. With regard to Bengal, there they flow in abundance indeed. Let the House figure to itself a country consisting of fifteen millions of inhabitants, a revenue of four millions sterling, and a trade in proportion. By progressive steps the Company have become sovereigns of that empire. Can it be supposed that their servants will refrain from advantages so obviously resulting from their situation? The Company's servants, however, have not been the authors of those acts of violence and oppression, of which it is the fashion to accuse them. Such crimes are committed by the natives of the country, acting as their agents, and for the most part without their knowledge. Those agents and the banyans never desist till, according to the ministerial phrase, they have dragged their masters into the kennel, and then the acts of violence begin.
Let us consider the nature of the education of a young man who goes to India. The advantages arising from the Company's service are now very generally known; and the great object of every man is, to get his son appointed a writer to Bengal, which is usually at the age . of sixteen. His parents and relations represent to him how certain he is of making a fortune; that my Lord Such-a-one, and my Lord Such-a-one, acquired so much money in such a time; and Mr. Such-a-one, and Mr. Such-a-one, so much in such a time. Thus are their principles corrupted at their very setting out; and as they generally go a good many together, they inflame one another's expectations to such a degree in the course of the voyage, that they fix upon a period for their return before their arrival.
Let us now take a view of one of those writers arrived in Bengal, and not worth a groat. As soon as he lands, a banyan, worth, perhaps, one hundred thousand pounds, desires he may have the honour of serving this young gentleman at four shillings and six pence per month. The Company has provided chambers for him, but they are not good enough-; the banyan finds better. The young man takes a walk about town; he
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observes that other writers, arrived only a year before him, live in splendid apartments, or have houses of their own, ride upon fine prancing Arabian horses, and in palanqueens and chaises; then they keep seraglios, make entertainments, and treat with champagne and claret. When he returns, he tells the banyan what he has observed. The banyan assures him, that he may soon arrive at the fame good fortune; he furnishes, him with money; he is then at his mercy. The advantages of the b:myan advance with the rank of the master, who, in acquiring one fortune, generally spends three. But this is not the worst of it: he is in a state of dependence under the banyan, who commits such acts of violence and oppression as his interest prompts him to, under the pretended sanction and authority of the Company's servants. Hence, Sir, arises the clamour against the Engli/Jj gentlemen in India. But let us look at them in a retired situation, when returned to England, when they are no longer Nabobs and Sovereigns of the East: fee if there be any thing tyrannical in their disposition toward* their inferiors: fee if they are not good and humane masters: are they not charitable? Are they not benevolent? Are they; not generous? Are they not hospitable? If they are, thus, far, not contemptible members of society, and if in all their dealings between man and man their conduct is strictly honourable. If, in short, there has not been one. character sound amongst them sufficiently, flagitious for Mr. Foote to exhibit on the theatre in the Haymarket, may we'not conclude, that if they have erred, it has been because they were men, placed in situations subject to little or no control?
Lord Clive, March 30, 1772.
The honourable Baronet (Sir James Lowther) says, he will not keep me from my defence, and he calls my speaking to the question of commitment a speech in my defence. I allow him his assertion. I fliall always considar myself as speaking in my defence, when I rise up to speak to a proposition so great and so important as that which I have now presumed to offer to the wisdom of the House. Whenever I rise up in this House to present a broad and comprehensive scheme of policy to the nation—and that scheme is questioned, charged, and arraigned, I shall always consider what I say in its support as an argument in my own defence; because I shall always consider my own character, my situation, my rank in the country, as at stake on every measure of state which I shall presume to undertake. The honourable Earonet said truly, therefore, that I was now rising to speak in my defence: but give me leave at .the same time to asiert, that I have something better than my own defence in view, because the presant East-India bill has something greater than my own advantage; it is a bill which I from my foul believe to be necessary to the deliverance of the empire, and it would be better supported in my mind by arguments in support of its own principle, than by any harsh assertions of personality, which, however they may gratify spleen, have nothing to do with the system submitted to your consideration.
I am really surprized, that notwithstanding the various objections that have been stated to this bill on a former day, I stnd myself this day attacked upon a ground which I had least expected. The violation of charters, the despotism and oppression of the bill, were topics which I apprehended would have been principally dwelt on this day: but I find that these grounds are nearly abandoned; and that now I am to be attacked on that side where I felt myself most strong: yet I will confess, that I am sorry I am so strong there, for my strength must be founded on the weakness of the Company. It was an old and a politic custom with Ministers, in talking in Parliament in the time of war, of the strength and resources of the different bodies of the community, to describe them as if they were in the most prosperous and flourishing condition, and, perhaps, I should myself conform to that custom, if the country was now invol ed in war. The situ
B 4 ation ation of the country, however, is such as would not now allow the practice of those deceptions. We could only assist the nation, by knowing and declaring what the amount 6f its distress was. Had not this been the case; had not the most urgent necessity impelled, I never would have brought in such 3 bill as that under discussion. The bill was a child not of choice but of necessity. In like manner, the answer I was about to give to the Directors' state of the Company's affairs, was not a matter of option, but a matter which I could not avoid, in justice to the Company, in justice to myself, and in justice to the world. I assure the House at the same time, that though my defence must arise from that weakness, I wish most sincerely that I had no such ground of defence; the weakness of a Company so connected with the public, is not a theme which can afford any satisfaction: but as I would stake my reputation on the necessity of the measure I proposed, so it affords me, as far as my character is concerned, some satisfaction, that I can find in the Company's own accounts, substantial proofs of the necessity of a parliamentary interposition. But I confess, that while an honourable and learned gentleman, who sits opposite to me now, and who is likely to do so on all occasions, [Mr. Dundas, the late Lord Advocate of Scotlandj who fat on the opposition side of the House, close by Mr. Pitt] and other honourable gentlemen in this House, could be appealed to as evidence of the alarming state of the affairs of the Company, I had not imagined that any long or elaborate proof, that they were not in a prosperous condition, would be necessary. Gentlemen will find that there was no occasion for them to lament, that the account which had been delivered in at the bar by the East-India Company's accountant, had not been read by the clerk, as I shall, in the course of my speech, be obliged to touch upon most of the points that it contains. In this account I find many things inserted which ought to have been omitted; and many things omitted which ought to have been inserted. Through these assertions, and these omissions, the