Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

(though we do not know this to be the case with Mr. Barwell) might easily contrive, by legal advantages, to escape. The plaintiffs being at a great distance from the seat of government, and possibly affected by fear or fatigue, or seeing the impossibility of sustaining with the ruins of fortunes never perhaps very opulent a suit against wealth, power, and influence, a compromise might even take place, in which circumstances might make the complainants gladly acquiesce. But the publick injury is not in the least repaired by the acquiescence of individuals, as it touched the honour of the very highest parts of Government. In the opinion of Your Committee some means ought to have been taken to bring the bill to a discussion on the merits; or, supposing that such decree could not be obtained by reason of any, failure of proceeding on the part of the plaintiffs, some process, official or juri

dical, ought to have been instituted against them, · which might prove them guilty of slander and defamation, in as authentick à manner as they had made their charge, before the Council as well as the Court.

By the determination of Mr. Hurst, and the resolutions of the Board of Trade, it is much to be apprehended that the native mercantile interest must be exceedingly reduced. The above-mentioned resolutions of the Board of Trade, if exeçüted in their rigour, must almost inevitably.

accomplish

accomplish its ruin. The subsequent transactions are covered with an obscurity, which Your Committee have not been able to dispel. All, which they can collect, but that by no means distinctly, is, that as those, who trade for the Company in the articles of Investment, may also trade for themselves in the same articles, the old opportunities of confounding the capacities must remain; and all the oppressions, by which this confusion has been attended. The Company's Investments, as the general letter from Bengal of the 20th of November 1775, par. 28, states the matter, “ are never at

a stand; advances are made, and goods are re“ ceived all the year round.” Balances, the grand instrument of oppression, naturally accumulate on poor manufacturers, who are intrusted with money. Where there is not a vigorous rivalship not only tolerated but encouraged, it is impossible ever to redeem the manufacturers from the servitude in. duced by those unpaid balances.

No such rivalship does exist: the policy practised and avowed is directly against it. The reason assigned in the Board of Trade's letter of the 28th of November 1778, for its making their advances early in the season, is, to prevent the foreign merchants and private traders interfering with the purchase of their (the Company's) assortments.

They also refer to the means taken to prevent this interference in their letter of the 26th 25

“ January

[ocr errors]

January 1779." It is impossible, that the small part of the trade should not fall into the hands of those, who with the name and authority of the governing persons have such extensive contracts in their hands. It appears in evidence, that natives can hardly trade to the best advantage (Your Committee doubt whether they can trade to any advan"tage at all) if not joined with or countenanced by British subjects. The Directors were, in 1775, so strongly impressed with this notion, and conceived the native merchants to have been even then reduced to so low a state, that, notwithstanding the Company's earnest desire of giving them a preference, they “ doubt whether there are at this time “ in Bengal native merchants possessed of pro

perty adequate to such undertaking, or of credit 1" and responsibility sufficient to make it safe and of prudent to trust them with such sums as might “ be necessary to enable them to fulfil their engage

ments with the Company."

The effect, which so long continued a monopoly, followed by a pre-emption, and then by partial preferences supported by power, must necessarily havé m.weakening the mercantile capital, and disabling the merchants from all undertakings of magnitude, is, but too visible. However, a witness of understanding and credit does not believe the capitals of the natives to be yet so reduced as to disable them from partaking in the trade, if they were otherwise able to put themselves on an equal footing with Europeans.

able

1

The difficulties at the outset will however be considerable. For the long continuance of abuse has in some measure conformed the whole trade of the country to its false principle. To make a sudden change, therefore, might destroy the few advantages, which attend any trade, without securing those, which must flow from one established upon sound mercantile principles, whenever such a trade can be established. The fact is, that the forcible direction, which the trade of India has had towards Europe, to the neglect, or rather to the total abandoning, of the Asiatick, has of itselftended to carry even the internal business from the native merchant. The revival of trade in the native hands is of absolute necessity; but Your Committee is of opinion, that it will rather be the effect of a regular progressive course of endeavours for that purpose, than of any one regulation, however wisely conceived.

After this examination into the condition of the trade and traders in the principal articles provided for the Investment to Europe, Your Committee proceeded to take into consideration those articles; the produce of which, after sale in Bengal, is to form a part of the fund for the purchase of other articles of Investment, or to make a part of it in kind. These are, ist, Opium; 2dly, Saltpetre and 3dly, Salt. These are all monopolized.

O'PIU M.

THE first of the internal authorized monopolies is that of Opium. This drug, extracted from a species of the poppy, is of extensive consumption in most of the Eastern markets. The best is produced in the province of Bahar: in Bengal it is of an inferiour sort, though of late it has been improved. This monopoly is to be traced to the very origin of our influence in Bengal. It is stated to have begun at Patna so early as the year 1761, but it received no considerable degree of strength or consistence until the year 1765; when the acquisition of the Dûanny opened a wide field for all projects of this nature. It was then adopted, and owned as a resource for persons in office; was managed chiefly by the Civil Servants of the Patna factory, and for their own benefit. The policy was justified on the usual principles, on which monopolies are supported, and on some peculiar to the commodity, to the nature of the trade, and to the state of the country: the security against adulteration; the prevention of the excessive home consumption of a pernicious drug; the stopping an excessive competition, which by an over-proportioned supply would at length destroy the market abroad; the

inability

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »