Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

now. That influence this bill cuts up by the roots. I mean the influence of protection. I shall explain myself. — The office given to a young man going to India is of trifling consequence. But lie that goes out an insignificant boy in a few years returns a grcat nabob. Mr. Hastings says he has two hundred and fifty of that kind of raw materials, who expect to be specdily manufactured into tlıc merchantable quality I mention. One of these gentlemen, suppose, returns hither laden with odium and with riches. When he comes to England, he comes as to a prison, or as to a sanctuary; and either is ready for him, according to his demeanor. What is the influence in the grant of any place in India, to that which is acquired by the protection or compromise with such guilt, and with the command of such riches, under the dominion of the hopes and fears which power is able to hold out to every man in that condition ? That man's whole fortune, half a million perhaps, becomes an instrument of influence, without a shilling of charge to the civil list: and the influx of fortunes which stand in need of this protection is continual. It works both ways: it influences the delinquent, and it may corrupt the minister. Compare the influence acquired by appointing, for instance, even a Governor-General, and that obtained by protecting him. I shall push this no further. But I wish gentlemen to roll it a little in their own minds.

The bill before you cuts off this source of influence. Its design and main scope is, to regulate the administration of India upon the principles of a court of judicature, - and to exclude, as far as human prudence can exclude, all possibility of a corrupt partiality, in appointing to office, or supporting in office, or covering from inquiry and punishment, any person who has abused or shall abuse his authority. At the board, as appointed and regulated by this bill, reward and punishment cannot be shifted and reversed by a whisper. That commission becomes fatal to cabal, to intrigue, and to secret representation, those instruments of the ruin of India. He that cuts off the means of premature fortune, and the power of protecting it when acquired, strikes a deadly blow at the great fund, the bank, the capital stock of Indian influence, which cannot be vested anywhere, or in any hands, without most dangerous consequences to the public.

"The third and contradictory objection is, that this bill does not increase the influence of the crown; on the contrary, that the just power of the crown will be lessened, and transferred to the use of a party, by giv. ing the patronage of India to a commission nominated by Parliament and independent of the crown. The contradiction is glaring, and it has been too well cxposed to make it necessary for me to insist upon it. But passing the contradiction, and taking it without any relation, of all objections that is the most extraordinary. Do not gentlemen know that the crown has not at present the grant of a single office under the Company, civil or military, at home or abroad? So far as the crown is concerned, it is certainly rather a gainer; for the vacant offices in the new commission are to be filled up by the king.

It is argued, as a part of the bill derogatory to the prerogatives of the crown, that the commissioners named in the bill are to continue for a short term of years, too short in my opinion, - and because, dur

ing that time, they are not at the mercy of every predominant faction of the court. Does not this objection lie against the present Directors, - none of whom are named by the crown, and a proportion of whom hold for this very term of four years ? Did it not lie against the Governor-General and Council named in the act of 1773, — who were invested by name, as the present commissioners are to be appointed in the body of the act of Parliament, who were to hold their places for a term of years, and were not removable at the discretion of the crown ? · Did it not lie against the reappointment, in the year 1780, upon the very same terms ? Yet at nono of these times, whatever other objections the scheme might be liable to, was it supposed to be a derogation to the just prerogative of the crown, that a commission created by act of Parliament should have its members named by the authority which called it into existence. This is not the disposal by Parliament of any office derived from the authority of the crown, or now disposable by that authority. It is so far from being anything new, violent, or alarming, that I do not recollect, in any Parliamentary commission, down to the commissioners of the land-tax, that it has ever been otherwise.

The objection of the tenure for four years is an objection to all places that are not held during pleasure; but in that objection I pronounce the gentlemen, from my knowledge of their complexion and of their principles, to be perfectly in earnest. The party (say these gentlemen) of the minister who proposes this scheme will be rendered powerful by it; for he will name his party friends to the commission. This objection against party is a party objection; and in this, too, these gentlemen are perfectly serious. They sco, that, if, by any intrigue, they should succeed to office, they will lose the clandestine patronage, the true instrument of clandestine influence, enjoyed in the name of subservient Directors, and of wealthy, trembling Indian delinquents. But as often as they are beaten off this ground, they return to it again. The minister will name his friends, and persons of his own party. Whom should he namo? Should he name his adversaries ? Should he name those whom he cannot trust? Should he namo those to exccute his plans who are the declared enemies to the principles of his reform ? His character is here at stake. If he proposes for his own ends (but he nėyer will propose) such names as, from their want of rank, fortune, character, ability, or knowledge, are likely to betray or to fall short of their trust, he is in an independent House of Commons, — in an House of Commons which has, by its own virtue, destroyed the instruments of Parliamentary subservience. This House of Commons would not endure the sound of such names. He would perish by the means which he is supposed to pursue for the security of his power. The first pledge he must give of his sincerity in this great reform will be in the confidence which ought to be rcposed in those names.

For my part, Sir, in this business I put all indirect considerations wholly out of my mind. My sole question, on each clause of the bill, amounts to this: - Is the measure proposed required by the necessities of India ? I cannot consent totally to lose sight of the real wants of the people who are the objects of it, and to hunt after every matter of party squabble that may be started on the several provisions. On the question of the duration of the commission I am clear and decided. Can I, can any one who has taken the smallest trouble to be informed concerning the affairs of India, amuse himself with so strange an imagination as that the habitual despotism and oppression, that the monopolies, the peculations, the universal destruction of all the legal authority of this kingdom, which have been for twenty years maturing to their present cnormity, combined with the distance of the scene, the boldness and artifice of delinquents, their combination, their excessive wealth, and the faction they have made in England, can be fully corrected in a shorter term than four years ? None has hazarded such an assertion; none who has a regard for his reputation will hazard it.

Sir, the gentlemen, whoever they are, who shall be appointed to this commission, have an undertaking of magnitude on their hands, and their stability must not only be, but it must be thought, real; and who is it will believe that anything short of an establishment made, supported, and fixed in its duration, with all the authority of Parliament, can be thought secure of a reasonablo stability? The plan of my honorable friend is the reverse of that of rcforming by the authors of the abuse. The best we could expect from them is, that they should not continue their ancient, pernicious activity. To those we could think of nothing but applying control; as we are sure that even a regard to their reputation (if any such thing exists in them) would oblige them to cover, to conccal, to suppress, and consequently to prevent all cure of the grievances of India. For what can be discovered which is not to their disgrace ? Every attempt to correct an abuse would be a satire on

[blocks in formation]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »