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Printed for BLACK, PARRY, and Co. Booksellers to the
Hon. East-India Company, Leadenhall Street, and
J. HATCHARD, Piccadilly.


of the undertaking itself, have compelled him to abandon. In the work alluded to, it was intended to attempt a full discussion, in all its branches, of the question respecting the most eligible system of connexion between this country and the East-Indies. Although the author had not fully appreciated at the outset the difficulty of such an enterprise, yet he would never have embarked in it, but for the persuasions of those to whose advice he owed respect, and from an idea that even a very imperfect execution of the design might not be without its use. The question respecting the best Indian system, considered as affecting the interests both of England and of India, unites every claim on the public attention that can appeal either to the more selfish propensities of human nature, or to those nobler feelings and principles which command the discharge of disinterested or even painful duties. All these claims were’ strengthened by the near approach of the period at which the question must of necessity undergo the decision of the legislature. Yet they seemed to be preferred with but little effect; even those by whom the subject was not utterly neglected, shewing themselves content with such notions respecting it as were suggested by prepossession or accident. At the same time, it was a matter of complaint that information respecting India, in a popular and practicable shape, could not readily be attained; and, in the absence of correct intelligence, various misrepresentations were circulated with too much sucCeSS. + Such a state of things apparently supplied an adequate apology for any fair endeavour to elucidate this great subject, even at a considerable risk of failure. The attempt was arduous; but the necessity that it should speedily be made somewhere might justify even imperfect qualifications in venturing on the task. It was under these impressions that the present author formed his original design; which, however, notwithstanding the repeated adjournments of the question by Parliament, he has found it impossible completely to exe

cute, and has therefore relinquished. He can only hope that the approximation which he has made to it, in the present volume and in that which he before published, may be received with indulgence, and may not totally fail of effect. Under every view of the important questions pending between the India Company and the nation, it is plain that the past history of the Company must more or less enter into consideration; because it furnishes one set of the elements from which the present nature and tendency of their system are to be ascertained. In the existing case, however, an additional reason for bestowing a careful attention on that history arises from the unjustifiable use which has been made of it by some authors. The transactions of the Company, from a very early date, have been explored only to be brought forward with the utmost exaggeration and partiality. Their annals are made to exhibit, not the occasional recurrence of those dark passages by which

the records of human conduct are too fre

quently polluted, but one unbroken extent of intrigue or venality at home, and violence or perfidy abroad. Of such representations, however laudable may have been the motive, the tendency is most injurious. They affect the minds of men with a powerful though indefinite impression of horror towards a system which appears thus pregnant with crime; an impression, not to be effaced by the argument, however unanswerably urged, that most of the gloomy descriptions in question, even should their correctness be admitted, can have little relevancy to the subjects now at issue. If the benefits actually resulting from the existence of the India Company are enumerated, it is tacitly assumed that all of them are much more than balanced by a long arrear of unaccounted delinquency. In order to encounter these prejudices, it was esteemed advisable that the history of the Company should be regularly though succinctly given; with the view, not of exculpating them from censure wherever it might be deserved, but of

confining censure to the actual amount,

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