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THE LORDS' REPORT ON FOREIGN that to the territorial possessions
of the company being carried on By the lords' committees appointed by license only from the company; a select committee to inquire that to other parts of Southern into the means of extending and Asia (China excepted), and to the securing the foreign trade of the islands of the Indian ocean, by country, and to report to the license from the board of control; house; and to whom were re that to China being entirely proferred the minutes of the evi- hibited to all British vessels but dence taken before the select those in the actual employment of committee appointed in the last the East India Company; and the session of parliament for the like whole trade confined to ships of a purpose; and also the several certain fixed amount of tonnage. petitions, papers, and accounts The trade which is carried on by which had been referred to that license with the territories of the committee; and also the several East India Company is confined petitions presented in the pre- to the presidences of Bombay, sent session of parliament on the Madras, and Calcutta, and the subject of foreign trade: port of Panang. Some inconveniOrdered to report,
ences and injury to individuals are That the committee have met, stated to have arisen where cirand have proceeded in the inquiry, cumstances have made it desirable which had been entered upon by to change the destination of vessels the said committee appointed in from one of these ports to another, the last session of parliament, into after their arrival in the east, in the state of British commerce with consequence of the delay attendant Asia, including as well that which upon obtaining a permission to do is carried on with the territorial so from the local government.-possessions of the honourable East This, indeed, may be obviated by India Company, as that with the obtaining licenses including the independent states in the same above named ports generally,which part of the globe.
have been sometimes applied for, In the conduct of this inquiry, and do not appear to have been the committee have not thought it refused. But the system of renecessary to direct their attention quiring licenses does not appear to the commercial concerns of the to be attended with any public East India Company, as adminis- benefit; and a fee is charged for tered by the court of directors with each of them. a view to the interests both political A more material advantage might and financial of that corporate probably accrue to the free trader body, further than was necessary from being permitted to trade with to elucidate the present state and other smaller ports on the coasts future prospects of free trade, as of Coromandel and Malabar, where affected by existing regulations. the company have already collec
This subject, therefore, naturally tors of the customs established, divides itself according to the va who might effectually counteract rious restrictions to which different an illicit trade; whereby a wider descriptions of commerce in these field of adventure may be opened, regions are now subjected by law; and an additional stimulus to
commercial intercourse afforded to of the inhabitants, acquired by a the native inhabitants. It would, direct intercourse with this counhowever, be necessary in this case to try, would naturally lead to a still provide by regulations, which it further augmentation of our excould not be difficult to establish, ports. The greatly increased conagainst any abuse of this extension sumption cannot be sufficiently of privilege by British vessels car- accounted for by the demand of rying on the coasting trade, in European residents, the number which there is every reason to be- of whom does not materially vary: lieve they might successfully com- and it appears to have been much pete with the native ships, which the greatest in articles calculated have hitherto been considered as for the general use of the natives. enjoying a monopoly of that trade, That of the cotton manufacturers of which the East India Company of this country alone is stated, could not reasonably be expected since the first opening of the trade, to deprive their subjects as long to have been augmented from four as they are precluded from
carry- to five fold. And the taste of the ing on the direct trade to Europe natives for such articles may not in Indian-built vessels. It must improbably have been created in be observed, however, that the some instances, and extended in coasting trade is now open to ves- others, by that very glut in the sels of other nations, those of the market which has doubtless by its United States not being excluded excess and consequent lowering from it; and instances have been of prices, frequently defeated the stated to the committee in which speculations of private merchants, the Portuguese Aag has been al. The value of the merchandise exlowed to pass from one port to ported from Great Britain to India, another carrying on trade, from which amounted in the year 1815 which British European ships are to 870,1771., had in the excluded.
increased to 3,052,7411.; and The committee cannot dismiss although the market appears then this branch of the subject without to have been so far overstocked observing, that although it is dif to occasion a diminution of ficult, from the great fluctuation nearly one half in the exports of which the free trade to the penin- the following year (1820), that sula of India has experienced diminution appears to have taken since it has been admitted upon place more in the articles intended the terms of the renewed charter for the consumption of Europeans granted to the East India Com- than of natives; and the trade is pany in 1813, to estimate fairly now stated to the committee, by the precise amount of its increase, the best informed persons, to be it must be admitted that its pro- reviving. When the amount of gress has been such as to indicate population, and the extent of that neither a power to purchase, country over which the consumpnor a disposition to use, commo tion of these articles is spread, are dities of European manufacture considered, it is obvious that every is wanting in the natives of facility which can, consistently British India, whilst the minute with the political interests and seknowledge of the wants and wishes curity of the Company's dominions,
be given to the private trader for rate of insurance required from the distribution of his exports, by large and small ships ; if there is increasing the number of points at a risk, however, the private merwhich he may have the option of chant might safely be left to contouching in pursuit of a market, sider how far it applies to his
par.. cannot fail to promote a
ticular case; while the American ready and extensive demand. trade in those seas, which is car
If the restriction of trade to ried on as well in vessels below vessels of the burden of 350 tons as above the burden of 350 tons, and upwards, in all seas and coun- is not stated at any time to have tries within the limits of the East suffered materially from such danIndia Company's charter, has any gers. It may be remarked, that tendency to check the operations although the native governments of the private trader in a direct of India have been generally supcommerce with the dominions of posed to be unfavourable upon the East India Company, it can system to foreign commerce, no hardly fail to operate still more as recent instance of such disposition an impediment to his exertions in has been adduced; the French, seeking new channels of commerce, on the contrary, are stated to have or in extending those which already been remarkably successful in some exist with other countries and is recent attempts to open a comlands in the same part of the globe. mercial intercourse with Cochin Here a field, in a great measure China; and the recent knowledge new, would be opened by the free which has been acquired of the admission to trade of vessels of a manners and habits of the inhabismaller burden. It is stated to tants in some of the islands of the the committee by persons who Malay race, leads to a much more have been most interested in forme favourable opinion of their chaing a correct opinion upon the sube racter and aptitude for civil and ject, that in a trade with the native commercial intercourse than was powers in the Gulf of Persia, along previously entertained. the Red Sea, and on the eastern The maintenance of a free coast of Africa, as well as with port eligibly situated amongst the the islands and countries to the Indian islands under British proeastward of the Company's do- tection, which the magnitude of minions in Asia, small vessels our establishments in that quarter would be employed in preference of the globe may enable us to supto large, from the nature of the port at much less expense than navigation, the great value and any other nation, may be attended small bulk of some of the articles, with the greatest benefit to comas well as the description of mar merce and civilization. The imkets where such trade would be portance of such a station, and carried on. Some apprehension the quick perception of its advanindeed has been stated to exist, tages formed by the native traders that vessels of that description in that part of the globe, may be might be exposed to frequent de- estimated by the rapid rise of the predations from pirates who infest port of Sincapore during the year those seas; but it does not appear that it has been in the possession that there is any difference in the of the British government, and
opened for the purposes of gene “ The hopes entertained by merral trade. The population, which chants and others, who have the had before scarcely amounted to best means of information, of be200 souls, in three months in- nefit to commerce from such an creased to not less than 3000, and extension of its freedom, as well now exceeds 10,000 in the whole; as the apprehensions felt by perwhile 173 sail of vessels of dif- sons of great experience in the ferent descriptions arrived and direction of the affairs and in the sailed in the course of the first service of the East India Company, two months.
of the risk with which such an : “The commerce with China is extension may be attended to their carried on by the East India Com- political and commercial interests, pany, in whom the sole and ex will be found fully stated in the clusive right of trading with the evidence and documents contained ports of that empire, as well as in the Appendix. the sole and exclusive right of « On the one hand it is confitrading and trafficking in tea, to dently stated that the low rate of and from, all the islands and ports British freight, and other advanbetween the Cape of Good Hope tages possessed by the British and the Straits of Magellan, is merchantman, would enable the now vested by law. The value and British free trader to enter into an extent of this trade has naturally immediate and successful compeattracted the attention of the pri- tition with those of other counvate merchant; and although it tries, and more particularly of the could not be contemplated that United States, by whom these the East India Company would branches of commerce have been willingly relinquish so important carried on for some years past a privilege, an earnest desire has with every appearance of progresbeen expressed, that the British sive increase and prosperity; that free trader might be permitted, thus a portion of Europe might be even previous to the expiration of supplied with tea by the British the charter, to embark in those trader; that the export of furs branches of the trade which the from America, which now takes company neither carries on itself place even from the British terrinor appears to be immediately tories in American vessels, would interested in, and in which the be carried on by British shipping; only competition to be encoun- and that at all events that portion tered by the British merchant of the eastern trade which is carwould be that of the foreign trader. ried on by the export of British
" Of this description may be manufactures in American vessels, considered the trade in tea and would fall into the hands of the other articles between Canton and British merchant, with greater Foreign Europe; the tea trade opportunities of extending it, afwithin limits of the Company's forded by a more direct inter'charter, exclusive of the ports of course; on the other hand it is the Chinese · empire; and the stated to afford reasonable ground trade between Canton and the for alarm, that the seamen, who Western shores of North and would be admitted under such cirSouth America.
cumstances to the port of Canton, 1821.
might probably be of a character $0, had it not been for the protec so different from that of the sea- tion and other advantages derived men employed on board the vessels from the establishment of the of the United States, and be sub- Company's factory at Canton; but ject to a discipline so inferior to no satisfactory reason has been that which prevails on board of assigned why the British free the larger description of vessels trader should not derive the same employed in the service of the benefit from its countenance and East India Company, that disputes protection, to which he certainly might take place and excesses be would not be less entitled. It occasioned, which might produce must also be observed, that the fatal consequences, by awakening circumstance which has princi the jealousy or exciting the anger pally been relied upon as constiof the Chinese government. tuting the difference between the
“ It is also apprehended that character of the American and the admission of new competitors British seaman-namely, the forinto the market might lead to some mer having a share in the profits deterioration in quality or enhance- of the voyage-applies only to that ment in the prices of teas, which portion (not a large one) of their
now regulated by arrange- trade with Canton which is em ments made previously to their ployed in the export of furs from coming into the market, between North America, and might be exthe servants of the company and pected to apply in the same degree the Hong merchants, who enjoy as far as respects that portion of a monopoly of the sale of that trade to British vessels if permitarticle.
ted to engage in it. It is admit“To what extent such hopes ted also that all danger arising or such apprehensions might be from disputes is greatly diminished, realized in the progress of a trade if not entirely removed, by the which has never yet been permit- abolition of the custom which per ted to exist, it is difficult perhaps mitted seamen to go, at particular to form an accurate judgment. periods, in large bodies, and under The most natural, and indeed the no control, to enjoy liberty days only means of forming one, must on shore at Canton. be derived from the circumstances “ In the course of the last few and progress of the foreign inde- years the imports of the United pendent trade, and more especi- States into China (comparing an ally that of the vessels of the Uni- average of the years 1804-5, 1805ted States with the port of Canton. 6, 1806-7, with an average of That trade, although carried on in 1816-17, 1817-18, 1818-19, being vessels of nearly the same descrip- the last years of which the com, tion that would probably be em- mittee have received an account) ployed by the British merchants, appear nearly to have doubled. has continued to flourish without It is alleged that the principal being productive of injurious con- part of these imports consists of sequences, either to trade in ge- metals and other articles which neral, or that of the East India the merchants in the United States Company in particular. It is have a greater facility in proeurmtated that it would not have done ing than those of other countries;