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The following were the most material of the subordinate regulations. Chap. IX.
For managing the details of the commerce, but subject to the authority and v"—y~~^
commands of the Superior Board, nine assistant Directors were to be named by the legislature, being Proprietors, each, of not less than 2,000/. of East India capital stock.
In the superior body vacancies were to be supplied by the King; in the inferior they were to be supplied by the Proprietors, voting by open poll. Removals in the superior body were to be performed by the King, upon the address of either house of parliament; in the inferior, by the same authority, and also by concurrence of any five of the Chief Directors, recording their reasons.
For the more speedy and effectual repression of offences committed in India, the Directors were, within twenty-one days after the receipt of any accusation or charge, to enter upon the examination of it, and either punish the offender, or record their reasons for not punishing.
Before any person who had served in India, and against whom any charge appeared, should be allowed to return, the Directors were to make a particular inquiry into the circumstances of the charge, and to record their reasons for permitting the return.
Upon knowledge of any dispute subsisting between the heads of the different settlements, or between the heads and their councils, the Directors were to institute immediate inquiry, and come to a decision in three months, or to record their reasons why they did not.
If the constituted authorities at any of the settlements should require the direction or opinion of the Directors, they were to give it in three months, or to record their reasons for not giving it.
If any injury to any native prince should be complained of, or appear, the Directors were to inquire, and to make compensation, wherever it was due.
For publicity, this alone was the expedient; that the Directors should once in six months lay before the Proprietors the state of the commerce; and before the commencement of each parliamentary session, should present to the ministers, certain political and commercial statements, which the ministers should exhibit to parliament.
It was provided, that no Director or Assistant Director, should, while in office, hold any place of profit under the Company, or any place during pleasure under the King; but neither was to be disqualified for retaining a seat in parliament. And the act was to continue in force during four years.
II. Under the second part of the plan, that which had for its object the Provisions
* r lating to the reform of the immediate administration in India, no change or improvement whatsoever was attempted, in the order and distribution of the powers of government; and hardly any thing higher was proposed, than to point out what were deemed the principal errors or delinquencies into which the Indian government had strayed, and to forbid them in future.
Strict obedience was enjoined to the commands of the Directors, because Mr. Hastings, whenever a strong motive occurred, disobeyed them.
The councils were forbidden to delegate their powers; because, in two memorable instances, those of his journeys to the Upper Provinces, the Supreme Council had delegated theirs to Mr. Hastings.
The regular communication to the councils of all correspondence was rendered mandatory upon the Governor-General and other Presidents, because Mr. Hastings, when he had certain objects to serve, had withheld parts of the correspondence.
Because the other servants of the Company had usually united with the governors, in those proceedings of theirs which were most highly condemned, the servants were to be rendered less dependant upon the governors, by appointing that a greater share of the patronage should remain in the hands of the Commissioners.
No banyan, or native steward of any of the principal servants was to be allowed to rent the revenues; because the banyan of Mr. Hastings had rented them to a great amount. Such renting to the banyan was declared to be the same thing as renting to the master.
No presents were to be taken even for the use of the Company; because Mr. Hastings had taken presents, and skreened himself by giving them up at last to the Company.
The abolition was ordained of all monopolies; because the Company's servants in Bengal had been the cause of evil by monopolizing salt, beetel-nut, and tobacco. Passing then from the imputed errors in Bengal to those at Madras, the bill proposed to enact:
That no protected or dependant prince should reside in the Company's territory, or rent their lands; because the Nabob of Arcot had disturbed the Presidency with intrigues by residing at Madras, and had rented, as was alleged, corruptly, the Madras jaghire:
That no civil or military servant of the Company should lend money to such prince, rent his lands, or have with him any pecuniary transaction; because the lending of money to the Nabob of Arcot, renting his lands, and other money Chap. IX. transactions between him and the Company's servants, had given rise to many ^ v—' ... 1 1783.
As the inaccurate definition of the limits prescribed to the control of the Governor-General and Council over the other Presidencies had been fertile in disputes, an attempt, but not very skilful, was made to remove that deficiency, by enacting that it should extend to all transactions which had a tendency to provoke other states to war.
The old prohibition of the extension of territory was enforced; by forbidding hostile entrance upon any foreign territory, except after intelligence of hostile preparations, regarded as serious by a majority of the Council; forbidding alliance with any power for dividing between them any acquirable territory; and forbidding loans of troops to the native princes; excepting, in all these cases, by allowance of the Directors.
The project of declaring the Zemindars, and other managers of the land revenue, hereditary proprietors of the land, and of declaring the tax fixed and invariable; the project originally started by Mr. Francis, and in part proposed for enactment in the late bill of Mr. Dundas; was adopted.
Instead of the regulation, introduced into the bill of Mr. Dundas, that the Governor-General should have a power of acting upon his own responsibility, independently of the will of his Council, power was only to be given to him, and to the Presidents at the other settlements, of adjourning or postponing, for a limited time, the consideration of any question in their respective councils.
A mode was prescribed for adjusting the disputes of the Nabob of Arcot with his creditors, and with the Rajah of Tanjore.
All offences against the act were rendered amenable to the courts of law in England and India. And all persons in the service of the Company, in India, or in that of any Indian prince, were declared unfit, during the time of that service, and some succeeding time, to hold the situation of a member of the lower house of parliament.
No proceeding of the English government, in modern times, has excited a Opinion of this greater ferment in the nation, than these two bills of Mr. Fox. An alarm, aed'iutEaspecies of panic, diffused itself among the people, for which the ground was ex-tiontremely scanty, and for which, notwithstanding the industry and the art with which the advantage was improved by the opposite party, it is difficult, considering the usual apathy of the public on much more important occasions, entirely to account. The character of Mr. Fox, who was at that time extremely .
vol,. II. 4 u
Book V. unpopular, and from the irregularity of his private habits, as well as the appa
v v 'rent sacrifice of all principle in his coalition with Lord North, was, by a great 1783. .part of the nation, regarded as a profligate gamester, both in public and in private life, contributed largely to the existence of the storm, and to the apprehensions conceived of danger from the additional power which he appeared to be taking into his hands.* In the House of Commons, indeed, the party of the minister eminently prevailed; and though every objection which the imaginations of the orators could frame was urged against the measure with the utmost possible pertinacity, vehemence, and zeal, the bill passed by a majority of more than two to one.
Interference In the mean time opportunity had been found for alarming the mind of the with the1deli- King. The notion propagated was, that by vesting the whole patronage of parliament! Incua in the hands of Mr. Fox, that is, in a board of commissioners, under his appointment, the power of that individual would be so increased, that it would be impossible for the King to employ, as minister, any other man; and the power of Mr. Fox would be rendered absolute over both the King and the people. Instead of having recourse to the expedients, which the law had placed in his hands, of dismissing his ministers, or even dissolving the parliament; a clandestine course was adopted; which violated the forms of the constitution. To this it had often been declared that no principle was more essential than the total exemption of the deliberations in parliament from the impulse of the royal The bill re- "will. Yet the King employed Lord Temple to inform as many as he thought l^a.hy fit of the peers of parliament, that those who should vote for the Indian bill, the King would take for his enemies. On the day of the second reading of the bill in the House of Lords, the minister was left in a minority of seventy-nine to eighty-seven.
Inference, in The outcry which was raised against this measure, if accurately contemplated,
the outcry •
against Mr. will be found to be one of the most remarkable incidents in the history of the respec^toTh^1 government and constitution of England. It was in fact a violent and impetuHouseofCom- ous declaration of the King, and of the greatest portion of all the leading orders
ruons. _ ° ° r ° in the state, as well as of the body of the people, that the Commons House of
* To prevent misconception, it is necessary to preclude the inference that I concur in the opinion, which I give in the text, as one among the causes of a particular effect. In the private character of Mr. Fox, there was enough surely of the finest qualities, to cast his infirmities into the shade. And though, absolutely speaking, I have no great admiration to bestow upon him, either as a speculative or practical statesman; yet when I compare him with the other men, who had figured in public life in his country, I can find none whom I think his superior, perhaps none whom I think his equal.
Parliament, as now constituted, is altogether inadequate to the ends which it is Chap. IX. meant to fulfil. Unless that acknowledgment was fully made, the outcry was \^' groundless and impostrous. The essence of the change which Mr. Fox proposed to introduce consisted in this, and in nothing but this; That the Board of Directors should be chosen, not by the owners of Company's stock, but by the House of Commons. Surely if the House of Commons were a fit instrument of government, a better choice might be expected from the House of Commons than from the crowd of East India Proprietors. The foundation on which the justice of the clamour had to rest, if any justice it contained, was this; that the House of Commons would act under a fatal subservience to the profligate views of the minister. But to suppose that the House of Commons would do this in one instance only, not in others, the motive being the same; that they would make a sacrifice of their duty to their country, in one of the most ruinous to it of almost all instances, while in other instances they were sure to perform it well, would be to adopt the language of children, or of that unhappy part of our species whose reason is not fit to be their guide. If the House of Commons is so circumstanced as to act under motives sufficient to ensure a corrupt compliance with ministerial views, then, undoubtedly, the House of Commons is a bad organ for the election of Indianrulers. If it is not under such motives to betray the interests of the country to the views of ministers, then it is undoubtedly the best instrument of choice which the country can afford: Nor is there any thing which can render it, compared with any other electing body, which could be formed in the country, unfit for this function, which does not, by necessity, imply an equal unfitness for all its peculiar functions: If it is unworthy to be trusted with the election of East India Directors, it is still less worthy to be trusted with the purse strings of the nation: If there would be danger to the British people in the one case, the danger is far greater in the other. An heart-felt conviction, that the House of Commons, as now constituted, is totally unworthy of trust, announced in the strongest of all possible terms, by the King, by the principal part of the aristocracy, of the whole, in short, of that part of the nation whose interests and ideas are in the strongest manner linked to monarchical and aristocratical privileges and distinctions, is of infinite importance; because it may be so employed as to make them ashamed of that opposition to reform, which, by so many selfish and mean considerations, they are in general engaged to maintain. There is but one allegation, which appears capable of being employed to Objection to