« FöregåendeFortsätt »
some as fair and just. Moreover, the battle (to keep up our metaphorical phraseology) being to be fought, in a great measure, with arithmetical weapons, the Company's adversaries, by commencing thus early, commit theinselves to certain arguments built upon the existing state of things, which state may undergo a material change before the subject is formally discussed in Parliament; and the benefits, if any, resulting from such a change in the facts, they generously (if anonymous writers can ever claim the merit of generosity) resign to the Company's partizans.
It may be concluded that we have not suffered the various ephemeral productions which have recently appeared on the subject of the East-India Company's exclusive privileges to pass unnoticed. We have read them attentively and impartially. It is no affectation of candour which induces us to avow some preconceived opinions on this important subject; they could not be avoided. But interest and prejudice have as little influence upon us, in considering this question, as upon any individual who may read this declaration. Whatever sentiments, therefore, we may now, or at any future period, express, in regard to the East-India Company's monopoly, as it is called, will be perfectly honest and independent.
None of the productions to which we have referred appear to us to deserve particular observation at the present moment: they may be available, hereafter, as conflicting witnesses ; for it is amusing to observe how, in their eagerness, these pamphleteers, like Bays's soldiers, encounter each other. One publication, indeed, which has been mightily puffed into notice, as a work of some authority, requires a few remarks from us, which may be the means of cautioning those persons into whose hands this journal may fall, against reposing confidence in the statements of writers upon this subject, and in the eulogiums with which these publications are ushered into the world in the public newspapers, the editors of which naturally assume that the facts from which the deductions are made are irrefragable.
The publication to which we allude is the “ Report of the Committee of the Liverpool East-India Association, on the subject of the trade with India; presented to the Association at a general meeting, 21st March 1828.” We have no knowledge of the individual who drew up this report, for such documients are usually the work of an individual ; but whoever he may be, he has evinced a wonderful degree of polemical skill : it is one of the most artful and deliberate specimens of misrepresentation which ever fell under our observation, and they have not been few.
It would require a work of much greater dimensions than the “ Report' itself to develop the systematic imposture which it discloses : we think it sufficient to point out some of the instances of misrepresentation contained in "the “ report,” and to leave our readers to apply the principle which prevails in our courts of justice, as well as amongst mankind in general, whereby a witness proved guilty of intentional falsehood in one or two instances, is held to be altogether unworthy of credit.
The attack upon the East-India Company in this “Report” is chiefly directed against that part of their exclusive privileges which interdicts free trade with China. The writer sets out with a position, which forms the basis of his argument throughout, namely, that the object of the statutes under which the Company retain the tea trade, was that of securing cheap teas to the British public; that the Company have shamefully violated the condition under which they obtained their“ supposed privileges," and have, in fact, forfeited their monopoly, in law, long ago: "a point,” it is affirmed, “ of
which those who will take the trouble to inquire, can searcely fail to be convinced.” In order, however, to save the reader the toil of inquiry, the writer establishes his argument as follows:
The 10th section of the 18th Geo. II. cap. 26, provides, in the clearest manner, that the East-India Company, and their suceessors, shall, with the view " to keep the price of tea in this kingdom upon an equality with the price thereof in other neighbouring countries of Europe,” import such quantities of tea, “ from any parts of Europe," as may be necessary for this purpose. The 10th [it should be the 11th) section of the same statute provides, that if the Company “shall, at any time, neglect to keep this market supplied with a sufficient quantity of tea, al reasonable prices, to answer the consumption thereof in Great Brilain,” it shall be the duty of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury to grant licenses to any other persons whatsoever, to import teas on the same conditions, and for the same purpose. This statute has never been repealed, and ought, therefore, at the present moment to have the full force of law. It has not only not been abrogated, but repeatedly confirmed. The 3d section of the 14th of Geo. III. cap. 34, repeats, word for word, the provision to license private-traders to import teas, in case the East India Company should neglect to import a sufficient quantity to keep the prices on an equality with those of the continent of Europe. The same provision is again repeated in the 3d [it should be the 5th] section of the 16th of the same reign,
Your Committee quote from a collection of charters and statutes prepared, shortly after they received their last charter, “ for the use of the East-India Company," and distributed by them to their officers and public departments, for their guidance. Of the two last statutes which have been noticed, the only sections contained in this collection are those which your committee have quoted ; and, with respect to the latest of them, the Company's officer who framed it expressly states, that the whole act, ercept the provision in question, is expired.
The celebrated commutation act of 1784 by no means annuls any of the provisions to which your committee have referred. On the contrary, it makes further provisions (as far as regards the Company's modes of sale) for securing to the public cheap teas. It tells them expressly, that “ it is just and reasonable,” that they should " contribute their utmost endeavours for securing to the public the full benefit which will arise from an immediate and permanent reduction of prices.” Since the year 1784, tea is the subject of no less than fourteen statutes, in not one of which is there a syllable tending to repeal the provisions previously enacted for the security of the publie.
The principal acts regulating the affairs of the East-India Company are the two last charters; that is, the statutes of 1793 and of 1813. The first of these mates se specific mention of the tea trade, except in so far as it confirms, with trifting and valueless exceptions, the whole monopoly as it stood before the passing of the at; which, in law and reason, is surely a confirmation of what was enacted for the ad vantage of the public, as much as of what was enacted against it; that is in favour of the East-India Company.
In the last charter, the monopoly of the tea trade, and the exclusive privilege of trading to the dominions of the Emperor of China, are left untouched to the East India Company. The open intercourse with other countries of the East, and is all commodities, tea excepted, which were conceded to the nation in this case, ailed for express provisions in favour of the East-India Company : they are working pen vided by the 2d and 8th sections of the act. In the first of these it is peonides, trat the monopoly shall be exercised conformably to former xts, est reperies is tre present; and, among such repealed acts, those securing cheap tess to the public as most unquestionably not included; nor could they be so, without a most fagyas neglect of its duty on the part of the Legislature, or what is worse, without supporting, a collusion between it and the Fast-India Company to defraud the public.
We have quoted the whole passage, to avoid the possibility of being charged with what we charge upon the writer ; and now let us whether he has or