Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

cesses. Much mischief was done, to remedy. This was so well felt, and

many lives were lost in differs that little was done towards enent places. The magistrates be- forcing that proclamation, and it ing at length obliged to call in foon fell to the ground. The same the military force to the aid of the day on which this proclamation civil, the rioters were easily dif. was passed, the parliament, which persed, and the jails filled with was to have met on the 16th of prisoners. Judges were soon after September, was prorogued to the sent to the countries were the uth of the following Novemriots had happened, with special ber. commissions to bring the prisoners The price of wheat to immediate trial; in conse- ftill increasing, ano. Sept. 26th. quence of which several of the ther proclamation was leaders, and others the most out. issued, (better adapted to its end rageous of them, were condemned than the former, but more doubt. to die; most of these were how- ful in point of law,) to prohibit ever afterwards reprieved, several the exportation of grain. Mefwere transported, some got a free sengers were dispatched to the seapardon, and some examples were coaits, to see that the terms of the made.

proclamation were complied with, In the mean time and to prevent such ships as were Sept. 11th, a proclamation was loaded with wheat, or wheat-meal, 1766. issued, for putting at the several ports, from proceed

in force several fta. ing with their cargoes. At the tutes that had been formerly passed fame time, the use of wheat was against foreftallers, regrators, and prohibited the distillery. The for. engrossers of corn.

mer proclamation became afterdoubted, whether this proclama. wards a subject of much altercation was well conceived, or well tion in parliament. timed. It was, in some sort, pre- We gave in our last volume a judging the question, and declar- particular account of the great ac. ing the scarcity to be artificial, quifitions that had been gained by which experience has since thewn the East India company; of the to have been but too natural. Ma- flourishing state of its affairs; and ny of the old laws relative to the appearances there were of a provisions are not well suited to stability proportioned to this greatthe present system of our affairs; ness. The later advices not onnor are they quite consonant to ly confirmed, but enlarged the latter regulations upon the same value of these acquisitions; as subject. The old laws are at pre- every day thewed their greater sent dark in the construction, and importance, and discovered some extremely difficult in the execu. new part of the immense property, tion. It was apprehended that which the company was poiseffed this measure would have an effect of in that part of the world. Imcontrary to the intentions of the mense spoil, as it has often apcouncil, and by frightening deal. peared too great for the minds of ers from the markets, would in- the conquerors, so it has fome. crease that scarcity it was designed times funk them to a worse con

But many

dition than that in which they had successes of the company, the di. left the vanquished. The amazing rectors faw nothing but its debts. successes of the company, and the Two factions arose upon this subvast profits arising from them, first ject ; one for increasing the divikindled dissension among their fer- dend; the other, which was invants in the East, and then produc- fluenced by the direction, for keeped contentions of equal violence in ing it at the then standard of six per the company itself.

cent. At the midsummer court, It had been long expected, and it was intended, by the former, much wished by the proprietors of that if the directors did not volunEaft-India stock, that they should tarily declare an increase of divienjoy a share of those sweets, dend, to put it to the question, and which were the consequences of: have it decided by the majority of their foreign success; and which proprietors present. they saw hitherto entirely engroff- As this intention was publicly ed by their servants, who came known, so its success was sufficienthome every day incumbered with ly guarded against, princely fortunes. As the prof- and prevented. At June 18th, perous state of the company's af- the opening of the fairs was now publicly known court, a friend of the directors and ascertained, it was accord- made a motion for increasing the ingly expected, by many proprie- dividend to eight per cent. ; the tors, that the directors would have directors having declared their dis. immediately declared a suitable approbation of this motion, the increase of dividend. This seem- maker immediately withdrew it. ed to them the more reasonable, This adroit management put it as the state of dividend then stood entirely out of the power of the at the lowest point to which it proprietors to bring it on again at ever had been reuuced, having that meeting, as it would have been been lowered from eight to fix per contrary to the established rules and cent, in the most critical period of forms of the court. the late 'war; when the company The address that was shewn in was in the most distressed situation, this transaction, did not protect it and a continuance even of its exift. from censure : the conduct of the ence appeared more than doubt- directors was scrutinized with ful. They thought that a great great severity: the supposed morevenue and a Aourishing trade tives to it were laid open, and the ill agreed with a low dividend, public papers became the common and tended to fink, to an artificial field for che discussion of India af. lowness, the price of stock, to the fairs, which were canvassed with great loss of the present poffeflors, great animosity, each party accus. and the advantage of future deal. ing the other of the most corrupt ers.

designs, and of misrepresenting, These inclinations of the pro- for private purposes, the real state prietors did not in any degree co- of the company's affairs. The incide with the opinion of the di- party for the directors admitted rectors. While the greatest part ihat the company had gained great of the former considered only the advantages in the East : but at

the year,

the fame time had plunged them- advantages arising from it. That selves into

great

difficulties by the the cautious æconomy of the di. expence attending their extensive rectors was confined to the proprimilitary operations. That their etors only, while motions for the profits were comparatively re- molt profuse private grants were mote and precarious; their debts eagerly adopted by them. urgent and certain ; and that jus. As to the debts which the com. tice and good policy concurred in pany owed ; the reasons drawn recommending, in the first place, from thence for not increafing the a discharge of their incumbrances, dividend were, they inlifted, fo. before they thought of enjoying tile and absurd. It was said that their profits. They recalled the the company, while ever it contransactions of the memorable tinued a commercial one, as well South-sea and the fraudulent' as every other company

of mes. methods then used for the raising chants, must always, in the nature of that stock. They asserted that of things, owe large sums of mo. such a premature attempt to aug- ney. That, in the present case, ment the dividend, would raise the creditors looked upon their se. the price of their fund to an extra- curity to be so good, and thought vaganı height, at which it would their money so well laid out, that be impossible to fupport it, would there was nothing they feared more add fresh fuel to the ardour for than the payment of it; a clear gaming, encourage Itock-jobbing, proof of which was, that the bonds and open a new field to all the bore a premium, fo ihat they could mysterious transactions of 'Change, fell them for more than the origiAlley.

nal debt that was 'owing on them, On the other hand, it was re

The Dutch East India company presented as the greatest hardship, was also introduced as a precedent, That many of those proprietors which divided 20 per cent. upon wlofe property had lain in the its capital, though the possessions hands of the company during the and revenues of the Dutch, in that most dangerous periods of the part of the world, were not at prewar, night now, through necef- fent, in any degree, equal to those fity, be obliged to dispose of their of the English. stock, without having the smallest As to the invidious mention of compensation made them for the the South-sea bubble, they obgreat risks they had run. That, served, that it was no way appli. in this case, new men, whether cable to the present case : ihat the natives or foreigners, would come high rate of that stock was built in for the benefits io which the upon an imaginary basis, which old proprietors were fo juftly en- had no real existence; so that its titled, as the marketable price of success depended entirely upon the ftock always depended upon the passions and covetousness of the dividend ii yielded. That it was people, which were the only en. a novelty peculiar to the present gines it had to make use of. That, time, to see that the possessors of on the contrary, nothing could be property were the only people better ascertained than the property who could not enjoy any of the of the company; and that nothing could be more equitable, than that of them, that the government in. the possessors of this property tended to interfere in fome man. should be able, whenever they ner in the disposition of India af. thought fit, to dispose of it at the fairs. full and real value. That when Such an interference had been every man, buyer and seller, knew so unusual, that the report at first the intrinsic value of stock, by the gained no manner of credit. A few dividend which it yielded, there days before she meeting of the would be no further room for stock. Michaelmas general court, a mes, jobbing; but that the uncertainty fage was, however, actually rewhich the present mode of conduct ceived by the directors from the occafioned, operated so strongly ministry, and it was immediately and so differently upon the minds noised about that the government of the public, that there was a had absolutely forbidden any ingreater Auctuation in the price, crease of dividend, and had also and the pernicious effects of stock. denounced threats against the comjobbing were more sensibly felt, pany, which struck at its very than they had been at any other exittence. time.

could

The novelty of an English mi. This course of dissension and al. nister of state venturing to intertercation between the members of fere, as an officer of the crown, in the fame company, was productive a matter of private property, exof consequences, which were then cited, in the higheit degree, the little foreseen or expected. Every attention of all sorts of people.thing relative to them was now Many, however, ftill supposed that laid before the public ; the exact the report was calculated only to state of their immense property be- answer the particular purposes of came known to all persons ; their a party, or, at least, that the terms moft private secrets were unveiled; were upon that account greatly ex. their charters, their rights, their aggerated. The openpofsessions, their conduct at home ing of the general Sept. 24th. and abroad ; their disputes, and court at length retheir utility to the nation, were lieved this curiofity; a message in now matters of eager and public writing from the first Lord of the discussion. The company became Treasury, and some other of the the ground for the most absurd minifters, was read, setting forth, projector to build his visionary “ That, as the affairs of the Eastscheme on; and its property was India company had been mentionan object to exercise the invention ed in parliament last sellion, it was of the idle, the needy, and the ra- very probable they might be taken pacious.

into consideration again; there. As the quarterly meeting ap- tore, from the regard they had for proached, at which it was ex- the welfare of the company, and pected that the great object of that they might have time to predispute between the opposite par- pare their papers for that occafion, ties would come again upon the they informed thein, that the parcarpei, it was for some time whilo liament would meet some time in pered about, by the friends of one November,"

Letters

Letters were at the same time brought on them the attention of read from Lord Clive, and from the ministry : a little time more the secret committee at Bengal, gave them an carnest of the consewhich not only confirmed but ex- quences ; and as the disposition of ceeded the accounts that had been their affairs was in a great measure formerly received of the great opu. taken out of their own hands, we Jence of the company, the exten

are from that time to consider them fion of its trade, and the perma- not as a private but a public ob. nent basis on which, as far as hu- ject. man forefight could judge, its se. Such was the situation of affairs curity was now established. The when the parliament met in the bedirectors, notwithstanding, still op. ginning of the winter 1766. The posed an increase of dividend; and speech from the throne observed upon a motion being made for that that the high price of wheat, and purpose, they, insisted on a ballot, the great demand for it from a. by which the decision was evaded broad, had occafioned their being for a day or two. Another gene- assembled fo early. It took notice ral court being called, this long- of the urgent necessity that occa. contested question was decided by fioned an exertion of the royal au. ballot, and the dividend, which thority, for the preservation of the was to take place from the ensa- public safety, by laying an eming Christmas, was increased, by a bargo on wheat and wheat flour prodigious majority, from fix to going out of the kingdom. It ex. ten per cent.

pressed a warm sense of the late We shall take no farther notice daring insurrections; a resolution of the squabbles between the mem

that the criminals should be pu. bers of the East-India company; nished, and obedience 10 govern. we have already seen that they had ment and the laws restored.

[blocks in formation]

A bill of indemnity for those concerned in the late embargo, brought in;

great debates thereon ; the bill passed. The bill for restraining all acts of the allembly of New York, brought in and passed. Land tax re. duced to Three Billings in the pound. Great debates upon India affairs; proposals made by the company for an accommodation with

government; the proposals accepted, and a bill passed for that purpose. Bill for regulating India dividends ; great debates thereon ; the bill paljes, and the house

breaks up.

'

E

VER fince the 15th of Charles when the proclamation was issued,

the Second, corn, when un- 'corn had not reached the price der a certain price, might be le- within which the exportation had gally exported.' Whenever it had been permitted. To lay an em. been thought proper to break in bargo, therefore, by any supposed upon this principle, it was always authority legally existing in the done by act of parliament. But king and council, under such cir

cum

« ForrigeFortsett »