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granted? And, what could any ministry do worse than this ? The excuse for not paying the nation the nine and a balf millions of money is, that it has been expended in necessary wars. Is it not time to take the government of thirty millions of people out of such hands ? Whether it is likely to fall into better hands I do not pretend to know; but, here I come to close quarters with Mr. Birch ;, for, I say, that those whom he thinks good enough to govern England, I think quite good enough to govern India.

Mr. Birch even asserted, that the adoption of the proposed measure would be a violation of the Company's Charter : “ He considered the “ proposed innovation as a violation of the East India Company's

Charter, and a daring confiscation of property. Their Charter bad “ been renewed from time to time; their property had been embarked in numerous establishments on the faith of it; and now, when these had “ attained maturity, the Company were to be turned out, that others "might enjoy the fruits of their labours. Unless the safety of the State “were concerned, Charters ought never to be infringed." I do not know, for my part, where men find confidence sufficient to make assertions like these. The measure cannot be a violation of the Charter. The term of the Charter will have expired. The nation has fulfilled its part of the agreement. It was a grant for 20 years, and, when the 20 years shall have been completed, the nation has, surely, a right to resume its possession. What an impudent man should we think a tenant, who, at the expiration of his lease, should accuse his landlord of a violation of it, because he refused to renew it? “A daring confiscation of property!What language applied to such a case ! Mr. Birch could see no confiscation of property in the selling of a part of an Englishman's estate under what is called the redemption of the land-tax; but, the refusing to grant a new Charter to the East India Company, he calls a daring confiscation of property! The Company have embarked, he says, in numerous establishments, on the fuith of the Charter. What faith? The faith of its lasting 20 years. No other faith did the nation pledge; and that faith, notwithstanding all the defalcations of the Company, the nation has kept. What reason, then ; what reason, in the name of common sense, bave the Company to complain ?

" Now,” says Mr. Birch, “ the Company are to be turned out, that others may enjoy the fruits of their labour.” How are others to enjoy the fruits of the Company's labour? The Company have pocketed those fruits themselves. They have had their lease out, though they have paid but one year's rent out of twenty; and how, then, are others to get at the fruits of their labour. Besides, who are these others" that Mr. Birch talks of so slightingly? They are nothing less than all the people of the kingdom, able to embark in the India trade. It is the nation, in short, who, at the expiration of a lease, re enters its demised estate ; and this is what Mr. Birch terms others ;" and this act of re-entry he calis a violation of the Charter, and a daring confiscation of property. The worthy Alderman has only to apply his doctrine to the affairs of private life, and he will go a great deal farther than even the abused sans-culottes of France ever dreamt of going.

Sir William Curtis, during this debate, expressed his fears, that a free trade to India might cause the introduction of political freedom. “ If a free trade to India were once allowed, among other exports, they “ would probably soon have a variety of politicians, who would use their “ best endeavours to give the Hindoos a conception of the Rights of Man.”

A most alarming thought, to be sure ! Sir William Curtis is, then, for no rights of man. He is for keeping the poor slaves, slaves still. His wishes, however, will not be accomplished, I believe; and, he may yet live long enough to see men claiming and asserting their rights all over the world. But what a sentiment is this from an Englishman! His objection to an unrestricted intercourse with another part of the world, is, that it may lead to the teaching of enslaved men their rights ! This is the objection which one of the Aldermen, who is also a member of Parliament, for the great City, has to the opening of the trade to India. Commerce has, by many writers, been applauded for having produced an extension of knowledge and of freedom; but, this man objects to it on that account; he fears that the opening of trade may tend to the enlarging of the mind of man; he is afraid that a free intercourse would break the chains of a people ! Let us hope, that there are very few assemblages of men in the world where such a sentiment would not have been received with an unanimous exclamation of horror. And yet, I dare say, that Sir William Curtis is one of those who talks well about the despotism of Buonaparte's government, and who is loud in his prayers for the deliverance of Europe. I dare say he is one of those who is for the deliverance of every body but those whom we may deliver at any hour that we please. Now, I am for beginning the work of deliverance that is within our own power; and, having closed that, then call upon Buonaparte to follow our example.

The arguments urged in favour of the opposition by the City of London I shall notice in my next, as well as the statements and reasoning in some of the speeches at the India House.

WM. COBBETT. Botley, 28th January, 1813.

TO THE THINKING PEOPLE OF ENGLAND,

ON THE

AFFAIRS OF THE EAST INDIA COMPANY.

(Political Register, February, 1813.)

LETTER II. THINKING PEOPLE, Before we come to consider the arguments in support of that opposition, which the City of London, in its corporate capacity, is making to the intended measure of opening the trade to the East lies, I think it right to offer you some further remarks upon what has been said relative to the new power and influence, which such a measure must throw into the hands of the ministry at home.

I noticed, in my last, an idea of Mr. Birch and of Mr. Favell, that

the measure, by taking the Government, and, of course, the army and revenue of India, out of the hands of the East India Company, the ministry would become possessed of so much power, that....that.... that God knows what they might do! I will now cite a passage from the Morning Chronicle.

“ We this day lay before our readers the correspondence that has taken place " between the Court of Directors and the President of the Board of Control. “ There never came before the public eye a correspondence pregnant with re" sults so important and alarming; for the letter of Lord Buckinghamshire, in " the most summary and cavalier style, gives the India Company only the alter. “ native of the surrender of a material part of their rights, or the unconditional " transfer of the whole management and power of India to Ministers. He will “ submit to no previous discussions. He bids them hunt for information among " the Memorials and Petitions from the Out-ports ; but demands the concur“ rence of the Company to the opening of the trade, before he will enter into

an explanation of the rules by which it shall be regulated. The question of a " partial opening of the India trade, or of the strict maintenance of the Char. " ter, is of such magnitude as to demand the most grave and deliberate atten" tion. He must have a very comprehensive mind indeed, that can, at a first “ view, decide on the national policy of the measure. We certainly do not feel “ ourselves competent to form such a judgment. But on the alternative, namely, " that if the Company do not implicitly acquiesce in the principle of the mea“ sure without inquiry or explanation, the result may be the TRANSFER OF " THE WHOLE TO GOVERNMENT, there can be but one opinion. viz. :“ that it would be CONSTITUTIONAL RUIN. The dissolution of the India “ Company could not take place without bringing with it a national bankruptcy, " and that must be followed by military despotism. A correspondence, there“ fore, of more dreadful import was never laid before the public, and we ear“ nestly request our readers to give it the attention which it deserves."

At the first blush there appears to be something so wild in this ; there appears to be something so mad in the notion, that the constitution of England is to be destroyed ; that a national bankruptcy is to be produced; that a military despotism is to be established, by the dissolution of a company of merchants ; 'there seems to be something so crazy, or, more politely speaking, so delirious; it seems to proceed from something so much like one of those " exacerbations,” vulgarly called fits; the thing seems to be so much of this character, that I should not have thought it worthy of notice, had it not issued through the chief organ of the Whig faction. What an opinion, however ; what a contemptuous opinion must the writer have of the intellects of his readers, to put forth such extravagant notions ! We are, indeed, in a pretty state, if what he says be true. A charter is granted to a company of merchants to trade to one of our colonies ; the term of the charter is about to expire ; and, we are told, that, if we do not renew the charter, we shall be placed under a military despotism! Verily a man must have screwed up his nerves into a very tight state, before he could hazard such an assertion.

In what way, I should be glad to know, is the dissolution of the East India Company to produce this terrible effect ? To point out this, was the duty of the Morning Chronicle; and not having done it, his assertion might be dismissed, without further notice, it being incumbent on no one to produce proof, or argument, in refutation of that, which has not been attempted to be proved. Nevertheless, as the matter is of great importance, I will put here a few questions to this writer. And in the first place, I ask him, whether it be likely, that a national bankruptcy will arise from the dissolution of a Company, the affairs of which Company are in such a state as to require the aid of the Government to keep the Company itself

VOL. IV.

N

from becoming bankrupt ? | ask whether this be likely? For some years past, the East India Company has been borrowing money, or rather banknotes, fiom the national Government; it has come to the Government, and has got from it accommodations; the Government has it lent bank-notes to the amount of millions. I will not encumber my argument with the items in detail; but I state distinctly, that this East India Company has had banknotes to the amount of millions of pounds, lent to it by the Government, in order to enable it to pay its dividends ; for, Tl:inking People, this Company has its Nationul Debt, and its dividends, in the same manner that the Government at Westminster has ! Now, if the Company cannot pay its way without the assistance of the nation ; if it be compelled to borrow money of the nation in order to pay its dividends ; if this be the case (and the Morning Chronicle does not deny the fact), how is the dissolution of this Company to make the nation itself a bankrupt ? ! shall be told, perhaps, that if the Company's Charter be not renewed, it will not be able to pay its debts, or the interest on its debts; and, that, the East India Stock-holders being thus ruined, an alarm will be spread amongst the Stock-holders of the nation ; that the funds will fall to a very low price, and that thus a national bankruptcy will be produced. But, how is this to happen ? The Government would only have to guarantee the payment of the interest upon the India stock, in order to prevent any such alarm; and that, in fact, it now does, by the advances which it makes to the Company, in order to enable it to pay its dividends. The truth is, that, in case of a dissolution of the Company, the Government must guarantee the payment of the interest upon its debts, or else, the whole of the funding fabric would be instantly blown into the air ; but, no injury could arise from this; because, as I have before shown, the Government is, at this time, and long has been, surety for the payment of the interest on the Company's debts.

Another question that I should wish to put to this gentleman is, where he has made the discovery, that, what he calls a national bankruptcy must be followed by a military despotism !” But, perhaps, it will be best, first to ask him what it is that he means by a militury despotismı? Does he mean that state of things, where there is nothing existing in the name of law; where there are no tribunals, with people sitting in them, called judges; where there are none of those persons called peace-officers, police officers, commissioners of taxes, surveyors of taxes, supervisors of taxes, assessors of taxes, collectors of taxes, excisemen, custom-houseofficers, tide-waiters, &c. Does he mean a state of things, wherein all these are unknown, and where the taxes are collected and offenders against the Government are punished through the instrumentality of soldiers only? If he does, then I tell him that he means to describe a state of things which never existed in any nation in the world. If he means a state of things where the Government has the absolute command of so large a military force, as completely to preclude, or to render desperate, any attempt at resistance on the part of the people, let the acts of the Government be what they may; if he means this state of things, then I call upon him to show how the dissolution of the East India Company; I call upon him to show, how a national bankruptcy can possibly be big with the danger which he affects to anticipate.

By national bankruptcy, he means, doubtless, as others have meant, a ceasiny to puy at the Bank the interest of the national debt. But, is he not deceived as to the course which things will naturally take in this

respect ? The Bank continues to pay the dividends on the debt, as promptly as it paid them before the stoppage in 1797. It pays, indeed, in paper, instead of hard money, and so it will continue to do, as long as the paper will pass current at all. There may come a time when the paper will be worth very little; or, in other words, when it will require a great deal of it to purebase the same quantity of goods that may be purchased with a silver shilling; but still, the Bank will keep on paying the interest of the national debt, and as long as it does that, who can, with propriety, say, that a national bankruptcy has taken place ?

However, suppose that there should come a time, when even the papermoney cannot be made fast enough for the due discharge of the dividends. The supposition is quite beyond the compass of probability; but, let us, for argument's sake, adopt it. What then ? Why, then there is a national bankruptcy. But why should this be followed by a military despotism? In order to get rid of all dispute about the meaning of the words military despotism, we will take it for granted that the writer means a state of things, in which the Government would possess a more complete and ab. solute control over the purses and persons of the people than it now possesses. We will not stop to inquire what sort of control that must be ; but we will take it for granted, for the sake of the argument, that the thing is possible, and then it remains for this writer to show us, how such a state of things is likely to be produced by the total discredit of bank, paper.

It is, I believe, universally acknowledged, that, without the aid of bank. paper, the Government, on its present system, could not have been carried on unto this day. It has been a hundred times asserted in the Houses of Parliament, that it is the bank-paper which has enabled the Government to engage in, and to prosecute, these long and destructive wars. In short, it is pure waste of time to attempt to show, that the Government, on its present system of great power, has derived its chief support from bank, paper, and that the system depends for its existence upon the bank. paper. How, then, is it possible, that the annihilation of that paper should give to the Government a more complete and absolute control over the purses and persons of the people than it now possesses ? How is it possible, that additional strength should be produced by the total destruction of that, which, up to this moment, bas been the principal source of strength ?

I might stop here ; for, until this question be answered, nothing more can be necessary in the way of refutation of the assertion before us. But, I will anticipate, that this writer means, that the destruction of the paper-money must be followed by the destruction not only of the present system of sway, but also of the whole form of the Government; and that, hence would necessarily ensue that state of things, whatever it may be, which he denominates a military despotism; and by which we must sup: pose that he means a Government possessing a more complete and absolute control over the purses and persons of the people than the Government, on its present system, possesses.

Now, upon what grounds does he presume, that the destruction of the paper-money must be followed by the destruction of the whole form of our Government? When men are advancing assertions of such import, they ought to back them with proof, or, at least, with an attempt at proof, if they expect them to bave any weight with men of sense. When a man was asserting, in terms so unqualified, that the king, Lords,

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