LONDON: Printed for J. DEBRETT, opposite Burlington House, PICCADILLY.

THEY, who were present at the debate in the House of Commons, on Tuesday the twenty-third of April, 1793, will see the pro­priety and necessity of the present publication. Arguments, found­ed on the principles maintained in these papers, may possibly ap­pear to the Public to have de­served some consideration. At least, they ought to have been heard.



1. I TAKE it for granted that, whenever it shall be thought adviseable to form a new arrangement for the future govern­ment of Bengal, and for the general se­curity of our acquisitions and establish­ments in India, on some determinate prin­ciple, and under an united authority, the substance of our public letters to the Court [Page 2] of Directors, and of the several minutes signed by Sir John Clavering, Colonel Monson, and myself, as far as they may appear to relate to those objects, will be duly considered. We spared no pains to procure useful information, nor neglected any opportunity of communicating it to the Company and to Government; not confining our reflections to the particular subject before us, but extending them generally to the political interests and in­ternal administration of the country, as far as the occasion would permit; and I trust that, however our efforts, in other respects, may have been disappointed of their immediate aim, the inquiries we made, and the knowledge obtained by them, will not be found useless to our successors. To execute this part of the duty of our appointment as completely as I can, and to enable Government to take such measures hereafter, for a final arrangement of India affairs, as may in­clude every case fit to be provided for, and not be defeated in the execution, I beg leave to submit to your Lordship some [Page 3] important questions, on which we have had no proper opportunity of delivering our opinion, and which, I presume, cannot be left undecided at home, with­out great inconvenience to the public ser­vice here. Many of these questions are obvious, and will, without doubt, have already occurred to your Lordship. I think it necessary, nevertheless, not to pass by any point whatever, on which your Lordship might possibly desire an opinion or expect information from me.

2. The first question, in the solution of which that of many others will be in­cluded, is of so much importance, and united with political considerations so re­mote from the immediate interests of Bengal, that I do not presume to state it in any other shape, than simply as a ques­tion; viz. ‘"To what extent and in what form the actual sovereignty of Great Britain over these provinces shall be avowed?"’ A higher judgment than mine must determine, whether any plan of measures for the internal Government [Page 4] of Bengal can be perfectly regular, syste­matical, or secure, which does not sup­pose and establish a unity of dominion. The operations of that power, descending from a single source, would flow with regularity in their natural channels, and never clash with each other.

3. In this observation, the object is considered as it stands; a country, in which the principal branches of the sove­reign power are exercised by the East-India Company, where justice is admi­nistered partly under the authority of the Subadar, and partly under that of the King of Great Britain, and where the na­tives in general acknowledge no King but the Mogul, whose rights as Sovereign are admitted by all Indostan, under whose authority the revenues are collected, and in whose name the current money of Bengal is coined. The wisdom of His Majesty's Council will determine, in what manner these several rights and powers can now be reconciled or adjusted; or whether the actual condition of the object [Page 5] will admit of any institutions compleatly free from exception.

4. If measures, already taken, and the effects they have produced, had no influence on those, which must be pur­sued hereafter, the safest, the most sim­ple, and the least invidious principle, on which this territory could be held, would have been that of a fixed tribute from the native Prince of the country, an armed force sufficient to insure his dependence, and one strong post for security or retreat. On this principle, an interference in the internal Government would have defeated our own plan, and deprived us of the be­nefit of it. Acts of power, not necessary to the security of the dominion, are most felt by the conquered people, who, once submitting to the dominion itself, will not repine at measures indispensibly ne­cessary to preserve it. Such measures do not invade the laws, religion, man­ners, or prejudices of the people. Obe­dience is their sole object; and that Go­vernment will be best obeyed, under [Page 6] which the people are limited the least in the enjoyment of their private rights. A wise Prince, who had made such a conquest as Bengal, would probably have endeavoured to make this use of it.

5. By bringing this policy into view, I do not mean to propose it for present practise. Facts, not to be resisted, oblige me to banish that idea. But, though the institution alluded to be in itself unattain­able, it does not follow that some of it's component principles may not be selected and preserved in raising another edifice.

6. Circumstances, inseparable perhaps from the Constitution of the East India Company, disqualified them in every sense for the duty and office, which the acquisition of a territory in India imposed upon them. A body of merchants had interests to provide for, besides those, which belonged to them in their assumed character of Sovereign. Profit, being the only object of a trading company, became the sole object of Government, when the [Page 7] two characters were united. Commercial principles of the worst quality, as derived from the Constitution of an exclusive company, were all the principles, which the India Company brought with them into the Government of a great kingdom, and it has been governed accordingly. After raising the revenues as nearly as possible to the level of the rents, for the support of their Government, they mono­polized the produce and labour of the country for the support of their trade. To obtain the highest possible revenue from the land, they were obliged to avow or countenance a principle subversive of all national prosperity, and not less false in fact, than absurd in theory and dan­gerous in practice; ‘"that the ruling power was proprietor of the soil."’ On this principle, they universally dispossessed the hereditary and lawful owners, and farmed the country to strangers. In a few instances, where the proprietors were employed, it was not in their true cha­racter, but as farmers of Government. There is no example, I believe, of such [Page 8] an act of power in the History of In­dostan.

7. The Company's system, supposing it to have no view but the advantage of the body corporate, must have ruined Bengal, without the assistance of their servants, though not in so short a pe­riod. ‘"*Of all despotic governments, there is none which oppresses itself more than where the prince declares himself proprietor of the soil, and heir of all his subjects. It always follows, that the cultivation of the earth is abandoned; but if, besides this, the prince is a merchant, every species of industry is ruined."’

8. The internal jurisdictions of the country fell with the rights of the Ze­mindars, who were naturally, and by in­stitution, the magistrates of the people in the ordinary detail of justice, and an­swerable for the peace of their respective [Page 9] Zemindaries. Great cases were reserved for the decision of the prince.

9. It is true that no attempt has been made to interrupt the natives in the ex­ercise of their religion, much less to give them an idea of a better. The spi­rit of persecution or conversion is foreign from the English character; nor could any additional profit have been derived from it. But the decline of the Zemin­dars has, in a great measure, deprived the lower classes of one of their princi­pal enjoyments—the shews, processions, and pageantry of a ceremonious super­stition; at the same time that the sources, out of which many charitable and reli­gious institutions were supported, have been reduced or annihilated.

10. Your Lordship will soon perceive how much it is the general object of this representation to establish an opinion, that, to make the possession of Bengal beneficial and permanent, we should re­vert to the ancient institutions of the [Page 10] country, as far as we are acquainted with them, and present circumstances will permit. If it were not for the expe­rience of some years past, it might be superfluous to say, that we provide for our interests when we consult the happi­ness and prosperity of the people, who labour for us.

11. It appears to have been the Com­pany's original policy, or that of Lord Clive, to govern these provinces through the medium of the Subadar, and the best they could adopt, supposing them to in­terpose in any shape in the internal go­vernment. This system was soon vio­lated in fact, and not long afterwards avowedly renounced. The predominant power of the Council at Calcutta neces­sarily reduced the Subadar to a cypher, and left him and his subjects, as it always will do, a prey to individuals. Forms and appearances were, however, in some degree, preserved till the death of Syef-ul-Dowla in 1770. From that period we see nothing in the administration of [Page 11] public affairs but enormous abuses on one side, and an absolute want of power or perseverance to correct them on the other. But these are topics, on which I need not enlarge. Occasional acts of vigour, on the part of the Court of Directors, were little felt or regarded in Bengal, and neither did nor could pro­duce any lasting improvement in the conduct of their representatives. Abuses, which belong to the nature of the thing, and rise directly out of it, are not to be corrected by regulations, even if the professed intentions of the Court of Di­rectors had been constantly and sincerely supported. The Company's government was founded on a falfe and clashing principle, and would, at all events, have produced the effects it has done, though perhaps by slower gradations. A fortu­nate choice of men, and a firm admini­stration, might have checked the rapid growth of abuses, and delayed the ne­cessity of an entire change of system to a remoter period. Under the Company's government, even this casual resource was [Page 12] not to be expected. Their servants could not rise to high situations without hav­ing spent their youth in the service. Their minds, in general, unprepared by education, and softened by the climate, were open to the impressions of example. The extraordinary temptations, to which almost every degree of power in this country is exposed, has too direct a ten­dency to corrupt the hand, to which it is intrusted. But temptation is converted into necessity, or may plausibly assume the same colours, when high stations are not united with avowed emoluments pro­portioned to them. Among other maxims, which belonged to the Company's com­mercial institutions, and which they transferred to their political government, one was, not to allow their servants directly even a subsistence. On this principle they treated ministers of state and rulers of provinces as they had done clerks and factors. They were them­selves too powerful to be just, and neither did nor could reasonably expect that their servants would not follow their [Page 13] example. It was in vain, therefore, that they sometimes endeavoured or pretended to reconcile regularity and justice, in the detail of their administration, with injustice in its fundamental principle—I mean that of uniting the character of Sovereign and merchant, and exercising the power of the first for the benefit of the second.—‘"*A government cannot be unjust without having hands to exercise its injustice. Now it is im­possible but these hands will be grasp­ing for themselves. Peculation, there­fore, is natural in despotic states."’

12. The Subadar's authority, since the Company's acceptance of the Dewanny, has been gradually reduced under three successive Nabobs, and is now merely titular in the person of Mobarek-ul-Dowla. The administration of criminal justice is, however, still exercised, in his name, by the Naib Suba, Mahomed [Page 14] Riza Cawn; and we sometimes avail ourselves of the pretence of his authority in our differences with the foreign fac­tories. Divested of all power, and wholly dependent on the Company's pleasure, he has nevertheless such rights and claims to plead as may embarrass any new arrangement, in which the office of Subadar is not included. His situation, and the difficulties likely to arise out of it, deserve to be considered.

13. By the treaty concluded between him and the Company, in March, 1770, they engage to secure the Subahdarry to him, and to support him in it, against all his enemies. They also engage to pay him an annual stipend of thirty-two lacks out of the revenues. The admi­nistration of justice, in his name, is an acknowledgement of his authority as representative of the Sovereign. The Company approved of preserving the succession in the family of Meer Jaffier, but ordered his stipend to be reduced to [Page 15] sixteen lacks a year during his minority *. It is not determined at what period the minority is to end, nor by what autho­rity the Company could reduce the stipend fixed by the treaty. The Nabob has been marriageable some years, and has several children. His age admits of no pretence to consider him as a minor; nor, if it did, would the Company, in their assumed quality of guardian, be the less accountable to him for the savings created by the reduction of his stipend. We have yet received no instructions whatsoever on this subject. The Nabob does not submit, without reluctance, to the restraints laid upon him. I have reason to believe that he has made private applications to the Governor, and may repeat them to the Board, for the remo­val of Mahomed Riza Cawn, and to be allowed the enjoyment and exercise of whatever rights are left him. He may then demand the full amount and arrears of his pension; and it is not unlikely [Page 16] that, failing of relief from Government, he may be advised to institute a suit against the Company in the Supreme Court of Judicature. If the decision should be favourable to him, the Com­pany, I take it for granted, will throw the burden on the territorial revenues, notwithstanding they have appropriated the savings, already made by the reduc­tion of his stipend, to the provision of their investment.

14. With respect to the Nabob, the principal points to be determined are, First, ‘"Whether the office of Subahdar shall be continued, and on what foot­ing?"’ Secondly, ‘"At what period the Nabob's minority is to end?"’ Thirdly, ‘"What measures are to be taken in the case of his death?"’—Mahomed Riza Cawn's conduct, in his station of Naib Subah, has been hitherto unexceptionable; but it is not to be ex­pected that he should act with freedom, or be able to render us any essential ser­vice, while the terror of the Governor's [Page 17] actual power and of a clashing jurisdic­tion with the Supreme Court is hanging over him.

15. In sixing the future establishment of the Subahdar and Naib Subah, it must be taken into consideration that the circulation of their pensions is beneficial to the country; that they support a number of Mussulman families of dis­tinction, which would be reduced to beggary if the pensions were withdrawn; and that the Fouzdarry Courts, now under Mahomed Reza Cawn, compre­hend almost all the offices, in which Mus­sulmen can be employed.

16. The sovereignty assumed might authorise His Majesty to remove the Subahdar; but I know not on what prin­ciple the Mogul Shaw Allum can be di­vested of his sovereign rights, unless some satisfactory compromise can be made with him. The Company hold the De­wanny by his grant. The treaty con­cluded by Lord Clive in August, 1765, [Page 18] not only acknowledges him as King of Bengal, but secures to him the full possession of Korah and Illahabad as a royal demesne for the support of his dignity and expences; and by a particular agreement between him and the Company, of the same date, they engage themselves to be security for the payment of twenty-six lacks a year, out of the territorial revenues, in consideration of His Majesty's having been graciously pleased to grant them the Dewanny of Bengal. Your Lordship knows how little these treaties have been regarded: his tribute was stopt, and his country (though avowedly entrusted to our good faith, and accepted as a deposit) sold to Sujah Dowla.

17. It was invariably the opinion of Sir John Clavering, Colonel Monson, and myself, that the honour of the na­tion required that justice should be done to the Mogul in some shape or other, and that it might be made conducive to our interest to support him. Considering his present distresses, it would not per­haps [Page 19] be very difficult to form a plan, in which his satisfaction, and the general tranquillity of the empire, might be equally consulted.

18. After the internal settlement of our own territories, the next object should be to lay the foundation of a general peace thro' Indostan, and, if possible, to give or restore an active con­stitution to the empire. Bengal cannot flourish while the neighbouring states are perpetually in arms against each other. Returns of wealth are not to be obtained from nations, which have no in­dustry of their own, or that languish under the dominion of the sword. As the first step to peace, the authority of the Emperor should be in a considerable degree restored, and means given him to support it. In return for an acquittance of his claims upon the Company, a respec­table demesne might be found for him out of the countries lying north-west of Oude, of which Delhy might be the center. This step might lead to and fa­cilitate [Page 20] a general pacification, in which the rights of every subordinate power might be determined, and to which they should all be invited to accede. The predominant power of the English should be employed to cut through difficulties, and to guarantee the observance of the treaty. As far at least as the success of such a plan may be attainable by nego­ciation, it certainly deserves to be en­couraged from home, and recommended to the Administration here.

19. The British power is now un­questionably the first in India; at least for defence. To make it respectable in it­self and beneficial to mankind, it must be guided by solid, judicious principles of policy, and they must be steadily pursued. Enough has been done to establish the reputation of our arms. If we mean to keep what we have acquired, some care must be taken to establish an opinion of our steadiness and justice. A continued division in this council, be­sides many other dangerous effects, pro­duces [Page 21] one which, I conceive, would have had great weight at home, if it had been foreseen and considered. It exposes the measures of Government, which, at least in every fundamental point, ought to be fixed and uniform, to perpetual altera­tions, as the actual power may acciden­tally fluctuate from one side to the other. The death of Colonel Monson produced not only a change of Administration, but a total change of system. The death of Mr. Hastings or Mr. Barwell might have restored the course of public measures to their former channel. Other cases may now be foreseen, in which a future ma­jority may neither revert decisively to our principles, nor completely execute the resolutions of their immediate prede­cessors. The event will depend on the temper, character, and views of the men who compose it, and the new difficulties they may have to contend with. Dimi­nution of dignity is not to be separated from a fluctuation of councils; but changes of system, which shake the foundation, are never accomplished with­out [Page 22] extraordinary difficulty and hazard; nor is it always open to the wisest men to do perfectly right after much wrong has been done. A new position of things creates a new question, in which facts, as well as principles, must govern the decision.

20. The present condition of the Na­bob of Oude, and the state of his do­minions, is the principal instance to which this reasoning is meant to be ap­plied. Your Lordship will soon see what an important share belongs to it in the political interests of Bengal.

21. On the death of the late Sujah Dowla, Mr. Hastings delivered a formal opinion to the Council, and afterwards to the Court of Directors*, ‘"that we could not with justice make any fur­ther demands upon his successor."’ He admitted, ‘"that the treaty concluded by Mr. Bristow was very advantageous [Page 23] to the Company,"’ but he recom­mended ‘"that their orders might be such as might tend to conciliate the mind of the Nabob, and to remove the apprehension of any future in­croachments on his dominions."’

22. The arguments, which prevailed with a majority of the Board against the first opinion of Mr. Hastings, appear at large on our proceedings. We resolved, that the engagements which had sub­sisted between Sujah Dowla and the Company were personal, and expired with him. On this principle, denied by Mr. Hastings and Mr. Barwell, and since disavowed by the Company, (who have availed themselves of the consequences derived from it,) the treaty of Fyzabad with the present Nabob of Oude was concluded in May 1775. The terms of it were as favourable to us as our real interest demanded, and more so than could have been obtained in other cir­cumstances. In return for the cession of Ghazipore we granted him nothing but [Page 24] a guarantee of the dominions originally possessed by his father, with an express exclusion of his late conquests. For the defence of these dominions, we agreed to continue a brigade in his service, but obliged him to make a considerable ad­dition to the former subsidy. His own undisciplined troops were, however, a greater burthen to him, and drained all his resources without the possibility of doing him any service. To leave his army on this footing was, in effect, to expose him and his country to destruc­tion; and he was sensible of it. The resolution to supply him with a moderate number of British officers was subse­quent to the treaty. A corps of thirteen battalions of sepoys, and three regiments of cavalry, was formed out of his dis­orderly troops, and put under the com­mand of these officers; but it was still his army. A considerable number of the rest were reduced. This was the utmost extent of the interposition of our Govern­ment in the Nabob's affairs; and at this point we were determined to stop. The [Page 25] internal administration of his country might be exposed to abuses, but we were perfectly sure that they would never be corrected by our taking charge of it.

23. Since the power of this Council devolved to Mr. Hastings, other ideas have prevailed. The recall of Mr. Bris­tow and the appointment of Mr. Mid­dleton were the first steps to the new system. An entire change of conduct towards the Nabob was talked of very soon after colonel Monson's death. I know not by what secret motives Mr. Hastings has been guided, nor how far the anxiety of his mind and the delicacy of his situation may have influenced his con­duct, at points of time when apparently it was too late to deliberate. The noto­rious fact is, that in all his late arrange­ments of the Nabob's government, he has resolved hastily and executed slowly. The resolution to transfer the Nabob's troops under British officers to the Com­pany's establishment, did not appear till May last, though it was publicly known [Page 26] several months before; and near three months more have been suffered to elapse before the new officers were appointed. General Clavering's remonstrances and mine against the measure were scarcely listened to, though accompanied with urgent and repeated representations to Mr. Hastings, not to neglect the defence of Bengal, while he was providing for that of Rohilcund and other distant coun­tries, in which the Company had no concern. In a few days after, the Go­vernor resolved to insist on the Nabob's dismissing some persons in his service who were obnoxious to us, and on his committing the internal administration, without reserve, to a Minister named by the Board. The next step was, to offer the Company's protection to Sadut Ally, the Nabob's brother, who had fled from his court, and was the immediate object of his jealousy, and to invite him to re­side within these provinces. By the latest letters from Mr. Middleton it appears, that, under pretence of securing the Company's debt, he has taken the col­lection [Page 27] of the greatest part of the re­venues into his own hands.

24. The result is, that the Nabob is reduced to a cypher, that all power is vested in Mr. Middleton, that the coun­try, delivered up to aliens, who neither understand its interests nor have any con­cern for its prosperity, is falling into ir­retrievable ruin, that the revenues have long been unequal to the expences, and that nothing is collected but by military execution. On this footing it cannot last long. The personal character of the Nabob offers no resource against the con­tinuance of such mischiefs. I fear he has neither virtue nor capacity to make a proper use of power, if power was re­stored to him; certainly not, in circum­stances which demand an extraordinary proportion of both. Such is the situation we stand in at present. On the 4th of August, when Mr. Hastings recom­mended the appointment of the new of­ficers, he was pleased to declare, that ‘"if the administration of the Company's [Page 28] affairs should finally rest in other hands, what he now did would be of little consequence, as it would be undone of course, and the whole sys­tem, of which it was but a part, an­nulled on the principles on which it was opposed."’

25. Without admitting the necessity of this conclusion from any act or decla­ration of ours, and deeming it highly unjustifiable to carry measures of such importance into execution under any ex­pectation of their being speedily reversed, I am compelled to confess, that the whole state of facts taken together con­stitutes a question beyond the reach of any degree of wisdom existing in Bengal. We shall probably be governed by events for a short period, and, I fear, obliged to abandon the country at the end of it.

26. Before your attention is drawn di­rectly to Bengal, permit me to state to your Lordship one question more, in which the general security of the British [Page 29] empire in India is concerned. The con­trolling power, vested by Parliament in this Government over the other Presi­dencies, is either not extensive enough, or not defined with clearness and precision sufficient to answer the purposes intended by it. We have not only met with slight and disobedience, in the exercise of our au­thority in India, but I am sorry to observe, that the Court of Directors themselves seem to view it with jealousy and distrust. Your Lordship cannot but be apprized of the support they have given to the Pre­sidency of Bombay, in opposition to the measures unanimously resolved on here, for concluding a peace with the Mahrat­tas. In their letter of the 24th of De­cember last, paragraph 45, they charge us with exceeding our lawful authority, when we prohibited the Presidency of Madras from sending troops out of their own districts to aid the settlement of Bom­bay, and they disapprove our interference in that case. I apprehend that the power of declaring and making war includes that of determining in what quarter it [Page 30] shall be conducted with the greatest ge­neral advantage, and prospect of success. But every arrangement of ours may be defeated, if the other Presidencies are permitted to alter the disposition of their respective forces, without our consent, and of course without regard to any ge­neral plan of operations. Whether this observation be well or ill founded, it is plain that the Court of Directors sought for an occasion to limit our authority, and to discountenance us in the eyes of the other Presidencies. The fact in ques­tion was of too old a date, and of too little moment in itself, to be revived for any other purpose. In their letter of the 5th February last*, they censure us for relinquishing some of the cessions made by Ragoba in his treaty with the Presi­dency of Bombay, concluded (several months after our arrival in Bengal) not only without our consent and approba­tion, but without our knowledge. They also instruct us to take advantage of any [Page 31] failure, on the part of the Mahratta Go­vernment, in the execution of the late treaty with them, and to renew the al­liance with Ragoba, on the same terms which the Presidency of Bombay had ob­tained from him. It is but too probable that, with so much encouragement from home, the Governor and Council of Bombay may soon find pretences for re­suming their favourite projects, and in­volve us in a general war with the Mah­rattas. Whether that consequence fol­lows or not, your Lordship will judge, from these instances, how ineffectual and hazardous any endeavours of ours must be to preserve the peace of India, as long as the determination of peace and war is subjected to a clashing jurisdiction. If it was the original intention of the Legisla­ture, that the whole force of the British empire in India should be united under one direction, and move together, I must submit my opinion to your Lordship, that other provisions, more strict and decisive than any that exist at present, are indis­pensably necessary to carry that intention [Page 32] into effect. The latitude still left with the other Presidencies, to make peace and war, where they shall have received special orders from the Company, without any communication with us, or control on our part, defeats the general view of uniting the political measures of the three Governments under one system and au­thority; because the exception must al­ways be too powerful for the rule.

27. I have already, in my representa­tions to the Company, declared my opi­nion so fully on many of the most im­portant branches of the internal Admini­stration of Bengal, that very little remains for me to say on this subject. With re­spect to the amount and collection of the revenues, the Court of Directors and Government are in possession of all the lights and materials, I have been able to collect; and these, I hope, will enable them to determine, on what footing the land tax of the country shall be settled hereafter. The principal questions are, whether the lands shall be restored to the [Page 33] hereditary owners. Whether the reve­nue, payable to Government, shall be fixed immutably at a certain sum, and by what rule or standard that sum shall be ascertained. To the two first questions I have invariably given an affirmative answer, founded on reasons, which I deem incontrovertible. The third must be determined by the capacity of the country, estimated from an average of the actual collections, and combined with the indispensible demands of Govern­ment.

28. The farming system was adopted as the act of a proprietor, with a professed view of discovering the ultimate value of the estate, or the utmost that could be obtained from it. Your Lordship will judge, how far the end, supposing it at­tainable, could justify the means. To General Clavering, Colonel Monson, and myself, it always appeared an arbi­trary, unexampled act of power, with­out a shadow of right to support it. The principle, on which it went, annihilated [Page 34] every idea of private property, while in fact it has been ruinous to the country, for the sole benefit of the Company's ser­vants, and their banians. But, even if the farms had, in every instance, been fairly allotted to the highest bidders, the measure could have produced no other consequence, than that of forcibly alienat­ing the whole landed property of the country, in favour of indigent strangers and adventurers, equally ignorant of the value and circumstances of the farm, and careless how much they offered for immediate possession. The last settle­ment, made by the Committee of Circuit, promised an immoderate increase of reve­nue, at a time, when the famine had swept away one third of the inhabitants, and when the country was represented to be in a general state of decay. Extraor­dinary merit was pleaded with the Com­pany for this imaginary addition to their resources. What the real object of the measure was, may be collected from the success of it. The balances and remis­sions, on the settlements of the last five [Page 35] years, amount to the enormous sum of two hundred and thirty lacks of Sicca ru­pees. The plain truth is, that overrate­ment and remission play into each other's hands. If the country be exorbitantly taxed, the Governor and Council must be trusted with a discretionary power to make remissions. This latitude once given or assumed, it may be impossible to determine in what manner it is applied, or where the remissions center at last; since the distribution may be so formed, as to interest all parties in concealing it. If we had no facts or experience to guide our conjectures, it is apparent that a country, exposed to arbitrary variations in the annual assessments, at the discre­tion of a Council of State, especially at this immense distance from the seat of empire, offers temptations to the Mem­bers of such a Council, which will not be always resisted. Improvements, in such a state of things, are not to be ex­pected; for who will employ his money or his labour in the cultivation of a soil, that does not belong to him, or when he [Page 36] has no security that the whole produce may not be extorted from him by a new assessment? The wealth of Bengal was so great, that the severest oppression has not yet been sufficient to beggar it intirely. But the richest mines may be exhausted; and I am most deliberately of opinion that if private property be not once for all se­cured on a permanent footing, the public revenue will sink rapidly with the general produce of the country. The same system of taxation, which annihilates the pro­perty, attacks the industry of the subject, invades the sources of production, and in the end obliges Government to depend for it's revenue on the fidelity of farmers and agents, who have no interest in the prosperity of the object, or on the preca­rious, perishable resources of direct vio­lence and extortion.

29. The last orders* of the Court of Directors are favourable to the Zemindars, and other hereditary proprietors of the [Page 37] lands, and amount to an indirect acknow­ledgement of the injustice they have suf­fered. They express a satisfaction ‘"at finding it in their power to yield pro­per relief to the natives, without in­volving the Company in the least incon­venience;"’ and they direct ‘"that such Zemindars, or renters, as have fulfilled their engagements to our satisfaction, shall not be dispossessed of their lands, or compelled to pay an advanced rent, without the most substantial reasons."’—Without questioning the sincerity of these professions, it is apparent that the lati­tude taken in the expression will soon defeat their intention. In a case, deter­minable by fixed general rules, it is equally unsafe and unnecessary to rely on accidental motives of action, such as the firmness, ability, or integrity of the per­sons intrusted with the administration. What real appeal have the natives of Bengal to the directing Power in Eng­land, against acts supposed to be beneficial to that Power, and adorned with flatter­ing representations, in which justice and [Page 38] profit are apparently united? Your Lord­ship will judge by what sort of tenure the natives hold their property, while the convenience of the East-India Com­pany, and the discretion of the rulers here, are to regulate the standard by which it is to be taxed. The conclusion, to which this argument leads, is too ob­vious to be mistaken. If I am not greatly deceived, the truths I am endeavouring to establish are self-evident, and proved the moment they are stated.

30. The annual demand of revenue, once fixed on a reasonable and permanent establishment, would operate to the be­nefit of the country in other senses, be­sides that of immediate relief, security, and improvement. It would stop one of the principal sources of litigation, and facilitate the administration of civil justice by the country Courts. The weight of the revenue presses so heavily on almost all ranks of people, that it becomes every man's study how to shift the burden from himself, and of course to harass his neigh­bour. [Page 39] Let the cause of action be what it may, it seldom happens that the public revenue is not, some way or other, con­cerned in the origin of the suit, or liable to be affected by the issue. On the other hand, the introduction of a mysterious science, under the title of the Farming System, with its endless train of princi­pal farmers, nominal farmers, securities, counter securities, agents, and cutkin­nadars, has not only perplexed the busi­siness of the collections, but increased the number of suits in the Dewanny Courts, and the difficulty of deciding them. This difficulty is so great, and the causes de­termined are so few, in comparison with the multitude that remain unheard, that, in reality, it amounts to a general denial of justice. The little that is done, per­haps, is too often mixed with motives of influence or favour. If the revenue were once fixed on a moderate footing, and the people made tolerably easy in their cir­cumstances, the spirit of litigation must gradually subside. At the same time, the disputes between Government and the [Page 40] proprietors of the lands, and of the latter with their under-tenants and ryots, would either vanish entirely, or admit of an easy and summary decision. The amount of the rents being unalterably settled, would reduce the present intricate accounts of demands, receipts, and balances, to a simple account current, the balance of which might be authenticated beyond the possibility of a dispute. It must be un­derstood, however, that proper measures are taken by Government to extend the plan of fixing the rents, to every class of people concerned in paying them. In other words, that the same security, which Government gives to the tenant in chief, should, for the same reasons, descend to the under-tenants in their several grada­tions, so that every rank of society, and every member of it, may have something to call his own. A great part of this bu­siness, which seems difficult and perplex­ed in the detail, will gradually execute itself, when once it is perceived, that a wise and solid system is adopted at the Fountain-Head, and steadily adhered to. [Page 41] But it is in vain to correct abuses of admi­nistration, while the principle of the Go­vernment is itself an abuse.

31. General Clavering, Colonel Mon­son and I, had, on many occasions, but more particularly in our minute dated the 21st of March 1776 declared our delibe­rate opinion that, ‘"under the general application of the British laws, or of any form of justice administered gene­rally to the natives by the Judges of His Majesty's Supreme Court of Judi­cature, Bengal cannot be held by Great Britain."’ The truth of a similar pro­position has already been so ably defended by Mr. Verelst, that I need not attempt to establish our opinion on other ground. The Dewanny Courts undoubtedly re­quire reformation, and I conceive that it would not be difficult to fix them on a footing of such independence, (at least until the Zemindarry jurisdiction can be gradually and completely restored) as would remove the most plausible objec­tion, made by the Judges, to the institu­tion [Page 42] of such Courts; viz. ‘"That, as they are at present constituted, the most powerful of the parties, in every revenue cause, is in effect the Judge."’

32. The Zemindar, as Lord of the Manor, might immediately administer justice, in petty cases, between his te­nants. An appeal from him, or the ori­ginal suit, in cases where he himself or his officers might be parties, should rest with the Dewanny or Superior Civil Court of the District. This Court should be placed under the superintendance of an English gentleman, properly quali­fied, with sufficient appointments, under an oath to act faithfully, and not remov­able during his good behaviour. He should have Judges of the Hindoo and Mahomedan laws to assist him, and his decisions, under a certain amount, should be final. For greater sums, an appeal might be allowed to the Governor and Council, or to one superior court estab­lished centrically by their authority and formed on the same principles of inde­pendance. [Page 43] I mean only to trace the out­lines of a clear and simple plan for the benefit of the natives, not resident in Calcutta, and would recommend that the execution or improvement of it should be referred to the Governor and Council here, with power to establish such insti­tutions as they may deem adviseable, and to put them in force, until farther orders can be received from England. But, in whatever hands it may be thought fit to place the administration of justice, I am clearly and immoveably of opinion, that the constitution and manners of the natives, fixed as they are to the soil which gave them birth, and never to be remov­ed from it without the severest oppres­sion, do indispensibly require that justice should be carried home to their doors. My wish is to revert, as nearly as pos­sible, to the ancient institutions of the country, which, however perverted by the occasional violence of an arbitrary Government, or corrupted by abuses, will, I believe, be found judicious in them­selves, and better accommodated to the [Page 44] genius of the people, than any system forcibly introduced from the other side of the globe. Whatever grievance they might have suffered, by an abuse of their own institutions, it could not be greater than those, which belong to an admini­stration of justice supposed to be guided by other principles, and pretending to be gratuitous. It is not in England at least, that justice is administered without delay or vexation, or perhaps ever obtained without exorbitant expences. Inconve­niences of this nature, if felt in West­minster Hall, must unavoidably be ag­gravated on the natives of this country, who, from their ignorance of our lan­guage, laws, and customs, and of the forms of the Court, are left intirely at the mercy of their interpreters, advocates, and attornies.

When these important questions come to be considered, I trust they will be de­cided by men qualified to give laws to nations, and on principles more liberal and extensive, than can be derived from [Page 45] any degree of skill in the interpretation of acts of Parliament, or from the prac­tice of our Courts.

33. The Zemindars have, for some years past, been affectedly, and for a pur­pose sufficiently obvious, stiled collectors of the revenue. This idea seems to have been adopted for the support of another, equally ill founded, that the ruling Power is proprietor of the soil. A doctrine, which annihilated private property, must find some cause to account for the existence of such persons as the Zemindars. It con­verted them into Collectors *, without ven­turing to deny their hereditary possession of the lands, or the reality of their tenure, under the Mogul government, by an un­alterable quit rent. The facts and the doctrine are not to be reconciled. The history and constitution of the country, if they had ever been attended to, would have removed all difficulties. The Ze­mindars, it is true, were Officers and Magistrates, obliged by their sunnuds to [Page 46] the performance of certain civil duties, which relieved the Prince in the admi­nistration of his internal government. But it was the possession of landed pro­perty, which naturally imposed those duties on the Zemindars, and ipso facto made them the Magistrates of the coun­try. There could not be a wiser policy, either for the Prince, to whom the men of property were made responsible, or for the people, who had justice brought home to them, and administered by men who had a stake in the country, and a na­tural permanent interest in its prosperity.

34. I have nothing farther to add on this subject to our minute of the 21st March, 1776, and to our letter to your Lordship of the 16th May following, to which I beg leave to refer you.

35. On the state of the coinage, and the expediency of establishing one silver coin for the general currency of the provinces, every thing has been said, in our representations to the Court of Di­rectors, [Page 47] which the subject has hitherto sug­gested to us. The main questions to be de­termined at home are, What the standard and weight of the coin shall be [...] What name or title shall be stamped upon it? And whether a gold coin shall be ad­mitted as a legal tender*?—One of these questions depends on the declara­tion of the sovereignty, and must be decided by it. The second must be submitted to men of knowledge and experience, and proper persons and in­struments sent out to execute whatever plan may be resolved on. The third is more easily determined in theory than in fact. The current coin ought to be confined to one of the precious metals; but, in the present condition of Bengal, I doubt whether there be a sufficient quantity of silver in the provinces to answer the ordinary demands of circu­lation, without the assistance of a gold coinage. This point, I apprehend, must [Page 48] be left to the discretion of the Governor and Council.

36. Supposing the several articles al­ready touched upon to be now in some degree explained and understood, I may assure your Lordship, that there still remains a number of abuses to be cor­rected, which, though of less compara­tive importance, are sufficient to distress and perplex any government, and to harrass the people subject to it.

First, The mode of keeping public accounts here, besides that they are kept in a barbarous unknown language, some in Persian, and others in the Bengal dia­lect, is involved in obscurity by a con­fused reference to different aeras, and to different systems of dividing the year. Few persons can fairly find their way through such a labyrinth; but every man, concerned either in paying or re­ceiving the revenues, may some way or other find his account in the confusion that arises from it.

[Page 49] Secondly, The barbarous terms affect­edly made use of in all our records con­stitute a separate science, which, tho' not difficult to learn upon the spot, tends to make our letters unintelligible in England. This practice might easily be corrected. The best remedy, per­haps, for the confusion in the accounts and mode of reckoning, would be to in­troduce the Christian aera at once into Bengal, so that the ruling power and their subjects might compute by one and the same measure of time. I suggest this idea rather as a question than as an opinion, desiring only that it may be considered.

37. If, with the Christian aera, the English language could be introduced into the transaction of business, as the Persian was by the Mogul Conqueror*, [Page 50] I conceive it would be attended with convenience and advantage to Govern­ment, and no distress or disadvantage to the natives. To qualify themselves for employment, they would be obliged to study English instead of Persian. If schools were established in the districts, with proper encouragement to the mas­ters, a very few years would produce a set of young men qualified for business, whose example and success would spread, and graft the institution gradually into the manners of the people. The natives would soon find it one of the most effec­tual barriers against the oppression of Europeans. Every man then would be able to speak for himself, and every complaint would be understood.

38. I come now, my Lord, to the most delicate and hazardous part of my task. With an unlimited confidence in your Lordship's candour, and in your approbation of the principles on which I act, I cannot be insensible of the danger of always appearing in a charac­ter [Page 51] of hostility to the interests of indi­viduals, and of incurring personal en­mity without a certainty of personal support. My late colleagues and I fre­quently met this danger, whatever it might be; and I must disregard it now, in a more important instance, or not acquit myself of perhaps the most essen­tial duty implied by my appointment.

39. Supposing that, in a future ar­rangement, the trade to the East Indies is not to be laid open, (for, if it were, the present question would be altered) it must be considered in what manner the Company's commercial interests are to be provided for, and whether any and what degree of influence, over the internal government of Bengal, shall be reserved to them. In delivering an opi­nion on a question of such delicacy and importance, I shall not stop to guard and qualify my expressions. Your Lord­ship will distinguish the substance from the form, and allow for the strong im­pressions [Page 52] which an immediate view of facts has made upon my mind.

40. The return of a permanent tri­bute to Great Britain, whether it consists of specie or manufactures, and whether exported on the Company's account or that of individuals, is an evil attached to the political situation of Bengal, under which, I fear, it will sink at last. It is impossible that the internal resources of any country should answer a constant demand on one side, without a propor­tionate supply from other quarters. The fact is against Bengal, in both instances. Even oeconomy and good government, if such things existed, would not alone be sufficient to avert the consequence. A country, that gives, must receive, or its power of giving must soon be at an end. But our principal India markets are lost in the ruin of Persia and Indos­tan, and Europe returns nothing. It is unnecessary to enter into a detail of the disadvantages, under which the in­ternal traffic and industry of this coun­try [Page 53] labour. The same principle of go­vernment, if it deserves that name, which unites the Sovereign and the mer­chant in the supposed person of the Company, naturally extends thro' every branch of their commercial admi­nistration, and communicates some por­tion of their own arbitrary power to the lowest agent or factor in their service. The abuses that follow are minute in their operation, and spare nothing. They reach to persons and property, which no other system of power could descend to, but which cannot escape the penetrating eyes of men acquainted with all the little channels, thro' which the lowest order of manufacturers de­rive their subsistence. To this unpro­tected class of men no money has been shewn: nor could it be otherwise in a country where the Sovereign has views and interests incompatible with that cha­racter, and professes them;—where the same power, or they who administer it, take the rents of the lands as proprietor,—engross all the merchantable produce [Page 54] as monopolist, and all the industry of the manufacturer for the pretended sup­ply of their investment.—*Not longer ago than March, 1775, the Court of Directors, after expressing an unwilling­ness to return to the former coercive system of providing an investment, ex­pressly ordered us ‘"to prohibit all per­sons whatever, under their protection, from trading in any of those articles which compose their investment, di­rectly or indirectly, until it was com­pleated."’ This, among other regu­lations, was ordered ‘"to be forth with published throughout the provinces, and considered as a standing order of the Company in all time to come."’

41. You will judge, my Lord, what kind of power devolves to the Com­pany's commercial servants under co­lour of such instructions. If, at any time, it should be thought necessary to [Page 55] investigate this subject with greater par­ticularity, a petition from the merchants of Dacca, (entered on our Revenue Con­sultations of the 24th of September, 1776) with the papers annexed, will afford a thorough insight into it. The system itself, united with the increase of taxes, could produce no other con­sequences but those, which the Com­pany themselves have felt and com­plained of,—the ruin of the manufac­turers, a considerable debasement in the quality of the goods, and an equal ad­vance upon the price. For the purpose of this representation, it is sufficient to mark the principle, on which the Com­pany have acted, without pursuing the practice through all its operations. In stating the cause, we ascertain the effect. The nation is not less interested than the Company in removing both. Under the present system, the manufactures must gradually sink to the level of the demand for the Europe markets, or very little more; but all this investment, whether exported by the Company, by their [Page 56] servants, or by the foreign factories, being really paid for by the money of the country, adds nothing to its stock or ability to supply many other channels, thro' which its wealth is extracted.

42. I apprehend that the decline of Bengal takes its origin too high to be recovered by any vigour of Administra­tion, or even by a correction of abuses. A new principle must be assumed for the government of the country, or it must fall. Measures, of any other quality, may perhaps delay the crisis, but cannot prevent it. I must be permitted to sup­pose that the government is not to be continued in the hands of a mercantile body, since I cannot admit the possibility of uniting such power any longer to such interest, without destruction to the object. On this supposition, permit me to state freely to your Lordship my ideas of the terms, which ought to be settled in favour of Bengal. I confine my view to this point only, not presu­ming to enter into any of the other con­siderations, [Page 57] which must naturally in­fluence a general arrangement between Government and the Company. The whole subject may be comprehended under four general questions.

  • ‘1. "What proportion of the net territorial revenues shall be reserved for the provision of an investment?"’

  • ‘2. "In what manner such investment shall be provided?"’

  • ‘3. "Whether any and what sums shall be appropriated to supply the other Presidencies?"’

  • ‘4. "Whether the Company shall mo­nopolize any of the productions or manufactures of the country?"’

Your Lordship has seen an estimate sent home by me in January 1776, in which ninety-three lacks of current ru­pees are allotted to the investment and all commercial charges, and twenty lacks to the other settlements. That estimate, compared with accounts sent home in former times, is moderate in stating the resources of the country. The distribu­tion of them must be confirmed or cor­rected [Page 58] by a higher authority than mine. Your Lordship will observe, however, that the Court of Directors, in their let­ter of the 24th of December, 1776*, though very well satisfied with the above appropriation of 113 lacks to their ser­vice, seem inclined to reserve some of the articles on the credit side of the esti­mate, under pretence that such deduc­tions fall upon the unappropriated sur­plus, but still leave part of it after all establishments and services are provided for. Among the articles so intended to be reserved by the Company, are the produce of the Europe cargoes here, and the amount of the bills which they have allowed their servants to draw upon them, and which the estimate supposes will be continued, equal in all to twenty-five lacks of current rupees. But I sub­mit it to your Lordship, that they have not treated the estimate fairly. A con­siderable reserve against unforeseen emer­gencies is as necessary to be provided for [Page 59] as any article of established expence, and more so in this country than any other. On the least alarm of an invasion, it is morally certain that every rupee in the hands of the natives would instantly dis­appear. Without an unappropriated sur­plus of thirty lacks, no prudent man would undertake to answer for the safety of the Government; much less to insure an investment of ninety-three lacks against all accidents. If therefore the Company do not think fit to throw the amount of the articles above mentioned into the general fund, it will be indis­pensibly necessary that an equal sum should be dedicated from the allotment made to them out of the revenues. The annual supply of twenty lacks to Madras and Bombay is a ruinous drain to Bengal, and ought to be the first article of re­trenchment; the remainder must fall upon the investment.

43. If the Company should resolve not to allow their servants to draw upon them to the usual amount of one hun­dred [Page 60] and seventy-five thousand pounds, some consideration must be had of the consequences, and of the difficulties, to which individuals may be driven. Those difficulties will, in the end, be sur­mounted; and possibly by means equally prejudicial to Bengal, to themselves, and to the Company; that is, by loans to the foreign factories, or by the direct extraction of specie. A remittance in Bengal manufactures is so disadvanta­geous, (owing to the advanced price here, and the state of the Europe markets) that no private persons could afford to remit their fortunes by that channel if they were openly at liberty to do so. The Company at present are not sensible of the loss they sustain between the cost and sale of their investment, because the whole is given them by Bengal. Your Lordship will judge from the decline and poverty of the country on one side, and the wealth of individuals on the other, how far it may be probable that the enormous sum charged upon the re­venues on account of the investment has [Page 61] been fairly laid out. The Commercial Board have now above a million sterling annually at their disposal.

44. The second question, ‘"In what manner the investment shall be pro­vided,"’ will depend on the influence reserved to the Company over the inter­nal government of the country. In what­ever degree such influence is continued, it will assuredly be employed, as it has been hitherto, in promoting the views of individuals, under the formidable name of the Company's commercial rights and interests, and forcing the measures of Government to bend to that single consideration. If the Company are no longer to govern directly, it will be no less necessary that their right to engross the industry of the manufactu­rers, or to provide an investment by force, should not survive their political power. Their present servants, I fear, have been too long in the lucrative ha­bits of monopoly and command to sub­mit to any terms of equality between [Page 62] the manufacturers and themselves. They follow the path of their predecessors, and inherit their ideas. But, my Lord, this is not a time to consult the passions, or prejudices, or interests of individuals; the plain and simple remedy, and indeed the only one, for abuses of power, in a case where power, however exercised, is itself a violation of right, is to oblige the Company to revert to their original principles, to renounce the unnatural character in which they have lately act­ed, and, if it be possible, to become mer­chants again.

45. Before the Company obtained a political influence in the country, their investment was provided at Calcutta and Dacca by contract with native merchants called Dadneys. Present circumstances may require that such contracts should be open to merchants of all denomina­tions. The Company will benefit by the competition of sellers at Calcutta, as the manufacturers would do by the com­petition of purchasers at the Aurungs. [Page 63] In a few years even contracts would be unnecessary. No tolerable reason can be assigned for not reverting to a practice apparently safe and oeconomical to the Company, and equally beneficial to the country. It may not answer the pur­pose of their servants. It does not ad­mit of expensive establishments in the districts, where chiefs, superintendants, and banians, detached from the Presi­dency, and armed with despotic power to support the pretended commercial in­terests of the Company, have taken pos­session of the markets, excluded all com­petition, enslaved the manufacturers, and, in some instances, obliged private merchants to purchase from themselves, at an immoderate advance of price, the same goods which they had seized and set the Company's seal upon in the loom, under pretence that they were wanted for the public investment.

46. I do not mean to intimate that practices of this nature have been carried on with equal violence in all the dis­tricts; [Page 64] but I am well assured that, more or less, they have generally prevailed, and have not been confined to the Com­pany's servants. Adventurers of the lowest order have frequently found their way into the districts, assuming a law­less dominion over the people, who have lost the protection of their native Prince, and, in fact, have no other to appeal to. If it be seriously meant to restore the trade of the country, the manufacturers must be relieved from this oppression, and left at liberty to work for whom­soever they think proper. Regulations, pretending to check the misconduct of individuals, will have no effect. In my judgment, there is but one course to be pursued. The investment must be pro­vided by contract, as it was heretofore, until the general increase and improve­ment of the manufactures will admit of its being provided by ready-money pur­chases. The employment of Europeans in the districts, whether with or without authority, or even Gomastas with autho­rity, must be stopped at all events; and [Page 65] this, in my opinion, is a measure of in­dispensible necessity, that will admit of no qualification. I do not affirm that no difficulties or inconveniences will attend it at the outset; but, if it be seriously meant to prefer the Company's true and permanent interests to those of indivi­duals, the Court of Directors will listen with reserve and suspicion to any repre­sentations they may receive from their servants on this subject. If the measure should be adopted, the burthen and odi­um of it must not be imposed on the Administration here, much less must we be loaded with an exclusive responsibility for the event. A simple approbation or permission will not arm us with power sufficient to resist and defeat the general combination that would be formed against us. The orders from home must be po­sitive, and binding on all parties. It is a gross and daring fallacy to assert, that the manufacturers would not have sold their goods as readily to the Company as to any other merchant, provided they had been paid for them. If the Com­pany's [Page 66] servants had been compelled to do equal justice to the natives and to their employers, it is not possible that power or privilege should have been wanted to insure to the Company every commercial advantage they ought to aim at. The superior weight of their purse would naturally have secured to them, or to the persons who contracted with them, a preference in every market, and defeated any competition for the articles which compose their investment. The free vent and exportation of the remain­ing produce of the country cannot be too liberally encouraged. I submit my opinion to higher judgement, that the custom houses should be new modelled, if not abolished. They check the ope­rations of foreign trade in a country which properly sells to all the world, and buys nothing, except some raw ma­terials of manufacture, and necessaries from England for the consumption of Europeans. The inland customs fetter the industry of the natives in all its mi­nutest branches. The revenue, collected [Page 67] by these establishments, is either not worth the attention of Government, es­pecially at the expence of oppression to the subject and of many embarrassments to the export trade; or, supposing it ne­cessary, the amount might be levied, with less inconvenience, directly from the land.

47. When these capital discourage­ments are removed, the productions of industry will increase, their quality will improve. The country, then, having something to sell to other nations, will have something to give to England; and tho' a time must come, when the nominal revenue can no longer be realized, when the investment must be retrenched, and every establishment contracted; in other words, when a great and wealthy state, which ought to flourish by its expences, can only exist by its oeconomy, still it is not a point of little moment to protract that event, if possible, to a distant, un­certain period. The actual choice lies between a disease, which threatens im­mediate [Page 68] dissolution, and a remedy, which at least gives time for deliberation. We know not what favourable turns may appear during an interval of repose; but, at any rate, we should not hasten a crisis, at which neither prudence nor fortune can save the object.

48. The annual supplies of the other Presidencies, in time of peace, amount to about twenty lacks of current rupees. I have submitted my opinion to the Com­pany, that Bengal, in its present circum­stances, is not able to bear the continu­ance of so great a drain of its resources. The future amount of this supply will, I presume, be considered in the allow­ance reserved for the investment out of the territorial revenues, and determined by it. The revenue acquired on the Malabar coast, by the late treaty with the Marattas, if faithfully applied to the support of the Company's establishments at Bombay, ought, in a great measure, to relieve Bengal from any further de­mand for that service. Since the first of [Page 69] May, 1774, we have remitted to Bom­bay alone the sum of current rupees 81, 20, 777. I will not pronounce deci­sively on the uses of maintaining that settlement at so exorbitant an expence; but the question deserves an attentive consideration. Notwithstanding this great supply from hence, they have incurred a debt of thirty lacks, (chiefly in the above period) which carries an interest of nine per cent.

49. Fort St. George, in time of peace, ought to support itself. China will be sufficiently supplied by individuals here, without an extraction of silver from Eng­land, if the Company think proper to open their treasury at Canton, and grant bills at a reasonable rate. If not, the mo­ney they refuse will be lent to the French, Danes, and Swedes, whose imports from China stand in immediate competition with the Company, even for the con­sumption of the British dominions. The supplies sent from hence to Fort Marl­borough, [Page 70] and St. Helena, are not worth notice.

50. The fourth and last question, ‘"Whether the Company shall monopo­lize any of the productions or manu­factures of the country?"’ would, perhaps, be more properly stated, and better understood, if it were expressed in the following terms: ‘"Is Bengal inca­pable of a greater produce, than the Company's investment requires; or shall it be prohibited from producing more than will supply that demand?"’ This state of the question is, in effect, the true one, and includes the answer. No man will affirm, that the Company's investment is equal to the actual produce of the country, much less to what it is capable of producing; and if it were, Bengal, having no surplus to sell, would, in a very short period, have nothing to give. It is not even true, that the por­tion of the revenues, appropriated to the purchase of the investment, returns un­diminished into the provincial circulation, [Page 71] from which it was taken. In the ex­penditure of an immense capital, agency will pay itself, and every man will make something. Whatever this annual defal­cation may amount to, whether a fifth or a sixth of the net sum allotted to the investment, it is the worst of all taxes, because it is taken directly from the sources of production. But if this evil be no more avoidable than the obvious consequences of it, the wisdom of Go­vernment is so much the more power­fully called upon, to qualify abuses by improvements, and to balance a weight, which no policy can remove.

51. I have supposed the merchant to be no longer Sovereign, nor charged with the general protection of the people:—Shall he retain the power of oppressing them in detail? My Lord, I am sirm in my opinion, that the very monopolies, which the Company have appropriated to the supply of their investment, or to the increase of their revenues, and which they were ready enough to condemn in [Page 72] the hands of individuals, would ere long defeat the purposes they were intended to promote. They are now in exclusive possession, or think they are, of the raw silk, saltpetre, opium, and salt, manu­factured in Bengal. At the same time, the produce of the loom is apparently at their command. If the practice had been strictly and entirely conformable to the principle, the resources of Bengal, in­stead of declining by any gradations, must have sunk precipitately. A partial re­medy, or palliation of some of the evils, attending the Government instituted or exercised by the Company's servants, has been derived from its excessive severity and injustice. When positive laws are opposed to every dictate of natural justice, humanity, and right reason, it is not easy to carry them, by any degree of power, into complete execution. Even private frauds, which, considering their quality and extent, denote a want of vi­gour and fidelity in the administration, have in some degree defended the coun­try against public institutions. This, I [Page 73] conceive, is the last state of misrule into which a nation can fall, while any forms whatsoever are preserved,—Fundamen­tal errors of institution counteracted, but not removed by abuses of Administration, by deviations from principle, and by unit­ing all ranks of men in a regular con­nected system of fraud against Govern­ment.

52. I have already taken notice of the orders received in December 1775, ‘"for prohibiting all persons under the Com­pany's protection from trading in any of the articles, which compose their investment, until it was completed,"’ which never could happen, as the invest­ment proceeds the whole year round, with little relaxation. These orders have since been qualified, in consequence of strong representations from hence; but under such limitations, and with condi­tions so hazardous to the persons, whom the Court of Directors supposed to be in possession of the Government, that, even if the change they expected had taken [Page 74] place, their last instructions could have produced no effect. *They empower the Governor General and Council ‘"to suspend the execution of such part of their orders, as impose restrictions on the commerce of individuals, provided we are absolutely certain it may be done, consistent with the due provision of an ample and well-chosen investment for the Company, and without risking the timely provision of their invest­ment, the amount whereof must on no account be hazarded, even for a single season."’

53. Under conditions of this nature, their most favoured Administration could not have acted with safety. But when they add, that, ‘"to indulge their com­mercial servants in every branch of trade, not prohibited by law, is a measure, which nothing but the greatest fidelity in their servants can render consistent with the interest of the [Page 75] Company,"’ I apprehend they at once mistake the fact, and preclude the re­medy. Their servants derive too many advantages from the Company's mono­poly, to wish for an avowed and general freedom of trade, in which others might participate; and what assurance have the Company, that the trust, reposed in their servants, is not as much abused under apparent restrictions, and as effectually for their own interests, as it could be, if all restrictions were abolished? The first prohibitory orders, dated the 3d of March, 1775, still remain in force, without any attempt whatever to correct them by the last.

54. The question of the salt trade has been sufficiently canvassed in England, and ought to be thoroughly understood. The Company, it seems, have received new lights on this subject. Your Lord­ship knows how long, and with what ve­hemence, the monopoly of salt had been reprobated by them. In May 1766, they thought it ‘"neither consistent with their [Page 76] honour nor their dignity, to promote such an exclusive trade; they could not suffer themselves to indulge a thought towards the continuance of it on any conditions whatsoever; and that no regulations could be effectual to pre­vent the like consequences, which they had seen.—They considered it too as disgraceful, and below the dignity of their present situation, to allow of such a monopoly, and that, were they to allow of it, under any restrictions, they should consider themselves as assenting and subscribing to all the mischiefs, which Bengal had presented to them for the four years past."’

55. In their letter of the 24th of De­cember last*, they say, ‘"that the mo­nopoly, on its present footing, can be no grievance to the country, and they direct that, for the present, the plan adopted by their late President and Council be continued."’ This plan is [Page 77] a rigorous monopoly, for the supposed exclusive profit of the Company. In the first two years of the contract, it raised the price above fifty per cent to the con­sumer, and produced an immoderate im­portation of foreign salt, by which the Company has been constantly undersold, in one of the staple commodities of Ben­gal, at their own markets. In conse­quence of this importation, frauds in the management, smuggling, &c., the Com­pany have gained nothing by their con­tracts in the third and fourth years, and now they have an enormous quantity upon their hands, which can only be sold at a long credit, and never without a considerable loss. These notorious facts have determined Mr. Hastings him­self to renounce the monopoly, even against the Company's instructions.

56. With respect to salpetre, the Company's monopoly, or rather that ex­ercised by their servants, has produced the effect, which it always must do, of diminishing the produce, until they at [Page 78] last find it difficult to procure even the trifling quantity wanted for their invest­ment. The scarcity perhaps is exagge­rated for private purposes. But saltpetre ought naturally to be one of the most cheap and plentiful productions of the soil, and would be so, if the natives were allowed the free use of their own lands, and the free disposal of their own in­dustry.

57. The opium of Bahar has been for many years monopolized, formerly by the favourites of the country Govern­ment, with some degree of justice and lenity to the riots; and, in later times, by the Company's servants, out of whose hands it was taken by Mr. Hastings in the year 1773, and engrossed for the benefit of the Company. It was not likely that any abuses in the former practice, or any of the usual effects of a monopoly, should be corrected by this alteration. The ser­vants of Government might possibly have been restrained by checks, which cannot be imposed on Government itself. [Page 79] A doubt whether, in the present state of things, the trade could be really and ef­fectually laid open, and whether it would not revert, in fact, to the gentlemen in station at Patna, produced an early diffe­rence of opinion between Sir John Cla­vering and myself, on the expediency of continuing the opium contract, but by no means touched the general principles, on which we invariably concurred in con­demning monopolies. We agreed, that whenever there was a Government suffi­ciently firm and independent to execute its own resolutions, and to enforce obe­dience to them, the monopoly of opium should be abolished. The deplorable state of Bahar makes it necessary, that this should be one of the first measures of such a Government. The Company have lately* authorized us to give up this commodity as an article of commerce; but the contract was already disposed of for the three ensuing years, before the receipt of their orders.

[Page 80] 58. Raw silk is not subject to a de­clared monopoly at present. The quan­tity of this article is greatly increased. The state of the India markets throws it chiefly into the Company's hands, with­out competition. The demand seems to increase in Europe.

59. One general objection occurs, in this country, to monopolies exercised by Government, which does not perhaps exist in any other. The commodity to be engrossed is always provided by ad­vances of money out of the public trea­sury. A proportion of these advances must be paid at an early period, before the seed is sown, as in the case of opium, or before the work is under­taken, and must be continued as the business proceeds. The risque of the capital advanced, which is not inconside­rable, and the value of the interest, ought to be calculated, and deducted from the ultimate profits of the mono­poly. A number of accidents may oc­casion partial losses on the money ad­vanced. [Page 81] An invasion or any general calamity would be the loss of the whole. The Company have experienced the truth of this opinion in another part of their practice. Their outstanding de­sperate balances, arising on advances made to the weavers, amount to a very consi­derable sum. On the other hand, it makes a wide difference to the country whether advances, to be repaid out of future production, are made by Govern­ment, or by individuals. In the first case, a multitude of persons are pre­cluded from engaging in the business engrossed by Government, and from em­ploying to advantage whatever means and credit they have left. The circulation of so much private property is lost, and the proprietor compelled to live with parsimony on his capital. At the same time, the sums, issuing from the trea­sury to the contractor, flow in one large stream, under the direction of a despotic monopolist, whose ease and convenience lead him to contract with as few people, and to confine his advances to as few [Page 82] places, as possible. This is the funda­mental principle of monopoly. On the contrary, a free trade invites numbers to engage in it, who, in the face of a general competition, could never succeed but by fair dealing and superior in­dustry; and whose fortune, circulating in a variety of little channels, might extend to the remotest corners of the country, and act directly on the indus­try of the lowest orders of men.

60. It is not for me to attempt to lead your Lordship's opinion, on the general question of monopolies, by any other information than that of the facts before me. In this country, the exercise of them, under the direct authority and for the supposed benefit of a despotic go­vernment, has manifestly united an in­terest and a power, which ought never to have met in the same hands. Such a union, in the case of oppression, whe­ther real or pretended, constitutes the plaintiffs parties against Government, and leaves no indifferent tribunal to ad­minister [Page 83] justice to them. I submit to judgement, whether it ought to be abo­lished or continued.

61. I will not, my Lord, add a use­less apology to the trouble I have already given you. If the contents of this let­ter should not justify the length of it, I have nothing to plead, but the same error of judgement which has uniformly governed my conduct, and from which no man has hitherto suffered any thing but myself.

I have no personal interest, immediate or remote, in the success of this repre­sentation. Before it can produce any effect in Bengal, the period of my ap­pointment will probably be expired.

I have the honour to be, &c. PHILIP FRANCIS.

The following Paper was drawn up by Mr. Francis, about tbe End of the Year 1781, very soon after his Arrival from India, at the Request of Mr. Dundas:

AN inquiry into the administration of the East-India Company's affairs in Bengal, and into the effects it has pro­duced, may properly be divided by the four following great departments of Go­vernment, and pursued in the same order.

  • 1. Poltical.
    • 1. Foreign.
    • 2. Domestic.
  • 2. Civil.
    • 1. The legislative power.
    • 2. Administration of justice.
    • 3. Collection of the Re­venues.
    • 4. Coinage.
    • 5. Weights and Mea­sures.
  • [Page 86] 3. Cmmercial.
    • 1. Provision of Invest­ment.
    • 2. Monopolies.
    • 3. State of Trade.
  • 4. Military.
    • 1. Augmentation of Expence.
    • 2. Successive Changes in the Establish­ments.
    • 3. Present Establish­ment.


The first general head may be subdi­vided into particular subjects of inquiry, viz.

1. Whether the Company had any professed fundamental principles of po­licy, relative to the Princes and States of India, to negociations and treaties with them, to war and peace with them, and in general to the extension or limitation of their territorial acquisitions;—what those principles were, and at what pe­riods, [Page 87] and in what terms they were com­municated and prescribed to their repre­sentatives abroad, as rules for their con­duct.

2. Whether these rules have been ob­served or slighted, in what instances, and with what consequences or effects.—Whether the Court of Directors have en­forced their own orders, or punished the breach of them; and whether they them­selves have constantly adhered to, or in any instance departed from their pro­fessed principles. These questions, of course, lead to an inquiry into facts, the most important of which seem to be,

3. The treaty of Illiabad, between the King Shah Aalum and the Company, made the 19th of August, 1765, and still stubsisting in 1773.—The treaty of Be­nares, concluded by Mr. Hastings on the 7th of September, 1773, at an interview with the late Vizier Suja ul Dowla, Su­badar of Owde, and the secret verbal en­gagement entered into at the same time [Page 88] by Mr. Hastings, to assist him with a body of the Company's forces to invade and subdue the Rohillas, in consideration of the sum of forty lacks of rupees.

4. The sale of the provinces of Corah and Illiabad to the Vizier.

5. The causes, conduct, and conse­quences of the Rohilla war in 1774.

6. The conduct of the Court of Di­rectors and the Company, and the suc­cessive orders given by them, when these transactions came to their knowledge.

7. The causes, conduct, and conse­quences of the Mahratta war, begun by the Presidency of Bombay in December 1774, when they took possession of Sal­sette and Caranja, ended by the definitive treaty of peace concluded at Poona in Fe­bruary 1776, between the Governor Ge­neral and Council of Fort William and the Peshwa of the Mahratta State; re­commenced in 1778, by the march of a [Page 89] detachment from the provinces dependant on Bengal, across the Jumna, in May, and by the march of an army from Bom­bay towards Poona in November; and still subsisting.

8. The nature and object of the en­gagements of the Presidency of Bombay with Ragoba.

9. The nature and objects of Mr. Hastings's negociations with Moodajee Boosla, Raja of Berar, and the effects they have produced.

10. The extent, value, and security of the acquisitions of territory, made in Guzzerat or elsewhere, in consequence of the operations of Brigadier General Goddard's army.

11. The actual expence incurred by the Presidencies of Bombay, Fort St. George, and Fort William, on account of the Mahratta war alone, and exclusive of the war with Hyder Ally.

[Page 90] 12. The treaty, concluded in Novem­ber, 1779, between the Governor Ge­neral and Council and the Rana of Go­hid, against the opinion and protests of three Members of the Council, and the effects it has produced.

13. The measures adopted and pur­sued by the Governor General and Coun­cil, instituted by Parliament, in relation to all or any of the preceding transac­tions;—the divisions in the Government of Bengal, which began in October, 1774, immediately after the commence­ment of their Administration, and have continued to November, 1780.

14. The treaty of Fyzabad, concluded on the 21st of May, 1775, between the Governor General and Council and the present Subadar of Owde, by which the provinces of Benares and Ghazipore were ceded to the Company.

15. The agreement to lend him a number of British officers to discipline [Page 91] his troops in 1775;—the purposes to which that measure has been applied;—the consequences it has produced;—the influence gradually obtained by it over the Subadar's person and govern­ment;—and the actual state of his re­venues and authority.


The second branch of the Political Department comprehends the following articles:

1. What is the Company's professed and real object in maintaining a country government, under the name and au­thority of a Nabob or Nazim, and by what engagements they are bound to him.

2. Whether such policy and engage­ments have been the rule of conduct to the Government of Fort William, and how far they have in fact been observed or neglected.

[Page 92] 3. What the present condition of the Subadar of Bengal is, what his real au­thority is, and what purposes have been or may be answered by the Company's maintaining that establishment.

4. Whether the Subadar of Bengal is or is not obliged, by treaty, agreement, or otherwise, to comply with all requi­sitions of the Court of Directors, in matters relative to the government of the country or administration of justice.


In the Civil Department, the first object seems to be to ascertain whether any sovereign or legislative power exists in Bengal, and where it resides; or ra­ther, whether Bengal be not at this time, and has not been for many years, a country without a sovereign or a legis­lature, and with what consequences such defect has been or may be attended.

[Page 93] 2. By what regular and avowed autho­rity do the Government of Fort Wil­liam possess, and in what form do they exercise and administer the whole civil government of the three provinces.

3. By what authority are courts of justice erected or new modelled in the provinces.


First, and principally to ascertain who are the proprietors of the lands, and by what tenure, and with what security do they hold them.

2. What changes have taken place in the mode of collecting the revenues, since the time when the last Report from the Committee of the House of Com­mons, which sat in 1773, was con­cluded.

3. What increase or diminution ap­pears in the net amount of the collec­tions [Page 94] since the same period, and from what causes such alterations have arisen.

4. What was the plan and object of a Committee of Circuit, instituted in Ben­gal in 1773;—on what principles they proceeded;—what was the nature and annual amount of the settlement formed by them for five years;—what was the final amount of balances and remissions on that settlement.

5. What sort of power and influence the Members of the Committee of Cir­cuit derived from their appointment, and in what manner they have employed it.

6. What have been the orders and in­structions of the Court of Directors re­lative to letting of the lands since the year 1773, and how far they have been observed by the Governor General and Council.

7. Whether persons in authority in the Government, or their delegates or [Page 95] servants, have farmed the lands, or any other branches of the Company's re­venue.

8. What new offices have been crea­ted, and what new salaries, or augmen­tation of salaries, have been granted in Bengal since the institution of the Go­vernor General and Council.



1. In what manner the provision of the Company's investment is made, whether by contracts with middle men, or direct advances to the weavers, &c.

2. What powers are vested in the Board of Trade, or in the Company's servants at the aurungs, or in their na­tive agents or servants;—and how such powers have been or may be exercised.

[Page 96] 3. Whether the weavers are compelled to work for the Company at a fixed price, or at liberty to work for whom they think proper.

4. What checks are placed over the Board of Trade, to guard the application and expenditure of the sums vested in their hands.

5. Whether the manufactures in ge­neral have been improved or debased since the British influence has prevailed over the country.

6. What the actual produce of the different aurungs is, compared with that of former periods.

7. Whether the prices charged to the Company have not been greatly increased, while the quality of the articles that compose the investment has been con­stantly declining.


1. What articles of the produce of the lands, or industry of the natives, are and are not ingrossed by the Company or their servants.

2. Whether the Company's invest­ment be avowedly or in effect a mono­poly of the several articles, of which it is composed.

3. What liberty is left, or protection given to the weavers, boilers of salt, manufacturers of opium, saltpetre, &c.

4. What orders the Company have given in relation to monopolies in gene­ral, and how they have been inforced or obeyed.


1. To ascertain, by inquiry of indi­viduals now in England, what is the [Page 98] quantity of tonnage actually employed in the country or export trade of Bengal.

2. What may be the amount of the exports of Bengal to the rest of India; how the returns are made, and whether the balance be in favour of Bengal.

3. To form a comparison between the present state of the foreign trade of Ben­gal and that of any former period.

4. To inquire under what restraints and difficulties the inland trade labours, whether from heavy duties, multiplied custom houses, or a vexatious mode of collection.



1. To state the establishment of num­bers and expence of the army, fortifica­tions, and other military services in Ben­gal, as they stood in the year 1773, [Page 99] when the Company, in their instructions to the Governor General and Council, declared, ‘"that their military expences in Bengal had increased to a degree which was become insupportable to them."’

2. To inquire in what manner, and on what principles, contracts have been made for the construction or repair of barracks, fortifications, &c., for military stores and provisions, for boats, for vic­tualling Fort William, and most parti­cularly for supplying the army with draught and carriage bullocks. What orders have been given by the Court of Directors on these several subjects, and how they have been obeyed or inforced.


1. To state the successive alterations in the form and augmentations in the numbers and expences of the army esta­blishments since 1772. On what prin­ciples, [Page 100] and with what effects, such changes have been made.

2. To inquire what new commissions have been granted in Bengal, since 1773, of general field and staff officers, unau­thorised by the Company, or against their orders.

3. What allowances have been grant­ed by the Governor General and Council to the commanders in chief for the time being, in addition to those fixed by Par­liament or limited by the Company's in­structions.


1. To state the present establishment and extraordinary expence of the army as they may appear from the latest ac­counts.

2. To compare the same with that of former periods, and with the present means of supporting it.


To compare the whole of the present expences of the Government of Fort William with the whole of their present resources; and each of these respectively with that of former periods.

When the Secret Committee shall have carried their investigation thus far, one general question, perhaps the most im­portant of all, will remain to be consi­dered, and may properly conclude their inquiries.

Whereas the Legislature have vested the whole civil and military power of the Presidency of Fort William, and in effect the Government of Bengal, in the Governor General and Council, who are directed and required to pay due obedi­ence to all such orders as they shall re­ceive from the Court of Directors, with whom alone they are directed to corres­pond; it follows that the authority of the Court of Directors is the only me­dium, [Page 102] by which that of Great Britain over Bengal is held; and if their autho­rity be slighted or defied, it follows that the dependance of that distant dominion on this country is so far forth weakened, and its connection with it loosened, if not dissolved. It seems then to be a point that deserves the most serious at­tention of Parliament to inquire and as­certain, in what degree the authority of the Court of Directors has been in fact binding on the Governor General and Council; in what instances it has been resisted, and in general what measures have been adopted and pursued by the Court of Directors to maintain it, and to inforce obedience to their orders. And it is to be presumed that Parliament will expect an opinion from the Secret Com­mittee of the effects that have already taken place, the consequences that may ensue, and whether the dominion of Great Britain over Bengal is secure, if the powers vested in the Court of Di­rectors by Parliament be found to have had no operation; whether owing to their [Page 103] neglect or inattention to their duty, or to any other causes prevailing on this side; or to a spirit of independance, contumacy, and disobedience in their representatives abroad, which the Court of Directors have strongly condemned, but have not sufficient power to correct.

[Page 104] In support of the propriety of continu­ing the territorial possessions under the Government of the East-India Com­pany, it was strenuously urged in the House of Commons, that the natives had eminently prospered under that Government; that it would wound their feelings to be made subject to any other, and perhaps might occasion a convulsion among them, which might prove fatal to the British interests in India.

Extract of a Letter from Earl Cornwallis to the Court of Directors of the East-India Company, dated the 2d of August, 1789.

INDEPENDENT of all other conside­rations, I can assure you that it will be of the utmost importance, for pro­moting the solid interests of the Com­pany, [Page 105] that the principal landholders and traders in the interior parts of the country should be restored to such cir­cumstances as to enable them to sup­port their families with decency, and to give a liberal education to their children, according to the customs of their respective casts and religions, that a regular gradation of ranks may be supported, which is no where more necessary than in this country for pre­serving order in civil society.

I am sorry to be obliged to say that agriculture and internal commerce has for many years been gradually declin­ing; and that at present, excepting the class of Shroffs and Banians, who reside almost entirely in great towns, the inhabitants of these provinces were advancing hastily to a general state of po­verty and wretchedness. In this descrip­tion I must even include almost every Zemindar in the Company's territo­ries; which, though it may have been partly occasioned by their own indo­lence [Page 106] and extravagance, I am afraid must also be, in a great measure, at­tributed to the defects of our former system of management.

[Page 107] The nature of the Zemindary tenure cannot be more accurately described than it has been by Mr. Hastings, in his Defence before the House of Com­mons, page 32, viz.

‘HAD Bulwantsing been are al and hereditary Zemindar, the succession would have gone to him of course, there being in India no such custom as disin­heritance. This circumstance proves also, that Bulwantsing was not the Ze­mindar, for, in that case, it must have devolved to him by inheritance. As Zemindar, his son must have succeed­ed. It would have been a clear, en­tailed, hereditary estate.


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