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the success of the motion ; for if I can give to my con, duct the fair mark and stamp of sincerity, I shall remove at least that coldness and backwardness towards the motion that might arise from a suspicion of the mover, Having cleared my ground thus far, I can proceed with more confidence to explain my purposes. I mean to move an enquiry into the nature, state, and condition of the India Company, and of the British affairs in India. By the first part of the motion, I mean to give powers to a committee to enquire into the constitution of the company ; into the purposes for which it was framed, and the powers with which it was invested, I would then proceed to the management of those pure poses and powers ; see where there have been devia. tions; where there have been abuses; where the evils have unavoidably arisen from the latent errors in the constitution ; where they have flowed from the casual misconduct of servants ; and the enquiry will be thus naturally brought, by the last part of the motion, to a view of the present disorders, civil, military, moral, and political ; that chaos, where every element and principle of government, and charters, and finances, and the rights of conquests, and the rights of subjects, and the different functions and interests of merchants, and statesmen, and lawyers, and kings, are huddled together in one promiscuous tumult and confusion, natural to the jarring operations of powers the most discordant and incompatible. To sift and examine these several materials, many of them excellent in themselves, and dangerous only by being confounded, will be the only means to enable the controling and creative power of legislature to new-model and arrange them, and to give them for the future permanent regulation and direction to their proper ends. It would be needless and unfair to enter into a further display of the apparent state of the Company at present. Clouds and darkness rest upon some parts of it; upon others there is too much light, Gentlemen will be ready to ask me, do I mean hosti
lity to the company ? I disdain all ideas of hostility. I mean by investigation of facts, to discover the common danger, and the common interests of the company, and nation ; to hold up the mirror of truth to the company, wherein they may see themselves and their affairs as they are, and judge in concert also with the nation, what measures of reformation will best enable them to fulfil the trust reposed in them : for I hold every trading company, and that of India in particular, to be trustees for the state, acting upon terms beneficial to themselves. As to the servants, I scorn the thought of proceeding upon a vindictive principle towards them. I believe many of them to be men of integrity ; others have been led astray by such sort of temptation as human nature cannot resist. The greater part of the evils will be found to be deeply rooted in the constitution, which is framed to excite and give play to the vicious passions of men. I would not at the same time check my enquiry for fear of stumbling upon a criminal,
Should such crimes appear as would make it a duty in parliament to take notice of them, chastisement will be justice, not hostility. I only mean, that chastisement is not the object of my intention. When means can be found to make the offence impracticable for the future, the example of the offender is unnecessary : therefore, sir, let errors, or let crimes, if such there are, sleep, where they can do so without infringement of our duty——with my consent let them sleep for ever-buried beyond the search of human eye, and overshadowed with the trophies of public services, or of private virtues. But, sir, I shall perhaps be told that the object and end of my enquiry is to throw the whole affairs of the company into the hands of the crown, from which the death-blow to the constitution is most to be apprehended : I have no such purpose. If legislature has not powers and wisdom so to model and regulate the sovereignty of the state of India, or so to delegate its powers as to prevent the influence of the crown in England, let it never be attempted. I will join issue with
the gentleman, who, upon a former occasion, asserted, that India and Great Britain had better be swallowed up in the sea, than liberty be endangered by any undue weight given to the crown, that might preponderate over the other branches of the state. Though a servant of the crown, I am not less á servant of the public : it is my confidence, and my happiness, that I serve a sovereign to whom I shall most effectually recommend myself by services to the public; but had it been otherwise, I trust I should be found to bear a heart devoted to this constitution, and capable of making any sacrifice to support it. I scorn therefore the thought of acting a part upon any undue principle. Let resolutions grow out of facts ; let remedy spring from resolutions : I only contend, that if by some means sovereignty and law are not separated from trade, the words of the honourable gentleman, to whom I alluded before, will be a prophecy, and India and Great Britain will be sunk and overwhelm. ed, never to rise again. But charters, sir, I shall be told, are sacred things :—they are so ; and to touch them with the hand of the crown, or any other single branch of the legislature, would be sacrilege. Charters are sacred; so are crowns; so is yet more sacred the religion of the country : but when, by a long series of abuses, the one is degenerated from her first beauty and simplicity, to the grossest bigotry and superstition ; when the other, by a course of corruption, is perverted from the only principle upon which free government can exist, the good of the people—has any wise legislature, has this legislature, hesitated to apply a remedy? We sit here at this hour in the full enjoyment of our civil and religious liberties ; happy examples of the powers, and of the rectitude of our ancestors, in reformation and revolution. Upon this principle therefore, and upon this alone, that an unprecedented concurrence of circumstances has produced an unprecedented exigency, would I apply the doctrine of the reformation, and the revolution to the India company's charters; and I would blend that
doctrine with every consideration of equity and compensation, to satisfy the interests of the parties concerned, while it applied to the common interests and common salvation of India and Great Britain.
Need I urge any farther excitements ? The fate of a great portion of the globe—the fate of great states, in which your own existence is involved—the distresses of fifteen millions of people the rights of humanityare involved in this question. Good God! what a call ! The native of Indostan, born a slave, his neck bent from the very cradle to the yoke, by birth, by education, by climate, by religion, a patient, submissive, willing subject to eastern despotism, first begins to feel, first shakes his chains, for the first time complains under the pre-eminence of British tyranny !
It only remains for me to state the sort of committee for which I wish. A committee of the whole house, with the business of the session which remains unfinished, could sit but seldom, and at this late season would be ineffectual. A select committee, I confess, has generally been the committee of the minister. Lists of names conveyed from the treasury have often had the fortune to be adopted by the majority,
Sir, I have not proposed this idea without thinking of that objection; but I do not believe it is intended to check this inquiry by such means. I have a further confidence. I do not believe they would succeed if they were tried. I shall therefore, sir, propose a committee of thirty-one, with a proportionable quorum to sit in the holidays; and should means be found to continue their operations during the summer, I do not be. lieve there is a member who could be called to that committee, who would not forego all private avocations or conveniences for prosecuting that great essential public duty. I therefore move, that a committee be appointed to enquire into the nature, state, and condition of the East India Company, and of the British affairs in India.
That the committee do consist of thirty one members, to be chosen by ballot, &c. &c,
Servetur ad imum.
In Reply to Sir William Meredith's Motion on Articles
of Subscription A CURSORY view of the times would convince any man of the hon. gentleman's mistake who spoke last, accusing Laud as the principal promoter of that farrago, as the gentleman was pleased to term it. (Here he referred to an act passed in the reign of Edward VI. and also quoted several particulars relative to professor Cheke, queen Elizabeth, and James I.) From the passages, sir, here alluded to, it is manifest, that what the honourable gentleman hath attributed to Laud, is the work of other hands. But granting it, sir, to be as the gentleman says; yet candour must allow, that Laud, with all his faults, was a very great man. With respect, sir, to the matter of subscription, I profess myself an advocate for the measure, a convert to its utility. I know, sir, with men of lively parts, and a brilliancy of genius, there is nothing so easy as to place an object in such a light, as that the bye-standers cannot refrain from beholding it with ridicule : I know, sir, that the hackneyed term superstition may be called in with great dexterity, as a bugbear to alarm weak minds, by suggesting groundless terrors; but surely, sir, this cannot be called a superstitious age—it is rather an age of
scepticism ; under the notion of religious liberty, the solemn truths of religion itself are treated with contempt, and sceptical infidelity abounds. Some men, sir, are for laying our youth under no restraint: others go farther; they argue for the natural excellence of the passions, and urge, that they should be left to indulge them at will. But, sir, if the passions are early felt, sad experience