« PreviousContinue »
the discernment to perceive, what is so generally hid from the eyes of rulers in a more enlightened state of society, that it is the prosperity of those who labour with their hands which constitutes the principle and cause of the prosperity of states. He therefore made. it his business to protect them against the intermediate orders of the community, by whom it is so difficult to prevent them from being oppressed. His country was, accordingly, at least during the first and better part of his reign, the best cultivated, and his population the most flourishing, in India: while under the English and their pageants, the population of Carnatic and Oude, hastening to the state of deserts, was the most wretched upon the face of the earth; and even Bengal itself, under the operations of laws ill adapted to their circumstances, was suffering almost all the evils which the worst of governments could inflict. For an eastern prince he was full of knowledge. His mind was active, acute, and ingenious. But in the value which he set upon objects, whether as means, or as an end, he was almost perpetually deceived. Besides, a conviction appears to have been rooted in his mind that the English had now formed a resolution to deprive him of his kingdom, and that it was useless to negotiate, because no submission to which he could reconcile his mind, would restrain them in the gratification of their ambitious designs."-Mills.
Tippoo was right. The great design of the English, from their first secure footing in India, was to establish their control over the whole Peninsula. The French created them the most serious alarm in the progress of their career towards this object; and any native state which shewed more than ordinary
energy, excited a similar feeling. For this purpose all the might of British power and policy was exerted to expel these European rivals, and to crush such more active states. The administration of the Marquis Wellesley was the exhibition of this system full blown. For this, all the campaigns against Holkar and Scindia; the wars from north to south, and from east to west of India, were undertaken; and blood was made to flow, and debts to accumulate to a degree most monstrous. Yet the admiration of this system of policy in England has shewn how little human life and human welfare, even to this day, weigh in the scale against dominion and avarice. We hear nothing of the horrors and violence we have perpetrated, from the first invasion of Bengal, to those of Nepaul and Burmah; we have only eulogies on the empire achieved:-" See what a splendid empire we have won!" True, there is no objection to the empire, if we could only forget the means by which it has been created. But amid all this subtle and crooked policy -this creeping into power under the colour of alliesthis extortion and plunder of princes, under the name of protection-this forcible subjection and expatriation of others, we look in vain for the generous policy of the Christian merchant, and the Christian statesman.*
* Sir Thomas Roe was sent in 1614, on an embassy to the Great Mogul. In his letters to the Company, he strongly advised them against the expensive ambition of acquiring territory. He tells them, "It is greater than trade can bear; for to maintain a garrison will cut out your profit: a war and traffic are incompatible. The Portuguese, notwithstanding their many rich residences, are beggared by keeping of soldiers and yet their garrisons are but mean. They never made advantage of the Indies since they defended them;-observe this well. It has also been the error of the Dutch, who seek plantations here by
The moderation of a Teignmouth, a Cornwallis, or a Bentinck, is deemed mere pusillanimity. Those divine maxims of peace and union which Christianity would disseminate amongst the natives of the countries that we visit, are condemned as the very obstacles to the growth of our power. When we exclaim, "what might not Englishmen have done in India had they endeavoured to pacify and enlighten, instead of to exact and destroy?" we are answered by a smile, which informs us that these are but romantic notions,-that the only wisdom is to get rich!
the sword. They turn a wonderful stock; they prowl in all places; they possess some of the best: yet their dead pays consume all the gain. Let this be received as a rule, that if you will profit, seek it at sea, and in quiet trade: for without controversy, it is an error to affect garrisons, and land-wars in India."
· Had Sir Thomas been inspired, could he have been a truer prophet? The East India Company, after fighting and conquering in India for two centuries, have found themselves, at the dissolution of their charter, nearly fifty millions in debt; while their trade with China, a country in which they did not possess a foot of land, had become the richest commerce in the world! The article of tea alone returning between three and four millions annually, and was their sole preventive against bankruptcy. Can, indeed, any colonial acquisition be pointed out that is not a loss to the parent state?
THE ENGLISH IN
TREATMENT OF THE NATIVES.
Rich in the gems of India's gaudy zone,
Pleasures of Hope.
WE have in some degree caught a glimpse of the subject of this chapter in the course of the last. The treatment of the native chiefs in our pursuit of territorial possession is in part the treatment of the natives, but it is unhappily a very small part. The scene of exaction, rapacity, and plunder which India became in our hands, and that upon the whole body of the population, forms one of the most disgraceful portions of human history; and while the temptations to it existed
in full force, defied all the powers of legislation, or the moral influence of public opinion to check the evil. In vain the East India Company itself, in vain the British Parliament legislated on the subject; in vain did the Court of Directors from year to year, send out the most earnest remonstrances to their servants,—the allurement was too splendid, the opportunities too seducing, the example too general, the security too great, to permit any one to attend to either law, remonstrance, or the voice of humanity. The fame of India, as a vast region of inexhaustible wealth, had resounded through the world for ages; the most astonishing notions of it floated through Europe, before the sea-track to it was discovered; and when that was done, the marvellous fortunes made there by bold men, as it were in a single day, and by a single stroke of policy, seemed more than to warrant any previous belief. Men in power received their presents of ten, twenty, or a hundred thousand pounds. Clive, for the assistance of the British army, was presented with the magnificent gift of a jaghire, or hereditary revenue of 30,000l. a year! On another occasion he received his 28,000l., and his fellow-rulers each a similar sum. Hastings received his twenty and his hundred thousand pounds, as familiarly as a gold snuff-box or a piece of plate would be given as a public testimony of respect for popular services, in England. Every man, according to his station and his influence, found the like golden harvest. Who could avoid being inflamed with the thirst for Indian service?— who avoid the most exaggerated anticipations of fortune? It was a land, and a vast land, hedged about with laws of exclusion to all except such as went