Page images

were new men.

[ocr errors]

functions of jurors.

This court, which in its constitution seems not what similar to that which had prevailed before ; save had sufficiently in view the necessities of the but the number was smaller. This establishment ple, for whose relief it was intended, and was, was composed of a governour-general, and four hought itself, bound, in some instances, to too counsellors, all named in the act of parliament. et an adherence to the forms and rules of Eng- They were to hold their offices for five years; after practice, in others was framed upon principles, which term the patronage was to revert to the haps, too remote from the constitution of Eng-court of directors. In the mean time such va

tribunals. By the usual course of English cancies as should happen were to be filled by that ctice, the far greater part of the redress to be court, with the concurrence of the Crown. The ained against oppressions of power is by pro- first governour-general and one of the counsellors

in the nature of civil actions. In these a had been old servants to the company, the others | by jury is a necessary part, with regard to the ing the offence, and to the assessment of the On this new arrangement, the courts of proprieJages. Both these were, in the charter of jus-tors and directors considered the details of com, left entirely to the judges. It was presumed, merce as not perfectly consistent with the enlarged

not wholly without reason, that the British sphere of duty, and the reduced number of the jects were liable to fall into factions and com- council. Therefore, to relieve them from this burations, in order to support themselves in the then, they instituted a new office, called the Board ses of an authority, of which every man might, of Trade, for the subordinate management of their tis turn, become a sharer. And with regard to commercial concerns; and appointed eleven of patives, it was presumed, (perhaps a little too their senior servants to fill the commission. tily, that they were not capable of sharing in The powers given by the act to the

Object of But it was not foreseen, new governour-general and council powers to go. I the judges were also liable to be engaged in had for their direct object the king- ral and sounfactions of the settlement: and if they should dom of Bengal and its dependencies. cil. T happen to be so engaged, that the native Within that sphere (and it is not a small one) their iple were then without that remedy, which ob- authority extended all over the company's conusly lay in the clause, that the court and jury, cerns, of whatever description. In matters of ugh both liable to bias, might not easily unite peace and war it seems to have been meant, that the same identical act of injustice. Your com- the other presidencies should be subordinate to tee, on full enquiry, are of opinion, that the use their board. But the law is loose and defective juries is neither impracticable nor dangerous in where it professes to restrain the subordinate prengal.

sidencies from making war .without the consent Your committee refer to their report, made in and approbation of the supreme council

. They year 1781, for the manner in which, this court are left free to act without it in cases of imminent empting to extend its jurisdiction, and falling necessity, or, where they shall have received speth extreme severity on the native magistrates, a cial orders from the company. llent contest arose between the English judges tion leaves it open to the subordinate to judge of id the English civil authority. This authority the necessity of measures, which, when taken, illing in the military arm (by a most dangerous bind or involve the superiour: the second refers a tample) overpowered, and for a while suspended, question of peace or war to two jurisdictions, which le functions of that court; but at length those may give different judgments. In * both instances inctions, which were suspended by the quarrel cases in point have occurred. With regard to their the parties, were destroyed by their reconcili- local administration, their powers were exceedingly bon, and by the arrangements made in conse- and dangerously loose and undetermined. Their Mence of it.

By these the court was virtually powers were not given directly, but in words of muihilated; or, if substantially it exists, it is to be reference, in which neither the objects related to, ipprehended, it exists only for purposes very dif- nor the mode of the relation, were sufficiently exerent from those of its institution.

pressed. Their legislative and executive capacities The fourth object of the act of 1773 was the were not so accurately drawn, and marked by such

This institution was intended to strong and penal lines of distinction, as to keep produce uniformity, consistency, and the effective these capacities 'separate. Where legislative, and co-operation of all the settlements in their common merely executive, powers were lodged in the same defence. By the ancient constitution of the com- hands, the legislative, which is the larger, and the pany's foreign settlements they were cach of them more ready for all occasions, was constantly reunder the orders of a president, or chief, and a sorted to. The governour-general and council council, more or fewer, according to the discretion therefore immediately gave constructions to their of the company; among those, parliament (pro ill-defined authority, which rendered it perfectly

on account of the largeness of the territorial despotick; constructions, which if they were alacquisitions, rather than the conveniency of the lowed, no action of theirs ought to be regarded as S.luation) chose Bengal, for the residence of the criminal. rontrouling power; and, dissolving the presidency, Armed as they were with an authority in itself appointed a new establishment upon a plan some- so ample, and by abuse so capable of an unlimited

See the secret committce's reports on the Mahratta war.

The first excep

founcil general.


[ocr errors]

Court of directors



of more or less opulence, or of interests of newer if thev had not, in the mean time

'nts, then or longer standing, or concerning the distribution as to be entirely free from all a

cral opinım. of power to various descriptions or professions of

rencement of

From that period the orr? men, or of the election to office by one authority, directors became so habitu

spacious conrather than another.

ved to a Corrup

servants abroad, and to bi The second object of the act was by themselves, that this

might have beca the court of directors. Under the almost the whole subjec

new account ought arrangement of the year 1773, that court appeared reports of two of your

Tuspect ought to bate to have its authority much strengthened. It was however remains con

crtain periods. If this made less dependent than formerly upon its con- decline of the auth,

sable, none in the higher stituents the proprietory. The duration of the

sed and decried govers

no doubt whatsor directors in office was reudered more permanent,

nor of the total -- kept in their posts, until and the tenure itself diversified by a varied and regulations of t'

rendered their proceeding intricate rotation. At the same time their autho- The third !

of time had obliterated, by rity was held high over their servants of all descrip- arrangement

proachable conduct, the eitions; and the only rule prescribed to the council which was

zaily grow out of a new power. general of Bengal, in the exercise of the large and security t'i

voted was different: it was to ill-defined powers given to them, was, that they oppressi

The cry against the abuse were to yield obedience to the orders of the An op

Tehement throughout the whole court of directors. As to the court of directors prem

sze practice of presents was repre itself, it was left with very little regulation. The

geral, as it was mischievous. ' ls custom of ballot, infinitely the most mischievous by

ped in any case, it seemed not to in a body possessed of all the ordinary executive

- se most provident, without a great powers, was still left; and your committee have

enquiry, to place two persons, wha found the ill effects of this practice in the course

ation must be the most exposed to of their enquiries. Nothing was done to oblige the

anons, in the commission, which was to directors to attend to the promotion of their ser

- Deir own conduct; much less to place vants according to their rank and merits. In jud

at the head of that commission, ape ing of those merits, nothing was done to bind the

grote in case of an equality. The any observation of what appeared on thi

O could not be liable to that charge cords. Nothing was done to compel them 1:

a three to two; but any accidental di secution or complaint where delinquency!

s opinion, the death of any one of them visible. The act indeed prescribed, the

ccasional absence or sickness, threw the vant of the company abroad should by into the direction until two years after

22er into the hands of the other two, whC

Ve Hastings and Mr. Barwell, one the pre10 England. But as this regulation

and the other high in the council of the sumes than provides for an enquiry in

sament, on which the reform was to op duct, a very ordinary neglect in the

TE Thus those, who were liable to process a tors might easily defeat it, and a :

it quents, were in effect set over the reformers might in this particular operate as

Let that did actually happen, which might nity. In fact, however, the serv:

Exited to happen from so preposterous an a seldom attempted a seat in the tempt, which might possibly

zement; a stop was soon put to all enquiri

Is the spirit of enquiry; but satisfied

For was the great political end proposed in t! the proprietory, they have,

imation of a superintending council for all t brought the direction very mi

pasidencies better answered, than that of an er controul. As to the general authori

into corruptions and abuses. The sever

presidencies have acted, in a great degree, upa rectors, there is reason to a

their own separate authority; and as little of unit whole it was somewhat deg professed purpose was to e effect of the parliamentar

- conduct, as was ever known before this institutio

India is, indeed, so vast a country, and the settl has been, that along wit

ments are so divided, that their intercourse w the land has been des

each other is liable to as many delays and diffic foot. The directors w

ties as the intercourse between distant and separa nominate or to remove

states. But one evil may possibly have arisen fra powered to instruct: fr

an attempt to produce an union, which, thou in the situation of co imbecility of which wholly alter: and

Wake me undoubtedly to be aimed at, is opposed in so

JË zen. | degree by the unalterable nature of their situat wards restored in son on the expiration

annou for that it has taught the servants rather to look cipal servants, it

Les tirs of superiour among themselves, than to their comic

* ure pred superiors. This evil, growing out of the abuse recover any degre

*** SUNS subordination, can only be corrected by a

rict enforcement of authority over that part



the presentation, whether above or below, that when

any person, who has been in the service, recommended to the king's ministers

scy in the council general, the sehe court of directors shall be ordered s strict search into the records of the "; and shall annex to the recommenthe reasons of the court of directors for choice, together with a faithful copy of stever shall be found (if any thing can be und) relative to his character and conduct; is also an account of his standing in the company's service; the time of his abode in India;

the reasons for his return; and the stations, whedther civil or military, in which he has been suc1, in cessively placed. cancies With this account ought to be transmitted the d, that

names of those, who were proposed as candidates d to the for the same office, with the correspondent partiThus in the culars relative to their conduct and situation : for iration was not only the separate, but the comparative, merit rs and capa probably would, and certainly ought to have great jat high trust. influence in the approbation or rejection of the nce was by way party presented to the ministers of the Crown. inspection every


should be laid before the commis-
indence from India, sioners of the treasury, and one of the secretaries
military affairs, and of state, and entered in books to be kept in the
ly, was directed by treasury and the secretary's office.
in days after the receipt These precautions, in case of the

Appointment of state; and every thing, nomination of any who have served of counsellors, zagement of the revenues, the company, appear to be necessary

the commissioners of the from the improper nomination and approbation of both descriptions of these Mr. John Macpherson, notwithstand- Macpherson's enerally communicated to that ing the objections which stood against appointment.

him on the company's records. The choice of appears to your committee, that Mr. John Stables, from an inferiour se were great and material defects military to the highest civil capacity, of the plan. With regard to the was by no means proper, nor an encouraging exof persons nominated to the su- ample to either service. His conduct, indeed, in il by the court of directors, no suf- the subaltern military situation, had received, and Luis were provided for carrying to His seems to have deserved, commendation; but no along with the nomination, the parti-sufficient ground was furnished for confounding the

the conduct of those, who had been lines and gradations of service. This measure service before, which might render them was, however, far less exceptionable than the objects of approbation or rejection. The former; because an irregular choice of a less comhouse possesses an office of record capable petent person, and the preference given to proved urnishing, in almost all cases, materials for delinquency, in prejudice to uncensured service, ing on the behaviour of the servants in their

different things. But even this latter apogress from the lowest to the highest stations; pointment would, in all likelihood, have been und the whole discipline of the service, civil avoided, if rules of promotion had been establishand military, must depend upon an examina- ed. If such rules were settled, candidates, qualition of these records inseparably attending every fied from ability, knowledge, and service, would application for an appointment to the highest not be discouraged by finding, that every thing stations. But in the present state of the no- was open to every man; and that favour alone mination, the ministers of the Crown are not fur- did not stand in the place of civil or military exnished with the proper means of exercising the perience. The elevation from the lowest stations power of controul intended by the law, even if unfaithfully and negligently filled to the highest they were scrupulously attentive to the use of trusts, the total inattention to rank and seniority, it. There are modes of proceeding favourable to and much more the combination of this neglect of neglect. Others excite enquiry, and stimulate to rank with a confusion (unaccompanied with strong vigilance.

and evident reasons) of the lines of service, canPropositions

Your committee, therefore, are of not operate as useful examples on those, who serve opinion, for the future prevention of the publick in India. These servants, beholding cabal, and of private and partial re- men, who have been condemned for improper


are very

fin temedy ta.














« PreviousContinue »