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Considerations on Colo-
nial Policy, with Relation to
the Renewal of the 3*3 t India
Company's ~
















Printed by J. R ret tell,
Rupert Street, Ha) market, London.








THAT every nation, in the establishment of
o distant possessions, has in contemplation
~ its own progressive welfare and ultimate
o aggrandizement, will be universally ad-
mitted. It may happen, indeed, that the
primary intercourse between them has
originated in views purely commercial :
either the importation of some raw ma-
terial calculated to give employment to
the population of the mother-country ; or
the increased export of her existing rnanu-
^factures; or her natural produce. Never-
theless, the result uniformly produces an



augmentation of her political strength and
commercial importance ; provided the con-
nexion remains unimpaired, and an ami-
cable intercourse continues to be carried
on. Were it otherwise, the colonial system
would only cause embarrassment, and oc-
casion a display of extended territory and
multiplied population, without any increase
of national energy. Unproductive territo-
rial possessions, and unemployed manufac-
turers, are dead weights upon society, and
must eventually sink the most powerful

The national superiority of states, consi-
dered physically, is to be estimated by the
number of their inhabitants, and their abi-
lity to support an increasing population.
The means of employment must conse-
quently be sought for, and, if possible, ob-
tained ; for on this the subsistence of the
main body of the people must depend.
Now this is chiefly to be found in the ex-
tension of the manufacturing principle,
which will furnish employment for thou-
sands of those whose labours are not re-
quired by the agricultural interest. It is
this consideration which renders foreign


possessions so extremely valuable, nay even
necessary, to the well-being of states yield-
ing an increase of population. In pro-
portion, therefore, to the extent of their
colonies, and in so far as they are made
subservient to the population at home, have
nations acquired additional strength and
consequence ;* these, however, have not
continued beyond the period of taking away
from those colonies necessary restraining
regulations, and abolishing the sovereign
controul of the mother-country.

Colonies may be thus classed : those
which are founded by means of emigration
from the mother-country ; such as have been
planted in consequence of the cession of
the natives; colonies which are the fruits of
conquest ; or, lastly, those which owe their
origin to varied combinations of these se-
veral circumstances. It is of great impor-

* It is obvious that the author supposes a due proportion
to be observed between the population at home and the colo-
nies planted abroad. The case of Spain, where the mother-
country has been exhausted and reduced to a state of imbe-
cility by improvident and profuse colonization, affords a sole-
cism in politics; and as the Spanish colonies draw no supplies
from the mother-country, they may be deemed ip every-
thing, but name, independent upon her.

tance to bear these distinctions in mind ;
for they must ever be attended to in
the granting of privileges, the prescribing
of restrictions, and the framing of laws
adapted to the peculiar cast, character, and
circumstances of each. Dissimilar as they
are in their very nature, one unvaried form
of government cannot, with propriety, be
applied to them all. Those indulgences
and encouragements which are necessary
to some of them may prove prejudicial to
others : nor have they an equal claim on the
parent state. Those persons who cannot
mark those statistical differences which must
necessarily determine their several constitu-
tions, and the quantum of their immuni-
ties, have yet much to learn concerning
the true principles of colonial legisla-

The progress of colonies in all the arts of
civil society, as well as in gradual advances
towards independence, is natural, and per-
haps unavoidable ; particularly in those
instances where the inhabitants retain their
original language, and live under the
same laws, observe the same customs, and
have been trained up in a participation of

the same ideas of civil liberty which prevail
in the mother-country. Colonies have their
state of infancy and pupillage ; after a
while, they attain maturity, imbibe no-
tions of independence, and become uneasy
under those restraints which guarded their
infantile state. In this we may distinguish
a marked similarity between the natural
and the political world. After a certain
period, those establishments begin to make
attempts at procuring independence; and
fatal experience has proved, from what
has already taken place in the western
hemisphere, that these attempts are at last
crowned with success. From the very
commencement of jealousies and animo-
sities, the parent state derives a diminish-
ing beneBt from her settlements, in exact
proportion as they less require her aid, and
give less employment to her manufacturers
in furnishing the articles which the colonists


Millions may have been expended, and
heavy taxes wllingly paid, by the mother-
country in support of her colonies struggling
for existence : but notwithstanding all this,
and even the impartition of patronage, and

the necessary aids afforded to the com-
mercial credit d<f the colonists in cases of
emergency ; the whole has too often ended
rather in promoting than impeding their
ultimate independence, and has rendered
nugatory all the measures hitherto pre-
cribed by the most refined policy to render
them, for as long a period as possible, in-
strumental to the welfare, and subsidiary to
the prosperity, of the parent state.

These considerations, suggested by bit-
ter experience, have been hitherto very
little attended to in managing distant
possessions. The general benefit of the
colonies has been consulted as the pri-
mary, and almost the sole object; but
at last, when public expenditure and pri-
vate exertion, lavishly combined, have ren-
dered them independent, we have only to
lament our unhappy mistakes.

Let any thinking man but advert to the
sumslaid out upon our American settlements,
looking simply at the documents of yearly
expenditure preserved in the tables re-
corded in the Annual Register; let him
reflect upon the wars in which we engaged
for the sake of our colonies, particularly


when Lord Chatham undertook to con-
quer America in Germany ; let him look
at the blood and treasure spent in expelling
the French from Canada, which in 1759
was thought a most fortunate (as it surely
was a glorious) achievement, though sub-
sequent events have proved the fallacy of
such an idea, and he must necessarily see,
if he do not wilfully shut his eyes, that all
this liberality, and martial prowess, did but
hasten the catastrophe of July 4, 1776,
when the Thirteen Colonies declared them-
selves independent.

It may be deemed too late, when the
Rubicon is passed, to deprecate impolicy
of this sort, or to indulge in unavailing
complaints. It will however serve to pre-
vent a repetition of such distressful circum-
stances in after times, to point out this
most important fact, that by not adhering
firmly to wholesome regulations, and proper
restrictions, there can be but a small chance
of prolonging that period during which colo-
nies are of advantage to the mot her- country.
Take away the restraints of sound policy,
and a premature separation must neces-
sarily be produced, extemely detrimental

to the latter, and leaving the former in a
state hardly equal to the protection of their
growing commerce, unable to repel aggres-
sion, and a prey to all the evils which
invariably vex and harass a weak govern-
ment. The experience of past ages will
no doubt furnish many examples of a
like description ; and in consequence of
our treading in the footsteps of those
who before us have deviated from the
path of true policy, a similar result must
necessarily follow: and it will be found,
that in the instance of colonies formed
by emigration from the parent state, con-
fidence has been reposed in them, con-
cessions have been liberally made, and
encouragements of every kind have been
held out to them ; till the colonists have
taken advantage of the bounteous disposi-
tion of their fellow-subjects at home ; and
have ultimately used the strength which
they have attained, to break asunder those
links of grateful amity, which should have
held them attached to the land of their fa-
thers as firmly as chains of adamant. Au-
thentic history proves, that from the era of
the Grecian colonies planted in Asia Minor,

to the memorable event of the American
revolution, the removal of restrictions has
occasione d a lengthened series of expense,
bloodshed, and vexation, till a final separa-
tion has taken place between a mother,
foolishly fond, and her ungrateful off-

Whatever sentiments may be entertained
concerning the equity or the policy of
granting indulgences to colonies of this class;
are we to assume it as a general maxim, that
to colonized territories obtained by cession,
similar privileges and benevolences are to
be granted ? Or at least, when conquest has
added provinces or islands to the ancient
dominion of existing states, ought not the
entire frame of the government and the
scale of commerce, devised for these new
acquisitions, (unless otherwise settled by the
terms of their surrender), to depend wholly
upon the cultivation of those interests
which may best promote the welfare and
prosperity of the country by whose sword
they have been gained, and to whose
empire they are become appendages ?

Conquests achieved in distant parts of the
globe are but of questionable importance,


and productive of small benefit to any
country, com pared with those colonies which
owe their origin to emigration. The scale
of refinement and civilisation may be as
high in the reduced provinces, as in the
victorious state. They may have advanced as
far in the perfection of mechanical arts, as
the nation which has subdued them ; they
may equal the more powerful country in the
richness of their natural productions; they
may even excel it in the variety, the delicacy,
or the utility of their manufactures. It will
therefore derive little or no advantage from
the export trade with the acquired territories,
and they may even rival their new mistress
in supplying other nations with the neces-
saries or the elegancies of life ; a competi-
tion which must be fraught with many
dangers to the sovereign state, whose well-
being it were absurd to place in any cir-
cumstances of hazard. This were only to
conquer political ruin, and prematurely to
accelerate statistical decay. That country
must be ignorant of every principle which
tends to cherish the prosperity, or secure the
wealth of nations, that should thus foster
destruction under the wings of victory.


The most obvious advantages springing
from colonization, are derived from the
interchange of such commodities as furnish
employment to the population of the
parent state. The commercial connexion
will prove less and less advantageous to
her, in proportion as she is rivalled by her
colonies, and as they take off in a reduced
ratio the produce and manufactures sup-
plied by the mother-country.

From what has been said, it is perfectly
reasonable, that all British settlers in co-
lonies which have been formed through
cession of territory or conquest, and the
whole of their commercial concerns, should
be rendered subservient to the interests and
welfare of their native country, to whose
laws they owe a sacred obedience, and
whose supremacy they are bound to ac-
knowledge and respect ; nor can any thing
absolve them from allegiance to their So-
vereign, although it is apprehended that
they too frequently persuade themselves
that distance cancels duty.

In every case of colonization, whether
by emigration, by cession, or by conquest,
regulations adapted to every exigency

are indispensably necessary ; and these
should never be suffered to grow obso-
lete, but, from time to time, be new-
moulded, and unremittingly enforced, in
proportion as the infant settlement rises in
the scale of political importance; in order
to preserve unimpaired the authority of the
parent and superior kingdom, and to secure
to it all the beneficial results of well-orga-
nized colonial polity ; dtherwise the most
ruinous consequences may be expected,
arising out of the very nature of things,
and evidenced by the testimony of ages.

These restrictions, however deemed op-
pressive by colonists, if viewed in a true
light, will be found perfectly reasonable,
and every way consistent with the rules of
equity. The colonists are in a great degree
exonerated from the operation of those
taxes levied on their fellow-subjects at
home, for the general support and de-
fence of the empire; at the same time that
they participate in the commercial ad-
vantages of the mother-country. These
they will notwithstanding endeavour con-
tinually to appropriate to themselves. De-
mand after demand will be made, and every


concession will only stimulate fresh requi-
sitions. In proportion, however, as they
diminish the commercial prosperity of the
parent state, the less equal will it be to
sustain the fiscal burdens necessary to en-
sure national defence. Its sources of profit
from abroad being cut off, it will not be
able to support the expenses of the home
establishment, and must of course dwindle
into insignificance, or sink under its ene-
mies. From these premises, this conclu-
sion must unquestionably follow : That, to
make the establishment, the maintenance,
and the prosperity of colonial appendages,
primary objects ; to promote their interests,
without keeping in view the relation in
which they stand to the mother-country ;
and to give facility to their intercourse with
foreign nations, would be to adopt prin-
ciples of government as repugnant to true
policy as to common sense.

The advantages enjoyed by settlers are
various and considerable : the market of
the parent state is ever open to them ; and
through this medium, the marts of other
nations with whom she is in amity. The
colonists, as has been already observed,

escape the burden of those local taxes
which are often severely felt by their fellow-
subjects at home ; and so long as the set-
tlers conduct their affairs on the basis of
probity and honour, they will always have
credit at their command, and enjoy the be-
nefit of commercial preference, arising out
of a natural partiality which must pervade
all bosoms, far exceeding any sensations that
can be felt for the most favoured foreign na-
tions. Advantages such as these must pre-
sent a full compensation for any restrictive
regulations under which they may lie ;
and it should always be remembered, that
regulations of this sort must be instituted
ex necessitate rei ; nor can it be too often
or too seriously pressed, that a firm adhe-
rence to a restrictive policy alone can se-
cure the allegiance of the colonists, and the
advantages which they bring to the mother-
country ; for surely it were outrageously
absurd, and altogether unnatural, that the
prosperity of the original nation should be
sacrificed to the well-being of her scions
grafted on a foreign stock.

These principles and deductions appear-
ing too obviously founded in truth and


sound policy to be controverted by reflect-
ing and considerate statesmen, it shall now
be the author's business to apply them im-
partially to a case of prodigious and vital
importance to Great Britain, the renewal
of the East India Company's Charter ; in
the pure hope that the research into the
fundamental principles of colonial trade,
and the extended view which has here been
taken of the subject, (different as it is from
that of the partisans of either side, and
clear of all irritation), may be deemed,
generally, as disinterested and unbiassed as
it is meant to be ; and that the author's
real object will be discerned by all his
readers, viz. the paramount and lasting
welfare of Great Britain.

So much prejudice has been excited, and
so much harm has arisen, by an improper
application of terms, that a considerate
mind will endeavour to divest itself of
their influence, on the examination of any
important question. Great hostility has
been created against the East India Com-
pany, by applying to their concerns the
term monopoly, in its most invidious sense,


viz. the securing to a few, by means of
arbitrary restrictions, those advantages
which it is presumed might, with public
benefit, be enjoyed by many. But if it
shall appear, that the benefits of the India
trade may be as considerable, and as widely
distributed, under the Company's Charter,
as they would have been, had no exclusive
right existed ; the privileges which it con-
fers cannot be considered as injurious to
the public. The advantages of oriental
commerce hare not been confined to the
Proprietors of India Stock alone, but have
been shared by the whole community; and
be it ever remembered, that if the com-
mercial funds of the Company had not
been dedicated to the maintenance of the
Indian Empire, and the security and con-
solidation of our possessions in that quarter
of the globe, there would have been no-
thing left, at this moment, to dispute

Let us riot be the dupes of vulgar errors ;
for on the subject of monopolies, it should be
considered, that any trade whatever, must,
to a certain extent, be monopolised ; for it


is just as impossible to preserve commer-
cial as political equality.* Capital, supe-
rior information and intelligence, influence
and connexions, possessed by a few mer-
chants, will always prevent the advantages
of any trade from being enjoyed by all
who may be inclined to embark in it; and
the more remote the country shall be with
which that trade is carried on, the fewer
will be the hands into which the profits
must fall. It should also be recollected,
that no persons can fully enjoy the profits
of a trade, without the employment of an
adequate capital, and the labour of consi-
derable application. The mode of en-,
suring the beneficial returns of com-
merce, is the same in all cases, simplex
duntaxat et unum, whether that commerce
be open tp essays of general speculation, or
whether it be guarded by legal provisions.
In the latter case, the means of obtaining
a share in its proceeds are more precisely

* The disturbances in France commenced with the po-
pular cry for liberty of trade ; and let it be remembered,
that they have ended in the most bloody war that has ever
desolated the world ; undertaken for the specific purpose of
destroying all commercial freedom.



defined, and adventurers are less exposed
to risk ; the public, however, are in no way

Divesting ourselves, therefore, of all pre-
judice, the expediency of renewing the
Charter of the East India Company will
manifestly appear, by showing that the
country could not derive more or greater
advantages from an open trade with India,
than it certainly may, under proper regu-
lations of the present system. The ques-
tion, in a national point of view, in which
Parliament ought to consider it, is not,
whether the out-ports will receive additional
benefit by an open and unrestrained com-
merce with India ? but, whether the great
interests of the country will be promoted ;
and whether those advantages will be en-
joyed, in a more extensive degree^ by those
individuals who compose the trading divi-
sion of the community ?

The benefits which Great Britain derives
from the trade with India are not solely to
be estimated by the returns which pass into
the treasury of the Company ; but by the
employment, the remuneration, the profit,
and advantages of those who are in any


way, immediately or indirectly, connected
with it. The freighting of an outward-
bound Indiaman puts trade in motion
through the remotest districts of the United


Kingdom. The matt-rid (if such a word
may be used in this sense) of a fleet, the
vessels and rigging, the stores, guns, am-
munition, and provisions, are found at
home ; and with respect to cargoes, in ad-
dition to those parts of them which turn to
a. profitable account, the Company export
large quantities of the produce and manu-
factures of this nation, on which, as mer-
chants, they receive no profit, and in nume-
rous instances suffer a loss. Will it there-
fore be contended, that from a trade of
this sort no advantage accrues to the
country, except that which flows into the
coffers of the Company ; when we consider
that the thousands engaged in the manu-
facture of commodities, or concerned in the
transit of merchandise, have obtained a
profit, and that the King's Exchequer has
received an accession of revenue directly,
or by the operation of collateral taxes ? .
Can it be expected, therefore, (and it is a
most serious consideration to the laborious


classes of the people of England), that any
private merchant will conduct his business on
this extended scale, and on this liberal prin-
ciple ? It may be urged that he will re-
duce the expence of freight, in order to
enable him to secure a profit on his goods
in the India market ; but this can only be ac-
complished by his appropriating to himself
a part of those profits enjoyed by a great
number of persons now employed in the
transit. Unless, therefore, the demand for
British produce and manufactures shall be
increased by an open trade, or an higher
price shall be obtained for them in India
than they fetch at present, which can-
not be deemed very probable when there
shall be such a competition of venders;
we must assume it as a point demonstrated,
that the export trade to India may afford
full as great advantages under the manage-
ment of the East India Company, as can
possibly arise from an unrestrained com-
munication. The. supply of a distant
country, like India, with British manufac-
tures, is best to be accomplished by an
uniform system, well digested, and steadily
administered ; and it is only to be effected


by a large company, or by the efforts of
a few principal merchants, influenced by
an intercommunity of sentiment, and uni-
ting to furnish the necessary commodities,
and to give regular employment to the
manufacturers of this kingdom; who, on
their part, aware of the stated calls for
their goods at the proper seasons, and ma-
king their purchases at the best advantage,
without the hurry and confusion incident
to an uncertain sale, could enable such
merchants as we have described, with no
loss of profit to themselves, to carry on an
export trade to India, at a cheaper rate,
and with articles of a more uniform qua-
lity, than they possibly could, if left to the
desultory and fluctuating exertions occa-
sioned by the private (and not seldom
clashing) speculations of individuals.

It is of great consequence that the views
and projects of the merchants of any
country, concerned in a specific trade
should be confided to those who are en-
gaged in the same traffic. A just equipoise
is thus maintained in the markets at home
and abroad. In the East India Company,

this is perfectly understood, and is ma-
naged with admirable precision. The
conquests recently made in the different
islands of the Indian Sea, will provoke no
ruinous paroxysm of wild adventure: very
different from what so lately took place on
the shores of the Atlantic! How many
merchants fell sacrifices to the mania that
prevailed in the commercial world on the
taking of Buenos Ay res and Mo nteVideo!
Lord Valentia gives us a true picture of the
wretched effects arising from the jealous
competition of the Americans trading to
Mocha. One or two ships, having carried
coffee to America, disposed of it there
to very good advantage. This was whis-
pered about, and the American merchants
having no confidence in each other, pri-

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Online LibraryEast India CompanyConsiderations on colonial policy with relation to the renewal of the East India Company's charter → online text (page 1 of 5)