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PREFACE.

The question, now at issue, between his Majesty's Ministers and the East India Company, which forms the subject of the following pages, is one of the greatest importance to the British Empire, that can possibly be agitated, in the present state of the world. It is a question, in the elucidation of which too many minds cannot be occupied, or too many pens employed.

The serious, and to many the unexpected turn, which the negociation for the renewal of the East India Company's Charter has recently taken, must have been sufficient to rouse and to alarm every reflecting mind, capable of appreciating the importance of the connection between Asia and Britain.

In common with others, who have feelings and affections connected with India, my mind has been deeply impressed with the mischievous, or rather, I should say, the ruinous tendency of the measures contemplated, and now, apparently, determined on, by his Majesty's Ministers. Regarding the matters in dispute, as by no means of a commercial nature; but rather of a mixed character, principally compounded of considerations of justice, policy, and expediency, upon which all men of common observation, and some knowledge of Indian affairs, may form a correct judgment; I have, upon this ground, and presuming upon the experience acquired in the course of several voyages to India, and of some residence there, ventured to arrange my thoughts on the subject, and to submit them to the public.

From the terms of the last official documents, which have transpired, it is difficult to consider the negociation, between Ministers and the East India Company, otherwise than terminated ; or that the contending parties have not finally taken their respective stands. Lord Buckinghamshire, in his Letter of December the 24th, 1812, thus unequivocally announces the determination of his Majesty's Ministers to persevere in the obnoxious measure of laying Open the Trade to India, to the Out-ports of this Kingdom :-“ It is for the Court of Proprietors to decide, whether their own interests as well as those of the numerous persons depending upon them, both at home and abroad, can best be preserved by their rejection of, or acquiescence in, those conditions, upon which alone, consistent with their public duty, his Majesty's Government can submit a proposition to Parliament, for the renewal of the Charter." !

In their reply, dated the 30th December, the Chairmen of the Court of Directors repeat in the following terms their determination, already so frequently declared, to maintain the rights of their Constituents : “ But prepared as we shall be, if forced into this situation, to maintain the rights and claims of our Constituents, we must yet express our hope, that the Company will not be reduced to the hard

'Vide Pupers respecting a negociation for a renewal of the East India Company's esclusive privileges, p. 172

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