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laws against the act of parliament-and expedient which would ensure the same against the interests of the company. end, or else take up with one more disad
He denied that upon a fair and just vantageous to the company. The quesunderstanding of the whole case, any tion was, therefore, and it behoved them one of those positions would be made to look at it fairly, whether they would out. He would look first at that point throw out the present ships which they which was the most material, the inter might retain at moderate additional alest of the company. What was the lead lowance, or take up new ships for which ing object of the proposition now before they must of necessity pay more than the court? It was that very interest. they would pay in the other case. The There was no question that the company honourable gentleman had insinuated that must have ships to carry on their trade this would not be the effect. But the fittest, indeed the only fit ships are he (the Chairman) denied the position, those purposely constructed for it. If the for he would undertake to demonstrate company by rigorously exacting from the that the additional allowance to be made owners the performance of their con the present owners would fall considertracts at the low rate of peace freight, ably short of the rates of freight which were to incapacitate those owners from must at present be required. going on, as must be the case with re And here, before proceeding further, he spect to many of them, these ships might notice an observation which the would of course cease to sail on their pre- honourable gentleman had insisted on. sent terms-and then the company must He had said that the court of directors look to other ships, or to these upon in had offered no reasons in support of the creased terms. In either case what the measure they recommended. He (the company might recover by a course of law Chairman) presumed that after examinin penalties and damages, could not be ing the report which had been submitted considered a compensation for the de to the proprietors, there would be found rangements, inconveniences, and such en sufficient reasons to justify the proposal. creased rates of freight as must be in. The hon. gentleman had urged against it curred; not to insist now on the injury no reason of his own; for all his reasons which would be done to the present ship were drawn from the report of the direcping system of which the value is so much tors in 1803, which was quoted and reacknowledged, by a rigorous enforcement, ferred to in their present report; only in his which would tend both to check and to way of using both these reports, be has emienhance future offers of ships on the ex ployed them in direct contradiction to the isting principle. The experience of the intention of the authors, and in opposilast few days had given the directors some tion to the conclusion to which those auinsight into what they had reason to ex thors after due cunsideration of all cirpect, as to the rates of tenders now that cumstances came. But the hon. gentlepeace was restored. Of all the tenders man had also said, that the granting of which they had recently received, there additional allowances was contrary to the was pone lower than 261. per ton. Al- bye-laws, and he quoted an act of parlia. most all were higher, some about a third ment in which he found a special provi. more, and it must be presumed, that sion guarding against this very principle. according to the circumstances of the If however the lion. gentleman thought times, many of these were not inequi- proper to rely upon the authority of partable rates. Supposing then, for the liament as having in one act established sake of argument, that 261. per ton was the principle of a permanent rate of peace an equitable rate of freight, at the present freight, he (the Chairman) had only to time (though the rates lately proposed observe, that there was another act of were for the end of 1817), how was it parliament of equal validity passed in 1803 possible that those ships which had been which allowed the directors to depart from hired at 161. 171. 181. or 191. per ton, that principle he so much insisted on. could sail at those rates ? The court of This latter act formed the precedent upon proprietors had in fact only one alterna which the court of directors acted in a tive. They must either drive the owners case of the very same nature. of the ships in question to the extremity The hon. gentlemau had indeed atof throwing up their contracts, or give tempted to shew that the present was not them that which should appear to be a such case as that made out in the year reasonable additional allowance. That 1803, and that the measure then agreed is, something that will save them from to in consequence of the peace of Amiens, ruinous loss, though it will not amount was of no authority in the instance now to what must be paid for ships now taken before us as a precedent. His reason for up. Here it is the interest of the company, advancing this
notion seemed to be, that in point of couvenience and of pecuniary the act of 1803 was actually passed after consideration, to adopt the last member war bad again broke out, whence he might of the alternative. They must either do infer, that it contemplated a state of war. this, unless they can devise some other But he (the Chairman) had taken a part in
were in such a situation with respect to same rule had been applied as the hon. the penalty bonds of the owners, that if gentleman subsequently, and as it were init was thought necessary to enforce the cidentally noticed, though he dwelt chiefpenalty against the owners, it would be ly upon the case of the Astell for reasons found in many cases that no such security perhaps that could be explained, asking had been taken. It was very true, that with an air of triumph, why there should some of these bonds were not to be found be any departure from the principle of the in the office of the house, in consequence permanent system in the mode of employ. of the negligent conduct of one of the ing this particular ship? The answer was clerks whose duty it was to take care of not difficult; and when the facts and cirthem; and who having since left the cumstances of the case were fairly exhihouse was no longer amenable to the re- bited, they would deprive the hon. gentlegulations of the company. But happily man of all just ground of accusation. The the misconduct of that clerk would make ship Astell was built conformably to the no difference in point of fact, to the com law upon the bottom of another that had pany, with respect to those bonds; be- been lost, and which had been engaged at cause by the articles of agreement entered one fixed rate of war extraordinaries ; into with the owners, they became bound, whereas the common practice was to setwhether a penalty bond was executed or tle the rate of war extraordinaries from not; and the agreement had the effect of voyage to voyage, according to the prices a bond, for securing the performance of of stores at the time, and this was the their contracts. The court of directors only mode in which there could be any if the measure were passed, would have certainty or safety, because to settle one the power of considering the cases of each rate for six voyages when the prices of owner respectively: and whether there stores hardly ever remained the same for was a penalty bond, or not, the directors two years, was proceeding upon the prinwould give those particular owners whose ciple of a lottery, and the owners might bonds were not forthcoming no more be subjected to ruinous loss, perhaps to than those would recover whose security a rate £ 8 or £ 10 per ton less than the bonds were in the hands of the company. ships received who had their warextraorIt would be matter of discretion in the dinaries settled from voyage to voyage. directors; and those owners would get This was found to be the case of the three no more allowance, than if the company ships above-mentioned, and they were rehad the utmost controul over them; there- lieved by being paid on the principle of fore the circumstance which the honour- the other ships. After having made this able gentleman alluded to with so much equitable concession to them, was it to be triumph perhaps as a matter of reflec- refused afterwards to the Astell, which tion upon the management of the direc- was found to be in the same predicament, tors had no effect whatever upon the and then the only ship so circumstanced? question. The owners were bound by The court of directors thouglıt not; they their tenders; and what the directors now thought it was but equitable this ship proposed was, not to give any right to should be put on the footing of all the the owners, but to leave every thing in the rest, and if they had determined otherdiscretion of the directors as to the al- wise, the ship must have thrown up her lowances to be made. In this point of contract. The directors however, acted view, therefore, the objection about the in this matter with the sanction of the security bonds fell entirely to the ground, learned counsel whom the company then
The hon. gentleman had alluded to the employed, namely, Mr. Adam, whose opicase of the ship Astell, as an instance in nion was, that although the law had enwhich the court of directors had illegally joined that the peace freight should be departed from the system established by one fixed rate ; it left the war contingenlaw, and he had taken occasion to de- cies to be settled according to the disereclaim upon it as affording an evidence of the tion of the court of directors, and Mr, misconduct of the directors, and an argu- Adam was not a man likely to give a hasment for restraining that discretion which ty opinion upon any case submitted to his they had thought proper to require. Now, consideration, although the hon.gentleman it was true that the mode of paying the war seemed disposed to question the one deliextraordinaries to the ship Astell had been vered on this
as far as he (the chauged, but the inference drawn from Chairman) could judge, the opinion was that fact by the hon. gentleman was fal- a sound and just one, and indeed the case lacious. Neither did the Astell furnish required no extraordinary discernment in the first instance of this kind, as might be any man conversant with the subject of it conceived from the hon. gentleman's men to come to the same conclusion. As far tioning primarily and prominently the case as he (the Chairman) could understand of that ship. The directors had exereised the act of parliament, the directors acted a like discretion in favour of three other correctly on that occasion, and according ships, two years before the case of the to the powers the Jaw vested in them 1 Al Asiatic Journ.No. V.
which powers warranted them to agree owners were undoubtedly in the power of for the war extraordinariés
new settlement liament: The company might insist upon for them every voyage ; and in conse- this, and on the failure of the owners dequence of the opinion of
same footing commence actions to recover damages for with other ships. There were two cir- the other consequences of withdrawing cumstances relative to that ship which the ships. If the company resolved on farther justified this concession. One this course, still they would oblige the was, that she was the representative of owners to lay up their ships, whatever another ship that had been lost, which penal consequences might result from the lost ship had been engaged in former cir- breach of their contracts. But what cumstances, and at a different period of would be the situation of the company time, when the effect produced by one fix- in the mean time ? Instead of having the ed rate of war extraordinaries had not excellent class of ships which they had been experienced or contemplated as at now in their service, such ships as could all so unfavourable
to the owners as it af- not be got any where else in Europe because terwards proved. The other circumstance no other trade employed ships of the like was, that the Astell had not received the size and equipment, they would be obliged wár allowance paid to many other ships to take such ships, as other branches for building, which amounted to five or of trade could furnish, to carry on their six pounds per ton. The Astell, as already trade to China and India. They would observed, was then the only ship which be obliged to take up with such shipping was not paid the war extraordinaries from as they could get, whether it answered voyage to voyage according to the circum- their purpose or not, and subject themstances of the time, and every other ship selves to great inconvenience and difficul'originally engaged at one fixed rate for ty; when they had ships admirably adaptthose extraordinaries having been put on ed to their trade within their reach, and the other footing, why should the same ready to continue in their service at a less reasonable charge be refused to her ? price, even than those of a worse quality, But this and other things which had which the company must take up.
med1 'been mentioned, were of a subordinate It might be very convenient for the nature, and should not occupy too much hon. gentleman to go into details quite of the present discussion. The main ques- beside the question which the general tion, which pressed for immediate consi court had to determine, but he had urged deration was what should be done respect- no one argument which could remove ing the case now submitted to the court ? the court of directors from that broad The proprietors had, in his mind, to chuse ground on which they stood. It was one of two things befure them. They upon the fair and unornamented ground must either discard the ships now in their which he (the Chairman) had candidly service, and sustain in the first iustance, exhibited that this present measure was the inconvenience, of hiring ships not só brought forward by the court of directors. well adapted for the India trade, at a rate They protested against the imputation of of freight formed by the present times, en- any private influence or sinister motives. gaging also new ships in order permanent- It was from their anxiety to preserve this ly to supply the place of those thrown out very system which was so much entitled of the company's employ; or, they must to approbation, that the measure proceedendeavour upon some equitable footing to ed. There was nothing of private influretain the ships actually in the service. ence conceived in it. It was quite imIf they did the first thing—namely, dis- possible to exercise now, such an influcard the ships, insisting also upon the pe- ence as prevailed under the former shipnalties, and prosecuting the owners for ping system, for every owuer acted sepanot sailing their ships, in order to recover rately for himself, and used his own disthe losses which the company might sus- cretion in the contracts he entered into. tain by the breach of their contracts; The court of directors had always been the consequence would be, that they aware, that the return of peace after a would ruin the owners: they would sub- long war, would be likely to produce ject themselves to the necessity of taking such a difficulty as has now actually beup in the first iustance, a class of ships curred. But it was impossible to prevent not adapted to the service, and must pay it. When one permanent rate of peace
if freight This was the real and true state of the after twelve or more years of unintercase ; and without going into a detailed rupted war, the prices of stores must at answer to all the statements and obser- the return of peace be much higher than vations of the hon. gentleman, which nei- they were before the war. "Still this inther time, nor the nature of the subject convenience in the system, and the meawould now allow, he should only rely upou sure to which it now led, were ontweighthis short and real view of the case. The ed by the other great advantages of that
ed the two hours louger upon the bear a loss of six or eight pounds per ton
to the support of the system, now
system. The court of directors were "ac would be the consequence of this ? Many tuated by no motives but those of an in of the owners must be broken down-perdependent impartial consideration of the haps a few of them might sustain the interests of the company, and a reason shock, so as not to be absolutely overset able attention to the interest of those con by it; generally speaking however, the nected with them. This was in one plain consequences must be fatal to their inte sentence the sliort and long of the case. l'estsm-part of them might be affluent The
might have detain men ; but very few of them could well ; same subject, and after the same manner : for four or five : but he could not have altered the fair ar
such a crash as would deter men from gument upon which this case was found coming forward with any new offers that cd. He might have wasted his strength' were not sufficiently high to protect them in the same pursuit, but he could bring in all events, which in other words, would forward no statement-no fact-and no be to raise the standard of peace freight, argument, that could answer or solve the and thus to check the operation of the question now submitted to the court, in principle of free competition, which had any other manner than had been proposed; so much influence in keeping down the and he entreated the proprietary, for their freights. After such an example it could own sake, to consider well, the simple but not be expected that men would be fond, important point to which the question' of venturing upon a permanent rate of was now reduced. One of these things peace freight. But still the objection was they must chuse, whether to continue the if you trench upon the system at all, ships which they now employed upon the you in effect break it down. Now the reasonable terms that might be settled same objection might be made to any sysfor them, or whether they would discard tem founded upon the like principles. them, and resort to such imperfect and But was it because the system was not to casual supplies as other shipping not cal. be followed up into rigorous execution at
for their purpose could afford all times, and under all circumstances, them, in the spur of the moment, and in that therefore, it could not continue an usethe exigency of their affairs. Upon this ful system ; and that those who by soften-.
they ought to exercise a wise and ing an experienced inconvenience in it, sound judgment, and not suffer them were to be held up as destroyers.' of it?: selves to be carried' away by erroneous The very maintenance of the system was statements and fallacious arguments.
connected with a reference to times and. The hon. gentleman talked about the circumstances : for while at one time it mischief that would be done to that sys- might be salutary to enforce its execution ; tem, and the abuses to which the propo
at another, it might be really detrimental sed measure might lead'; he seemed to to it, to carry the exaction of a hard conview with distrust the delegation of any
dition to the utmost extremity. Hence discretion to the directors. No man was it was necessary for the preservation of more anxious than he (the Chairman) was the system, that the company should look to preserve the shipping system as it now to the wonderful alterations which had stood; and nothing would give him great- taken place in the course of the last twen
uneasiness than to see that system'sha- ty years. : To go now to the utmost riken.
devoted too many days and gour which the system allows, withyears
out any respect to that great change, to lend himself to the subversion of it. would be in effect to strike at the practiBut without going into a detail of the me cability of the system. rits of that system, the question was whe Suppose the company granted, the rether, after a long period of twenty years lief now, it would be a relief advantageous of war, in all which the system had been to the company itself--and without enadvantageous to the company, they would dangering the system. It was not proponow resolve on a course of measures,
sed to keep the door perpetually opeu ; it which though they might be represented as
was to be shut as soon as the given speonly an adherence to justice, and to the sys- cific object was attained. This was meretem itself, would in reality, by the ruin it ly a temporary, an experimental arrangewould bring on the owners, prove serious- ment, to relieve the distresses of the ship ly injurious to that system ; for he verily owners in order to procure a permanent believed, that the system would be mate benefit to the company. As to the disrially affected, if the company were to
cretional power which it was objected proceed with such severity against every "this would throw into the hands of the owner, as to say, you must sail with a " directors, it was, as just mentioned, to gone-by rate of freight, and if you do not, be merely temporary, and would by no we will prosecute you for your penalties, means equal that which they had exerand proceed against you for such damages cised through the long period of the war, as the compauy shall have sustained by namely, the power granting allowalices your breach of contract. Why, what' for war contingencies, or extraordinaries,