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year, namely, Mr. Gloworth and Mr. Lyon, whose places he proposed to supply by the election of Mr. Burney and Mr. Hodgkins, late of the Madras Service..
The motion for the election of those gentlemen was then put, and carried unanimously.
SUSPENSION OF AN INDIAN JUDGE.
The CHAIRMAN said, that a gallant Proprietor (Col. Stanhope) had given notice of his intention to bring forward a motion that day, with respect to the case of Mr. Courtenay Smith; but, not seeing the gallant Proprietor in his place, he supposed that he had abandoned his situa tion. The gallant Proprietor had also given notice of another motion relative to the taxation of British subjects in India, under what was commonly called the Stamp Act; but he supposed that the gallant Proprietor was satisfied with what had passed in another place on the subject, and considered the motion unnecessary.
Mr. R. JACKSON asked whether the Court of Directors had received a memorial on this subject from the merchants of Calcutta?
The CHAIRMAN said, the Court had received a memorial, not directly from the merchants of Calcutta, but from persons connected with them in this country.
The Hon. D. KINNAIRD rose to propose a question to the Chairman, which, he was inclined to think, it would afford that gentleman satisfaction to answer. The question referred to an order, which it appeared had emanated from the Court of Directors, and which had occasioned a very strong sensation in India. That order, which was signed Hugh Molony,' had appeared in The Calcutta Government Gazette,' and was dated the 27th of November, 1827. It purported to be an extract from a public letter of the Court of Directors of the 4th of July preceding; and it set forth, that individuals leaving India with an intention to return to that country, would not receive a license from the Court of Directors for that purpose, unless they produced a certificate from the authorities abroad to prove that they had conducted themselves in a manner satisfactory to the Indian Government.
The following was a copy of the official notification by the Bengal Government, regarding certificates of conduct in India :
'Fort William-General Department, Nov. 20, 1827.
'The Right Honourable the Governor-General in Council is pleased to direct that the following extract (paragraphs 18 to 20) from a public General Letter from the Hon. the Court of Directors, dated July 11, 1827, be published for general information. Certificates of the nature alluded to by the Honourable Court, in the extract in question, will be granted to individuals proceeding to Europe, on their applying for the same to the Secretary of Government in the General Department.
18. Applications are from time to time made to us by parties who have returned from India, for leave to proceed again to that country, for the purpose either of following the pursuits in which they originally embarked, or of settling the affairs which have grown out of their former engagements.
19. It frequently occurs, that the parties in question are unable to produce any document, showing that their conduct has been satisfactory to the Authorities under whom they have resided.
20. We, therefore, desire that you will take measures for announc、
ing to all parties who are residing under your Presidency, either with our permission, or with that of your Government, and who may return to Europe, that, in the event of their making application for permission to proceed again to India, we shall require them to produce proof of their having conducted themselves to the satisfaction of your Govern
'By order of the Rt. Hon. the Governor-General in Council, 'E. MOLONY, Acting Secretary to the Government.' This order, he believed, was intended to have a very limited application, and grew out of the circumstance of persons having applied for leave to return to India from whom the Company could obtain no proof that they had ever been there; but, the regulation having been promulgated in a general manner in India, it had very reasonably caused a great impression. It was felt that every gentleman about to leave India, with the intention of returning, would be compelled to sue to obtain, as it were, a verdict of Not Guilty' in his favour. The regulation likewise placed in the hands of Government a formidable power, since it authorised them to prevent the return of any person to India whom they might consider a troublesome fellow, because he had offered a pertinacious opposition to their measures, or might have been the abettor of that horrid crime in India-free publication. He trusted that the Chairman would give some explanation on this subject.
The CHAIRMAN observed, that it was impossible for him to say what impressions the order in question had produced on the minds of people in India. He could only answer as to the fact, that the Court of Directors had ordered the Indian Government to promulgate the regulation in question. The Court was aware that no person could proceed to India without the consent of the Court of Directors and the Board of Control, and that before he obtained such consent he must enter into a covenant to conduct himself in India as a good and faithful subject. If he fulfilled the terms of the covenant, where could be the difficulty or the hardship of obtaining proof of the fact? This rule was made for persons who were not of this class. It was notorious that many persons got out to India without leave from the Home Authorities, and it was as well known, that, notwithstanding this irregularity, they were permitted to remain, if they did not conduct themselves offensively, or, if the Honourable Proprietor pleased, become 'troublesome fellows.' The Court of Directors had a right to know how individuals had conducted themselves in India before they permitted them to return. No honest man need be under the slightest apprehension that the rule would affect him. The Court of Directors could not be responsible for the impressions which the regula tion had made in India. In framing it, they had only exercised the discretion which the Act of Parliament confided to them, and he thought they had exercised it wisely. (Hear!)
Mr. R. JACKSON thought the wording of the order was not sufficiently precise, and that it left parties too much at the discretion of the Indian Authorities. Conduct which might be satisfactory to one Government, another would deprecate and punish.
Sir C. FORBES was of opinion, that, so long as the law authorised the Court of Directors to refuse any person permission to proceed to India, it was but reasonable, and could be considered no hardship, that individuals wishing to return to that country should produce proof that they had executed the covenant by which they had bound themselves. He could not conceive, that any gentleman, on quitting India, could have the
slightest objection to apply for a certificate of his good conduct. He had heard it argued that there should be no restriction on the intercourse between this country and India: that he considered to be a question of vital importance, affecting the very existence of India as a colony. He would not, on this occasion, pronounce an opinion on the subject. (Hear!)
Mr. WIGRAM said that the wording of the order appeared to have been misunderstood. It did not require parties to produce certificates before the Court of Directors, but only reasonable proof.
Mr. D. KINNAIRD said, his object had been answered by the explanation which had taken place, and he wished not to press the matter further.
BURNING OF HINDOO WIDOWS.
Mr. R. JACKSON, who, with Mr. Poynder, had formally notified his intention to the Court of Directors to submit to the General Court á motion on the subject of Suttees, called the attention of the Proprietors to it in a very brief speech. Having alluded to the cruel waste of human life consequent on these barbarous sacrifices, he concluded by moving, That the Court of Directors be requested to lay before the Proprietors all proceedings which have taken place, and all the information they may have obtained, with respect to the burning of Hindoo widows, since the resolution of the General Court of the 27th of March, 1827, calling on them to adopt such means as appear best calculated to put an end to that horrible practice.'
The CHAIRMAN said, that, in consequence of the resolution of the Court of Proprietors in March last, the Court of Directors had transmitted two letters to the Governments of Bombay and Bengal, urging them, respectively, to use their best exertions towards the suppression of the practice of Suttees. There had not been sufficient time to receive an answer to those letters.
The letters were then read by the Clerk.
Captain MAXFIELD expressed a hope that no prejudices in this country would be powerful enough to drive the Company to interfere in a violent manner with the prejudices of the Natives of India.
Mr. D. KINNAIRD also deprecated the adoption of any violent
Mr. S. DIXON said, the Court ought not, with regard to this question, to seek any favour with people out of doors.
Mr. POYNDER complained that the Court of Directors had not communicated to the Indian Government the resolution of the Court of Di rectors of March, 1827. It was likewise remarkable, that no report of the debate which preceded the adoption of that resolution was given in 'The Calcutta Gazette,' which, on other occasions, invariably noticed all matters that occurred in England that had reference to India. This paper, however, though it contained no report of the day's debate in that Court, published a paragraph respecting it, which purported to be a translation from Native paper. The paragraph was as follows:
'On the 28th of March of the present English year, in a meeting at the East India House in England, one Mr. Poynder made a proposal to put a stop to the burning of widows; and it was his wish that authority should be invested in the Bengal Government wholly to abolish that practice. Against this proposal of Mr. Poynder, Colonel Stanhope observed, "We need not meddle with the religious practices of the Hindoos; this custom has been in vogue among them for a long course of
time, and what necessity is there at present for its discontinuance?" Four or five other persons (Directors) of the meeting were of the same opinion; two only endeavoured to have the practice abolished, and the subject was therefore postponed to be considered at some future meeting.
'We are divided between joy and regret on hearing this news: we are exceedingly glad that any measures for the discontinuance of concremation were prevented by Colonel Stanhope and other gentlemen of his opinion; and we feel sorrow that there should be any gentlemen inclined to interfere with a custom which is consonant to our Sastras, and which we have practised for a great length of time without interruption. As we trust that our religious institutes will never be opposed while we are under the subjection of the equitable and glorious King of England, we imagine that the subject of abolishing concremation, which has been now stopped, will not be agitated again.'
The most learned authorities in this country had informed him that this paragraph could not be a translation from the Native language, and therefore he supposed it had been fabricated for the purpose of doing injury to the cause of humanity.
The CHAIRMAN admitted that the resolution of the Court of Proprie tors had not been transmitted to India; but those who had heard the letters of the Court of Directors read, must be aware that the substance of the resolution had been stated in them. Nobody, he thought, could doubt that it was the most anxious desire of the Directors to adopt all safe and practicable measures for putting an end to the revolting practice complained of. (Hear, hear!) With respect to The Calcutta Gazette,' he begged to state, that that paper was not under the control of the Indian Government or the Court of Directors. He was sorry, however, that it had not done justice to the Hon. Member's speech. (A laugh.)
The original motion was then withdrawn, and the letters of the Court of Directors were ordered to be printed for the use of the Proprietors.
CAPTAIN PRESCOTT'S CASE.
Sir C. FORBES rose to call the attention of the Court to the case of Captain Prescott, which appeared to him to be one of peculiar hardship. He was not about to find fault with the proceedings that had taken place on the subject. The Court of Directors were, he thought, bound to take the measures which they adopted. He gave them all possible credit for their good intentions. He must also admit that it appeared to him to be chiefly by Captain Prescott's own proceedings that he was placed in the situation in which he at present stood. It was the extreme anxiety of Captain Prescott to stand well in the opinion, not of his colleagues only, but also of the Proprietors and the public generally, that had induced him to make a declaration in that Court, which, perhaps, was not called for. Captain Prescott having been brought to trial, and acquitted by a special Jury of his countrymen, after a full and patient investigation, he conceived that, up to that moment, his character should have been con sidered as cleared from all imputation of a criminal nature. (Hear, hear !) If Captain Prescott had been guilty of a want of due caution and pru dence in some of his proceedings, God forbid they should be disposed to punish him severely on that ground! It appeared to him that Captain Prescott had already been sufficiently punished: even if he had been guilty of all that was laid to his charge, he could not have suffered a punishment more severe than he had already endured, from the agitation
and distress of mind in which he had been kept during the last fourteen months. (Hear!) He allowed that all that was inevitable. Up to the period of the trial and acquittal, he might lament, but could not blame, the proceedings which had taken place. He was not sufficiently in possession of the circumstances that had occurred since the trial, to warrant him in blaming the Court of Directors. He, however, understood that a resolution had been come to in the Court of Directors, on what particular grounds he did not know, to withhold from Captain Prescott, for a certain period, his usual share of patronage. It might be that this resolution was grounded on the declaration of the gallant Director, that he deserved to stand well in the opinion of the Proprietors before he received his patronage. He (Sir C. Forbes) considered that a declaration of that nature was uncalled for, after the gallant Director had been tried and honourably acquitted. At all events, the papers relating to the case Captain Prescott himself seconded the motion for printing them) had now been a considerable time before the Court; and he thought, that, considering the extreme sufferings of the gallant Director, it would be an act of humanity to step forward in order to rescue him from his present situation. (Hear, hear!) It was the general opinion, that the gallant Captain, having been acquitted, ought to be restored to all his rights and privileges. He conceived there could be no objection to the motion which he was about to make. He came forward on the present occasion purely on public grounds, though, if it were necessary, he could bear testimony to the private worth of Captain Prescott. He could, from his knowledge, state, that no man could display more kindness and benevolence in the distribution of his patronage than Captain Prescott. No Member of the Court of Directors was so entirely disinterested in its distribution. Captain Prescott had been in the habit of bestowing his writerships and cadetships on the sons of his brother commanders. He had constantly yielded to the applications of widows, and of the guardians of orphans. (Hear!) He believed, that, in Captain Prescott's recommendatory list, the name of a single lord or lady was not to be found. He believed that the Gallant Director was perfectly unconscious of the abuse which undoubtedly had taken place. A more honourable, kind-hearted, and benevolent man than Captain Prescott did not exist. He had known him for upwards of thirty years, and first at Bombay as Commander of the Charlotte. There his character was that of a good-natured fellow, always willing to oblige, though, perhaps, somewhat volatile, and inclined to say more than he really meant; but that he could ever be guilty intentionally of a dishonourable act, he believed to be perfectly untrue. Under these circumstances, he begged to submit to the favourable consideration of the Court a resolution which he had drawn up. He requested all who heard him to judge of Captain Prescott as they would be judged of themselves. All were liable to errors; all were sometimes guilty of a want of prudence and caution; and God forbid that such offence should be punished with severity! Let them do towards others as they would expect to be done to themselves. (Hear, hear!) He concluded by moving That the Court of Proprietors do fully approve of the measures adopted by the Court of Directors in bringing the recent case of abuse of patronage before a legal tribunal; and, although Captain Prescott appears to have acted incautiously and imprudently, yet, having been acquitted by the verdict of a Jury of the charge against him, and the Court of Proprietors being also satisfied that he was not actuated by any corrupt motives, they are not disposed to withdraw their confidence from him as a Member of the Direction.