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We are aware that undertakings have been, and perhaps may continue to be, too gigantic for individual wealth or enterprise; and that therefore it has been found necessary, and highly beneficial, to unite the energies and capabilities of several hands and heads. Yet even in this particular, we are witnesses to the most extraordinary revolutions. Individual wealth, and individual enterprise, seem equal, at this day, to grasp what would have been considered, fifty years ago, as only practicable under the collective wealth and enterprise of half a nation. And with the progress of this physical and moral power, there is fortunately a very fair proportion of liberality and intelligence mixed up;-in all, except in the corporate body, the monopoly, of which we are speaking, which remains a solitary and living evidence of an establishment, perhaps essentially necessary for forming our early intercourse with the East; but which, in the progress of time, and the change of circumstances, has become a bulwark positively opposed to the advancement of that very commerce which it was the means of creating.
The glaring evil of the East India monopoly does not consist so much in the formation of the body itself, as in the narrow and selfish views which the monopolists have imbibed from the long enjoyment of their exclusive advantages. Having gained almost all they wanted at the very commencement of their undertaking, they never afterwards entertained the most distant idea of sharing any part of their superabundance with the community on which they fattened. They strove with might to hold fast what they obtained; they continued to grasp at every thing that came in their way; and we believe them, at this moment, to be busy at their old work, of seeking how to preserve their original ground, without a thought of conceding a single point to the general wishes and interests of the na
Originally a trading Company, this body suddenly found itself enabled to form territorial possessions, and to exercise, what may be termed a sovereign power, in the East,-things which were neither in the contemplation of Government, or of the Company, when their commercial rights were first conferred. Thus general trade and commerce became subordinate to local territory and local revenue; and the ostensible purposes for which the Company had been formed, were lost sight of amidst the power and consequence which such territorial acquisitions were naturally calculated to confer. It is scarcely matter of surprise, therefore, that, in 1793, the Company, possessing as they did some practical knowledge of the value of their Eastern acquisitions, should, by false colouring, and by predicting the most fatal consequences as the inevitable result of any change of system, have succeeded in blinding Government and the country, and intimidating them from the hazard of any alteration. But even at this early stage of their history, we find that a feeling prevailed against the extent of their exclusive privileges; and accordingly the Company very skilfully evaded the call for a free trade, by engaging to furnish a portion of tonnage for the
commerce of private merchants to and from India; but no sooner was this regulation established, than it was discovered to be totally nugatory, and inapplicable, to any useful extent, to the purposes for which it was intended! Whether this was an accident, or a skilful ruse, it is unnecessary, at this time of day, to inquire. It is sufficient to state the simple fact, that it secured the undivided monopoly for twenty years more, in spite of a very obvious-unacknowledged necessity for a change.
When the charter of the Company was about to expire, in 1812, the public opinion was manifested more strongly, and the importance and good policy of a free trade were advocated with greater power. Still the previous reasoning of the Company was resorted to. In place of a bold and candid tone, and a generous and manly concession to the opinions and demands of the nation, we find them defending, with tenacious pertinacity, the most insignificant of those rights which the charter originally gave. The absolute ruin of our Eastern possessions was confidently predicted, as well as the failure of those advantages which were anticipated on the opening of a free trade. The waters were out,' however, against them; and when they found that the firmness and determination of Government were not to be overruled, they then grasped at the concentration of East India commerce within their own precincts, called in every local aid to secure their object,— and boldly maintained a most extraordinary doctrine,—that the concentration of the trade in the port of London alone, was scarcely less essential to the interests of the nation at large, than it was to the very existence of the trade itself. On this, the out-ports very naturally took alarm, and opposed so singular a position with such strength and force of reasoning, as at once set the question at rest to the satisfaction of Ministers; and, had the advocates of the outports possessed the same practical knowledge of the China trade as they did of the India trade, there is little doubt but they would have emancipated the whole commerce of the East from its last and remaining disgraceful shackle. Unfortunately, it was overlooked; and the monopoly of the trade to China still exists,-almost the last and only spot that dims the general splendour of our commercial horizon.
The same train of reasoning that was formerly used against any modification of the charter, or to the partial admission to the India trade, will, of course, be resorted to by the advocates of the Company, in opposing the establishment of a free trade to China. They will tell us of the peculiar policy of the Chinese,-of the skilful conduct of their servants, of their own influence as a body,-of the danger of an interference by strangers with the singular people of that country, and these, and many other arguments peculiar to themselves, they will wind up by informing us of all the ruin and misery which are introduced into the world by rash and violent innovations, founded on theory,' whereas they alone are qualified,
by' dear-bought experience,' to speak sensibly on the subject. But this has too long been seen through to be again received.
Of the power and the policy of the Chinese, we have given an ample account in our preceding Numbers; and, with regard to the miseries which the Company invariably have predicted, as the inevitable consequences of any innovation on their system, or of any modification of their privileges, we should think that a sufficient answer is to be found in the total failure of all their prognostications, as to the fate of a free trade to India when that question was mooted. Then, as they will do now, they descended to a strain of argument which was unworthy of any intelligent man, arguments that the test of experience has rendered ridiculous in the eyes of the nation; they ventured, on the most unqualified assertions, to establish the certain fatality of any change,-the most probable of which have never been realised. On the contrary, in as far as they have ever predicted any mischief, an effect directly the reverse has invariably taken place, far surpassing the most sanguine expectations. The worst of all inferences must be drawn from the arguments and statements which the East India Company have ever thought it proper to shield themselves under. We are bound to believe, seeing that the results and advantages of a partial opening of the trade to India have turned out the very opposite of what they predicted, that their judgment was warped by the considerations of their own peculiar interests; and that, while they pretended to speak their serious opinions on the dangers of any change in their system, they were advancing that which they did not themselves believe, and which the experience of twelve years has flatly contradicted. But whatever may have been the causes of their opposition to a free trade,-whether they had their origin in an aberration of judgment, or in the feeling that the preservation of their own patronage directed them to defend the monopoly by any, and by every means, and in defiance of the national voice, we are prepared to hear the whole story over again as relates to the trade with China; and we know that nothing ever has, or ever will be, obtained from them, but through the firmness of Government, aided and supported by the co-operation of the enlightened part of the commercial world.
We are not ignorant that, at one time, such places as Chusan, Nimpo, Tywan, Amay, &c., were open to our commerce; and a reference to the locality of these places will show them to be situate among the most fertile and populous provinces of China. They are now to us as places having no existence on the face of the earth; they are lost to British enterprise, through the very singular proceedings of the East India Company; and the only reasons that we can find for abandoning these ports are, that certain nameless difficulties rendered it a matter of necessity.' The truth, however, is, that the Company, knowing there was no power of interference with her exclusive privileges at that time in existence, and that they
could do whatever pleased them best, confined their commerce to one port, namely, Canton, merely because it had the effect of reducing their expenses. They found that in Canton they could get as much tea as it suited their own convenience to take, and they became indifferent to the produce of the other ports, and abandoned them. The large profits arising on the tea trade, rendered it a matter of policy with them to prevent its supply from spreading too widely; and they considered that the supply of British manufactures in the East was a matter of little consequence to them, because the profits upon such manufactures were comparatively small. Indeed, we believe that, had there not been positive stipulations requiring the exportation of a portion of British goods annually, the small quantity that may be sent out to China at present must have ceased entirely long before this time. Their territorial possessions in India furnished them with a sufficient revenue for their investments in China; and the introduction of British goods became, consequently, rather inimical to their interests there. They, in fact, required no more British goods in China, than, when sold, and joined to their surplus revenue from India, were just sufficient to pay for such a quantity of tea as it pleased them to take away. And as they found what they wanted at Canton, it became a matter of saving to them to confine their operations to that port; and hence the abandonment of all the rest, to the exclusion of any other British merchant, and the entire rule to themselves of the trade in tea. Had the other ports been left open to British enterprise, it is no bold thing to affirm that our trade with China would, at this time, have been as many millions annually as it is now thousands.
Being satisfied ourselves, and having, we trust, satisfied our readers, that little or nothing is to be expected from the East India Company in the way of concession to the mercantile interests of this country, or of any alteration or improvement in our commerce with the East, we may be permitted to go into an examination of the value of the importations from China to Great Britain, and the value of our exportations to China; and, by contrasting these with the American trade, we think we shall be able to show, that, in all we have said on the monopolising and selfish policy of the Company, there has neither been exaggeration nor distortion of fact. The principal article of our commerce with China, namely, tea, is perhaps more singular in its history than any other article of commerce in the known world. A simple and unsophisticated shrub, in little more than half a century, has become an article of such general consumption, that it seems to form one of the prime articles of existence among the great bulk of mankind. It is the peculiar growth of a country, of which it forms almost the only link of connection with the rest of the world. It forms the source of the largest commercial revenue to the British Government of any other commodity whatever, and of the largest commercial profits to the individuals concerned in its importation. Withal, it is the
simplest, the most harmless thing, that ever was offered to the gratification of man,-having, it is believed and argued by many, a moral influence wherever it is diffused. It is the rallying point of our earliest associations; it has ever given an additional charm to our firesides; and tends, perhaps, more than any one thing, to confirm the pre-existing domestic habits of the British public. Its exhilirating qualities are eagerly sought after as a restorative and solace from the effects of fatigue or dissipation; the healthy and the sick, the young and the old, all equally resort to the use of it, as yielding all the salutary influence of strong liquors, without their baneful and pernicious effects. Yet this shrub, so simple and so useful, is delivered to the community of this country, so surcharged with duties and profits beyond its original cost, that, did it contain all the mischievous qualities that are opposed to its real virtues, it could not be more strictly guarded from general use.
Another article, but one of secondary consideration in our importations from China, is raw silk. There is an extensive and increasing demand for it in Great Britain; and, like tea, it appears capable of any extent of cultivation in China, that the demand for it may require. Like tea, again, the heavy duties imposed upon its importation operate as a prohibition on its general use; but, should a time arrive when our Government may consider it expedient' to remove these duties, we may safely anticipate the most important benefits from its introduction. The superiority, or rather the perfection of our machinery, when put to use on an abundant and cheap supply of silk, would, in all probability, give us the superiority in all the branches of this manufacture, both as regards quality and cheap
Nankeen may be noticed as a third and last article of importation from China; but the consumption of it has so much diminished in Europe, that it merits only a very slight degree of consideration. Our observations, indeed, on the importations from China, may be strictly limited to the article of tea; and, for the whole of our imports, including factory expenses and commission, the original cost in that country amounts to the sum of two millions Sterling, This is wonderfully increased before the British public can have any access to the article of consumption; thus :
1. The value of the Company's importations from
2. On this they charge 100 per cent, for their own
3. And the Government duty, as by law established,
is equal to the original cost, and the profits