Reference > Quotations > S. Austin Allibone, comp. > Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay
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S. Austin Allibone, comp.  Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay.  1880.
 
East India Company
 
  With regard, therefore, to the abuse of the external federal trust, I engage myself to you to make good these three positions. First, I say, that from Mount Imaus (or whatever else you call that large range of mountains that walls the northern frontier of India), where it touches us in the latitude of twenty-nine, to Cape Comorin, in the latitude of eight, that there is not a single prince, state, or potentate, great or small, in India, with whom they have come into contact, whom they have not sold: I say sold, though sometimes they have not been able to deliver according to their bargain. Secondly, I say, that there is not a single treaty they have ever made which they have not broken. Thirdly, I say, that there is not a single prince or state, who ever put any trust in the Company, who is not utterly ruined; and that none are in any degree secure or flourishing, but in the exact proportion to their settled distrust and irreconcilable enmity to this nation.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Mr. Fox’s East India Bill, Dec. 1, 1783.    
  1
 
  The invariable course of the Company’s policy is this: either they set up some prince too odious to maintain himself without the necessity of their assistance, or they soon render him odious by making him the instrument of their government. In that case troops are bountifully sent to him to maintain his authority. That he should have no want of assistance, a civil gentleman, called a Resident, is kept at his court, who, under pretence of providing duly for the pay of these troops, gets assignments on the revenue into his hands. Under his provident management, debts soon accumulate; new assignments are made for these debts; until, step by step, the whole revenue, and with it the whole power of the country, is delivered into his hands. The military do not behold without a virtuous emulation the moderate gains of the civil department. They feel that in a country driven to habitual rebellion by the civil government the military is necessary; and they will not permit their services to go unrewarded. Tracts of country are delivered over to their discretion. Then it is found proper to convert their commanding officers into farmers of revenue. Thus, between the well-paid civil and well-rewarded military establishment, the situation of the natives may be easily conjectured. The authority of the regular and lawful government is everywhere and in every point extinguished. Disorders and violences arise; they are repressed by other disorders and other violences. Wherever the collectors of the revenue and the farming colonels and majors move, ruin is about them, rebellion before and behind them. The people in crowds fly out of the country; and the frontier is guarded by lines of troops, not to exclude an enemy, but to prevent the escape of the inhabitants.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Mr. Fox’s East India Bill, Dec. 1, 1783.    
  2
 
  These intended rebellions are one of the Company’s standing resources. When money has been thought to be heaped up anywhere, its owners are universally accused of rebellion, until they are acquitted of their money and their treasons at once. The money once taken, all accusation, trial, and punishment ends. It is so settled a resource, that I rather wonder how it comes to be omitted in the Directors’ account; but I take it for granted this omission will be supplied in their next edition.  3
  The Company stretched this resource to the full extent when they accused two old women in the remotest corner of India (who could have no possible view or motive to raise disturbances) of being engaged in rebellion, with an intent to drive out the English nation, in whose protection, purchased by money and secured by treaty, rested the sole hope of their existence. But the Company wanted money, and the old women must be guilty of a plot. They were accused of rebellion, and they were convicted of wealth. Twice had great sums been extorted from them, and as often had the British faith guaranteed the remainder. A body of British troops, with one of the military farmers-general at their head, was sent to seize upon the castle in which these helpless women resided. Their chief eunuchs, who were their agents, their guardians, protectors, persons of high rank according to the Eastern manners, and of great trust, were thrown into dungeons, to make them discover their bidden treasures, and there they lie at present. The lands assigned for the maintenance of the women were seized and confiscated. Their jewels and effects were taken, and set up to a pretended auction in an obscure place, and bought at such a price as the gentlemen thought proper to give. No account has ever been transmitted of the articles or produce of this sale. What money was obtained is unknown, or what terms were stipulated for the maintenance of these despoiled and forlorn creatures; for by some particulars it appears as if an engagement of the kind was made.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Mr. Fox’s East India Bill, Dec. 1, 1783.    
  4
 
  It is only to complete the view I proposed of the conduct of the Company with regard to the dependent provinces, that I shall say any thing at all of the Carnatic, which is the scene, if possible, of greater disorder than the northern provinces. Perhaps it were better to say of this centre and metropolis of abuse, whence all the rest in India and in England diverge, from whence they are fed and methodized, what was said of Carthage, “De Carthagine satius est silere quam parum dicere.” This country, in all its denominations, is about 46,000 square miles. It may be affirmed, universally, that not one person of substance or property, landed, commercial, or moneyed, excepting two or three bankers, who are necessary deposits and distributors of the general spoil, is left in all that region. In that country, the moisture, the bounty of Heaven, is given but at a certain season. Before the era of our influence, the industry of man carefully husbanded that gift of God. The Gentoos preserved, with a provident and religious care, the precious deposit of the periodical rain in reservoirs, many of them works of royal grandeur; and from these, as occasion demanded, they fructified the whole country. To maintain these reservoirs, and to keep up an annual advance to the cultivators for seed and cattle, formed a principal object of the piety and policy of the priests and rulers of the Gentoo religion.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Mr. Fox’s East India Bill, Dec. 1, 1783.    
  5
 
  The menial servants of Englishmen, persons (to use the emphatical phrase of a ruined and patient Eastern chief) “whose fathers they would not have set with the dogs of their flock”, entered into their patrimonial lands. Mr. Hastings’s banian was, after this auction, found possessed of territories yielding a rent of one hundred and forty thousand pounds a year.  6
  Such an universal proscription, upon any pretence, has few examples. Such a proscription, without even a pretence of delinquency, has none. It stands by itself. It stands as a monument to astonish the imagination, to confound the reason of mankind. I confess to you, when I first came to know this business in its true nature and extent, my surprise did a little suspend my indignation. I was in a manner stupefied by the desperate boldness of a few obscure young men, who, having obtained, by ways which they could not comprehend, a power of which they saw neither the purposes nor the limits, tossed about, subverted, and tore to pieces, as if it were in the gambols of a boyish unluckiness and malice, the most established rights, and the most ancient and revered institutions, of ages and nations.
Edmund Burke: Speech on Mr. Fox’s East India Bill, Dec. 1, 1783.    
  7
 
  Whilst the Directors were digesting their astonishment at this information, a memorial was presented to them from three gentlemen, informing them that their friends had lent, likewise, to merchants of Canton in China, a sum of not more than one million sterling. In this memorial they called upon the Company for their assistance and interposition with the Chinese government for the recovery of the debt. This sum lent to Chinese merchants was at twenty-four per cent., which would yield, if paid, an annuity of two hundred and forty thousand pounds.  8
  Perplexed as the Directors were with these demands, you may conceive, Sir, that they did not find themselves much disembarrassed by being made acquainted that they must again exert their influence for a new reserve of the happy parsimony of their servants, collected into a second debt from the Nabob of Arcot, amounting to two millions four hundred thousand pounds, settled at an interest of twelve per cent.
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Nabob of Arcot’s Debts, Feb. 28, 1785.    
  9
 
  Against misgovernment such as then afflicted Bengal it was impossible to struggle. The superior intelligence and energy of the dominant class made their power irresistible. A war of Bengalees against Englishmen was like a war of sheep against wolves, of men against demons. The only protection which the conquered could find was in the moderation, the clemency, the enlarged policy of the conquerors. That protection, at a later period, they found. But at first English power came among them unaccompanied by English morality. There was an interval between the time at which they became our subjects and the time at which we began to reflect that we were bound to discharge towards them the duties of rulers. During that interval the business of a servant of the Company was simply to wring out of the natives a hundred or two hundred thousand pounds as speedily as possible, that he might return home before his constitution had suffered from the heat, to marry a peer’s daughter, to buy rotten boroughs in Cornwall, and to give balls in St. James’s Square.
Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay: Warren Hastings, Oct. 1841.    
  10
 
 
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