Imatges de pàgina


and I agree with the director, that it is absurd to suppose it ever could be intended. In foreign trade, the firmaun grants us an exemption from duties ; in inland trade it leaves us upon a footing with the natives of the country. Paying such duties as were established by the nabob, and taking his duftuck or pafs, the English might trade in it, equally with his own fub. jects.

• Such orders from the company, upon this' subject, as were in being, at the time of my arrival, did not contradict this opi-" nion, nor give me the least authority to take away from the fubjects a benefit, which they had enjoyed in the time of both my predeceflors, lord Clive and Mr. Holwell. I looked upon it, as a matter, already determined, by long prescription, that whatever inhabitant of Calcutta, company's servant, or other, had paid the nabob's duties at Hoogly, upon his producing the receipt and the pass, from the proper office there, had a right to go on with his trade.

* Large purchases of salt were made in the company's lands, as well in the districts of Calcutta, as in those of Burdwan and Midnapore ; upon this also the nabob's duties were paid at Hoogly, because it was an intand trade, wherein I thought we could claim no preference, over the people of the country.

• This was the distinction I always understood, and explained myfelf upon, very fully on many occafions, particularly in my letter from Mongheer, of the 15th of December 1762. Minute in consultation of the ift of February 1763, further minute 15th of February 1763, further minute ift of March 1763. In my disent from that article of Mr. Amyatt's infructions, which required him to infitt upon Meer Coflim's admitting an unlimited right of trading custom-free; and finally, in my diffent from that article in the subsequent treaty with Meer Jaffier,

• But paying the nabob's duties, and trading under his paffport, I did not conceive this practice to be any infringement of the company's orders. The most recent instructions I could find, were in a letter of the year 1748; the terms of which, as well as I remember, were far from being conclusive any farther, than that it was a trade not to be carried on as a firmaun privilege, exempt from customs to the country government.

I searched carefully for later, and more particular orders, but could find nơne, and knowing that the trade had been openly carried on, by numbers, ever since the appointment of Meer Juffier, with which the company could not be unacquainted, I regarded it as a right established by coftom and prescription. I had no conception, that some should be permitted to follow it, and others be restrained, and therefore I prohibited no company's servant, ror other inhabitant from this trade; and

I traded

I traded in it, equally myself, nor at this day can I see any reafon, why the servants of the company should be restrained from, dealing in this trade, upon a footing of equality with the peo-, ple of the country. Had I thought otherwise, and wished to put a stop to the trade, it would have been utterly out of my power. No example nor orders of mine could have prevailed, where we have seen that the council were unanimous. (only one gentleman excepted) in declaring a full right to this, trade, free, as derived to us from the firmaun.

I am aware, that it will be said, the duties we paid to the nabob were by do means equal to what was paid by the peo-, ple of the country : this is undoubtedly true, but I knew not, what the people of the country paid, till I went up to Mongheer, two years after my arrival in Bengal. The duty we paid at Hoogly was two and a half per cent, on the price fixed in the nabob's pass, which price being always considerably above the real cost, brought it to about four and a half sicca rupees per 100 maunds of falt, as rated in consultation ift. of March 1763.. This was the duty that had been required by the nabob's officers, from the first beginning of this trade, in the year 1758; receiving this duty they gave the pass, and no objection was made as to the rate of duty, till the year 1762. Complaints were made at different times, that the gentlemen at foine of the factories would pay no doties, and that their agents or gomaftahs were guilty of oppreffions, which I endeavoured as much as I could to redress; but as to the rate of duties, I was not fenfible of any neceffity for an alteration, till the time be. fore- mentioned.

• The complaints of the country merchants to Meer Coflim, of the advantage we had over them, in this trade, were stronga ly urged by Meer Colfim to me, upon my arrival at Mongheer, in December 1762 ; and as it was my wish to establish an uni. verfal equality in a trade, which confifted chiefly in the necesa faries of life, I readily agreed in the duty, which he proposed of nine, per cent, and which was the fame the Muffulmen mer. chaots paid.

Enquiring afterwards, in my way down the river, from the agents, which I met upon their passage up, with several Meets of boats belonging to the country merchants, I found the duties demanded from them at feveral places, amounted to above 25 rupees per too maunds, which, reckoning the falt at 80 rupees per 100 maunds, would be 20 per ceni, upon the coft. Regarding this as an impofition and extortion of the collectors, or of the zemindars of the districts, bordering upon the river, (since the nabob himself had computed the duties only at 9 per cent.) I represented the cate to him, and recommended to him

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to free the merchants in general from such a variety of demands by receiving from them, as from us, a reasonable rate of cuf. toms, in one place only.

But in these my endeavours, to establish a general equality, in this trade, I was assisted by only one of the council, Mr. Hastings; the rest of the gentlemen opposed it violently, infisting, that by the firmaun we had a right to deal in this trade custom-free, as well as in the foreign trade; and accordingly Mr. Amyatt, upon his deputation to Meer Coffim, was positively enjoined in his instructions to claim this right, and then to tell the nabob he should be allowed two and a half per cent. upon salt as an indulgence; in exact conformity to the plan proposed by Major Carnac, in his minute of the ift. of March.

• Thus founded, I say it was the abuse of this trade, the claiming it as a firmaun privilege, duty-free, that was “ one of the real causes of the war;" for I must agree with director, that “ to insist upon carrying on the inland trade, paying two and a quarter per cent. was the same in effect as infift. ing upon the subah's consent to the ruin of himself and all his subjects,” especially when it is confidered thai this was to be on salt only, while the natives were to pay largely on all articles:

• I have mentioned what orders of the company, in relation to this trade, existed in Bengal at the time of my arrival, none more recent than 1748; and although it was well known to have come into frequent and continual practice, from the year 1758, no other orders were received on the subject, until those which the director mentions, dated the 8th of February 1764, and received in Bengal in August or September following. As I have no copy by me, and do not particularly recollect the terms of those orders, I Mall suppose they were such as the director ftates them, and enjoined pofitively, that a stop should be put to the inland trade in falt; but these orders could not serve for our government, before we were poffeised of them; and when they arrived, two or three very strong circumstances came under the confideration of the governor and the council, along with them, as being circumstances the directors were unacquainted with, when they wrote the order. These were, the war with Meer Cossim, his defeat and expulsion, and the appointment of Meer Jaffier, who in his treaty had contented expressly, that the English might trade free of customs, in all ar. ticles, excepting falt; upon which two and a half per cent. was to be paid at Hoogly.

? About the same time that the company's before-mentioned order arrived, Meer Jaffier came to Calcutta, and having found great losses and inconveniencies from this article of the treaty, (from which it will be remembered, that Mr. Hastings and I

diffented) the board had upon his representations agreed to take the subject of the inland trade into fresh confideration, and waving the right, which by this treaty they had acquired, to establish such limitations and restrictions, in concert with the nabob, as that it should neither be oppreffive to the natives, nor hurtful to the nabob's revenue.

• Such a plan was actually completed, some time in the month of October, and the director has no doubt read it upon the face of the consultations. All the distant branches of this trade were cut off to prevent the oppressions which were committed by the agents and gomastahs, in those places, where no authority of the company was present to restrain them. All Europeans were forbid to go up the country; and, in mort, such regulations were made as promised all the wished for good effects.

But just as we were issuing the orders, to enforce these regulations, the ship Success arrived (the 27th of October 1764, or thereabouts) with a letter from the court of directors, dated in May, in which we were told that lord Clive, and the select committee, would have powers to regulate the inland trade.'

Mr. V. next labours to clear himself from all suspicion of a wilful and interested breach of the company's orders, and is very severe upon the proceedings of the select committee. He reproaches them with having eltablished a monopoly, • in my opioion (says he) of the most injurious nature. I have my information from an advertisement, which, as it was affixed by way of proclamation, in all the public places of the settlement, is, I suppose, in the hands of every body, but I will just recite the preamble, as a proof of what I have alleged.

Calcutta, 12 August, 1765, ADVERTISE M E N T. " The honourable the court of directors, having thought proper to send out particular orders for limiting the inlaod trade in the articles of salt, betel nut, and tobacco, the same is now to be carried on, in conformity to those orders, by a public society of proprietors, to be formed for that purpose, and an exclusive right to the trade of those articles will be vested in this fociety, by an authority derived from the company, and from the nabob; all manner of persons, dependent on the honourable company's government, are hereby ftrialy prohibited from dealing, in any respect, directly or indirectly, in the articles of salt, betel-nut, or tobacco, from the date hereof; that is to Lay, that they shall not enter into any new engagements, un L 4


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lefs as contractors, either for the purchase or sale of the articles with the society of trade."

Mr. V. considers the present nabob as a mere tool of the company; for he actually iffued orders to all the zemindars of the country to attend at Calcutta, and enter into bond to trade in salt only with the committee. Our author, from what we think a very candid state of facts, explains the necessity of augmenting the military force during his administration in Bengal. He thinks that the service performed by colonel Monro, in gaining the battle of Buxar to the company, was greater than the advantage they received from the battle of Plafiey by lord Clive ; and indeed we incline to the same opinion, as also that it was owing to the victory at Buxar that the company is now in poffeffion of all it holds in Bengal. He next proceeds to a point of law; Whether, when Jaffier Ali Khan regained the na. bobship, and promised to make up the loffes fuftained by the tyranny and opprefsion of Cofim Aly Khan in their trade in the country, the sufferers are not intitled to be indemnified accord. ing to the prices of the goods at the places where they were lost? Mr. V. has given us the opinion of two eminent lawyers on this case, which concur with his own, That the sufferers are entitled only to prime cost, charges of merchandize, and ten per cent. interest.

We must decline entering farther into this controverfy, be. cause in many parts it becomes personal. The pamphlet, upon the whole, is written witb a great air of candour; and it is to be hoped, that from these bickerings amongst the principals, the public will be enabled, at last, to form true ideas of the virtue and disinterestedness of this opulent company and its servants.

23. Obfervations on Mr. Vansıttart's Narrative. By Luke Scraf

ton, Ela; 8vo. Pr. Is. Kearsly. From these Observations we perceive that several sparring blows have already passed between their author and Mr. y. Mr. Scrafton vindicates himself from being the writer of a påper called the Observer, which Mr. V. complained of. In the pamphlet before us Mr. Scrafton goes as far back as the battle of Plafiy, and seems to think that throughout the whole of Mr. Holwell's government in Bengal, the design of depofing Meer Jaffier might be traced ; a charge which, if it can deserve that name, we think Mr. Scrafton has fully and fairly proved. Our author has inserted a copy of the memorial delivered by Mr. Holwell (whom he treats with fome severity) to Mr. V. when the former resigned his government, together with his own re


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