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possible the commercial as well as other calamities which may befall the community ? To have denied relief in any shape in the present instance, would have been, in respect to expediency ; as unwise as the flat refusal of President Van Buren to grant any sort of relief to the money market in America ; and the consequence would have been, relatively speaking, as injurious perhaps to the interests of the Bengal revenue as well as of the applicants themselves. It is asserted by some reflecting persons, that the measures will be highly disapproved of by the Court of Directors. Very likely, that the Court of Directors should blamc their Indian Government for the exercise of a discretion under which the opium revenue yields some thirty lakhs this year more than it did the last, and about a crore in ercess of an average of years previous to 1836 And very likely too that they will condemn the postponement of sales and of dates of payment (these were equally the subject of outcry here) when they do the same thing ad libitum in Englaad—even to the ertent of potponing for sir months the term of a Bill of Erchange ; which by the last accounts they have done to relieve the importers of India goods consigned through them, from the necessity of selling in the present low state of the market.—Calcutta Courier, September 20.
We publish two letters on the matter of opium, one from the Chamber of Commerce of Bombay to the Secretary of the General-Government, and the other, the reply of the Calcutta Chamber to the Secretary of the Board of opium on the proposed plan of conducting the sales in future. The first of these letters is a complaint of the serious injury likely to be inflicted on the trade of Bombay by the recent opium bonus, and praying, that should the measure not have been carried into effect, the policy of its adoption may be reconsidered. This is no more than might reasonably be expected. It is impossible for the Government to favor one class of merchants without bearing hard upon some other, and we fully expect, that when the Bombay people are informed that the money is in course of payment, they will then petition for a refund of the duties which have been paid by them to Government on the Malwa of the present season. We can see no reason why such a petition should not be granted as well as that of the Calcutta folks. There is no pretenee for saying that the Malwa trade is irregular or carried on by interlopers ; the encouragement it has received from the General Government, by the granting of passes, is a complete legalization of the traffic, and the whole reasoning of the Calcutta petitioners, as to the difficulties under which they have been placed by the new restrictions in China, is as applicable to the Malwa drug, which meets theirs in the same market. In short, from the liberal disposition already shewn by our rulers, the Boumbay merchants can hardly doubt that Compensation will be made to them, for the in
jury they must sustain from an act of the
Government. They have only to send in a petition stating the facts, and the treasury hcre will. we presume, shell out the thirty seven lakhs said to have been paid them in duties, as the interests of the revenue can be she who as clearly to be promoted by such a gift as they were by the sum bestowed upon the Calcutta merchants. " But the Bombay people should lose no time, for we cannot say what orders from home may interfere with further distributions.
With regard to the Calcutta letter, it will be seen that the merchants think the evils so loudly complained of arise not so much from the badness of former rules as from their lar obsertottnce.
They recommend, therefore, an inflexible adherence to any new system proposed as the basis of reform.
They agree in the expediency of most of the Board's suggestions, nearly as we reported at time of the meeting. The conclusion of the letter, however, deserves perusal, and will, we
think, meet some attention in England, what
ever it may do here.
It was stated in a letter which we published on Tuesday, that a part of the Malwa supply is actually obtained from the Company's advances. We should doubt much whether any quantity worth consideration is thus surreptitiously supplied to the Malwa traders, if it is, the Company are indeed feeding a rival at their own expence, but a smuggling trade of such a kind cannot, we should imagine, be long carried on without being discovered.— Englishman, Sept. 22.
No. 131 of 1837. W. H. McNAGHTEN, Esq., Secy. to the Govt.of India.
Sir, A report, which there is good reason to believe may be relied on, having reached this presidency that the Right Honorable the Governor-General in Council have come to the determination of returning to the buyers of Patna and Benares opium of this season, a portion of their purchase money to the extent (on the average) of Rs. 200 per chest, I am requested by the committee of the Chamber of Commerce to request that you will bring to the notice of His Lordship in Council the serious injury, such a measure my necessarily inflict on the trade of this port.
2. The trade in Malwa opium hence to China, forms one of the most valuable of the port, and has this season been entered into on a larger scale and induced the embarking of an unusual amount of capital in it, in consequence of the high price obtaining for Patna and Benares and the consequent favorable opening thereby offered for competition by their enhanced value.
3. The committee deem it unnecessary to offer an opinion on the causes of the great advance in the prices of the drug in the Calcutta market, but may briefly state that the natural effect of that rise was doubtless increased by (as is known here) several of the Marwarrees and others interested in its cultivation, who had bid high and purchased largely at the Calcutta sales, solely with the view of upholding the price of their own drug in this Market.
4. Te return therefore to these parties, or, indeed, any others, any portion of their purchase money, would, the committee respectfully submit, be to encourage a repetition of a line of conduct they had already found so successful and to foster a spirit of wild speculation opposed to the interests of the country.
5. The commtttee do not, however, rest their objections to the proposed grant on the ground above, but on a well founded apprehension, as they respectfully conceive, of its being destructive of that considence in the government public sales which is so essential to the natural interests of government and the public ; and they further hold that the most extreme case of emergency would oarely justify a violation of the conditions of such sales, and are constrained to add that they are im pressed with a conviction that such a procedure is subvers, ve of a recognized principle of trade—that no government should stand between speculators and their losses.
6. In conclusion I am called upon and earnestly beg respectfully to solicit that, should the reported contemplated measure of Government be not yet carried into effect, the Right Honorable the Governor-General council will pause and reconsider the policy of adopting it; or if already adopted that it be followed up by an unqualified assurance that it is not to be considered a precedent, and that on no further occasion will such concessions be granted ; and this is the only course likely to restore
that unbounded considence which ought to prevail. I have the honor to be Your most obedt. servi. - MARCUS F. BROWN RIGG,
Chairman, Bambay C. C. Sept. 3, 1837.
S G PAlMeR, Esq. Secy. Board of Customs, Salt and Opium, Fort William.
Sir, I have laid before a special meeting of the Chamber of Commerce held this day, your communication of the 31st ultimo, furnishing a copy of the Board's report of the proposed improved plan for the future regulation of opium sales, on which they are pleased to
invite the early expression of the Chamber's opinion and suggestions.
Concurring fully with the Board as to the necessity of , an immediate and thorough systematic reform, the Chamber is of opinion that the evils so generally and loudly complained of have not had their origin so much in any defects in the former conditions of sale, as in the lax observance of those conditions, and the frequency of unexpected and injurious deviations.
That the new rules therefore, or that any rules, should be efficacious, without as inflexible adherence to them pre-determined on and guaranted, it is unreasonable to expect.
The Chamber will now proceed to discuss the proposed new conditions seriatim.
Par 4. “Deposits to be made at a fixed ote of one thousand rupees per lot 5 chests, 200 per chest.”
This is considered an unobjectionable proposition and an obvious saving of needless °omputation to all parties, while the amount *PPears to be sufficient to afford all reasonable security to Government, and a complete check to the jobbing of men of straw. Should any unlooked for variation in the price hereafter occur, the Government may re-adjust the **ount to about 20 per cent. of the assumed sale price.
Par. 8. “That promissory notes payable at sight, shall be given, in the sale room and at the time of purchase for the amount deposits.”
The Chamber would recommend that the Promissory notes be made payable at the Bank of Bengal and that all those not discharged by 5 PM on the 3d day, be returned to the Board that the reasale may be effected on the 4th day.
They also are decidedly of opinion, that such promissory notes should be redeemable only in cash and not by Government Securities, as the most effectual mode of securing the due clearance of the opium.
Further, they deem it expedient that, instead of promissory notes, parties buying should have, the option of giving accepted cheques, which will be received in part payment of the price.
And they would hold it as advisable, that a discretion be reposed in the Board to reject any bidder who may not be sufficiently known, or may be considered doubtful. y
Par: 9: “A re-sale be held for the realization of deposits on the 4th day after sale, and that no deposit tendered on the day of sale be accepted.”
This is quite proper. -
Para. 13. ..." That the price of the opium shall be realized within one month from she date of sale, or, in default, forfeiture of deposits, and the opium to be sold on account of Government.”
The Chamber approves of this rule.
Para, 14. “That the department shall give a discount on clearances made before the expiration of the month allowed at the rate of the Government interest of the day, say for the present 4 percent per annum.”
This appears objectionable, a needless increase of intricacy and of computation, altogether inconsistent with improved facilities and simplifications. Buyers have inducement enough to clear for the sake of pushing on for a market, and those who do not purpose to export are not likely to be induced to" clear" by a discount that ready money (if they have it) can any day earn and obtain prompt clearance could only be effected by a higher dis. count than the bazar would give.
Para. 16. “A refusal on the part of this office to receive deposits from any but the party who stands as purchaser in our sale book granting receipts only in his name and delivering the deposits back when clearance is only made to him.”
Agreeing to this arrangement, it is important with a view to facilitate transfer from hand to hand so necessary in this trade, that the provision, “ or to his order” be introduced at the end of the clause.
Para. 18. “Appropriation of an assumed investment of 19,000 chests. Chests. “On the 1st Jan............. 6,000 1st February,........ 2,500 1st April, . . . . . . . . . . . . 5,000 1st May, ............. 2,500 1st June,............. 3,000
Instead of the above appropriation the Chamber would recommend the following as a more convenient destribution.
1st Jan. or 1st Monday of January 6,000 1st Feb. or 1st Monday of Feb... 2,000 15th April or 3d Monday of April 4,000 1st June or first Monday of June 3,000 15th July or 3d Monday of July... 4,000
The first and last sales of the season may with propriety be larger than the intermediate ones, in consideration of their being none before or after for sometime, and of the increased demand thence arising in the ordinary course of things.
The committee cannot be sensible of the high importance to Government of an expediti
ous realization of the revenue, but it appears to be a question affecting the interests of the entire trade of this port, whether the vast amount value of 19,000 chests opium, say 190 to 220 lakhs of rupees, can be abstracted from the bazar into the General Treasury within the period promised by the Board, say from 1st January to “beginning of July,” without manifest derangement to every other branch of business, and such interruptions to the wonted course of floating capital, that must entail general embarrassment and inconvenience.
The Board advert repeatedly, and with emphasis, to certain references to and consultations with the “principal opium merchants” and others assumed to constitute “the trade.” Without stopping to examine the accuracy of the designations, it may be observed that the pecuniary importance of the previous dealings of any parties does not entitle their judgment to have with Government in deciding on the nature and extent of the proposed alterations, greater weight than may be due to the opinions of a more numerous body of merchants of equal respectability. Government and the Board are perhaps unaware that extensive finance operations emanating in England are pursued through the means of opium from India to China, and that this is the object of n very large part of the out-ward remittance in hills on the General Treasury. Funds of the class not being required in China till late in the year, are so arranged to fall available in l ndia in June, July and August. At that period parties wishing to invest most have recourse (under the Board's scheme) to holders of opium at second hand. but who would gladly avail of public sales.
To this class of capitalists the frequent modification of sale conditions, the arbitrary and variable distribution of the sales, and above all the sudden postponment of such sales at the instigation of local speculators, offer such discouragements to engage in the trade, as must conduce to the diversion of large funds for investment in Malwa drug : indead it is within the knowledge of members of this committee that the factitious support of prices of Bengal opium this season, by injudicious though well-intentioned indulgence of the Board, particularly known in the postponement adverted to, has been the cause of extensive operations in Malwa opium based on Calcutta capital and on resources from England sent out for remittance in the drug.
The consequence has been, the hastening of the Malwa produce to market, the pre-aoccupation of that market to the prejudice of the Bengal (as may be seen by the comparative deliveries) and to a certain extent the impoverishment of the money market here of funds for the want of which clearance is now so tardily progressing.
In conclusion, the committee cannot but notice with regret that the Board deem it essential to the restoration of general conidence in the due onforcement of sale
conditions that the personal and individual responsibility of the establishment must be pledged; but the committee fully concurs in the necessity of some specific and substantial or irrevocable guarantee, and common equity would seem to dictate that any infraction on the part of the seller, should involve a release of the buyer from his engagements; the situation relatively of the parties to the contract in the present case, peculiar as it may be in other respects, entitling them on either side to no exclusion, immunities or exemptions. I have the honor to be, Sir, your most obedient servant, (Signed W. LIMOND, Secy. Bengal Chamber of Commerce, Sept. 7, 1837.
As our evening cotemporary has his hands pretty full at this moment, with the observations of the Bembay and Madras editors on the opium question, it is scarcely fair in us to swell the fearful odds against him ; and more especially as we have already punished him so severely. But in his Tuesday's paper he has not put the character of the Government interference in its true light with reference to the interest of the general merchant. “What right,” he asks, “ has the general merchant, by anticipation, over the property of the seller.” We reply, no other right than the seller voluntarily contracts to vest him with ; but when sales are advertised under the sanc. tion of the government to take place at certain days on certain conditions, we contend that in equity and good faith the merchant, who makes his arrangements accordingly, ought not to be thrown over, either for the purpose of bolstering up particular interests, or of screening the neglect or frands practised by sn'-ordinate officials. Had the Board of Opium, Salt and Customs proceeded with the 4th sale of the season, as it had pledged itself to the whole world, the general merchant would have had less to complain of. But not only was the sale postponed, but the very postponement was made use of as an argument to induce the government to furnish the means, by which alone the uncleared lots of former sales could have been shipped.
Here there was a direct interference to the detriment of the general merchant, whose calculations had been made on a prudent basis, and who would have been enabled to have carried his calculations into effect, had tae provisions of the public sales been strictly adhered to.
The Government broke faith with one party, by an unwarrantable deviation from its own rules in favor of another. And it is no palliation to urge, as our cotemporary does, in his controversy with the Bombay Gazette, that “the opium was uncleared and the Government could not realize the nominal price at which it was sold." If the conditions of the sale had been enforced, thcre would have been a sufficient margin in hand made a resale unobjectionable in a financial point of yiew; and a question remains to be solved
why they were not enforced Is there were no deposits, who is responsible to the country for the omission ? We guess there have been Governors-General who won ld have had answers to these queries long before now. Mais nous avons change tout cela. Our cotemporary is not happy in his analogies. The Court of Directors postponed the payment of the bills of exchange for six months, because the value of the security they held for their ultimate discharge was likely to be increased and because it was a general accommodation to the consignees. Here a “bonus” of £300,000 is given, because, as was professed, “ we don't care whether we accommodate or not,” and because in our opinion our security will be less valuable the longer it is uncleared. A u reste, we think it of very little consequence what tone the Court may adopt on the occasion, although we have some suspicion of its sature; for we feel assured that the death-blow nas been given to this monstrous system, and that in a very few years it wiil, like its salt sister, he destroyed root and branch.-Hurkaru, September 22.
The “unanswerable" remonstrance from Bombay against the opium remissions has appeared in the Englishman this morning, whence we have transferred it to our columns, together with a copy of the recent letter of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce to the Board on the subject of the future conditions of sale. This remonstrance is dressed up in the form of a letter to the Political and Judicial Secretary (by mistake) and bears the signature of Mr. Marcus F. Brownrigg, as Chairman of the Bombay Chamber of Commerce. Says the letter—“The trade in Malwa opium hence to China forms one of the most valuable of the port"—this to the Government of India cannot be very pleasing intelligence—“ and has this season been entered into on a larger scale and induced the embarking of an unusual amount of capital in it, in consequence of the high price obtaining for Patna and Benares, and the consequent favorable opening thereby offered for conpetition by their enhanced value.” A very plain avowal that unexpected advantages have occured to the opium traders in Bombay, during the seven months preceding the measures now complained of; and since, if the letter had told the whole truth, those advantages have been realized by almost a monopoly of the China market and very extensive sales of Malwa opium there, while the Bengal drug was held back at nominal prices, it is quite clear the Bombay merchants have much more reason for gratitude than for complaint.
“The Committee” attribute the high prices at our early sales in a great measure to the biddings of Marwarees and others interested in the Malwa cultivation. “To return therefore to these parties, or indeed to any others, any portion of their purchase money” would, in the Committee's opinion, be to cmcourage a repetition of the same manoeuvres, “and to foster a spirit of wild speculation opposed to the interests of the country.” The plain
meaning of this is that prices will be kept up higher than they otherwise would be, which must be a benefit to the sellers, that is, the Government in Bengal and the cultivators in Malwa, which effect is any thing but “ opposed to the interests of the country,” whether we apply the remark to the Company's territories, or to Malwa, or to both. But “the Committee” immediately abandon this ground of objection, and take up another, that any modificaton in the terms of purchases once inade will be destructive of confidence in the Government public sales; which, of course, must mean that people will be afraid to buy, or, in other words, prices will go lower in consequence, (precisely the same argument is used by Government functionaries against the former lax system of Collectors' sales). So then this Committee of the Bombay Chamber of Commerce are afraid of two essects; the one, that we shall have too many speculative bidders, the other that our sales will have too few bidders for want of consi
dence; which opposite effects may be left to neutralize each other.
They go on to say, that “the most extreme case of emergency would barely justify a violation of the conditions of such sales.” We really cannot imagine a more extreme case of emergency, than an impossibility to get the conditions performed ; but the assumption is untrue, for a mutual agreement between buyer and seller will always justify a departure from the first contract. There is still another false principle asserted in the same paragraph as “a recognized principle of trade ; that no Government should stand between specula. tors and their losses.” Where do they sind this maxim : If it were in the power of a Go. vernment to repair all losses, it would be its duty to repair them : the objection lies in the impossibility. It does does so to a certain extent, when it remits taxes in consequence of any public calamity partial or general. But when a branch of the revenue happens to be collected through a monopoly of some article, such as salt, or opium, or tobacco, Government must, quoad the sale thereof, be considered in the light of an individual ; and therefore, however desirable it may be that its proceedings should be as systematic as possible, it must be held to have the same liberty to make bargains and undo them, with consent of parties, whether the alteration be agreeable to the fixed-principle notions of by-standers or not.
The remonstrance concludes with an earnest hope, that the Governor-General in Council will give an unqualified assurance, that the late concessions will not be considered a precedent, and that “on no further occasion will such concessions be granted." In this prayer, the Bombay Chamber's wishes have been anticipated by a modification of the system, which will have the effect of rendering improbable the recurrence of a case of emergency requiring the cancelment of sales and other remissions for the protection of the revenue. One merit the letter has, that while it boasts of
the stimulus given to the Malwa trade this year, and descants upon the inexpediency of concessions to the Bengal opium buyers, it does not inconsistently put forth an abstird claim of indemnity for the merchants at Bo inbay. That piece of absurdity will only be found in the suggestions of our morning contemporaries. Yet one more remark before we conclude: the Bengal Chamber of Commerce voted that the bonus and remissions granted to the opium merchants here were a matter which it was not their province to meddle with as a body; how is it, that the Bombay Chamber consider themselves entitled to do so 2—Calcutta Courier, September 22.
The Bombay Gazette, received to-day, accuses the Bombay Chamber of Commerce of having shewn too much forbearance in not putting forth a pecuniary claim for compensation to the merchants of that presidency for the injury done to their trade by the concessions to the opium merchants here. “ First catch your fish, " says Mrs. Glass, and so say we “First shew your injury.” Why, the great outcry here has been that the measure kept up prices, and thereby prevented the prudent general merchant from buying. Pray, gentlemen grumblers, do settle among yourselves which opinion is the correct one.
We will take the opportunity of noticing a most unhappy remark in yesterday's Hurkaru, in defence of a deviation from commercial rules in England :
“The Court of Directors postponed the payment of the Bills of Exchange for six months, because the value of the security they held for their ultimate discharge was likely to be increased, and because it was a general accommodation to the consignees.”
Let any one compare the latter reason with the arguments at the beginning of the article from which we have quoted, and say if our contemporary has not argued on opposite sides ; in the one case, maintaining the injustice of holding back goods from sale wich “ the general merchant” was looking out to buy ;—in the other, defending the propriety of doing so. Whether the buyers in either case were retail purchasers or general merchants, or even gambling speculators, makes no difference in the question. But touching the disappointment of the “ general merchants” by the postponement of an opium sale, it'is worth remarking that we do not trace one of thease disappointed gentlemen in the list of the buyers at the sale of the 15th instant. If the absence of their names was owing to their prudence (as we take for granted it was),--to their opinion that the prices were still too high, how can any one have the assurance to put forth or to abet a claim from Bombay founded upon the assumption of a forced depreciation of the markets by the measures of the Bengal Government 2 Does any sensible man doubt that prices would have fallen much more had all the lots of the early sales in default been forfeited and put up
against 2–Cal. Cour. Sept. 23.