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II. EAST INDIA COMPANY (CONSTITUTION OF).
Under the new act, the functions of the East India Company are wholly political. She is to continue to govern India, with the concurrence and under the supervision of the Board of Control, nearly on the plan laid down by Mr. Pitt's act, till the 30th of April, 1854. All the real and personal property belonging to the Company on the 22nd of April, 1834, is vested in the Crown, and is to be held or managed by the Company in trust for the same, subject of course to all claims, debts, contracts, &c. already in existence, or that may hereafter be brought into existence by competent authority. The Company's debts and liabilities are all charged on India. The dividend, which is to continue at 10% per cent., is to be paid in England out of the revenues of India; and provision is made for the establishment of a security fund for its discharge. The dividend may be redeemed by Parliament, on payment of Two Hundred Pounds for One Hundred Pounds stock, any time after April, 1874; but it is provided, in the event of the Company being deprived of the Government of India in 1854, that they may claim redemption of the dividend any time thereafter upon three . years' notice.—(iii. and iv. Will., c. 85.)
Company's stock—forms a capital of Six Million Pounds, into which all persons, natives or foreigners, males or females, bodies politic or corporate (the Governor and Company of the Bank of England only excepted), are at liberty to purchase, without limitation of amount. Since 1793, the dividends have been 104 per cent., to which they are limited by the late act.
General Courts.-The proprietors in general court assembled are empowered to enact bye-laws, and in other respects are competent to the complete investigation, regulations, and control of every branch of the Company's concerns; but, for the more prompt dispatch of business, the executive detail is vested in a court of directors. A general court is required to be held once in the months of March, June, September, and December, in each year. No one can be present at a general court unless possessed of Five Hundred Pounds stock; nor can any person vote upon the determination of any question, who has not been in possession of One Thousand Pounds stock for the preceding twelve months, unless such stock have been obtained by bequest or marriage. Persons possessed of One Thousand Pounds stock are empowered to give a single vote; Three Thousand Pounds are a qualification for two votes; Six Thousand Pounds for three votes ; and Ten Thousand Pounds and upwards for four votes. There were Two Thousand and three proprietors on the Company's books in 1825; of these, One Thousand, Four Hundred and Ninety-four, were qualified to give single votes; Three Hundred and Ninety, two votes; Sixty-nine, three votes ; and Forty-eight, four votes. Upon any special occasion, nine proprietors, duly qualified by the possession of One Thousand Pounds stock, may, by a requisition in writing to the court of Directors, call a general court; which the directors are required to summon within ten days, or, in default, the proprietors may call such court by notice affixed upon the Royal Exchange. In all such courts the questions are decided by a majority of voices; in case of an equality, the determination must be by drawing a lot. Nine proprietors may, by a requisition in writing, demand a ballot upon any question, which shall not be taken within twenty-four hours after the breaking up of the general court. Court of Directors.-The court of Directors is composed of twenty-four members, chosen from among the proprietors, each of whom must be possessed of Two Thousand Pounds stock, nor can any Director, after being chosen, act longer than while he continues to hold stock. Of these, six are chosen on the second Wednesday in April in each year, to serve for four years, in the room of six who have completed such service. After an interval of twelve months, those who had gone out by rotation are eligible to be re-elected for the ensuing four years. Formerly, no person who had been in the Company's civil or military service in India was eligible to be elected a Director until he had been a resident in England two years after quitting the service: , but this condition no longer exists; and all civil or military servants of the Company in India, supposing they are otherwise eligible, may be chosen Directors immediately on their return to England, provided they have no unsettled accounts with the Company; if so, they are ineligible for two years after their return unless their accounts be sooner settled. (3 & 4 William IV., c. 85 & 28.) The Directors choose annually, from amongst themselves, a Chairman and a Deputy Chairman. They are required by the by-laws to meet once in every week at least : but they frequently meet oftener. Not less than thirteen can form a Court. Their determinations are guided by a majority;
in case of inequality, the question must be decided by lot by the Treasurer; upon all questions of importance, the sense of the Court is taken by ballot. The Company's officers, both at home and abroad, receive their appointments immediately from the Court; to whom they are responsible for the due and faithful discharge of the trust reposed in them. The patronage is, nevertheless, so arranged that each member of the Court separately participates therein. Secret Committee.—The principal powers of the Court of Directors are vested in a Secret Committee, forming a sort of Cabinet or Privy Council. All communications of a confidential or delicate nature between the Board of Control and the Company are submitted, in the first instance at least, to the consideration of this Committee; and the Directions of the Board, as to political affairs, may be transmitted direct to India, through the Committee, without being seen by the other Directors. The Secret Committee is appointed by the Court of Directors, and its members are sworn to secrecy.
sECTION I.ii. east indies (srA se of society IN, GRowing DEMAND FOR ENGLISH GOODS, TRADE colonization, etc.
1. Distinction of Castes in India. Inaccuracy of the Representations as to the Inhabitants being unalterably attached to Ancient Customs and Practices.
We have taken occasion in the preceding sketch of the history of the E. I. Company, repeatedly to notice the small extent of India trade carried on by its agency. It has been contended, however, that this is to be ascribed, not to the deadening influence of monopoly, but to the peculiar state of the people of India. A notion has long been prevalent in this quarter of the world, that the Hindoos are a race unsusceptible of change or improvement of any sort; that every man is brought up to the profession of his father, and can engage in none else; and that, owing to the simplicity and unalterableness of their habits, they never can be consumers—at least to any considerable extent—of foreign commodities. “What is now in India, has always been there, and is likely still to continue.” (“Robertson's Disquisition, p.202.” The Hindoos of this day are said to be the same as the Hindoos of the age of Alexander the Great. The description of them given by Arrian has been quoted as applying to their actual situation. It is affirmed that they neither improved nor retrograded; and we are referred to India as a country in which the institutions and manners that prevailed 3,000 years ago may still be found in their pristine purity The President de Goguet lays it down
distinctly, in his learned and invaluable work on “The origin of Laws, Arts, and Sciences,” that in India. “every trade is confined to a particular Caste, and can be exercised only by those whose parents professed it.” (Origin of Laws, &c., Eng., Fran., vol. iii. p. 24.) Dr. Robertson says, that “the station of every Hindoo is unalterably fived; his destiny is irrevocable ; and the walk of life is marked out, from which he must never deviate. (Disquisition on India, p. 199.) The same opinions are maintained by later authorities. Dr. Tennant says, that “the whole Indian community is divided into four great classes; and each class is stationed between certain walls of separation, which are impassable by the purest virtue, and most conspicuous merit.” (Quoted by Mr. Rickards, p. 6.) This unalterable destiny of individuals has been repeatedly assumed in the despatches and official papers sent forth by the East India Company; and has been referred to on all occasions by them and their servants, as a proof that the depressed and miserable condition of the natives is not owing to misgovernment, or to the weight of the burdens laid on them; and that it is in vain to think of materially improving their condition, or of making them acquainted with new arts, or giving them new habits, so long as the institution of Castes, and the prejudices to which it has given rise, preserve their ascendancy undiminished. But notwithstanding the universal currency which the opinions now referred to have obtained, and the high authority by which they are supported, they are, in all the most essential respects, entirely without foundation The books and codes of the Hindoos themselves, and the minute and careful observations that have recently been made on Indian society, have shewn that the influence ascribed to the irstitution of Castes by the ancients, and by the more modern travellers, has been most prodigiously exaggerated. In the first part of his excellent Work on India, Mr. Rickards has established, partly by references to the authoritative books of the Hindoos, and partly by his own observations, and those of Mr. Colebrook, Dr. Heber, and other high authorities, that the vast majority of the Hindoo population may, and, in fact, does engage in all sorts of employments. Mr. Richards has further shown, that there is nothing in the structure of Indian society to oppose any serious obstacle to the introductions of new arts, or the spread of improvement ; and that the causes of the poverty and misery of the people must be sought for in other circumstances than the institution of Castes, and the nature of Ilindoo superstition. The early division of the population into the four great
classes of Priests (Brahmins,)—Soldiers (Cshatryas,)—Husbandmen and Artificers UVaisyas,)—and Slaves (Sudras,)— was maintained only for a short period. The Hindoo traditions record that a partial intermixture of these classes took place at a very remote epoch; and the mixed brood thence arising were divided into a vast variety of new Tribes, or castes, to whom, speaking generally, no employments were forbidden. “The employments,” says Mr. Rickards, “allowed to these mixed and impure castes, may be said to be every description of handicrafts, and occupation, for which the wants of human society have created a demand. Though many seem to take their names from their ordinary trades or profession, and some have duties assigned them too low and disgusting for any other to perform but from direct necessity; yet no employment, generally speaking, is forbidden to the mixed and impure tribes, excepting three of the prescribed duties, of Sacerdotal Class, viz.:--teaching the Bedas, officiating at a Sacrifice, and receiving presents from the Pure-handed giver; which three are exclusively Brahminical.” Mr. Colebrook, who is acknowledged on all hands to be onc of the very highest authorities, as to all that respects Indian affairs, has a paper in the fifth volume of the “Asiatic Researches,” on the subject of castes. In this paper Mr Colebrook states that “Jatimala,” a Hindoo Work, enumerates forty-two mixed Classes springing from the intercourse of a man of inferior class with a woman of a superior class, or in the inverse order of the classes. Now, if we add to these the number that must have sprung from the intermixture in the direct order of the classes, and the hosts further arising from the continued intermixture of the mixed tribes amongst themselves, we shall not certainly be disposed to dissent from Mr. Colebrook's conclusion, “that the subdivisions of those classes have further multiplied distinctions to an endless variety.” Mr. Colebrook has given the following distinct and accurate account of the professions and employments of several classes at the present day. It forms a curious commentary on the “irrevocable destiny” of Dr. Robertson, and the impassable walls” of Dr. Tennan : “A Brahman, unable to subsist by his duties, may live by the duty of a soldier ; if he cannot get a subsistence by either of these employments, or gain a competence by traffic, (avoiding certain commodities.) A Cshatrya, indistress, may subsist by all these means ; but he must not have recourse to the higher functions; in seasons of distress r farther latitude is given. The practice of medicine and oths