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attributes of Carthage and of Rome, the insatiable ambition of the one and the mercantile arrogance of the other, are unceasingly ascribed to us. Nor is it uncommon, with invidious triumph, to speak of provinces depopulated; of thousands enslaved, or slaughtered, or starved; of the tears of Africa *, and the groans of India. In tragic style they tell, how our countrymen
Ravaged kingdoms, and laid empires waste,
and safety of our country.
Ilappy for us, were these invectives altogether unfounded. That, as far as concerns Hindostan, they are exaggerated, we must indeed assert; that examples of cruelty and peculation in India are becoming, under a wise and vigilant administration, every day more infrequent, we rejoice in believing; but that they have been unexampled, and that the charge has no grounds whereon to rest in relation to former times, the fondest lover of his country, the most partial admirer of the character of Britons, dare not affirm. “ The Asiatic conquerors,” (exclaimed an eloquent orator in par
Vide Note C.
+ Blair's Grave.
liament,) “ had soon abated of their ferocity, and the short life of man had been sufficient to repair the waste they had occasioned. But with the English the case was entirely different. Their conquests were still in the same state they had been in twenty years ago. They had no more society with the people, than if they still resided in England; but, with the view of making fortunes, rolled in, one after another, wave after wave, so that there was nothing before the eyes of the natives, but an endless flight of birds of prey and passage, with appetites continually renewing for a food that was continually wasting. With us there were no retributory superstitions, by which a foundation of charity compensated for ages to the poor, for the injustice and rapine of a day. With us no pride erected stately monuments, which repaired the mischiefs pride had occasioned, and adorned a country out of its own spoils. England had erected no churches, no hospitals, no palaces, no schools (the trifling foundation at Calcutta excepted): England had built no bridges, made no highways, cut no navigations, dug no reservoirs. Every other conqueror, of every other description, had left some monument of state or of beneficence behind him; but were we to be driven out of India this day, nothing would remain to tell that it had been pos
sessed, during the inglorious period of our dominion, by any thing better than the ouran outang or the tiger *.” These representations are doubtless highly coloured; but the deliberate resolutions of the House of Commons shew that they were not entirely unjust. If so, it becomes us to beware, and to consider how we may retrieve the national character, and compensate to an inoffensive people these acknowledged injuries. If Britons have stained the British name by acts of wanton cruelty and oppression, since the day of vengeance, if not averted by the timely interposition of a humane and generous policy, will come; measures of redress, such as an inquiry of the kind we are entering upon might suggest, can alone exempt us from that awful retribution, which is thus prophetically denounced by an impassioned writer;
Did peace descend, to triumph and to save, When free-born Britons cross'd the Indian wave? Ah no!
But, hark! as bow'd to earth the Bramin kneels, From heav'nly climes propitious thunder peals! Of India's fate her guardian spirits tell, Prophetic murmurs breathing on the shell,
* Burke's speech on Fox's India bill.
And solemn sounds, that awe the listening mind,
To pour redress on India's injured realm,
Other considerations urge the proposed investigation. The Additional honour, the interests, and the security of the British empire are deeply involved. By the act of incorporation the van- Rights of our
new subjects. quished Hindoos have a constitutional right to the privileges of British subjects, and to all those benefits, consistent with their character and condition, which that union can impart. Besides, the importance of Hindostan to the se- Disastrous curity of the empire is incalculably great. Recollecting, of the loss of indeed, how Britain has not only survived the separation of her American colonies, but flourished since that period,
* Campbell's Pleasures of Hope, pp. 42. 44, 45.
by her own internal energies and the goodness of Providence, more than ever, we cannot presume to assert with some, that the overthrow of our empire in Hindostan would involve the destruction of the parent state. But we may venture to aver, that such a catastrophe would tarnish the lustre of the British crown; and, considering how extensively and intimately the interests of this great colonial possession are interwoven with those of the mother country, that it would shake, if it did not subvert, the government. The threat, so often held out by our enemies, of conquering Britain in India, shews of what importance they deem Hindostan to us, and how powerfully its loss would operate, as they apprehend, in paralising our exertions. While we may defy their menaces, let us not disregard the consequence of such an event. The amputation of a limb may not immediately affect the vitals of the constitution, but it necessarily puts the subsequent health, existence, and efficiency of the whole system to a perilous trial. And, if the analogy be in this instance exact, should not every measure of a wise and humane policy be adopted, to prevent a dismemberment of the empire, which may prove fatal, must prove hurtful? Let us also reflect upon the extreme distance of Hindostan from the body of the empire. If we except one of our fo
ance to its defence.