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ing to a tradition prevalent in that country, Callisthenes, the nephew of the Grecian philosopher, having accompanied Alexander the Great in his invasion of Hindostan, had transmitted this method of reasoning to his uncle * ? And is not our wonder heightened, our interest in this singular people increased, when we learn further, that the outlines of the Copernican system of astronomy, together with some of the leading principles of the Newtonian philosophy, and the abstruse speculations of arithmetic and algebra, had been taught in Hindostan, long before they were discovered in Europe ?
“ Asia” (says the celebrated Montesquieu) “ has been of conquest, thirteen times conquered.” In these calamitous enterprises Hindostan has deeply shared. What is singular, every invader of this unfortunate country has been successful. Seldom has a race of native princes, in the later ages, occupied the throne of India. Without having recourse to an era prior to the commencement of authentic history in Europe, we learn from the annals of classical antiquity, that the Macedonian conqueror, having penetrated into this remote region, with the design of annexing it permanently to
* Asiatic Researches, vol. iv. p. 172. 2d edition. + Jones's Works, vol. i. pp. 170, 171, 172.
his ample dominions, had established an empire there, which subsisted for a considerable period after his death. To this foreign yoke others have closely succeeded. For, fertile in soil and genial in climate, inhabited by a gentle and unwarlike race, this country has at once strongly attracted the desire, and readily submitted to the arms, of those who sought either for accession of territory or increase of wealth.
But Hindostan has been chiefly interesting as a scene of commerce. From a remote antiquity, the attention of mercantile nations has been directed to this envied region ; and its trade has invariably enriched those who were so fortunate as to share, or to engross it. No other country, at least none equally distant, was so anxiously explored, or so industriously frequented, by the celebrated commercial nations of former times. It was visited by the Phenicians and Egyptians, even before the days of Solomon. There is some reason to suppose, that the fleets of this magnificent prince, fitted out in the ports of the Red Sea, resorted to the shores of India. And, though this conjecture were allowed to be satisfactorily disproved, yet it is certain that, since his time, the staples of this country have continued to be in high request among the polished nations of the western parts of the world ; and that the command of this cele
and of commerce.
brated mart has been eagerly seized, and guarded with jealousy, by the Greeks, the Romans, the Turks, the Venetians, the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the English, in succession.
Our countrymen were among the last who obtained settlements in Hindostan. During the late and the preceding century, a company of British merchants, actuated by that spirit of enterprising commerce, which has so long distinguished the inhabitants of this island, sought and obtained trading stations, first on the coast of Coromandel, and then British seton the banks of the Ganges. Their first object was traffic, not conquest: but circumstances, in the natural course of things, soon arose to embroil them with the natives; and the successful issue of these contests opened their minds to new views of aggrandisement. Still retaining the name and appearance of a commercial company, they became in fact a great council of proprietors, presiding over the affairs of , a vast domain, conducting military enterprises on a large scale, and acquiring, from time to time, as the result of these new adventures, an immense accession of territory. The world saw la singular and a splendid spectacle. In the history of no age or nation has it happened, that a range of country so vast, so rich, and so populous, became the pri
vate property of a company of merchants. Subjects alone in one quarter of the world, and undistinguished beyond the ordinary classes of trading men; they were lords of extensive tracks of land in another. Known here only as merchants, there they were venerated as monarchs of more millions than the British empire contained * At length, from motives of policy and of prudence, parliament interfered ; the concerns of the East India company were taken under the protection and controul of the state ; and Hindostan may now be viewed as a grand appendage to the empire of a sovereign, whose ample dominions stretch themselves in every quarter of the globe, and under every variety of climate.
Proposed in- for others it may be enough to have conquered and to recommend- possess ; but to Britons it belongs, with characteristic mag
nanimity, to inquire how they may improve and bless the vanquished. When Cyrus conquered Lydia, forgetful at once of his wonted generosity, and of the true interests of his empire, he compelled his new subjects to practise only mean and infamous professions ; doubtless that he might
# Vide Note B.
enervate their minds, and degrade them in the eyes of the Persians. Others have adopted the same sinistrous art *. But it is for an humane and enlightened government to rise the genius of to higher and more correct views of policy; to adopt nobler measures ; and, by attempting to ameliorate the condition and exalt the character of those whom the fortune of war has thrown under their protection, to lessèn the evils of conquest, to secure the grateful attachment of their subjects, and to set an example of magnanimity to the world. It is for such a government to extend over conquered provinces, not the deadly gloom of the yew, but the reviving shadow of the banyan.
Not only consonant to the native feelings and liberal po- our regard licy of a great and generous people, the attempt proposed racter is necessary for the vindication of our national character. At this moment, loud are the invectives which envy, or hostility, have made to resound throughout Europe. We are stigmatised as an horde of merchants, who, instigated only by base thirst of gain, fatten on the spoils of pillaged provinces : visit but to rob, and conquer only to oppress. Impatient of our maritime superiority and growing empire, the
for the cha
* Puff. Univ. History. Dionysius Hal. lib. 7.