London, Volume 5

Knight, Charles
1843

CIV.-The East India House.

CIV.-The East India House.

 

If the only arrests the of the passenger, there is nothing in the building itself particularly calculated to make him pause in the midst of the busy thoroughfare of ; but if he be gifted with the divine faculty of accurately delineating and colouring abstractions, then, indeed, it yields to none in the interest of the associations which cluster thick around it. It has been said of Burke, by a very brilliant writer of the present day, that so vivid was his imagination on whatever related to India, especially as to the country and people, that they had become as familiar to him as the objects which lay on the road between Beaconsfield and St. James's.

All India was present to the eye of his mind, from the hall where suitors laid gold and perfumes at the feet of sovereigns, to the wild moor where the gipsy-camp was pitched-from the bazaars, humming like bee-hives with the crowd of buyers and sellers, to the jungle where the lonely courier shakes his bunch of iron rings to scare away the hyaenas. The burning sun; the strange vegetation of the palm and cocoa-tree; the rice-field and the tank; the huge trees, older than the Mogul empire, under

which the village crowds assemble; the thatched roof of the peasant's hut, and the rich tracery of the mosque where the imaum prayed with his face to Mecca; the drums, and banners, and gaudy idols; the devotee swinging in the air; the graceful maiden, with the pitcher on her head, descending the steps to the river side; the black faces, the long beards, the yellow streaks of sect; the turbans and the flowing robes; the spears and the silver maces; the elephants with their canopies of state; the gorgeous palankin of the prince, and the close litter of the noble lady-all these things were to him as the objects amidst which his own life had been passed.

[n.50.1]  If such should be the rich, varied, and animated picture which the imaginative eye suddenly conjures up in the not very spacious or striking part of the great eastern thoroughfare in which the comes into view, not less glowing are the historical recollections which attach to the edifice in connexion with Anglo-Indian power. History presents nothing more strongly calculated to impress the imagination than the progress of English dominion in the East under Clive and Warren Hastings, and Cornwallis and Wellesley. Instead of clerks and mercantile agents living within the precincts of a fort or factory only by permission of the native rulers, who regarded them as mere pedlers, Englishmen have become the administrators of the judicial, financial, and diplomatic business of a great country,--of provinces comprising above a million square miles and a population exceeding millions,--states which yield taxes to the amount of and maintain an army of men. All the business of government has passed into English hands. There is still a Nabob of the Carnatic, but he is a British pensioner on the revenues of the land which his ancestors once ruled. At the capital of the Nizam a British resident, the representative of the East India Company, is the real sovereign. There is still a Mogul who plays the sovereign, but the substance of his power has passed away. Youths from Haileybury College, and from the military school at Addiscombe, rising by regular gradations, have succeeded to the power once wielded by the Mahommedan conquerors of Hindostan, and which they exercise in a manner far more beneficial to the people. They are carefully educated for judicial, financial, diplomatic, and military offices, and are expected to be versed in the language of the people of whose welfare they are to be the guardians. This is a noble field for talent and ambition. When we attempted to share with the Portuguese and Dutch in the commerce of the East, the qualifications required were but little higher than are now esteemed necessary in a custom-house officer of the lowest class. turbulent youth was sent out to die of a fever, or to make his fortune. The salaries were so low that it was impossible to live upon them, and all sorts of irregular and unscrupulous practices were connived at, which saved the pockets of the adventurers at home at the expense of the native interests. The writer already quoted shows the present and former state of official servants in India.

At present,

he says,

a writer enters the service young; he climbs slowly; he is rather fortunate if, at

forty-five

, he can return to his country with an annuity of a

thousand

a-year, and with savings amounting to

thirty thousand pounds

. A great quantity of wealth is made by

English functionaries in India; but no single functionary makes a very large fortune, and what is made is slowly, hardly, and honestly earned. Only

four

or

five

high political offices are reserved for public men from England. The residencies, the secretaryships, the seats in the boards of revenue and in the Sudder courts are all filled by men who have given the best years of life to the service of the Company; nor can any talents, however splendid, nor any connexions, however powerful, obtain those lucrative posts for any person who has not entered by the regular door and mounted by the regular gradations.

Seventy

years ago much less money was brought home than in our time, but it was divided among a very much smaller number of persons, and immense sums were often accumulated in a few months. Any Englishman, whatever his age, might hope to be

one

of the lucky emigrants.

A new class of men sprung up at this period, to whom the appellation of

Nabobs

was given: the ephemeral literature of that day is filled with the popular conceptions of the character, and the nabob is usually represented as

a man with an immense fortune, a tawny complexion, a bad liver, and a worse heart.

The public mind for years was filled with impressions of their wealth and supposed crimes.

The progress of good government id nowhere more evident at the present time than in the administration of India. Even if the misgovernment now existed by which individuals could amass immense wealth, other circumstances would be entirely wanting to render the retired Indian a veritable Nabob of the old school, as he exists, somewhat caricatured of course, in the play and novel of years ago. At that period the voyage to or from India was seldom accomplished in less than months, and often occupied a much longer time: a year and a half was calculated as the average period between the dispatch of a report from Calcutta and the receipt of the adjudication thereon by the Directors in . Slow, tedious, uncertain, and unfrequent as was the intercourse of the servants of the East India Company with the mind of England in those days, what could be expected but that it should produce strong effects on those who went out in youth and spent years of their life in India, and that at their return they should exhibit some rich peculiarities of character, easily assailable by the light shafts of ridicule, if not open to the violent attacks of those who suspected them of dark crimes committed in their distant pro-consulships while amassing their wealth? Even Warren Hastings, so consummate a politician in India was at fault when he had to deal with party interests and feelings at home: he had lost that fine and delicate appreciation of things which is gained by observation from day to day. Steam navigation has done and will do much to elevate the character and objects of our Indian policy, and to imbue its functionaries--with more enlarged views of their duties; for rapidity and certainty of communication is gradually bringing the eyes of the people upon this distant part of our empire. Steam has placed Bombay within weeks' distance of London,[n.51.1]  and the seat of the supreme government in India has been reached in weeks from the seat of the imperial government. Private intercourse is rapidly increasing in consequence of these great improvements. Before the

52

establishment of lines of steam-communication with India in , the number of letters annually received and dispatched from the several presidencies and from Ceylon was . In , the number had risen to , and to in . The number of newspapers sent from India to Europe in was about ; and were sent to India; and in it is believed that were sent both ways, each cover being counted as , though it might contain several newspapers. A man in the jungles may now be as well informed on the leading topics of the day in England, as if he were the daily frequenter of a news-room here. The peculiarities which seemed unavoidable at period have scarcely ground now on which to take root.

It was in the reign of Queen Elizabeth that the capture of a Portuguese ship laden with gold, pearls, spices, silks, and ivory called forth a body of merchant adventurers, who subscribed a fund amounting to something above , and petitioned Her Majesty for a warrant to fit out ships, the liberty of exporting bullion (then deemed wealth, instead of its representative), and a charter of incorporation excluding from the trade all parties not licensed by themselves. While the discussions were pending the petitioners stated, in reply to an application from the government, who wished to employ Sir Edward Michelbourne on the expedition, that they were resolved

not to employ any gentleman in any place of charge,

and requested

that they may be allowed to sort their business with men of their own qualitye, lest the suspicion of the employment of gentlemen being taken hold uppon by the generalitie do dryve a great number of the adventurers to withdraw their contributions.

A Charter was granted on the last day of the century to George, Earl of Cumberland, and knights, aldermen, and merchants, under the title of the

Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies,

with exclusive liberty of trading for years, and a promise of renewal at the end of that term, if the plan should be found

not prejudicial or hurtful to this our realm.

A century later the English had made such little progress in India, in comparison with the Portuguese, that, in , it was compulsory on the ministers and schoolmasters sent to the English establishments in India to learn the Portuguese language.

The exclusive Charter of Queen Elizabeth was not at respected by her successor, who, in , issued a licence to Sir Edward Michelbourne and other persons to trade to the East, but he was subsequently persuaded to adopt a different policy; and on the , he renewed the Company's Charter

for ever,

but providing that it might be recalled on years' notice being given, with some additional privileges, which encouraged the Company to build the largest merchant-ship that England had hitherto possessed: she was named the

Trades Encrease,

and measured tons: at her launch the King and several of the nobility dined on board, and were served entirely upon china-ware, which was then a very costly rarity, and appropriate to the destination of the vessel. The direction of the Company was put under committees; the word committee signifying then, as we believe it does still in Scotland, a person to whom any matter is intrusted. ;It was at hardly a Company: each adventure was managed by associations of individual members

53

on their own account, acting generally according to their own pleasure, but conforming to certain established regulations made for the benefit of the whole body. But in , after voyages had been made to the East Indies, the whole capital subscribed, amounting to , was united, the management of the business was committed to a few principal parties, and the great body maintained such a general control as in recent times has been exercised by the Court of Proprietors. During the whole of the century the history of the Company is chiefly a narrative of mercantile transactions, but somewhat more interesting than those of our days from their adventurous character, and diversified by the accounts of quarrels, battles, and occasional treaties with the Portuguese and Dutch, who were very unwilling to admit a commercial rival.

Turning to the London history of the Company, we find the century marked by several events which deserve to be briefly noticed as illustrative of the times. In , just before the departure of a fleet for India, the Duke of Buckingham, then Lord High-Admiral, extorted the sum of before he would allow it to sail: the bribe was given to avoid a claim for droits of Admiralty on prize-money alleged to have been obtained at Ormuz and other places. A like sum was demanded for the King, but it does not appear to have been paid. In Charles I. granted to Captain John Weddell and others a licence to trade for years: the inducement to this violation of the Charter was probably the share which the King was to receive of the profits. In Charles I. being in want of money, bought upon credit the whole stock of pepper in the Company's warehouses, amounting to lbs., and sold it again for ready money at a lower price. bonds were given to the Company for the amount, payable at intervals of months, but none of them were paid. In was remitted of the duties owing by the Company, but the remaining sum of about was never received. In the Republican Government threw the trade to India entirely open. The experiment of a free trade was not fairly tried as the Company was reinstated in its monopoly only years afterwards. In Charles II. granted the Company a new Charter, conferring larger priileges--the power of making peace and war. The year - is the in which tea became an article of the Company's trade. The agents were desired to send home

100

lb. weight of the best tey that you can gett.

In the quantity of tea consumed in the United Kingdom amounted to million pounds within a fraction--the duty on which was , or more than - of the whole revenue. In this same year - the Company dispatched ships to India with the largest investment which had yet been sent out, the value of bullion and stock being In the Spitalfields weavers, thinking themselves injured by the importation of wrought silks, chintzes, and calicoes from India, riotously assembled about the , using violent threats against the directors.

From to a dispute existed as to whether the right of conferring a Charter for exclusive privileges of trade devolved upon the Sovereign or the Parliament. In the former year the decided the question in their own favour, and addressed the King upon the subject, but in the King granted a new Charter for years, upon which the House again

54

affirmed its right, and not only passed a resolution to that effect, but directed an inquiry into the circumstances attending the renewal, when it was ascertained that it had been procured by a distribution of to some of the highest officers in the State. Sir Thomas Cooke, a member, and governor of the Company, was committed to the Tower for refusing to answer the questions put to him; and the Duke of Leeds, who filled the office of President of the Council, was impeached on a charge of having received a bribe of Further exposures were put a stop to by the prorogation of Parliament. years afterwards, in , without much show of reason or justice, the Old Company, which had now been in existence nearly a century, was dissolved, years being allowed for winding up its business. A New Company, incorporated by the name of the

English Company,

was invested with the privileges of exclusive trade. The members composing the new body had outbid the older by offering to lend the Government a larger sum of money. In the Old Company obtained an act authorising them to trade under the Charter of the New Company. The existence of trading bodies led to disputes and rivalry, which benefited neither, and exposed them both to the tyranny of the native princes. The capital of the English Company was absorbed by the loan which it had made to Government as a bonus for its privileges, but the older body naturally profited from the greater experience of its members: In an act was passed for uniting the Companies, which was completely effected in , years having been allowed to make the preparatory arrangements. The united bodies were entitled

The United Company of Merchants of England trading to the East Indies,

a title which was borne until the abolition of its trading privileges in . The exclusive privileges of the Company were successively renewed in , , , , , and . Very important changes were made on the renewal of the Charter in . The Government stipulated that all dispatches for India should be communicated to the Cabinet before being sent off; and they obtained a decisive voice in questions of peace and war. This was a prelude to the establishment of the in , by which, in everything but patronage and trade, the Court of Directors were rendered subordinate to the Government. In a slight infringement was made on the Company's Charter by a clause enabling private merchants to export goods to or from India in the Company's ships, according to a rate of freight fixed by act of Parliament, the Company being required to furnish shipping to the amount of tons annually to the private traders. In the rights of the private traders were still further extended. In the years from to , the value of goods exported by the private trade increased from about million sterling per annum to and a-half millions, a much larger amount than had ever been exported by the Company.

In the act was passed by which the Company is now governed. This act has made greater changes in the state of affairs than all the former ones. It continues the government of India in the hands of the Company until , but takes away the China monopoly and all trading whatever. As the proprietors were no longer a body of merchants, their name was necessarily changed, and it was enacted that

The East India Company

should be their future

55

appellation. Their warehouses, and the greatest part of their property, were directed to be sold: the dividend was to be per cent., chargeable on the revenues of India, and redeemable by Parliament after the year . The amount of dividends guaranteed by the act is , being per cent. on a nominal capital of The real capital of the Company in was estimated at upwards of , including cash, goods, buildings, and as the estimated value of the and the Company's warehouses, the prime cost of the latter having been The act directs that accounts of the Company's revenues, expenditure, and debts are to be laid before Parliament every year in May; also lists of their establishments, with salaries and allowances paid on all accounts. Englishmen were allowed to purchase lands and to reside in all parts of India, with some exceptions, which were removed in . These, and several other enactments relating to India only, have altered in a great measure the character of the Compa. For some time after the English began to tre to the East, no footing was obtained on the Continent of India. The factory was at Bantam, in Java, which was established in ; a few years afterwards there were factories in Siam; and in , after many attempts, a firman was obtained from the Great Mogul allowing certain privileges at Surat, which was a long time the head of all our trade in India. This firman was granted, or at least accelerated, by the success of the English in naval fights with the Portuguese, whom the natives had believed to be invincible. In the same year the English received several commercial privileges from the Sultan of Achin, in Sumatra, who requested in return that English ladies might be sent to him, to add to the number of his wives! In the following year they established a factory at Firando, in Japan; and by the number of factories in the East amounted to . In the Company placed agents at Gombroon in Persia, and Mocha in Arabia. In they received from the native chief of the territory around Madras power to exercise judicial authority over the inhabitants of that place, and to erect a fort there. This was Fort St. George; it was the establishment possessed in India that was destined to become a place of importance: it was raised to the rank of a Presidency in . The footing in Bengal, the source of all the subsequent power of England in India, was obtained in . The immediate means of this privilege are curious. In the year a daughter of Shah Jehan, the Great Mogul, had been severely burnt, and an express was sent to Surat to procure an English surgeon. A Mr. Broughton was sent, who cured the princess and attained to great favour at court: from Delhi he passed into the service of Prince Shujah, with whom he resided when the prince entered upon the Governorship of Bengal, and Mr. Broughton's influence there obtained for his countrymen the privilege of trading custom-free, which was confirmed by a firman of Aurungzebe in . Bombay, which had been ceded by Portugal to Charles II. as part of the marriage portion of the Princess Catherine, was made over by him to the Company in . Calcutta was founded in on the site of a village named Govindpore, and the possession received an important increase in , when the Mogul granted a patent enabling the English to purchase towns in the vicinity. This accession was obtained by the

56

influence of another surgeon, a Mr. Hamilton, who had cured the Mogul of a dangerous disease. The system of uniting the separate factories under larger jurisdictions, named presidencies, was now fully established: Madras had been the eastern presidency from the middle of the century to , when Bengal was separated; and Surat had held supremacy over the western coast from until , when Bombay was made the head of all the establishments in India. By the end of the century the presidencies, Bengal, Madras, and Bombay, were distinguished as they still are, with the exception that Bengal was not then the seat of the Supreme Government, a distinction which was given to it by an Act passed in , when Warren Hastings was made Governor-General.

The Home Government of the Company consists of, . The Court of Proprietors, or General Court; . The Court of Directors, selected from the proprietors; and . The Board of Commissioners, usually called the , nominated by the Sovereign.

The Court of Proprietors, or General Court, as its name imports, is composed of the owners of India Stock. It appears that, in the century, every stockholder had a voice in the distribution of the funds of the Company: the act of provided that no person should vote in the General Courts who had less than of stock, and that larger owners should have as many votes as they held thousands; but that no person should have more than votes. The qualification for vote was, by the act of , lowered to , and the number of votes limited to , which was the number allowed to a holder of stock. By the act of , every owner of stock was allowed vote, and the greatest owners had no more. By the law now in force, which was made in , the possession of gives vote, although persons having only may be present at the Court: entitles the owner to votes, to , and to votes. All persons whatever may be members of this Court, male or female, Englishman or foreigner, Christian or unbeliever. The Court of Proprietors elects the Court of Directors, frames bye-laws, declares the dividend, controls grants of money exceeding , and additions to salaries above It would appear that tie executive power of this Court, having been delegated to the Court of Directors, may be considered as extinct; at all events it never now interferes with acts of government, although instances have formerly occurred where acts of the Court of Directors have been revised by it. Its functions in fact are deliberative: they are like those of influential public meetings in the English constitution, and its resolutions are supposed to be respectfully attended to by the Directors, and even by the Legislature. It is always called together to discuss any proceedings in Parliament likely to affect the interests of the Company. It may, at any time, call for copies of public documents to be placed before the body for deliberation and discussion; and is empowered to confer a public mark of approbation, pecuniary or otherwise, on any individual whose services may appear to merit the distinction, subject however to the approbation of the , in cases where the sum shall exceed

The meetings of this Court have much the appearance of those of the , and its discussions are conducted by nearly the same rules.

57

The Chairman of the Court of Directors presides ex-officio, and questions are put through him as through the Speaker, There is occasionally a display of eloquence which would not disgrace the Senate, though more frequently perhaps the matters debated are hardly of sufficient general interest to produce so much excitement. Amendments are proposed, adjournments are moved, the previous question is put, the Court rings with cries of

Hear, hear,

Oh, oh!

&c. &c., and a tedious speaker is coughed down as effectually as he would be on the floor of the . At the conclusion of a debate the question is often decided by a show of hands; but if any Proprietor doubts the result, he may call for a division, when tellers are appointed, and the Court divides accordingly. In especial cases any members may call for an appeal to the general body of Proprietors, to whom timely notice is sent, and the vote is by ballot. The meetings always take place at o'clock, and generally close at dusk: in cases of great interest they are much later, and in a recent instance the debate continued until o'clock in the following morning. The number of members of the Court of Proprietors, in , is , of whom have votes, , and votes. In there were proprietors. In , when all owners of stock amounting to had each vote, and none had a plurality, the number of proprietors was , of whom held stock to the amount of more than each. The interest taken by the public in Indian affairs was much greater then than is the case at present, and the proceedings of the Court of Proprietors, as described by who has made the affairs of India his study, were

stormy and even riotous--the debates indecently virulent.

He adds:--

All the turbulence of a

Westminster

election, all the trickery and corruption of a Grampound election, disgraced the proceedings of this assembly on questions of the most solemn importance. Fictitious votes were manufactured on a gigantic scale.

[n.57.1]  It is said that during Clive's visit to his native country, in , he laid out a in the purchase of India stock, which he then divided among nominal proprietors whom he brought down at every discussion; and other wealthy persons did the same, though not to an equal extent. The whole of the Directors were at this period appointed annually. At present each Director is elected for years, and retire yearly, and are not re-eligible until they have been a year out of office. The chairman and deputy-chairman are elected annually, and generally the deputy becomes chairman after being a year in the deputy-chair. They are the organs of the Court, and conduct all communication requiring a personal intercourse with the Miniistry and Board of Commissioners. It is believed that by far the greater share of the labour of the Court falls on the chairs; and that, great as is the patronage connected with the offices, they are by no means, objects of ambition to the majority of the members.

The functions of the Court of Directors pertain to all matters relating to India, both at home and abroad; subject to the control of the Board of Commissioners, and, in some cases, to the concurrence of the Court of Proprietors, with the exception always of such high political matters as require secrecy, which

58

are referred to a select committee of their body. This Court has the power to nominate the Governors of all the Presidencies, subject to the approval of the Crown. They have also the patronage of all other appointments, without control from the Board. The Committee of Secrecy, appointed in , consists of members of the Court, who receive the directions of the Board on subjects connected with peace, war, or negotiations with other powers, and send dispatches to India under their directions, without communication with the rest of the Court. This Committee also receive dispatches from India sent in the Secret department, and communicate them immediately to the Board. The duties of the Court of Directors are extensive, and for their ready dispatch it is divided into Committees, whose departments are indicated by their appellations:--the Finance and Home Committee; the Political and Military Committee; and the Revenue, Judicial, and Legislative Committee.

The , whose proper designation is

the Board of Commissioners for the Affairs of India,

was established by the Act of . The Board is nominated by the sovereign: it consists of an unlimited [n.58.1]  number of members, all of whom, except , must be of the Privy Council, and must include the principal Secretaries of State and the Chancellor of . Practically, all the Commissioners are honorary, except , who alone are paid. All the members of the Board vacate office upon changes of ministry, but the unpaid ones are often re-appointed. The Board receive from the Court, and may confirm, alter, or disallow all minutes, orders, and dispatches; they may not only keep back dispatches prepared by the Court, but may compel the Court to send others prepared without the Court's concurrence. They have access to all books, papers, and documents in the , and may call for accounts on any subject. They communicate with the Secret Committee, and direct it to send secret dispatches to India, the responsibility resting with the Board. In fact, since the abolition of the trade, with which the Board had nothing to do, the Court of Directors must be considered simply as the instrument of the Board.

The routine of business as transacted between the Court and Board is simple. On the receipt of a dispatch from India, it is referred to the Committee in whose province it lies, and from it to the proper department; the chief of which causes a draught of a reply to be made under his superintendence, which he submits to the Chairs; the Chairman brings the draught before the Committee, by whom it is considered and approved, or revised, and then laid before the Court. The draught is there discussed, and, when approved, sent to the Board. If the Board approve the draught, it is returned, and dispatched forthwith by the Court: if altered, the alterations may become a subject of correspondence and remonstrance with the Board, with whom, however, the final decision lies. If the Chairs judge that any serious discussion is likely to arise upon any dispatch, they make, unofficially, a previous communication to the Board, and the matter is discussed before it is laid before the Court.

Since the functions of the Company have become wholly political, the

59

establishment at the is necessarily much reduced from what it was when, in addition to other duties, it had the direction and control of commercial concerns which required the constant employment of nearly men in its warehouses. Before the closing of its trade the number of clerks of all grades was above .[n.59.1]  This number Was not more than was really necessary. The duties of no public office in England can give a fair notion of what was required at the , from the circumstance that the latter was a compendium of all the offices of government, including a department for the transfer of stock; and was in addition a great mercantile establishment. The departments were necessarily numerous. The military department superintended the recruiting for the Indian army, the embarkation of troops for India, the management of military stores, &c. There was a shipping department and master-attendant's office, whose functions are obvious from their appellations: an auditor's office to conduct all financial matters relative to India--a sort of Indian exchequer. The examiner's office managed the great political concerns of the Company. There were an accountant's office, a transfer office, a treasury, to investigate all matters relating to bills and certificates granted in India, China, or elsewhere on the Company, and to compare advices with bills when presented; to prepare estimates and statements of stock, &c. for the Lords of the Treasury, the Parliament, and the Courts; to conduct all business relating to the sale and transfer of stock; to provide for the payment of dividends and of interest on bonds, to negotiate loans, to purchase bullion, and to manage sales of specie from India or China. The office of buying and warehouses managed the, whole of the trade, both export and import: its functions were to prepare orders for India and China produce so as to suit the home markets, and to provide goods here for sale in India and China; to superintend the purchase and export of military stores, and to manage the business of warehouses, employing nearly men, and in the article tea alone containing often millions pounds weight (above tons!) The Committee, of which this was the chief office, had also the superintendence of the sales. The value of goods sold in the year - amounted to Those of tea were the most extensive, and they are yet remembered with a sort of dread by all who had anything to do with them. They were held only times a-year--in March, June, September, and December; and the quantity disposed of at each sale was in consequence very large, amounting on many recent occasions to millions of pounds, and sometimes much higher: they lasted several days, and it is within our recollection that lbs. have been sold in day. The only buyers were the tea-brokers, composed of about firms: each broker was attended by the tea-dealers who engaged his services, and who communicated their wishes by nods and winks. In order to facilitate the sale of such large quantities, it was the practice to put. up all the teas of quality before proceeding to those of another; and to permit each bidder to proceed without much interruption so long as he confined his biddings to the variation of a farthing for what was technically

60

called the upper and under lot; but as soon as he began to waver, or that it appeared safe to advance another farthing, the uproar became quite frightful to unaccustomed to it. It often amounted to a howling and yelling which might have put to shame an O. P. row, and, although thick walls intervened, it frequently was heard by the frequenters of Leadenhall Market. All this uproar, which would induce a stranger to anticipate a dreadful onslaught, was usually quelled by the finger of the chairman pointing to the next buyer, whose biddings would be allowed to go on with comparative quietness, but was sure to be succeeded by a repetition of the same noise as at . At the indigo sales much the same sort of scene took place.

The above and several minor departments usually kept the establishment fully engaged; and, though there were days in which a smaller body might have done the current work of the House, there were many in which the whole force of the establishment was absolutely necessary. The mere reading through, and commenting on, the voluminous explanatory matter received from the Indian Governments, in addition to the dispatches, was no small labour. Of such matter there were received, from to , large folio volumes, or per annum; and from that year to the number was , or a-year. Facility in composition is as necessary a qualification in public men in India, as speaking to a politician at home; and it has been observed that, while the latter is often too much of a talker, in India he is rather too much of an essayist. Testimony to the industry and ability of the East India clerks was borne by Mr. Canning, in a debate on the . This statesman, who had been several years President of the Board of Commissioners, said,

He had seen a military dispatch accompanied with

199

papers, containing altogether

13,511

pages; another, a judicial dispatch, with an appendage of

1937

pages; and a dispatch on the revenue, with no fewer than

2588

pages by its side. Much credit was due to the servants of the East India Company. The papers received from them were drawn up with a degree of accuracy and talent that would do credit to any office in the State. The Board could not, with all the talents and industry of the President, the Commissioners, or their tried Secretary, have transacted the business devolved upon it, without the talents and industry with which that business was prepared for them at the

India House

.

We shall conclude with a description of the . It does not appear to be ascertained where the Company transacted their business, but the tradition of the House is, that it was in the great room of

The Nag's Head Inn,

opposite Bishopsgate Church, where there is now a Quakers' Meeting House. The maps of London, constructed soon after the great fire, place the in , on a part of its present site. It is probably the house, of which an unique plate is preserved in the , surmounted by a huge, square-built mariner, and thick dolphins. In the Indenture of Conveyance of the Dead Stock of the Companies, dated , we find that Sir William Craven, of Kensington, in the year , leased to the Company his largehouse in , and a tenement in , for years, at a-year. Upon the site of this house what is called the old was built in ; and several portions of this old

61

House yet remain, although the present front, and great part of the house, were added, in , by Mr. Jupp.
The facade of the existing building is feet in length, and is of stone. The portico is composed of large Ionic fluted columns on a raised basement, and it gives an air of much magnificence to the whole, although the closeness of the street makes it somewhat gloomy. The pediment is an emblematic sculpture by Bacon, representing the Commerce of the East protected by the King of Great Britain, who stands in the centre of a number of figures, holding a shield stretched over them. On the apex of the pediment stands a statue of Britannia: Asia, seated upon a dromedary, is at the left corner; and Europe, on horseback, at the right.

The ground-floor is chiefly occupied by court and committee rooms, and by the Directors' private rooms. The Court of Directors occupy what is usually termed the

Court Room,

while that in which the Court of Proprietors assemble is called the

General Court Room.

The Court Room is said to be an exact cube of feet: it is splendidly ornamented by gilding and by large looking-glasses; and the effect of its too great height is much diminished by the position of the yindows_near the ceiling. pictures hang from the cornice, representing the Presidencies, the Cape, St. Helena, and Tellichery. A fine piece of sculpture, in white marble, is fixed over the chimney: Britannia is seated on a globe by the seashore, receiving homage from female figures, intended for Asia, Africa, and India. Asia offers spices with her right hand, and with her left leads a camel; India presents a large box of jewels, which she holds half open; and Africa rests her hand upon the head of a lion. The Thames, as a river-god,

62

stands upon the shore; a labourer appears cording a large bale of merchandise, and ships are sailing in the distance. The whole is supported by caryatid figures, intended for brahmins, but really fine old European-looking philosophers.

The General Court Room, which until the abolition of the trade was the Old Sale Room, is close to the Court Room. Its east side is occupied by rows of seats which rise from the floor near the middle of the room towards the ceiling, backed by a gallery where the public are admitted: on the floor are the seats for the chairman, secretary, and clerks. Against the west wall, in niches, are statues of persons who have distinguished themselves in the Company's service: Lord Clive, Warren Hastings, and the Marquis Cornwallis occupy those on the left, and Sir Eyre Coote, General Lawrance, and Sir George Pococke those on the right. It is understood that the statue of the Marquis Wellesley will be placed in the vacant space in the middle. The Finance and Home Committee Room is the best room in the house, with the exception of the Court Rooms, and is decorated with some good pictures. wall is entirely occupied by a representation of the grant of the Dewannee to the Company in , the foundation of all the British power in India; portraits of Warren Hastings and of the Marquis Cornwallis stand beside the fireplace; and the remaining walls are occupied by other pictures, among which may be noticed the portrait of Mirza Abul Hassan, the Persian Envoy, who excited a good deal of attention in London in the year .

The upper part of the house contains the principal offices and the Library and Museum. In the former is perhaps the most splendid collection of Oriental MSS. in Europe, and, in addition, a copy of almost every printed work relating to Asia: to this, of course, the public is not admitted; but any student, properly recommended, is allowed the most liberal access to all parts of it. We may instance, as worthy of all imitation, where buildings contain articles of value, that large tanks, always full of water, stand upon the roof of the building, and that pipes, with stop-cocks, extend from them to.all parts of the house, so arranged that, in case of fire, any of the watchmen connected with the establishment can at once deluge that part with water enough to repel any apprehension of its spreading beyond the spot.

The opening of the Museum at the to the public once a-week, on Saturdays, from to , is a creditable act of liberality on the part of the Directors. The rooms appropriated to this purpose are not a continuous suite, but a passage leading from suite to another contains paintings, prints, and drawings, illustrative of Indian scenery and buildings; also models of a Chinese war-junk, a Sumatran proa, together with a few objects of natural history, as remarkable specimens of bamboo, &c. This passage leads to small side-rooms, the of which contains a Burmese musical instrument, shaped somewhat like a boat, and having a vertical range of nearly horizontal strings, which were probably played by means of a plectrum, or wooden peg. Opposite is a case illustrative of the state of the useful arts in India, containing models of looms, ploughs, mills, smiths' bellows, coaches and other vehicles, windlass, pestle and mortar, &c. This room also contains specimens illustrating

63

the manufacturing processes of Oriental nations, with some objects of natural history. The next room is wholly devoted to natural history. In the room there is another curious Burmese musical instrument, consisting of flattish pieces of wood, from to inches in length, and about an inch and a half in width: these bars are strung together so as to yield dull and subdued musical notes when struck with a cork hammer; and their sizes are so adjusted as to furnish tones forming about octaves in the diatonic scale. At thee end of the corridor is a tolerably large room, containing a number of glass cases filled with specimens of Asiatic natural history. There are Indian, Siamese, and Javanese birds, Sumatran and Indian mammalia, besides butterflies, moths, beetles, and shells. In another room are sabres, daggers, hunting-knives, pipes, bowls, models of musical instruments, serving to illustrate some of the usages of the inhabitants of Java and Sumatra. The Library, in another part of the building, is also partly appropriated as a Museum. The Oriental curiosities in this department comprise, among other things, specimens of painted tiles, such as are used in the East for walls, floors, ceilings, &c., Bhuddist idols, some of white marble, others of dark stones, and some of wood. There are many other objects connected with the religion of Bhudda, as parts of shrines and thrones, on which processions and inscriptions are sculptured, and a large dark-coloured idol represents of the Bhuddic divinities. In the centre of this room are cases containing very elaborate models of Chinese villas, made of ivory, mother-of-pearl, and other costly materials; and from the ceiling is suspended a large and highly-decorated Chinese lantern, made of thin sheets of horn.

There are a few glass cases, which contain various objects worthy of notice. There is an abacus, or Chinese counting-machine, Chinese implements and

64

materials for writing, for drawing, for engraving on wood, and for printing; also Chinese weighing and measuring machines, a Chinese mariner's compass, Sycee silver, the shoe of a Chinese lady, and various Chinese trinkets. There are specimens of tea, in the form in which it is used in various parts of the East-that is, in compressed cakes. On a stand, on the floor, is placed a childish piece of musical mechanism, which once belonged to Tippoo Sultan: it consists of a tiger trampling on a prostrate man, and about to seize him with his teeth. The interior contains pipes and other mechanism, which, when wound up by a key, cause the figure of the man to utter sounds of distress, and the tiger to imitate the roar of the living beast.[n.64.1]  In passing to another apartment, which forms also a part of the Library, we enter a small ante-room, which is occupied by a splendid howdah, or throne, part of it of solid silver, adapted for the back of an elephant, in which Oriental princes travel: it was taken by Lord Combermere at Bhurtpore. The walls of this room are covered with weapons and arms used by different Oriental nations. The next room, filled chiefly with books, contains, however, several curious objects: here are Tippoo Sultan's

Register of Dreams,

with the interpretation of them in his own hand; and the Koran which he was in the habit of using. A visit to this Museum is certainly calculated to render impressions concerning the East more vivid and striking.

 
 
Footnotes:

[n.50.1] Edinburgh Review, No. 142, Article on Lord Clive.

[n.51.1] In August, 1841, the London mail reached Bombay in thirty-one days and five hours.

[n.57.1] Edinburgh Review, No. 142.

[n.58.1] They were limited to six by the Act of 1784, but this clause was repealed in 1793.

[n.59.1] A parliamentary document of 1835 gives the number of persons in the home establishment at 494, at salaries amounting to 134,454l. This includes door-porters, fire-lighters, watchmen, messengers, &c. The number of clerks now in the House is about 150.

[n.64.1] See the cut in preceding page.-The construction of the whole machine is very rude, and it is probably much older than the age of Tippoo. The machinery, though not of neat workmanship, is simple and ingenious in contrivance. There is a handle on the animal's shoulder which turns a spindle and crank within the body, and is made to appear as one of the black stripes of the skin. To this crank is fastened a wire, which rises and falls by turning the crank: the wire passes down from the tiger between his fore-paws into the man's chest, where it works a pair of bellows, which forces the air through a pipe with a sort of whistle, terminating in the man's mouth. The pipe is covered by the man's hand; but at the moment when, by the action of the crank, the air is forced through the pipe, a string leading from the bellows pulls a small lever connected with the arm, which works on a hinge at the elbow; the arm rises in a manner which the artist intended to show supplication; the hand is lifted from the mouth, and a cry is heard: the cry is repeated as often as the handle is turned; and while this process is going on, an endless screw on the shaft turns a worm-wheel slowly round, which is furnished with four levers or wipers; each of these levers alternately lifts up another and larger pair of bellows in the head of the tiger. When by the action of one of these four levers the bellows are lifted up to their full height, the lever, in continuing to turn, passes by the bellows, and the upper board being loaded with a large piece of lead, falls down on a sudden and forces the air violently through two loud-toned pipes terminating in the animal's mouth, and differing by the interval of a fifth. This produces a harsh growl. The man in the meantime continues his screaming or whistling; and, after a dozen cries, the growl is repeated.