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ing for a bishopric were wont to utter with a sigh, “are the ways of Providence !” But the history of European Governments must be re-written ere Christendom can honestly disclaim the practical belief that it is pleasant, glorious, and profitable, when you can, to hold down a neighbour by the throat, and take his sword and money from him. The longing for forbidden fruit seems to be ineradicable, and few of the great names we are accustomed to recall with admiration are wholly clear from the charge. The
pen that signed reluctantly, after six years' costly and disastrous war, the recognition of American independence, traced an enlarged scheme of territorial compensation for the loss, in Hindustan.
Though Chatham in opposition scandalised all good society by exclaiming that “ he rejoiced to hear the Colonies had resisted,” Chatham in office never would agree to let them go. His
greater son was by temperament averse from war, and disapproved, he said, of encroachments in the East; but he never gave back anything his subordinates had got by fair means or foul. In later times, English statesmen have indeed taken credit for greater magnanimity; and Lord Castlereagh in particular has been praised for restoring Java to the Dutch, and Sicily to the Italians. But if in this respect, in Europe, he made a great character, in Asia he took care to spend it like a gentleman. It would be useless to multiply examples, worse than useless to set up invidious contrasts and recriminations. Our duty is not to judge others, but ourselves ; to beware of covetousness, and of being betrayed into passive complicity by unpardonable laziness to seek, or still more despicable cowardice to own, the truth. We cannot undo what is done, but for that we are not accountable. We are accountable, as a freespeaking and freely represented people, for all that may hereafter be done in our name; and if upon investigation- , which with honour and in conscience we are not at liberty to elude--we are convinced, with Burke and Fox, with Cornwallis and Bentinck, with the elder Mill and Richard Cobden, that a great debt of reparation is due to India by this country, we are bound to use every just and fair occasion to press for restitution to individuals of such rights and benefits as can be restored to them, compatibly with justice to others equally claiming our care, and for such restitution of local self-rule to the nations of the East as may not be incompatible with the preservation of peace amongst them, and the maintenance of that suzerainty in the English crown, which they, in common, never acknowledged as due to any other single authority.
It will be necessary that we should briefly recall the commencement of the intercourse between England and the Eastern peninsula. Nor will it, perhaps, be thought waste of time if we try to retrace the stealthy steps by which strangers got a permanent footing in the country, and how they stood, contrasted with the people and the native Governments of India, at the period when, properly speaking, the struggle for ascendancy began.
A FOOTHOLD NEAR THE SEA.
* I cannot think that, if all the ranks of the different communities of Europe and
India are comparatively viewed, there is just ground for any arrogant feeling on the part of the former.”
-SIR J. MALCOLM.1
IN the reign of Emanuel, King of Portugal, a fleet of
four armed vessels was sent forth on an expedition of discovery, and the command of it was given to Vasco de Gama. Steering his venturous course beyond Madeira and the coast of Guinea, he reached at length the southernmost point of Africa; and believing that a path to India lay through those waters, whose insincere repose invited him to trust his weary
their bosom, he spread his sails once more, and with a prosperous voyage attained the coast of Malabar. After a brief stay, De Gama returned to Europe. His countrymen were intoxicated with joy. The key of the East was found. Infinite wealth, imperishable fame, was theirs. Let new fleets be equipped and launched without delay. Who or what should hinder their prosperity ? ?
This was the morning time of Eastern discovery, and every object wore a glittering and exaggerated form. Ignorance lay like a soft haze over all things, and in the distance anything might dwell, waiting to be revealed. *Memoirs of India.
Reynal's Indies, book I.
As the clearer light of information grew, the dreams of dawn passed reluctantly away. There were no treasures to be had for merely asking; but there was abundant scope for industry and enterprise. The people of Hindustan were not timid savages, capable of being robbed or swindled by whoever chose to try; they were a great and intelligent race, acquainted with commerce and the arts, and ready to exchange the various produce of their skill for objects of Western workmanship. By degrees these soberer but far more lucrative advantages arising from the discovery of De Gama became understood, and the Portuguese succeeded in establishing relations of commercial friendship with the minor princes of the East, and finally with the imperial court of Delhi. They confined their ambition to mercantile pre-eminence, and engaged in naval warfare only with those European powers who sought to interfere with them. Among these, the Dutch for a while were the most conspicuous, and eventually the most successful. In 1611, they worsted the Portuguese fleet, and forcibly took possession of Surat. By degrees they gained a complete ascendancy over their forerunners, and they would probably have sought more extensive continental possessions than those adjoining their factories at Ormuz and at Goa, had not their attention soon after been engrossed by the culture of those garden isles that stud the Indian Sea. Meantime the English and French began to seek their share of a traffic which promised to be so profitable. The design of an East India Company? was among the many schemes of Colbert for developing the maritime power of his country; and, though ill-conducted and sustained, the plan of establishing a like association was not forgotten by the Ministers of England. Anderson's History of Commerce, and Reynal.
? In 1614.