or misery of their subjects, the improvement 
or waste of their dominions, the glory or disgrace 
of their administration, as, from irresistible 
moral causes, the greater part of the proprietors 
of such a mercantile company are, and 
necessarily must be. This indifference, too, 
was more likely to be increased than diminished 
by some of the new regulations which were 
made in consequence of the parliamentary inquiry. 
By a resolution of the house of commons
for example, it was declared, that when 
the L.1,400,000 lent to the company by government
should be paid, and their bond-debts 
be reduced to L.1,500,000, they might then, 
and not till then, divide eight per cent. upon 
their capital; and that whatever remained of 
their revenues and neat profits at home should 
be divided into four parts; three of them to 
be paid into the exchequer for the use of the 
public, and the fourth to be reserved as a fund
either for the further reduction of their bond-debts
or for the discharge of other contingent 
exigencies which the company might labour 
under. But if the company were bad stewards 
and bad sovereigns, when the whole of 
their neat revenue and profits belonged to 
themselves, and were at their own disposal
they were surely not likely to be better when 
three-fourths of them were to belong to other 
people, and the other fourth, though to be 
laid out for the benefit of the company, yet to 
be so under the inspection and with the approbation 
of other people. 
It might be more agreeable to the company
that their own servants and dependants should 
have either the pleasure of wasting, or the 
profit of embezzling, whatever surplus might 
remain, after paying the proposed dividend of 
eight per cent. than that it should come into 
the hands of a set of people with whom those 
resolutions could scarce fail to set them in 
some measure at variance. The interest of 
those servants and dependants might so far 
predominate in the court of proprietors, as 
sometimes to dispose it to support the authors 
of depredations which had been committed 
in direct violation of its own authority
With the majority of proprietors, the support 
even of the authority of their own court 
might sometimes be a matter of less consequence 
than the support of those who had set 
that authority at defiance
The regulations of 1773, accordingly, did 
not put an end to the disorder of the company's 
government in India. Notwithstanding 
that, during a momentary fit of good conduct, 
they had at one time collected into the 
treasury of Calcutta more than L.3,000,000 
sterling; notwithstanding that they had afterwards 
extended either their dominion or their 
depredations over a vast accession of some of 
the richest and most fertile countries in India
all was wasted and destroyed. They found 
themselves altogether unprepared to stop or 
resist the incursion of Hyder Ali; and in 
consequence of those disorders, the company 
is now (1784) in greater distress than ever; 
and, in order to prevent immediate bankruptcy
is once more reduced to supplicate 
the assistance of government. Different 
plans have been proposed by the different 
parties in parliament for the better management 
of its affairs; and all those plans seem 
to agree in supposing, what was indeed always 
abundantly evident, that it is altogether 
unfit to govern its territorial possessions. 
Even the company itself seems to be convinced 
of its own incapacity so far, and seems, 
upon that account willing to give them up to 
With the right of possessing forts and garrisons 
in distant and barbarous countries, is 
necessarily connected the right of making 
peace and war in those countries. The 
joint-stock companies, which have had the 
one right, have constantly exercised the other, 
and have frequently had it expressly conferred 
upon them. How unjustly, how capriciously, 
how cruelly, they have commonly 
exercised it, is too well known from recent 
When a company of merchants undertake, 
at their own risk and expense, to establish
new trade with some remote and barbarous 
nation, it may not be unreasonable to incorporate 
them into a joint-stock company, and 
to grant them, in case of their success, a monopoly 
of the trade for a certain number of 
years. It is the easiest and most natural 
way in which the state can recompense them 
for hazarding a dangerous and expensive experiment
of which the public is afterwards to 
reap the benefit. A temporary monopoly 
of this kind may be vindicated, upon the 
same principles upon which a like monopoly 
of a new machine is granted to its inventor
and that of a new book to its author. But 
upon the expiration of the term, the monopoly 
ought certainly to determine; the forts 
and garrisons, if it was found necessary to 
establish any, to be taken into the hands of 
government, their value to be paid to the 
company, and the trade to be laid open to all 
the subjects of the state. By a perpetual 
monopoly, all the other subjects of the state 
are taxed very absurdly in two different ways
first, by the high price of goods, which, in 
the case of a free trade, they could buy much 
cheaper; and, secondly, by their total exclusion 
from a branch of business which it might 
be both convenient and profitable for many 
of them to carry on. It is for the most 
worthless of all purposes, too, that they are 
taxed in this manner. It is merely to enable 
the company to support the negligence, profusion
and malversation of their own servants, 
whose disorderly conduct seldom allows 
the dividend of the company to exceed the 
ordinary rate of profit in trades which are 
altogether free, and very frequently makes it