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falsely and injuriously represented as infringing upon the prerogative of the crown.

Before the year 1773 the whole administration of India, and the whole patronage to office there, was in the hands of the East India company. The East India company is not a branch of his majesty's prerogative administration, nor does that body exercise any species of authority under it, nor indeed from any British title, that does not derive all its legal validity from acts of parliament.

When a claim was asserted to the India territorial possessions in the occupation of the company, these possessions were not claimed as parcel of his majesty's patrimonial estate, or as a fruit of the ancient inheritance of his crown. They were claimed for the publick. And when agreements were made with the East India company concerning any composition for the holding, or any participation of the profits of those territories, the agreement was made with the publick, and the preambles of the several acts have uniformly so stated it. These agreements were not made (even nominally) with his majesty, but with parliament; and the bills making and establishing such agreements always originated in this house, which appropriated the money to await the disposition of parliament, without the ceremony of previous consent from the crown even so much as suggested by any of his ministers; which previous consent is an observance of decorum, not indeed of strict right, but generally paid when a new appropriation takes place in any part of his majesty's prerogative revenues.

In pursuance of a right thus uniformly recognised, and uniformly acted on, when parliament undertook the reformation of the East India company in 1773, a commission was appointed as the commission in the late bill was appointed; and it was made to continue for a term of years, as the commission in the late bill was to continue; all the commissioners were named in parliament, as in the late bill they were named. As they received, so they held their offices, wholly independent of the crown; they held them for a fixed term; they were not removable by an address of either house, or even of both houses of parliament, a precaution observed in the late bill, relative to the commissioners proVOL. II.

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posed therein; nor were they bound by the strict rules of proceeding which regulated and restrained the late commissioners against all possible abuse of a power which could not fail of being diligently and zealously watched by the ministers of the crown, and the proprietors of the stock, as well as by parliament. Their proceedings were, in that bill, directed to be of such a nature as easily to subject them to the strictest revision of both, in case of any malversation.

In the year 1780, an act of parliament again made provision for the government of those territories for another four years, without any sort of reference to prerogative; nor was the least objection taken at the second, more than at the first of those periods, as if an infringement had been made upon the rights of the crown; yet his majesty's ministers have thought fit to represent the late commission as an entire innovation on the constitution, and the setting up a new order and estate in the nation, tending to the subversion of the monarchy itself.

If the government of the East Indies, other than by his majesty's prerogative, be, in effect, a fourth order in the common-wealth, this order has long existed; because the East India company has for many years enjoyed it in the fullest extent, and does at this day enjoy the whole administration of those provinces, and the patronage to offices throughout that great empire, except as it is controled by act of parliament.

It was the ill-condition, and ill-administration of the company's affairs, which induced this house (merely as a temporary establishment) to vest the same powers which the company did before possess, (and no other) for a limited time, and under very strict directions, in proper hands, until they could be restored, or further provision made concerning them. It was therefore no creation whatever of a new power, but the removal of an old power, long since created, and then existing, from the management of those persons who had manifestly and dangerously abused their trust. This house, which well knows the parliamentary origin of all the company's powers and privileges, and is not ignorant or negligent of the authority which may vest those powers and privileges in others, if justice and the publick safety so re

quire, is conscious to itself, that it no more creates a new order in the state, by making occasional trustees for the direction of the company, than it originally did in giving a much more permanent trust to the directors, or to the general court of that body. The monopoly of the East India company was a derogation from the general freedom of trade belonging to his majesty's people. The powers of government, and of peace and war, are parts of prerogative of the highest order. Of our competence to restrain the rights of all his subjects by act of parliament, and to vest those high and eminent prerogatives even in a particular company of merchants, there has been no question. We beg leave most. humbly to claim as our right, and as a right which this house has always used, to frame such bills, for the regulation of that commerce, and of the territories held by the East India company, and every thing relating to them, as to our discretion shall seem fit: and we assert and maintain, that therein we follow, and do not innovate on the constitution.

That his majesty's ministers, misled by their ambition, have endeavoured, if possible, to form a faction in the country against the popular part of the constitution; and have therefore thought proper to add to their slanderous accusation against a house of parliament, relative to his majesty's prerogative, another of a different nature, calculated for the purpose of raising fears and jealousies among the corporate bodies of the kingdom, and of persuading uninformed persons belonging to those corporations to look to, and to make addresses to them as protectors of their rights, under their several charters, from the designs which they, without any ground, charged the then house of commons to have formed against charters in general. For this purpose they have not, scrupled to assert, that the exertion of his majesty's prerogative in the late precipitate change in his administration, and the dissolution of the late parliament, were measures adopted in order to rescue the people and their rights out of the hands of the house of commons, their representatives.

We trust that his majesty's subjects are not yet so far de-' luded as to believe that the charters, or that any other of their local or general privileges can have a solid security in any place but where that security has always been looked for,

and always found, in the house of commons. Miserable and precarious indeed would be the state of their franchises, if they were to find no defence but from that quarter from whence they have always been attacked.* But the late

The attempt upon charters and the privileges of the corporate bodies of the kingdom in the reigns of Charles the Second, and James the Second, was made by the crown. It was carried on by the ordinary course of law, in courts instituted for the security of the property and franchises of the people. This attempt made by the crown, was attended with complete suc


The corporate rights of the city of London, and of all the companies it contains, were by solemn judgment of law declared forfeited, and all their franchises, privileges, properties and estates, were of course seized into the hands of the crown. The injury was from the crown; the redress was by parliament. A bill was brought into the bouse of common, by which the judgment against the city of London, and against the companies, was reversed; and this bill passed the house of lords without any complaint of trespass on their jurisdiction, although the bill was for a reversal of a judgment in law. By this act, which is in the second of William and Mary, chap. 8, the question of forfeiture of that charter is for ever taken out of the power of any court of law. No cognisance can be taken of it except in parliament.

Although the act above-mentioned has declared the judgment against the corporation of London to be illegal; yet Blackstone makes no scruple of asserting, that “ perhaps in strictness of law, the proceedings in most of them [the Quo Warranto causes] were sufficiently regular," leaving it in doubt, whether this regularity did not apply to the corporation of London, as well as to any of the rest; and he seems to blame the proceeding (as most blameable it was) not so much on account of illegality, as for the crown's having employed a legal proceeding for political purposes. He calls it " an exertion of an act of law for the purposes of the state."

The same security which was given to the city of London, would have been extended to all the corporations, if the house of commons could have prevailed. But the bill for that purpose passed but by a majority of one in the lords; and it was entirely lost by a prorogation, which is the act of the crown. Small, indeed, was the security which the corporation of London enjoyed, before the act of William and Mary, and which all the other corporations secured by no statute, enjoy at this hour, if strict law was employed against them. The use of strict law has always been rendered very delicate by the same means, by which the almost unmeasured legal powers residing (and in many instances dangerously residing) in the crown, are kept within due bounds; I mean, that strong superintending power in the house of commons, which inconsiderate people have been prevailed on to condemn as trenching on prerogative. Strict law is by no means such a friend to the rights of the subject, as they have been taught to believe. They who have been the most conversant in this kind of learning, will be most sensible of the danger of submitting corporate rights of high political importance to these subordinate tribunals. The general heads of law on that subject are

house of commons in passing that bill, made no attack upon any powers or privileges, except such as a house of commons has frequently attacked, and will attack (and they trust, in the end, with their wonted success) that is, upon those which are corruptly and oppressively administered; and this house do faithfully assure his majesty, that we will correct, and, if necessary for the purpose, as far as in us lies, will wholly destroy every species of power and authority exercised by British subjects to the oppression, wrong, and detriment of the people, and to the impoverishment and desolation of the countries subject to it.

vulgar and trivial. On them there is not much question. But it is far from easy to determine what special acts, or what special neglect of action, shall subject corporations to a forfeiture. There is so much laxity in this doctrine, that great room is left for favour or prejudice, which might give to the crown an entire dominion over those corporations. On the other hand, it is undoubtedly true, that every subordinate corporate right ought to be subject to control; to superiour direction; and even to forfeiture upon just cause. In this reason and law agree. In every judg ment given on a corporate right of great political importance, the policy and prudence make no small part of the question. To these considerations a court of law is not competent; and indeed an attempt at the least intermixture of such ideas with the matter of law, could have no other effect, than wholly to corrupt the judicial character of the court, in which such a cause should come to be tried. It is besides to be remarked, that if in virtue of a legal process a forfeiture should be adjudged, the court of law has no power to modify or mitigate. The whole franchise is annihilated, and the corporate property goes into the hands of the crown. They who hold the new doctrines concerning the power of the house of commons, ought well to consider in such a case by what means the corporate rights could be revived, or the property could be recovered out of the hands of the crown. But parliament can do, what the courts neither can do nor ought to attempt. Parliament is competent to give due weight to all political considerations. It may modify; it may mitigate; and it may render perfectly secure, all that it does not think fit to take away. It is not likely that parliament will ever draw to itself the cognisance of questions concerning ordinary corporations, farther than to protect them in case attempts are made to induce a forfeiture of their franchises.

The case of the East India company is different even from that of the greatest of these corporations. No monopoly of trade, beyond their own limits, is vested in the corporate body of any town or city in the kingdom. Even within these limits the monopoly is not general. The company has the monopoly of the trade of half the world. The first corporation of the kingdom, has for the object of its jurisdiction only a few matters of subordinate police. The East India company governs an empire through all its concerns, and all its departments, from the lowest office of economy to the high

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