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quence; the reply to which was at first, that the increased impost was intended to have been accompanied by an Act abolishing all taxes on trades and professions, and which would have been, it was argued, an equivalent; but in the haste to impose a tax, the measure of relief or commutation was forgot

Afterwards the tax was reduced; not, however, by the same authority which imposed it, but by the executive Govern

The commutation Act, above alluded to, was afterwards passed, and is entitled “ An Act for abolishing Town duties and Múkauty, and all taxes upon trades and professions within the presidency of Bombay.” On reading this title we should say the official argument to reconcile the rioters to the Salt tax was scarcely fair, the Salt tax presses on the whole population ; not so the taxes on trades and professions; though for the most they may have been returned to the tradesmen in the price of their goods. There was therefore no fair commutation. There can however be no justification of a tax which drives à people to the verge of revolution. When taxation has gone to the limits of popular endurance, it is high time to reduce expenditure within the bounds of income; or to call on property for the necessary contributions. Taxes indefensible on general principles of taxation ought gratuitously to be abandoned by the Indian Government. The land revenue of India alone, properly managed, ought to pay all the just expences of the Government of India.

Among the minor Acts of this year should be noticed an Act respecting the expense of preparing copies of proceedings in [on] appeals to the Queen in Council. By the practice or law of appeals two copies are required, one for the appellant himself (we presume), the other for the Privy Council, of all the proceedings held and judgments or orders given in the case appealed and translations into English of such as are in the native languages. This Act casts on the appellant the expence of both copies, and authorizes the Court below to require a deposit by way of security to cover it.

An Act was passed this year to take the control and superintendence of Jails in Bengal and of the places of banishment and transportation, from the Judges of Circuit, Superintendents of Police and Sudder Nizamut Adalut, and to vest the control and Superintendence thereof in the Magistrates and Joint Magistrates acting under the instructions of the Zillah and City Judges; who-it is further enacted

Shall be guided in regard to all matters relating to the jails under their charge, the prisoners confined in them, the establishments thereto belonging and the places of banishment

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or transportation of prisoners, by such orders as they may receive from their respective local Governments.”

This Act shifts a burden from classes of elder to classes of junior Civil Servants, and accummulates fresh duties on the Local Govern

A man in a fever turns first on one side and then on the other, and in each change gets momentary relief; but this does not constitute the cure of the fever ; rather, it is the symptom; and so, as one is tempted to suppose, the Bengal Government

“ Turns its sides and its shoulders and its heavy head;" and its functioual derangements remain unaltered.

The only Act of Parliament transferred this year to the Act Book of India was the Statute 5 and 6. Vict. C. 39, amending the law relating to advances bona fide made to Agents intrusted with the goods of others.

The remaining Acts of 1844 are as follows. An Act relating to the Nawab of the Carnatic, for securing to His Highness, his family and retinue, certain privileges and immunities. An Act for Bengal, repealing an old regulation respecting gang robbery, &c. as having become obsolete by reason of its extreme severity. An Act to authorize the presidency Governments to remove prisoners under sentence of Courts martial, from one prison to-another. An Act for authorizing the institution of suits in the Courts of the Principal Sudder Amíns and Sudder Amíns. An Act to amend the law respecting the period of the execution of persons convicted of the crime of murder. An Act for regulating the proceedings of the Sudder Courts in regard to sentences of transportation for life. An Act extending the scale of customs on foreign Cotton and Silk Piece Goods to other foreign goods of a like description. An Act for bringing under the ordinary Courts of Bombay, the lapsed state of Colaba.

Having reached at present only the year 1845, it is evident we have not space to conclude the series. We will therefore here pause, and postpone the legislation of the last three years, including the whole period of Lord Hardinge's administration, to our next number; and the more readily so, because on such a subject a series of short articles is likely to have more readers than one long one.

COMMERCIAL MORALITY AND COMMERCIAL PROSPECTS, ETC. 163

ART. V.-The Bengal Hurkaru, the Englishman, and the Star

Newspapers, Calcutta ; and the Friend of India, Serampore; for December 1847, and January and February 1848.

PRIOR to the year 1814 the trade between Great Britain and British India was a monopoly in the hands of the East India Company The resident European merchants in India were settlers by permission of Government, and were rather agents for the receipt, custody, and remittance of money, than merchants engaged in ordinary commerce. By the charter of 1813 provision was made for the opening of the trade, and by the charter of 1833 the country was thrown open to European emigration. The former charter was the prelude to very extensive speculation, which seriously and in some cases fatally injured the mercantile firms of Calcutta. The latter charter caused a rapid increase of European settlers and gave a powerful stimulus to trade. Before the next charter is discussed in 1853, it is probable that the history of Commerce, at least in the Bengal Presidency, will present to view a series of calamities and a succession of delinquencies, unsurpassed in the annals of commerce throughout the world. But by that time we hope that the valuable trade between Great Britain and this country, will be regulated by the just influence of the enlightened public opinion of a large European community. The ascendancy of a few daring adventurers will have terminated, and by a just and stringent Insolvent law, constant communication with England, and the painful lesson of experience, Calcutta may rise in character as the abode of prosperous and honorable merchants carrying on a legitimate commerce of growing magnitude and importance.

At present the consideration of the system of trade here, and of its past history, can tend only to humiliation and alarm. So numerous, so desperate, and so vast, have been the breaches of trust that insolvency has developed in this country, so wild and so infatuated has been the course of speculation, and so presumptuous and so wanton have been the careers of extravagance and prodigality which have been pursued here, that public confidence is destroyed in Great Britain, and British capital may long be altogether withheld. Impartial men who are entirely unconnected with commerce, look on with amazement at the pretensions of traders without capital, who flourish in all the pride of apparent success and then become insolvent, and so are detected as reckless mercantile gamblers, whose careers terminate iu one insolvency only to commence again in fresh undaunted impositions on the credulity of the public. With contemptuous confidence in the simplicity of the community, men whose judgments and whose principles have alike been proved unsound, whose ability in trade seems to consist mainly in their consummate unscrupulousness in raising money to use in speculations, have long assumed to themselves a species of supremacy in the commerce of Calcutta ; and yet year after year passes without these delinquents being driven by the just rigour of the law, or the voice of insulted society, or the sense of shame, into the silence or ignominy which their frauds deserve. Men who commence without capital, commence here in a style of luxurious living; men who have difficulty in meeting the ordinary engagements of business, are the chief supporters of the Sunday hunts and the race-course ; traders, long after they become notoriously insolvent, continue to maintain their original appearances of wealth, and probably spend, before they finally take “ the benefit” of the Insolvent Act, a sum that would be deemed a fortune in England by many whom their recklessness ruins. The course of life, which in England is deemed suitable only to idle, ill-conditioned men of fortune and to the attendant panders who wait on them to plunder them,—the life of hunts, races, clubs, cards, and lordly household expenditurehas been the course of life here of not a few who have trembled for the news of successive mails, and have been compelled to resort to desperate shifts and stratagems to keep their firms out of the Insolvent Court. The whole system has been rotten. We have needed a commercial revolution. The commercial morality of Calcutta is a bye-word in every chamber of commerce in Europe. There is almost a total bankruptcy of character, the character of Britain as a mercantile nation has been sullied, and the name of Christian has been dishonored in the presence of the heathen. These are not words of exaggeration, but of truth and sober

A brief reference to the history of recent commercial catastrophes will illustrate what we say. But much that is known cannot be stated. Our community here is still so small, that all public matters are made personal matters throughout the society of the place. Public opinion, speaks so feebly, it has so long been influenced by such unworthy men, the constitution of society is so heterogeneous, there are so few who will vindicate their own integrity by severing themselves from the company of those in whom confidence is lost, that facts are denounced in whispers here, which in a well regulated community and under a faithful administration of a sufficiently stringent Insolvent law, would consign the guilty to merited exclusion from the company of their fellows. It is little for an insolvent to

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include in his schedule a sum due by a breach of trust; it is little for such an insolvent to pass the ordeal of the Insolvent Court without a single inquiry, and to drive away from its doors in his carriage, to renew with undiminished boldness, and without any rebuke from the society in which he has mixed, his old course of extravagance and speculation. Men are only reckoned

“unfortunate” who never had anything to lose, and who trifled without mercy and without success with the capital of others. The time has surely come for a full exposure and for an earnest denunciation of this system. Too long have we been content to bear the arrogance of speculators, who habitually hazarded property not their own, and claimed the palm for extravagance in their private households. Too long has the public mind been accustomed to the exhibition of fraudulent trading and excessive expenditure throughout the mercantile community of Bengal. It is time now, to speak out very plainly on this subject, and we shall not shrink from the duty. We can speak disinterestedly, independently, and without personal animosity. We are neither debtors, nor creditors, nor shareholders of any firm, bank, or company; we have not suffered by the delinquencies we denounce, nor are we under obligations to any of the delinquents. We violate no private friendship with them, for we never formed any. We never joined in their pursuits or sought their society. We are therefore free to speak boldly as public journalists, and we shall fearlessly exercise this liberty, in the confidence that our sentiments will be echoed by many here, and by the unanimous voice of public opinion at home.

We commence with a reference to the failure of “ the great houses," as they were called, in 1830 and 1832. The following is a detail of their admitted liabilities in round numbers, and of the dividends they paid.

Dividends pail.

Sicca Rupees. Palmer and Co

280 lakhs

30 per cent. Cruttenden, Mackillop and Co......... Alexander and Co....... Fergusson and Co......

36} Mackintosh and Co. Colvin and Co..........

291 Here there are the extraordinary facts, that the joint liabilities of six firms amounted to nearly fifteen crores of sicca rupees; that is, to nearly fifteen million pounds sterling, and that the average of their dividends was less than 25 per cent or five shillings in the pound,—not nearly four millions sterling; and leaving a net loss to the creditors of much more than ten millions! It is fair however to say, that the mode of realizing the

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