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than one hundred chests were sent off. the same manner as they would for themThis be stated from the accounts them- selves : therefore he held that this, and selves.
many other transactions of the court of ,,Mr. Hume replied that it would re directors shewed that as trustees of the main between him and the honorable di- Company's funds entrusted to their care rector to decide that point. For his own they did not act in the same manner that part he was ready to prove the contrary. they would have acted towards their own If the honorable director had seen any funds. In giving his vote to any person account upon the subject, so had he (Mr. placed within that bar, he expected that H.) himself; and from that account he every individual undertaking that trust would state positively, as a matter of fact, reposed in him, to manage the money enthat the price was not given in until two trusted to his care, would act with as thousand half chests were sent out. He much caution and prudence as if the was willing, however to take the assertion money belonged to himself. (Hear! hear!) of the honorable director for the present He was glad to hear the cheers of honoas true, and even upon his own statement rahle members, because it shewed their it appeared that one hundred chests had sense, at least, of what ought to be done. been sent off before the price was ascer He must consider that the attempt to tained. With this admission of an in- deprive the servants of the Company of stance, which he was afraid was only a those little advantages which had been part of a general practice before them, he always allowed them, was a paltry pettyintreated the court to agree to the pro- fogging transaction ; because the object posed by-law, for they were to look at evidently was to appropriate to themit, not as any thing which the court of selves that miserable advantage which directors wished to oppose, but as ought to belong to those persons who thing which they would be most anxious had possessed it in all times. But in
to adopt and carry into execution. He these shortsighted views of advantage, had no doubt that the court of directors, the authors of the speculation had been
as far as they were concerned, entertained totally defeated; for instead of consulta sincere desire to execute with fidelitying the wants of the market and adaptthe trust reposed in them: if so, then ing the supply to the consumption, they they need not be afraid of the operation at once determined to send out four thou. of this law; for it was only calling upon sand half chests of claret, hap hazard, them to see that the committee of buy- without considering how it would affect ing and selling fairly reported to their the interests of the servants who had court how they executed their contracts, before enjoyed this trade, or considering and how they expended the Company's what would be the result to the Commoney. The sole object of the law being pany. Having said thus much on this to prevent the directors from being left transaction, he would not detain the in ignorance of the contracts, for which court with entering into all the morti. the Company were liable, of the manner fying details connected with it; but in which their bargains were made. The he did intreat them for their own honour, necessity of such a regulation was obvious and for the interests of the Company, to when the result of this wine transaction to embrace the present opportunity of was known : for after calculating the compelling the directors to be a little interest of money and incidental expen more attentive than they had been to ses, and added to this the dead loss these transactions, and to impose upon upon the sale, it would be found that them the necessity of considering that the Company had not received in re they were appointed to take care of the turn more than £35,000, whilst the interests of the Company, and that adventure itself amounted to £80,000, they were bound to look after those - for the ordinary expences of the trans interests with the same anxiety that action, added to the prime cost of they would their own. He had too the wine. Therefore, with this most ex much reason to fear that the directors traordinary transaction in proof before did not feel that interest in the conthe court, no good man present could cerns of the Company that they did in stand up to oppose a law, the object of their own ; for he had now to state, with which was to guard the Company from the deepest regret, that lie had heard, the loss incident to speculations carried within the last forty-eight hours, that so on upon such an improvident principle, far from the directors confining themselves He held in his hand the list of those to the payment of £26 per ton for their gentlemen who in the year 1814 formed shipping, at a time when tonnage might the buying and selling committee; and be procured at £12 and £14, and perhaps it was to be remarked that committee at somewhat less, they had just underconsisted of sailors and soldiers, who taken, within the last few days, to give knew nothing of commerce. The court £28 per ton to some individuals, nothad a right to expect that the directors, withstanding the distinct proposition in acting for the Company, would act in agreed upon at the last court, that the
If it was
freight to be paid to any person, under any by that determination, it would be imcircumstances, should not exceed £26 per possible for the Company to meet and ton. He would venture to say, as he had overcome those difficulties which they on a former occasion, that if the direc had on all sides to encounter. tors were to look for freight at the price really the wish of the court of directors of the day, they could obtain it to any to act as had been stated, like all other amount at from £12 to £15 per ton. merchants, he hoped they would not opThis was a fact which he stated with the pose this by-law, which was the first greatest confidence. But what was the step towards åttaining the execution of answer made him at the last court by that principle ; and on that ground he an honorable director now present (Mr. hoped that no further opposition would Grant), when he urged this decisive ob. be inade to the wholesome regulation jection to the rninous system which the proposed. Company were pursuing ? Why, the re. Mr. Elphinstone wished that the court ply made by the hon. director was, would not take for granted all that had ** What would you do? Would you ruin been stated by the hon. gentleman who £3,000,000 of property belonging to these spoke last, as if it was founded in facta ship.owners ?" To this he (Mr.H.) would The hou. gentleman had either fallen inreply, that so far from ruining the ship to wilful errors upon this subject, or he owners, his object would be to prevent had stated circumstances which he knew those who, in fact, had the arms in their could not be proved by evidence. He hands, from ruining the Company. The would demonstrate that there was not a object was not to rain, but to create the shadow of foundatioù, in fact, for the capitai of the ship owners. Within the circumstances which he had detailed. last eight months he, who was not de was true he was not able to meet the hon. sirous of destroying the capital of that gentleman in talking, but he was ready body of men, had been a party to a sys to meet him at a table with pen, ink tem of taking up six new ships for six and paper, and prove to the satisfaction voyages, at the rate of £26 or £28 per of every one, by the strongest evidence, con. Was this ruining the capital of the that what the hon. gentleman had brought ship-owners ? On the contvary, was it forward as facts were without the least not creating new capital for persons who foundation. The more the hon. gentle. had never tendered their ships before ?" man investigated the subject of which he therefore, so far from meeting the views professed to be the historian, the more (as was pretended) of the old ship-own- he would find that he was bottomed in ers, it was in fact entering into new con fallacy and error ; for he had not added tracts of the like injurious tendency. It one circumstance to his story which was was entailing upon the Company £26 per not capable of being directly negatived by ton for the freight of their goods for proof. There was not, he believed, a sube twelve years to come, and this at a time ject more thoroughly investigated and when they might have got freight of the examined into than that which the hon, same quality from £16 to £18 per ton. gentleman had made the theme of his Undoubtedly, it was but justice to say, attack upon the court of directors. The that the system of buying by contract had hon. gentleman might' garble facts, and been carried on here under the superin- might make long oratorical speeches ; but tendance of gentlemen, under circum- he defied him to read a single historical stances highly advantageous to the Com- extract in support of that which he had papy; and he believed that, notwithstand- contended for. Now, with respect to the ing all that Irad been said against that claret transaction, the hon. gentleman system, it would appear that the practice supposed it to have originated with the of buying by contract. had enabled the committee of buying and selling; but the Company to purchase their stores at a fact was, that it'originated in the court rate cheaper by twenty per cent than they of directors, with whom all the responcould by any other means. But after the sibility of it rested. The hon. gentleman melancholy experience which the court had contended that that transaction was had had in the instance to which he had injurious to the Company ; but he would before alluded, he hoped the court would contend that at the time it was entered see the advantage of profiting by an un into it appeared the most promising for toward example, and that they would re the interests of the Company that could lieve themselves from the peril of utter then have been adopted. But as to the ruin by, placing such checks upon the hon. gentleman's statement of the mode conduet of the directors as would pre in which the wine'was sent out, it was veat the recurrence of the like misfor- totally erroneous ; the fact was, that tune. But above all, he intreated the there were about a hundred chiests shipcourt of directors to feel and act in the ped off in the first instance, before the concerns of the Company as if they were price was known; and there was a partitheir own; because he was quite per- cular reason for that. There was then pueded, that unless they were animated a ship on the point of sailing, and one
of the agents had it in his power to ship time the wine was not in this country, off a hundred chests, which in the or and remained to be purchased in the dinary course of business could not have country from whence it was to be importgone. Now as to the manner in which ed. But at whatever time the price was the wine was bought, it was perfectly known, he would undertake to say, that consistent with the manner in which every for goodness of quality the wine was private merchaut dealt. Would any man purchased at a price much lower than of commou sense, or knowledge of mer could have been obtained had it been cantile business, in this great towy), think purehased upon the principle of open conof advertising to the world that he want tract. Thus much, then, he had to state ed a supply of a certain sort of wine? in answer to the hon. gentleman. He Certainly no merchant acquainted with could not figlit him with words-he could the wine trade would go to work in that not speak for three hours, still less coall way. The Company went to the man to he devote four or five weeks to prepare a whom they had been recommended, as a speech; but lie would undertake to put person who would serve them honestly the hon. gentleman down in five minutes, and conscientiously. But the hon.geutle- if he would condescend to give him the men talked about the wine sailing in one meeting at a table. parcel : why his object must have been Mr. Hume said he was ready to re-asto deceive the court by such a statement; sert the facts which he had stated, and because the lion. gentleman must know moreover to prove them to demonstration himself that the wine did not go out all from the Company's own accounts. It at ouce, but that it in fact went out at dif would appear, upon referring to those acferent times and seasons, just after the counts, that the price of fifty-eight shillings manner in which all other wines were sent per dozen was vever reported until the out. If they had sent out the whole 8th December 1815, the wine having been quantity, the Company knew very well purchased in May 1814-so that the order they must have laboured under the disad was given near two years before the price Vantage of a glutted market. It was, was known; added to which, that the however, to be lamented, that when it wine had arrived in parcels at its destinaarrived in India it had to encounter an tion before the directors condescended to unaccountable prejudice The people in inquire what price they were to pay. So India set their faces against it, God knows much, then, for the charge against him why; for if the reports upon the subject of having garbled facts. He was quite were read, it would appear clearly that ready to meet the hon. director in the the object of the Company was to serve way proposed, and he would undertake to the gentlemen of India honestly, and with prove that the price of the four thousand the best commodity. Certain it was, half chests was not reported to the direc
that the wine had to combat with a pre tors until the 8th Dec. 1815. He was injudiced market; which could only be at duced to bring this subject forward, not tributed to the influence of persons who as a matter of inclination (for in fact he did not intend to act upon the same prin had no wish to do so), but in conseciples of honesty and fair dealing with quence of the hon, director's having stated which the Company were actuated, and in round terms, that the directors in all who did not like to have such competitors their transactions dealt like other merin the market. The fact, however, un chants. It was for the court to judge fortunately was, that the gentlemen in whether that was true, after this stateIndia sent the wine home again, telling ment of the wine transaction ; and it was the Company that it was not only not for them to'say, as merchants, whether good, but not fit to be drank. The wine they would make purchases of any comaccordingly came home, but upon being modity without troubling themselves about tasted it was found that better wine never the price until nearly two years after was tasted ; and consequently it was dis wards. covered that the gentlemen of India had The Deputy Chairman (having accounts been the victims of some artful delusions. in his hand) said, that the hon, gentleThe fact which the Company believed, as man was under a gross mistake when he accounting for this extraordinary preju stated, that the price of the wine was dice was, that Mr. David Robertson had em not reported until the 8th Dec. 1815. ployed some of his friends in India to cry The fact was, as appeared from the ac. down the Company's wine, in order that his counts which he held in his hand, that own wine might maintain the advantage the price of one half of the wine orwhich it had acquired, most unaccount dered was reported at fifty-eight shilably, in the estimation of the wine buyers. lings per dozen on the 9th Dec. 1814, inSo much then for the badness of the wine. stead of the 8th Dec. 1815. This proved As to the price, it was absurd to suppose what a happy knack the hon. gentleman that the persons who sold the wine to the had of mistaking facts, which might suit Company could fix the price at the time the plürpose of the moment. If the hon. it was contracted for; because at that gent. would condescend to look again at Asiatic Journ.No. 26.
Vol. V. Y
the ininutes of the transaction, he would now lived amongst them for sixty years,
called upon to decide. It ought to be Mr. Hume begged leave to explain, by put out of the question now before the stating that in substance what he had court, which was, whether this by-law said was correct. In May 1814 the order ought to pass. For his own part, he must was given for two thousand half chests, state, in the outset of the few words he the price of which was not reported until had to say, that the by-law now prothe December following. After those posed did not meet his approbation. The two thousand half chests were delivered, Company's export trade could not be but before the price was known, they carried on without a certain degree of gave a further order for two thousand half competition, but he was of opinion that chests more. So that before they had to attempt to carry on that trade by pubdetermined what price they should give lic advertisement would be to destroy it. for the remainder, they gave the addi In that point of view therefore he thought tional order for two thousand more, before the by-law proposed was totally impracthey knew the price of the first quantity. ticable and unnecessary. He had now If the hon. director would himself read, been a great many years in the direction, before he admonished other persons for and the experince he had in those years their supposed error, he would find that enabled him at least to form some judgethe price of the first two thousand half ment upon the subject. He had heard a chests was not given before the order good deal of this wine transaction ; and issued to buy the remainder.
after the experience he had had in his busiThe Deputy Chairman begged leave to ness of a merchant, he would stake his repeat, that the first two thousand half character on that transaction. The shipchests were actually delivered and the ping of the wine did not originate with price known before the remainder was the gentlemen who constituted the buying ordered. That was, in fact, a separate and selling committee, but with the transaction, and that part of the wine court of directors who combined in the was shipped separately. The directors consideration of the subject their exhad received an account of the price of perience as merchants, having an anxious the first two thousand half chests deliver desire to do what appeared to them to be ed before the order was given for the beneficial to the Company. The court of remainder. The wine was not shipped proprietors should be informed that the all at once, but in separate parcels, as the directors had been turning their attensupposed demand of the market required tion to every thing that could create funds a supply. In 1814 part of the wine was in India. Some years before that they ordered, and the remainder in the year had turned their attention to the expefollowing
diency of carrying on the wine trade. Mr. Elphinstone requested permission Their determination at last to carry that to explain. The hon. gent. had chosen idea into effect was not at all influenced by to point his observations at him with a wish to interfere with individual inte. respect to the woollen manufactures, and rests. Every man knew that some years built upon what he had said on that sub ago Mhe Company might have sold twenty ject an hypothesis in order to suit his tiines the quantity of wine which was own purposes, in aid of his argument now spoken of, if they had embarked in upon the wine transaction. He (Mr. E.) that part of trade; for in fact the conhad merely alluded to the woollen manu sumers at that time could not get what facture, as one instance, amougst many they wanted. When the madeira wine others, to justify the principles upon trade was first taken up by the Company, which the directors had acted in making the directors had laid before them a list purchases. The same principle he had of all the houses in the wine trade that argued applied to other cases. He had existed at Madeira of the best reputation. never said, nor would ever say any thing Had they then resorted to the plan now in that court but what he thought to be proposed, of purchasing by open competihonest and true. He never tried to de- tion, the Company would have had all the ceive the court of proprietors, in any wine dealers in town upon them, and part of his past life and certainly he they would be left to uncertainty as to would not attempt to do so now. He the character and reputation of the deahad lived too long amongst them, and he ler with whom they might at last conrespected their character and his own too 'tract : so that, in fact, they would have much to resort to any artifice. He had no security for the quality of the article
which, they bought. It was absolutely nion that the by-law which required that necessary that the Company should have six directors should go out of office at some warranty of the article co be expor the end of every four years, had been ted, but this could only be obtained by attended with very great inconvenience the practice of dealing with respectable in its execution, in so far as it often proestablished houses, of known reputation. duced a change of men unacquainted with Out of all question, the mode of dealing the mode of proceeding previously adoptby public advertisement was pregnant ed by their predecessors. The views, inwith another evil, in as much as it opened deed, of the directors, in this particular a door to combination against the Com transaction had unfortunately been attenpany, who might suffer by ihe speculations ded with ill success, in consequence of of persons of large capital. This system circumstances which they could not have was besides impracticable, when it was anticipated. The fact was, that there considered how difficult it was for the was a certain number of persons who Company to ascertain of their own know liad expected to share in the profit of ledge, the character and qnality of the supplying this wine, and the whole of article they bought. The directors might the ill success of the speculation arose judge of the price, but they could not from jealousy. They had been defeated in know any thing of the quality of the arti their expectations of influencing the court cle. If they went to a man of character of directors in their favour; a principle in trade, and he did not serve them well, against which the directors had at all why then they would not deal with him times set their faces, on account of its ténagain. This was the principle upon which dency to defeat the very object which they the Company had hitherto acted, as one had in view, of benefiting the Company. which they had found advantageous to It was on account of this known de. their interests. When the subject of the termination of the directors not to suffer wine transaction was taken up by the tbeinselves to be affected by private indirectors, they gave it mature considera fluence that this jealousy had arisen : and tion, they looked to the state of the here it should be incutioned again in jusmarket abroad, and they calculated upon tice to the committee of buying and selthe probable advantages of such a specu ling, that if they had had the least idea that lation. It was at last determined hy the the pursuit of this trade would he likely court that they should have the article of to produce any jujury to the Company's claret amongst their exports, with a view officers, they would have abandoned theidea expressly to improve the funds of the at:once. But the fact was, it was under the Company in India. The object was to conviction that this trade was passing out have the wine in the month of March or of the hands of the officers, and therefore April following, but it was found to be it was taken up by the Company. The impossible to supply such a quantity officers were deprired of this trade under without giving due notice to the mer the late renewal of the Company's charter, chants who were to import it from by which the world were let into compeFrance. After much discussion of whom tition with the ordinary trade of India it should be bought, two of the most belonging to the Company. The trade respectable merchants were fixed upon. having in fact passed from their hands, it He (Mr. I.) himself was at that time was wise and prudent that they should buying claret and he knew pretty well take advantage of the circumstances of what was the state of the market, and the times. The Company were bound, as at what price claret was selling. Being a commercial body to avail themselves of one of the committee of buying and sel every opportunity to improve their own ling, he put it to the character of the per funds, which could only be done by comsons chosen to supply the best wine at mercial speculation. The Company therethe lowest possible price. Those gentle. fore argued, first, when they entered into men gave it as the reason why they could this uew trade that they were violating no not then fix the price, that the wine had private claims of their own servants ; not yet been iinported, and therefore it and secondly, that there was the less diswas impossible to ascertain it. The par credit in their taking up such a trade, ties were informed that the trade would when they had an opportunity of compeprobably become of considerable extent, ting successfully with private traders. The and that the Company's character would purchasers of wine in India might be very depend upon the quality of the article good judges of that article: but it did supplied. Now he would pnt it to the sometimes happen that they were governcourt of proprietors whether there could ed in their judgment, not so much by the be a better practical mode adopted than quality of the wine as the name of the this, of entering upon such a speculation. person by whoin it was sold. Therefore, It appeared to him that the court could if it happened that the wine brought to not have pursued a more advantageous market did not come from a particular course. But whilst he made this obser- , house, the agents of that house . would vation, he could not but express his opi. take good care to circulate a report that