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muft daily diminifh, and be, in the mean time, very precarious.
It is, no doubt, an arduous tafk to undertake fo great a reformation; but abfolute power, fupported by juftice and common fenfe, will get the better of obftacles, which in other countries would be unfurmountable.
It will require the greateft talents, and the beft information as to fa&s, to bring fo great a change to a perfect execution: but let it be remembered, that William the Conqueror made a complete furvey and valuation of a country lefs known to him than Bengal is to the Eaft-India Company; and nothing prevents the Company from availing themfelves of the principles of the feudal fyftem of government in the execution of their plan.
If the whole lands of Bengal be valued.; if a book be made out for every diftricT: of the country, and for every city and principal town, and the rent payable to the Company by every pofleffiori be therein fpeA a
cified, it will be an eafy matter to eftablifh a fort of quit-rent which may be payable by the whole diftrict to fome man of confequence, who may be confidered as the fuperior lord of it, without giving him any jurifdiction which may enable him to opprefs the people or interrupt the fettled plan for levying the revenue. By this regulation the rents of the lands will pafs directly from the occupier into the hands of the Company; the circulation of money will be quicker; the revenue will be greatly augmented, and feveral of the moft confiderable people will be provided with revenues, independant of every one but the Company; inftead of the wealth of the country being fwallowed up, as at prefent, by the Shroffs, a fet of people of no confequence for fupporting the authority of government, but who, likeacanker-worm, are always preying upon the titals of the ftate.
Were this firft part of this plan put inexecution, another may be made to fucceed.
The labourers in Bengal are, for the moft part, manufacturers; part of their rents, inftead of being made payable in ficca rupees, might be made payable in. goods; and ftamp offices might be eftablifhed to afcertain their being made without defect.
In the proximity of great cities, and in very populous diftri&s, granaries might be eftablifhed, and part of the rents might be received in grain for the fupply of markets, at a price proportionate to the plenty of the year. Even thefe granaries may be converted into banks for grain, according to a plan which may be contrived for the circulation of fubfiftence, and even-x>f paper credit within a fmall diftricT:.
Thefe are mere hints which point out progreflive improvement; but were I here to enlarge upon them, they might appear fo very chimerical, as even to difcredit the thought itfelf. Let it, however, be obferved, that what is here propofed is not intended to be executed by dintof authority; it is calculated fo as to execute itfelf, as foon as the utility of it is perceived, and the credit of the Company is firmly eftablifhed.
I have, without fuccefs, itiveftigated every principle upon which a paper currency, under the authority, and upon the credit, of the Company, can be ejftablimed; but the principle upon which this branch of credit is grounded is totally incompatible with fovereign power; it is founded on private utility, and it has even occafion for zfuperior authority to keep it within bounds.
Were the Company to open a bank in Bengal, fuch as the Bank of England; were this bank to become there as the other is in London, the center of all circulation; and were it to get pofleflion of a great part of the coin of Bengal, what fecurity could be given, that, upon a prefiing occafion, this treafure might not be fpent in the defence of the country ? were it made a bank purely of depofit, like the banks of jdmJlerdam, Venice, Nuremberg, and many others upon the continent, the depofit contained in. it would be expofed to the fame danger. Were it eftablifhed upon the mortgage of land property, and upon the
beft perfonal fecurity, as the banks eftablifhed in Scotland are, the former inconvenience would not indeed be fo great, becaufe the quantity of the bank treafure never could carry fo high a proportion to the notes in circulation. But, on the other hand, where is there to be found a folid property in land to be mortgaged for fuch an immenfe quantity of paper as is theuu-. avoidable confequence of this plan of banking? and this growing deficient, the powers of fuch a bank would be very limited.
A fyftem of paper credit, fimilar to that eflablifhed in the Colonies of North America, where the paper is iffued upon no other fecurity than the bare promife of the Colony to make it effectual, with an obligation to receive it in payment of their taxes, but without providing any fund to pay upon demand either the capital contained in the note in fpecific coin, or even an intereft correfponding to the fum during the delay of payment, is fo defective a fcheme, and one fo liable to great objections, particularly fo that of gradually debating