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PROPRIETORS OF EAST-INDIA STOCK.
The deep interest which you have at stake in the prosperity and continued connection of the eastern and western empire of Great Britain, has induced me to do myself the honour of dedicating to you the following pages.
The experience derived from passing one-third of my life in the Asiatic hemisphere, as an officer in his Majesty's Service, or as a private individual ; the knowledge obtained by visiting every quarter of the globe, and nearly all the foreign possessions of this country, and the relinquishment of my profession several years ago for the purpose of
acquiring an intimate knowledge of the commercial and political power of England, aided by an ardent desire to contribute my mite towards promoting the happiness of my fellow creatures, are my credentials for appearing before the public in order to aid in obtaining a dispassionate consideration of the momentous questions about to be submitted to the determination of Parliament.
With this object in view, I have analysed every disputed topic relative to the home and foreign affairs of India, aiming as much as possible at impartiality, for I am free to avow, that the evidence elicited by the Select Committees of Parliament has weakened previous impressions on my mind; and, without diminishing my respect for those who pertinaciously adhere to priority of opinion, that testimony has at least necessitated me to scrutinize more narrowly my own thoughts, and to deliberate more calmly on the wisdom or expediency of several proposed measures.
In a stormy period like the present, when men are almost compelled to form quick and energetic decisions, it is impossible to avoid being in some
degree swayed towards either side of an argument involving, not merely the ulterior destiny of the United Kingdom and of Hindostan, but of the entire habitable world; where I err, therefore, it must be attributed to the fallibility of human judgment :- I do not, however, hesitate to assert, that now, when society is in a state of transition, when a direful contest has already commenced between absolute monarchy on the one hand, and eager aspirations for liberty on the other, and when the vast peninsula of Asia is for the first time within record or tradition in the enjoyment of
range myself on the side of order, of civilization, and of freedom; but in doing so, I may be permitted to acknowledge, what indeed it would be futile to deny, that the EastIndia Company have materially contributed to enhance the commerce of this country, to enlarge extensively but safely the dominions of the Crown, and to advance the prosperity of one hundred million of its subjects.
That a vast and complicated government, which profound talent, local experience, and lengthened
years, have thus far firmly consolidated, may not in laudable efforts to improve it, be rashly undermined, is the sincere wish of,
Your most obedient servant,
Ivy Cottage, Highgate Hill,