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72 LORD CLIVE.

under a burning sun, for no other consideration than these
stinted wages. It had accordingly been understood, from a
very early period, that the Company’s agents were at liberty to
enrich themselves by their private trade. This practice had
been seriously inj urious to the commercial interests of the cor-
poration. That very intelligent observer, Sir Thomas Roe, in
the reign of James the First, strongly urged the Directors to
apply a remedy to the abuse. “Absolutely prohibit the private
trade,” said he; “for your business will be better done. I know
this is harsh. Men profess they come not for bare wages. But
you will take away this plea if you give great wages to their
content; and then you know what you part from.”

In spite of this excellent advice, the Company adhered to the
old system, paid low salaries, and connived at the indirect gains
of the agents. The pay of a member of Council was only three
hundred pounds a year. Yet it was notorious that such a
functionary could not live in India for less than ten times that
sum ; and it could not be expected that he would be content to
live even handsomely in India without laying up something
against the time of his return to England. This system, before
the conquest of Bengal, might alfect the amount of the dividends
payable to the proprietors, but could do little harm in any other
way. But the Company was now a ruling body. Its servants
might still be called factors, junior merchants, senior merchants.
But they were in truth proconsuls, proprzetors, procurators of
extensive regions. They had immense power. Their regular
pay was universally admitted to be insufiicient. They were, by
the ancient usage of the service, and by the implied permission
of their employers, warranted in enriching themselves by in-
direct means; and this had been the origin of the frightful
oppression and corruption which had desolated Bengal. Clive
saw clearly that it was absurd to give men power, and to require
them to live in penury. He justly concluded that no reform
could be etfectual which should not be coupled with a plan for

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