Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/244

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what it would be no great disaster to lose. The demand that saltpetre should be furnished to the Crown for a fixed sum Child met by those arguments, familiar to our generation, which prove that prices should be left to settle themselves. To the demand that the Company should bind itself to export annually two hundred thousand pounds' worth of English manufactures he very properly replied that the Company would most gladly export two millions' worth if the market required such a supply, and that, if the market were overstocked, it would be mere folly to send good cloth half round the world to be eaten by white ants. It was never, he declared with much spirit, found politic to put trade into straitlaced bodices, which, instead of making it grow upright and thrive, must either kill it or force it awry.

The Commons, irritated by Child's obstinacy, presented an address requesting the King to dissolve the Old Company, and to grant a charter to a new Company on such terms as to His Majesty's wisdom might seem fit.[182] It is plainly implied in the terms of this address that the Commons thought the King constitutionally competent to grant an exclusive privilege of trading to the East Indies.

The King replied that the subject was most important, that he would consider it maturely, and that he would, at a future time, give the House a more precise answer.[183] In Parliament nothing more was said on the subject during that session; but out of Parliament the war was fiercer than ever; and the belligerents were by no means scrupulous about the means which they employed. The chief weapons of the New Company were libels; the chief weapons of the Old Company were bribes.

In the same week in which the bill for the regulation of the Indian trade was suffered to drop, another bill which had produced great excitement and had called forth an almost unprecedented display of parliamentary ability, underwent the same fate.

During the eight years which preceded the Revolution, the Whigs had complained bitterly, and not more bitterly than