Conceiving Companies: Joint-stock Politics in Victorian by Timothy Alborn

By Timothy Alborn

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The director John Malcolm lamented that the new blood had brought to the Company “party feelings, which must have a tendency to break that union which was once the strength of this body”; and worried that servants in India had consequently started paying more attention to the Board than to the Court (1826:II, 73). A compelling symbol of this new shift in the Company’s constituency was the appointment in 1817 of James Mill as examiner in the Leadenhall Street office. 10 The coming of Parliamentary reform in 1832 further polarized the respective claims of monopolists and free-traders to represent India’s true interests.

Having achieved their goal, these shareholders went looking for new ways to spend their time and money, leaving civil service reform bereft of even a minority of defenders within the Company. Adding insult to injury, one notable path taken by middle-class radicals after they had assisted in abolishing the Company’s trade monopoly was the “Young India” campaign to abolish the Company itself. Although being able to include James Mill as his ally in 1833 must have struck Macaulay as a political coup, this alliance counted for little to Manchester men like Richard Cobden and John Bright, who launched an all-out attack on the Company upon founding the Indian Reform Society in 1853 (Moore 1966:124–8).

Under the shadow of Burke s sexually laden assault on English adolescents serving in India, Malthus’s constant recourse to analogies from his writings on population took on an extra layer of meaning. This was the case, for instance, in his insistence that Haileybury s “specific object” was “to inculcate, gradually, manly feelings, manly studies, and manly selfcontroul, rather earlier than usual”—on the grounds that “[t]hose who go out to India, must and will be men the moment they reach the country…and there they will be immediately exposed to temptations of no common magnitude and danger” (317).

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