I must first make your Lordships acquainted with a little preliminary matter. A man named Roy Rada Churn had been appointed vakeel, or agent, to manage the Nabob's affairs at Calcutta. One of this man's creditors attached him there. Roy Rada Churn pleaded his privilege as the vakeel or representative of a sovereign prince. The question came to be tried in the Supreme Court, and the issue was, Whether the Nabob was a sovereign prince or not. I think the court did exceedingly wrong in entertaining such a question; because, in my opinion, whether he was or was not a sovereign prince, any person representing him ought to be left free, and to have a proper and secure means of concerting his affairs with the Council. It was, however, taken otherwise; the question was brought to trial, whether the Nabob was a sovereign prince sufficient to appoint and protect a person to manage his affairs, under the name of an ambassador. In that cause did Mr. Hastings come forward to prove, by a voluntary affidavit, that he had no pretensions, no power, no authority at all,—that he was a mere pageant, a thing of straw,—and that the Company exercised every species of authority over him, in every particular, and in every respect; and that, therefore, to talk of him as an efficient person was an affront to the common sense of mankind: and this you will find the judges afterwards declared to be their opinion.
I will here press again one remark, which perhaps you may recollect that I have made before, that the chief and most usual mode in which all the villanies perpetrated in India, by Mr. Hastings and his co-partners in iniquity, has been through the medium and instrumentality of persons whom they pretended to have rights of their own, and to be acting for themselves; whereas such persons were, in fact, totally dependent upon him, Mr. Hastings, and did no one act that was not prescribed by him. In order, therefore, to let you see the utter falsehood, fraud, prevarication, and deceit of the pretences by which the native powers of India are represented to be independent, and are held up as the instruments of defying the laws of this kingdom, under pretext of their being absolute princes, I will read the affidavit of Warren Hastings, Esquire, Governor-General of Bengal, made the 31st July, 1775.
"This deponent maketh oath, and saith, That the late President and Council did, in or about the month of August, 1772, by their own authority appoint Munny Begum, relict of the late Nabob, Mir Jaffier Ali Khan, to be guardian to the present Nabob, Mobarek ul Dowlah, and Rajah Gourdas, son of Maha Rajah Nundcomar, to be dewan of the said Nabob's household, allowing to the said Munny Begum a salary of 140,000 rupees per annum, and to the said Rajah Gourdas, for himself and officers, a salary of 100,000 rupees per annum: That the said late President and Council did, in or about the month of August, 1772, plan and constitute regular and distinct courts of justice, civil and criminal, by their own authority, for administration of justice to the inhabitants throughout Bengal, without consulting the said Nabob or requiring his concurrence, and that the said civil courts were made solely dependent on the Presidency of Calcutta; and the said criminal courts were put under the inspection and control of the Company's servants, although ostensibly under the name of the Nazim, as appears from the following extracts from the plan for the administration of justice, constituted by the President and Council as aforesaid."
My Lords, we need not go through all the circumstances of this affidavit, which is in your minutes, and, to save time, I will refer your Lordships to them. This affidavit, as I have already said, was put into the court to prove that the Nabob had no power or authority at all; but what is very singular in it, and which I recommend to the particular notice of your Lordships, when you are scrutinizing this matter, is, that there is not a single point stated, to prove the nullity of this Nabob's authority, that was not Mr. Hastings's on particular act. Well, the Governor-General swears; the judge of the court refers to him in his decision; he builds and bottoms it upon the Governor-General's affidavit;—he swears, I say, that the Council, by their own authority, appointed Munny Begum to be guardian to the Nabob.
"By what authority," the Governor-General asks, "did the Council erect courts of law and superintend the administration of justice, without any communication with the Nabob? Had the Nabob himself any idea that he was a sovereign? Does he complain of the reduction of his stipend or the infringement of treaties? No; he appears to consider himself to be, what in fact he really is, absolutely dependent on the Company, and to be willing to accept any pittance they would allow him for his maintenance: he claims no rights. Does he complain that the administration of justice is taken into the hands of the Company? No: by the treaty, the protection of his subjects is delivered up to the Company; and he well knew, that, whoever may be held up as the ostensible prince, the administration of justice must be in the hands of those who have power to enforce it." He goes on,—"The Governor-General, who, I suppose, had a delicacy to state more than what had before been made public, closes his affidavit with saying that all he has deposed to he believes to be publicly known, as it is particularly set forth in the printed book entitled 'Reports of the Committee of the House of Commons.' I knew," he adds, "it was there, and was therefore surprised at this application; it is so notorious, that everybody in the settlement must have known it: when I say everybody, I mean with an exception to the gentlemen who have applied to the court. The only reason I can give for their applying is the little time they have been in the country." The judge (I think it is Chief-Justice Impey) then goes on,—"Perhaps this question might have been determined merely on the dates of the letters to the Governor-General; but as the Council have made the other a serious question, I should not have thought that I had done my duty, if I had not given a full and determinate opinion upon it: I should have been sorry, if I had left it doubtful whether the empty name of a Nabob should be thrust between a delinquent and the laws, so as effectually to protect him from the hand of justice."
My Lords, the court, as you see, bottoms its determination on what we stand upon here, Mr. Hastings's evidence, that the empty name of a pretended sovereign should not be thrust forth between a delinquent and justice.
What does Mr. Le Maistre, the other judge, say upon this occasion? "With regard to this phantom, that man of straw, Mobarek ul Dowlah, it is an insult on the understanding of the court to have made the question of his sovereignty. But as it came from the Governor-General and Council, I have too much respect for that body to treat it ludicrously, and I confess I cannot consider it seriously, and we always shall consider a letter of business from the Nabob the same as a letter from the Governor-General and Council."
This is the unanimous opinion of all the judges concerning the state and condition of the Nabob. We have thus established the point we mean to establish: that any use which shall be made of the Nabob's name for the purpose of justifying any disobedience to the orders of the Company, or of bringing forward corrupt and unfit persons for the government, could be considered as no other than the act of the persons who shall make such a use of it; and that no letter that the Nabob writes to any one in power was or could be considered as any other than the letter of that person himself. This we wish to impress upon your Lordships, because, as you have before seen the use that has been made in this way of the Nabob of Oude, you may judge of the use that has been made of the name of Hyder Beg Khan, and of the names of all the eminent persons of the country.
One word more and I have done. If, whilst you remark the use that is made of this man's name, your Lordships shall find that this use has ever been made of his name for his benefit, or for the purpose of giving him any useful or substantial authority, or of meliorating his condition in any way whatever; forgive the fraud, forgive the disobedience. But if we have shown your Lordships that it was for no other purpose than to disobey the orders of the Company, to trample upon the laws of his country, to introduce back again, and to force into power, those very corrupt and wicked instruments which had formerly done so much mischief, and for which mischief they were removed, then we shall not have passed our time in vain, in endeavoring to prove that this man, in the opinion of a court of justice, and by public notoriety, and by Mr. Hastings's own opinion, was held to be fit for nothing but to be made a tool in his hands.
* * * * *
Having stated to your Lordships generally the effects produced upon the Mahometan interest of Bengal by the misconduct of the prisoner at your bar with respect to the appointment of the guardian of the Nabob or Subahdar of that province, and of the ministers of his government, I shall have the honor of attending your Lordships another day, and shall show you the use that has been made of this government and of the authority of the Nabob, who, as your Lordships have seen, was the mere phantom of power; and I shall show how much a phantom he was for every good purpose, and how effectual an instrument he was made for every bad one.
EIGHTH DAY: SATURDAY, JUNE 14, 1794
My Lords,—Your Lordships heard, upon the last day of the meeting of this high court, the distribution of the several matters which I should have occasion to lay before you, and by which I resolved to guide myself in the examination of the conduct of Mr. Hastings with regard to Bengal. I stated that I should first show the manner in which he comported himself with regard to the people who were found in possession of the government when we first entered into Bengal. We have shown to your Lordships the progressive steps by which the native government was brought into a state of annihilation. We have stated the manner in which that government was solemnly declared by a court of justice to be depraved, and incompetent to act, and dead in law. We have shown to your Lordships (and we have referred you to the document) that its death was declared upon a certificate of the principal attending physician of the state, namely, Mr. Warren Hastings himself. This was declared in an affidavit made by him, wherein he has gone through all the powers of government, of which he had regularly despoiled the Nabob Mobarek ul Dowlah, part by part, exactly according to the ancient formula by which a degraded knight was despoiled of his knighthood: they took, I say, from him all the powers of government, article by article,—his helmet, his shield, his cuirass; at last they hacked off his spurs, and left him nothing. Mr. Hastings laid down all the premises, and left the judges to draw the conclusion.
Your Lordships will remark (for you will find it on your minutes) that the judges have declared this affidavit of Mr. Hastings to be a delicate affidavit. We have heard of affidavits that were true; we have heard of affidavits that were perjured; but this is the first instance that has come to our knowledge (and we receive it as a proof of Indian refinement) of a delicate affidavit. This affidavit of Mr. Hastings we shall show to your Lordships is not entitled to the description of a good affidavit, however it might be entitled, in the opinion of those judges, to the description of a delicate affidavit,—a phrase by which they appear to have meant that he had furnished all the proofs of the Nabob's deposition, but had delicately avoided to declare him expressly deposed. The judges drew, however, this indelicate conclusion; the conclusion they drew was founded upon the premises; it was very just and logical; for they declared that he was a mere cipher. They commended Mr. Hastings's delicacy, though they did not imitate it; but they pronounced sentence of deposition upon the said Nabob, and they declared that any letter or paper that was produced from him could not be considered as an act of government. So effectually was he removed by the judges out of the way, that no minority, no insanity, no physical circumstances, not even death itself, could put a man more completely out of sight. They declare that they would consider his letters in no other light than as the letters of the Company, represented by the Governor-General and Council. Thus, then, we find the Nabob legally dead.
We find next, that he was politically dead. Mr. Hastings, not satisfied with the affidavit he made in court, has thought proper upon record to inform the Company and the world of what he considered him to be civilly and politically.
Minute entered by the Governor-General.
"The Governor-General.—I object to this motion," (a motion relative to the trial above alluded to,) "because I do not apprehend that the declaration of the judges respecting the Nabob's sovereignty will involve this government in any difficulties with the French or other foreign nations." (Mark, my Lords, these political effects.) "How little the screen of the Nabob's name has hitherto availed will appear in the frequent and inconclusive correspondence which has been maintained with the foreign settlements, the French especially, since the Company have thought proper to stand forth in their real character in the exercise of the dewanny. From that period the government of these provinces has been wholly theirs; nor can all the subtleties and distinctions of political sophistry conceal the possession of power, where the exercise of it is openly practised and universally felt in its operation. In deference to the commands of the Company, we have generally endeavored, in all our correspondence with foreigners, to evade the direct avowal of our possessing the actual rule of the country,—employing the unapplied term government, for the power to which we exacted their submission; but I do not remember any instance, and I hope none will be found, of our having been so disingenuous as to disclaim our own power, or to affirm that the Nabob was the real sovereign of these provinces. In effect, I do not hesitate to say that I look upon this state of indecision to have been productive of all the embarrassments which we have experienced with the foreign settlements. None of them have ever owned any dominion but that of the British government in these provinces. Mr. Chevalier has repeatedly declared, that he will not acknowledge any other, but will look to that only for the support of the privileges possessed by his nation, and shall protest against that alone as responsible for any act of power by which their privileges may be violated or their property disturbed. The Dutch, the Danes, have severally applied to this government, as to the ruling power, for the grant of indulgences and the redress of their grievances. In our replies to all, we have constantly assumed the prerogatives of that character, but eluded the direct avowal of it; under the name of influence we have offered them protection, and we have granted them the indulgences of government under elusive expressions, sometimes applied to our treaties with the Nabobs, sometimes to our own rights as the dewan; sometimes openly declaring the virtual rule which we held of these provinces, we have contended with them for the rights of government, and threatened to repel with force the encroachments on it; we in one or two instances have actually put these threats into execution, by orders directly issued to the officers of government and enforced by detachments from our own military forces; the Nabob was never consulted, nor was the pretence ever made that his orders or concurrence were necessary: in a word, we have always allowed ourselves to be treated as principals, we have treated as principals, but we have contented ourselves with letting our actions insinuate the character which we effectually possessed, without asserting it.
"For my own part, I have ever considered the reserve which has been enjoined us in this respect as a consequence of the doubts which have long prevailed, and which are still suffered to subsist, respecting the rights of the British government and the Company to the property and dominion of these provinces, not as inferring a doubt with respect to any foreign power. It has, however, been productive of great inconveniences; it has prevented our acting with vigor in our disputes with the Dutch and French. The former refuse to this day the payment of the bahor peshcush, although the right is incontestably against them, and we have threatened to enforce it. Both nations refuse to be bound by our decrees, or to submit to our regulations; they refuse to submit to the payment of the duties on the foreign commerce but in their own way, which amounts almost to a total exemption; they refuse to submit to the duty of ten per cent which is levied upon foreign salt, by which, unless a stop can be put to it by a more decisive rule, they will draw the whole of that important trade into their own colonies; and even in the single instance in which they have allowed us to prescribe to them, namely, the embargo on grain, on the apprehension of a dearth, I am generally persuaded that they acquiesced from the secret design of taking advantage of the general suspension, by exporting grain clandestinely under cover of their colors, which they knew would screen them from the rigorous examination of our officers. We are precluded from forming many arrangements of general utility, because of the want of control over the European settlements; and a great part of the defects which subsist in the government and commercial state of the country are ultimately derived from this source. I have not the slightest suspicion that a more open and decided conduct would expose us to worse consequences from the European nations; on the contrary, we have the worst of the argument while we contend with them under false colors, while they know us under the disguise, and we have not the confidence to disown it. What we have done and may do under an assumed character is full as likely to involve us in a war with France, a nation not much influenced by logical weapons, (if such can be supposed to be the likely consequence of our own trifling disagreements with them,) as if we stood forth their avowed opponents. To conclude, instead of regretting, with Mr. Francis, the occasion which deprives us of so useless and hurtful a disguise, I should rather rejoice, were it really the case, and consider it as a crisis which freed the constitution of our government from one of its greatest defects."
Now, my Lords, the delicacy of the affidavit is no more; the great arcanum of the state is avowed: it is avowed that the government is ours,—that the Nabob is nothing. It is avowed to foreign nations; and the disguise which we have put on, Mr. Hastings states, in his opinion, to be hurtful to the affairs of the Company. Here we perceive the exact and the perfect agreement between his character as a delicate affidavit-maker in a court of justice and his indelicate declarations upon the records of the Company for the information of the whole world concerning the real arcanum of the Bengal government.
Now I cannot help praising his consistency upon this occasion, whether his policy was right or wrong. Hitherto we find the whole consistent, we find the affidavit perfectly supported. The inferences which delicacy at first prevented him from producing better recollection and more perfect policy made him here avow. In this state things continued. The Nabob, your Lordships see, is dead,—dead in law, dead in politics, dead in a court of justice, dead upon the records of the Company. Except in mere animal existence, it is all over with him.
I have now to state to your Lordships, that Mr. Hastings, who has the power of putting even to death in this way, possesses likewise the art of restoring to life. But what is the medicine that revives them? Your Lordships, I am sure, will be glad to know what nostrum, not hitherto pretended to by quacks in physic, by quacks in politics, nor by quacks in law, will serve to revive this man, to cover his dead bones with flesh, and to give him life, activity, and vigor. My Lords, I am about to tell you an instance of a recipe of such infallible efficacy as was never before discovered. His cure for all disorders is disobedience to the commands of his lawful superiors. When the orders of the Court of Directors are contrary to his own opinions, he forgets them all. Let the Court of Directors but declare in favor of his own system and his own positions, and that very moment, merely for the purpose of declaring his right of rebellion against the laws of his country, he counteracts them. Then these dead bones arise,—or, to use a language more suitable to the dignity of the thing, Bayes's men are all revived. "Are these men dead?" asks Mr. Bayes's friend. "No," says he, "they shall all get up and dance immediately." But in this ludicrous view of Mr. Hastings's conduct, your Lordships must not lose sight of its great importance. You cannot have in an abstract, as it were, any one thing that better develops the principles of the man, that more fully develops all the sources of his conduct, and of all the frauds and iniquities which he has committed, in order at one and the same time to evade his duty to the Court of Directors, that is to say, to the laws of his country, and to oppress, crush, rob, and ill-treat the people that are under him.
My Lords, you have had an account of the person who represented the Nabob's dignity, Mahomed Reza Khan; you have heard of the rank he bore, the sufferings that he went through, his trial and honorable acquittal, and the Company's order that the first opportunity should be taken to appoint him Naib Subah, or deputy of the Nabob, and more especially to represent him in the administering of justice. Your Lordships are also acquainted with what was done in consequence of those orders by the Council-General, in the restoration and reestablishment of the executive power in this person,—not in the poor Nabob, a poor, helpless, ill-bred, ill-educated boy, but in the first Mussulman of the country, who had before exercised the office of Naib Subah, or deputy viceroy,—in order to give some degree of support to the expiring honor and justice of that country. The majority, namely, General Clavering, Colonel Monson, and Mr. Francis, whose names, as I have before said, will, for obedience to the Company, fidelity to the laws, honor to themselves, and a purity untouched and unimpeached, stand distinguished and honored, in spite of all the corrupt and barking virulence of India against them,—these men, I say, obeyed the Company: they had no secret or fraudulent connection with Mahomed Reza Khan; but they reinstated him in his office.
The moment that real death had carried away two of the most virtuous of this community, and that Mr. Hastings was thereby reestablished in his power, he returned to his former state of rebellion to the Company, and of fraud and oppression upon the people. And here we come to the revivificating medicine. I forgot to tell your Lordships, that this Nabob, whose letters were declared by a court of law, with his own approbation, to be in effect letters of the Governor-General and Council, concludes a formal application transmitted to them, and dated 17th November, 1777, with a demand of the restoration of his rights. Mr. Hastings upon this enters the following minute:—
"The Nabob's demands are grounded upon positive rights, which will not admit of a discussion; he has an incontestable right to the management of his own household; he has an incontestable right to the nizamut."
My Lords, you have heard his affidavit, you have heard his avowed and recorded opinion. In direct defiance of both, because he wishes to make doubtful the orders of the Company and to evade his duty, he here makes without any delicacy a declaration, which if it be true, the affidavit is a gross perjury, let it be managed with what delicacy he pleases. The word nizamut, which he uses, may be unfamiliar to your Lordships. In India it signifies the whole executive government, though the word strictly means viceroyalty: all the princes of that country holding their dominions as representatives of the Mogul, the great nominal sovereign of the empire. To convince you that it does so, take his own explanation of it.
"It is his by inheritance: the adawlut and the foujdarry having been repeatedly declared by the Company and by this government to appertain to the nizamut. The adawlut, namely, the distribution of civil justice, and the foujdarry, namely, the executive criminal justice of that country, that is to say, the whole sovereign government of the courts of justice, have been declared by the Company to appertain to the nizamut."
I beg of your Lordships to recollect, when you take into your consideration the charges of the House of Commons, that the person they accuse, and persons suborned by him, have never scrupled to be guilty, without sense of shame, of the most notorious falsehoods, the most glaring inconsistencies, and even of perjury itself; and that it is thus they make the power of the Company dead or alive, as best suits their own wicked, clandestine, and fraudulent purposes, and the great end of all their actions and all their politics plunder and peculation.
I must here refer your Lordships to a minute of Mr. Francis's, which I recommend to your reading at large, and to your very serious recollection, in page 1086; because it contains a complete history of Mr. Hastings's conduct, and of its effects upon this occasion.
And now to proceed.—The Nabob, in a subsequent application to the Company's government at Calcutta, desires that Munny Begum may be allowed to take on herself the whole administration of the affairs of the nizamut, (not the superiority in the administration of the affairs of the seraglio only, though this would have been a tyrannical usurpation of the power belonging to the legitimate mother of the Nabob,) without the interference of any person whatever; and he adds, that by this the Governor will give him complete satisfaction. In all fraudulent correspondence you are sure to find the true secret of it at last. It has been said by somebody, that the true sense of a letter is to be learnt from its postscript. But this matter is so clumsily managed, that, in contempt of all decency, the first thing the Nabob does is to desire he may be put into the hands of Munny Begum, and that without the interference of anybody whatever.
The next letter, immediately following on the heels of the former, was received by the Council on the 12th of February, 1778. In this letter he desires that Mahomed Reza Khan may be removed from his office in the government; and he expresses his hopes, that, as he himself is now come to years of maturity, and by the blessing of God is not so devoid of understanding as to be incapable of conducting his affairs, he says, "I am therefore hopeful, from your favor and regard to justice, that you will deliver me from the authority of the aforesaid Mahomed Reza Khan, and give your permission that I take on myself the management of the adawlut and foujdarry." There is no doubt of this latter application, in contradiction to the former, having arisen from a suspicion that the appointment of Munny Begum would be too gross, and would shock the Council; and Mr. Hastings therefore orders the second letter to be written from the Nabob, in which he claims the powers of government for himself. Then follows a letter from the Governor-General, informing the Nabob that it had been agreed, that, his Excellency being now arrived at years of maturity, the control of his own household, and the courts dependent on the nizamut and foujdarry, should be placed in his hands; and Mahomed Reza Khan was directed at the same time to resign his authority to the Nabob.
Here your Lordships see Munny Begum in effect completely invested with, and you will see how she has used her power: for I suppose your Lordships are sick of the name of Nabob, as a real actor in the government. You now see the true parties in the transaction,—namely, the lover, Warren Hastings, Esquire, and Munny Begum, the object of his passion and flame, to which he sacrifices as much as Antony ever did to Cleopatra. You see the object of his love and affection placed in the administration of the viceroyalty; you see placed at her disposal the administration of the civil judicature, and of the executory justice,—together with the salary which was intended for Mahomed Reza Khan.
Your Lordships will be pleased to remember that this distribution of the Nabob's government was made in direct defiance of the orders of the Company. And as a further proof of this defiance, it will not escape your Lordships, that, before this measure was carried into execution, Mr. Barwell being one day absent from the Council, Mr. Hastings fell into a minority; and it was agreed, upon that occasion, that the whole affair should be referred home to the Court of Directors, and that no arrangement should be made till the Directors had given their opinion. Mr. Hastings, the very moment after Mr. Barwell's return to his seat in the Council, rescinds this resolution, which subjected the orders of the Court of Directors to their own reconsideration; and he hurries headlong and precipitately into the execution of his first determination. Your Lordships will also see in this act what sort of use Mr. Hastings made of the Council; and I have therefore insisted upon all these practices of the prisoner at your bar, because there is not one of them in which some principle of government is not wounded, if not mortally wounded.
My Lords, we have laid before you the consequences of this proceeding. We have shown what passed within the walls of the seraglio, and what tyranny was exercised by this woman over the multitude of women there. I shall now show your Lordships in what manner she made use of her power over the supreme judicature, to peculate, and to destroy the country; and I shall adduce, as proofs of this abuse of her authority, the facts I am about to relate, and of which there is evidence before your Lordships.
There was an ostensible man, named Sudder ul Huk Khan, placed there at the head of the administration of justice, with a salary of seven thousand pounds a year of the Company's money. This man, in a letter to the Governor-General and Council, received the 1st of September, 1778, says,—"His Highness himself [the Nabob] is not deficient in regard for me, but certain bad men have gained an ascendency over his temper, by whose instigation he acts." You will see, my Lords, how this poor man was crippled in the execution of his duty, and dishonored by the corruption of this woman and her eunuchs, to whom Mr. Hastings had given the supreme government, and with it an uncontrolled influence over all the dependent parts. After thus complaining of the slights he receives from the Nabob, he adds,—"Thus they cause the Nabob to treat me, sometimes with indignity, at others with kindness, just as they think proper to advise him: their view is, that, by compelling me to displeasure at such unworthy treatment, they may force me either to relinquish my station, or to join with them and act with their advice, and appoint creatures of their recommendation to the different offices, from which they might draw profit to themselves." In a subsequent letter to the Governor, Sudder ul Huk Khan says,—"The Begum's ministers, before my arrival, with the advice of their counsellors, caused the Nabob to sign a receipt, in consequence of which they received, at two different times, near fifty thousand rupees, in the name of the officers of the adawlut, foujdarry, &c., from the Company's sircar; and having drawn up an account current in the manner they wished, they got the Nabob to sign it, and then sent it to me." In the same letter he asserts that these people have the Nabob entirely in their power.
Now I have only to remark to your Lordships, that the first and immediate operation of Mr. Hastings's regulation, which put everything into the hands of this wicked woman for her corrupt purposes, was, that the office of chief-justice was trampled upon and depraved, and made use of to plunder the Company of money, which was appropriated to their own uses,—and that the person ostensibly holding this office was forced to become the instrument in the hands of this wicked woman and her two wicked eunuchs. This, then, was the representation which the chief-justice made to Mr. Hastings, as one of the very first fruits of his new arrangement. I am now to tell you what his next step was. This same Mr. Hastings, who had made the Nabob master of everything and placed everything at his disposal, who had maintained that the Nabob was not to act a secondary part and to be a mere instrument in the hands of the Company, who had, as you have seen, revived the Nabob, now puts him to death again. He pretends to be shocked at these proceedings of the Nabob, and, not being able to prevent their coming before the Council of the Directors at home, he immediately took Sudder ul Huk Khan under his protection.
Now your Lordships see Mr. Hastings appearing in his own character again,—exercising the power he had pretended to abdicate, whilst the Nabob sinks and subsides under him. He becomes the supporter of Sudder ul Huk Khan, now that the infamy of the treatment he received could no longer be concealed from the Council. On the 1st of September, 1778, the Governor informs the Nabob, "that it is highly expedient that Sudder ul Huk Khan should have full control in all matters relative to his office, and the sole appointment and dismission of the sudder and mofussil officers; and that his seal and signature should be authentic to all papers having relation to the business intrusted to him: I therefore intimate to you, that he should appoint and dismiss all the officers under him, and that your Excellency should not interfere in any one [way?]."
The Nabob, in a letter to the Governor, received the 3d of September, 1778, says,—"Agreeably to your pleasure, I have relinquished all concern with the affairs of the foujdarry and adawlut, leaving the entire management in Sudder ul Huk Khan's hands." Here you see the Nabob again reduced to his former state of subordination. This chief-justiceship, which was declared to be his inherent right, he is obliged to submit to the control of Mr. Hastings, and to declare that he will not interfere at all in a matter which Mr. Hastings had declared to be his incommunicable attribute. I do not say that Mr. Hastings interfered improperly. Certainly it was not fit that the highest court of justice in all Bengal should be made the instrument of the rapacity of a set of villains with a prostitute at their head: just as if a gang of thieves in England, with their prostitutes at their head, should seize the judge which ought to punish them, and endeavor to make use of his name in their iniquitous transactions. But your Lordships will find that Mr. Hastings is here acting a merely ostensible part, and that he has always a means of defeating privately what he declares publicly to be his intention. Your Lordships will see soon how this ended. Mr. Hastings gets the Nabob to give up all his authority over the chief-justice; but he says not one word of Munny Begum, the person who had the real authority in her hands, and who was not forbidden to interfere with him. Mr. Hastings's order is dated the 1st September, 1778. On the 3d of September, the Nabob is said to have relinquished all concern with Sudder ul Huk Khan. In a letter received the 30th of September, (that is, about twenty-seven days after the date of Mr. Hastings's order,) you will see how this pretended order was managed. Sudder ul Huk Khan thus writes, in a letter received the 30th of September.
"Yatibar Ali Khan," (Munny Begum's chief eunuch,) "from the amount of salaries of the officers of the adawlut and foujdarry, which before my arrival he had received for two months from the sircar, made disbursements according to his own pleasure. He had before caused the sum of 7,400 rupees, on account of the price of mine and my peshcar's khelauts, to be carried to account, and now continually sends a man to demand from me 4,300 and odd rupees, as a balance of the price of khelauts, and constantly presses me to take it from the amount of the salaries of the officers of the adawlut and foujdarry and send it to him; and I shall be under the necessity of complying. I mention this for your information."
My Lords, you see again how Mr. Hastings's pretended orders were obeyed. They were orders addressed to the Nabob, whom he knew to be nothing, and who could neither control or take the least share in the execution of them; but he leaves the thing loose as to Manny Begum and her eunuchs, who he knew could alone carry them into effect. Your Lordships see that the first use made of the restored authority of the Nabob was, under various pretences, to leave the salaries of the officers of government unprovided for, to rob the public treasury, and to give the Company's money to the eunuchs, who were acting in the manner I have stated to you.
Information of these proceedings reaches Calcutta; a regular complaint from a person in the highest situation in the government is made, and the Governor-General is obliged again to take up the matter; and I shall now read to your Lordships a letter of the 10th of October, 1778, which contains a representation so pointed and so very just of the fatal effects which his interference in the administration of justice had produced as not to stand in need of any comment from me. It speaks too plainly to require any.
The Governor-General's Letter to the Nabob.
"At your Excellency's request I sent Sudder ul Huk Khan to take on him the administration of the affairs of the adawlut and foujdarry, and hoped by that means not only to have given satisfaction to your Excellency, but that, through his abilities and experience, these affairs would have been conducted in such manner as to have secured the peace of the country and the happiness of the people; and it is with the greatest concern I learn that this measure is so far from being attended with the expected advantages, that the affairs both of the foujdarry and adawlut are in the greatest confusion imaginable, and daily robberies and murders are perpetrated throughout the country. This is evidently owing to the want of a proper authority in the person appointed to superintend them. I therefore addressed your Excellency on the importance and delicacy of the affairs in question, and of the necessity of lodging full power in the hands of the person chosen to administer them, in reply to which your Excellency expressed sentiments coincident with mine; notwithstanding which, your dependants and people, actuated by selfish and avaricious views, have by their interference so impeded the business as to throw the whole country into a state of confusion, from which nothing can retrieve it but an unlimited power lodged in the hands of the superintendent. I therefore request that your Excellency will give the strictest injunctions to all your dependants not to interfere in any manner with any matter relative to the affairs of the adawlut and foujdarry, and that you will yourself relinquish all interference therein, and leave them entirely to the management of Sudder ul Huk Khan. This is absolutely necessary to restore the country to a state of tranquillity; and if your Excellency has any plan to propose for the management of the affairs in future, be pleased to communicate it to me, and every attention shall be paid to give your Excellency satisfaction."
My Lords, I think I have read enough to you for our present purpose,—referring your Lordships for fuller information to your Minutes, page 1086, which I beg you to read with the greatest attention.
I must again beg your Lordships to remark, that, though Mr. Hastings has the impudence still to pretend that he wishes for the restoration of order and justice in the country, yet, instead of writing to Munny Begum upon the business, whom he knew to be the very object complained of, and whose eunuchs are expressly mentioned in the complaint, he writes to the Nabob, whom he knew to be a pageant in his own court and government, and whose name was not even mentioned in this last complaint. Not one word is said, even in this letter to the Nabob, of Munny Begum or of her eunuchs. My Lords, when you consider his tacit support of the authors of the grievance, and his ostensible application for redress to the man who he knew never authorized and could not redress the grievance, you must conclude that he meant to keep the country in the same state for his own corrupt purposes. In this state the country in fact continued; Munny Begum and her eunuchs continued to administer and squander the Company's money, as well as the Nabob's; robberies and murders continued to prevail throughout the country. No appearance was left of order, law, or justice, from one end of Bengal to the other.
The account of this state of things was received by the Court of Directors with horror and indignation. On the 27th of May, 1779, they write, as you will find in page 1063 of your printed Minutes, a letter to their government at Calcutta, condemning their proceedings and the removal of Mahomed Reza Khan, and they order that Munny Begum shall be displaced, and Mahomed Reza Khan restored again to the seat of justice.
Mr. Francis, upon the arrival of these reiterated orders, moved in Council for an obedience to them. Mr. Hastings, notwithstanding he had before his eyes all the horrible consequences that attended his new arrangement, still resists that proposition. By his casting voice in the Council he counter-orders the orders of the Court of Directors, and sanctions a direct disobedience to their authority, by a resolution that Mahomed Reza Khan should not be restored to his employment, but that this Sudder ul Huk Khan, who still continued in the condition already described, should remain in the possession of his office. I say nothing of Sudder ul Huk Khan; he seems to be very well disposed to do his duty, if Mr. Hastings's arrangements had suffered him to do it; and indeed, if Mahomed Reza Khan had been reinstated, and no better supported by Mr. Hastings than Sudder ul Huk Khan, he could probably have kept the country in no better order, though, perhaps, his name, and the authority and weight which still adhered to him in some degree, might have had some influence.
My Lords, you have seen his defiance of the Company; you have seen his defiance of all decency; you see his open protection of prostitutes and robbers of every kind ravaging Bengal; you have seen this defiance of the authority of the Court of Directors flatly, directly, and peremptorily persisted in to the last. Order after order was reiterated, but his disobedience arose with an elastic spring in proportion to the pressure that was upon it.
My Lords, here there was a pause. The Directors had been disobeyed; and you might suppose that he would have been satisfied with this act of disobedience. My Lords, he was resolved to let the native governments of the country know that he despised the orders of the Court of Directors, and that, whenever he pretended to obey them, in reality he was resolved upon the most actual disobedience. An event now happened, the particulars of which we are not to repeat here. Disputes, conducted, on Mr. Francis's side, upon no other principle, that we can discover, but a desire to obey the Company's orders, and to execute his duty with fidelity and disinterestedness, had arisen between him and Mr. Hastings. Mr. Francis, about the time we have been speaking of, finding resistance was vain, reconciles himself to him,—but on the most honorable terms as a public man, namely, that he should continue to follow and obey the laws, and to respect the authority of the Court of Directors. Upon this reconciliation, it was agreed that Mahomed Reza Khan should be restored to his office. For this purpose Mr. Hastings enters a minute, and writes to the Nabob an ostensible letter. But your Lordships will here see an instance of what I said respecting a double current in all Mr. Hastings's proceedings. Even when he obeys or pretends to obey the Company's orders, there is always a private channel through which he defeats them all.
Letter from Mr. Hastings to the Nabob Mobarek ul Dowlah, written the 10th of February, 1780.
"The Company, whose orders are peremptory, have directed that Mahomed Reza Khan shall be restored to the offices he held in January, 1778. It is my duty to represent this to your Excellency, and to recommend your compliance with their request, that Mahomed Reza Khan may be invested with the offices assigned to him under the nizamut by the Company."
Your Lordships see here that Mr. Hastings informs the Nabob, that, having received peremptory orders from the Company, he restores and replaces Mahomed Reza Khan. Mahomed Reza Khan, then, is in possession,—and in possession by the best of all titles, the orders of the Company. But you will also see the manner in which he evades his duty, and vilifies in the eyes of these miserable country powers the authority of the Directors. He is prepared, as usual, with a defeasance of his own act; and the manner in which that defeasance came to our knowledge is this. We knew nothing of this private affair, till Mr. Hastings, in his answer before the House of Commons, finding it necessary to destroy the validity of some of his own acts, brought forward Sir John D'Oyly. He was brought forward before us, not as a witness in his own person for the defence of Mr. Hastings, but as a narrator who had been employed by Mr. Hastings as a member of that Council which, as you have heard, drew up his defence. My Lords, you have already seen the public agency of this business, you have heard read the public letter sent to the Nabob: there you see the ostensible part of the transaction. Now hear the banian, Sir John D'Oyly, give an account of his part in it, extracted from Mr. Hastings's defence before the House of Commons.
"I was appointed Resident [at the Court of the Nabob] on the resignation of Mr. Byam Martin, in the month of January, 1780, and took charge about the beginning of February of the same year. The substance of the instructions I received was, to endeavor, by every means in my power, to conciliate the good opinion and regard of the Nabob and his family, that I might be able to persuade him to adopt effectual measures for the better regulation of his expenses, which were understood to have greatly exceeded his income; that I might prevent his forming improper connections, or taking any steps derogatory to his rank, and by every means in my power support his credit and dignify in the eyes of the world; and with respect to the various branches of his family, I was instructed to endeavor to put a stop to the dissensions which had too frequently prevailed amongst them. The Nabob, on his part, was recommended to pay the same attention to my advice as he would have done to that of the Governor-General in person. Some time, I think, in the month of February of the same year, I received a letter from Mr. Hastings, purporting that the critical situation of affairs requiring the union and utmost exertion of every member of the government to give vigor to the acts necessary for its relief, he had agreed to an accommodation with Mr. Francis; but to effect this point he had been under the necessity of making some painful sacrifices, and particularly that of the restoration of Mahomed Reza Khan to the office of Naib Subah, a measure which he knew must be highly disagreeable to the Nabob, and which nothing but the urgent necessity of the case should have led him to acquiesce in; that he relied on me to state all these circumstances in the most forcible manner to the Nabob, and to urge his compliance, assuring him that it should not continue longer than until the next advices were received from the Court of Directors."
Here Mr. Hastings himself lets us into the secrets of his government. He writes an ostensible letter to the Nabob, declaring that what he does is in conformity to the orders of the Company. He writes a private letter, in which he directs his agent to assure the Nabob that what he had done was not in compliance with the orders of the Company, but in consequence of the arrangement he had made with Mr. Francis, which arrangement he thought necessary for the support of his own personal power. His design, in thus explaining the transaction to the Nabob, was in order to prevent the native powers from looking to any other authority than his, and from having the least hopes of redress of their complaints from the justice of this country or from any legal power in it. He therefore tells him that Mahomed Reza Khan was replaced, not in obedience to the orders of the Company, but to gratify Mr. Francis. If he quarrels with Mr. Francis, he makes that a reason for disobeying the orders of his masters; if he agrees with him, he informs the people concerned in the transaction, privately, that he acts, not in consequence of the orders that he has received, but from other motives. But that is not all. He promises that he will take the first opportunity to remove Mahomed Reza Khan from his office again. Thus the country is to be re-plunged into the same distracted and ruined state in which it was before. And all this is laid open fully and distinctly before you. You have it on the authority of Sir John D'Oyly. Sir John D'Oyly is a person in the secret; and one man who is in the secret is worth a thousand ostensible persons.
Mahomed Reza Khan, I must now tell you, was accordingly reinstated in all his offices, and the Nabob was reduced to the situation, as Mr. Hastings upon another occasion describes it, of a mere cipher. But mark what followed,—mark what this Sir John D'Oyly is made to tell you, or what Mr. Hastings tells you for him: for whether Sir John D'Oyly has written this for Mr. Hastings, or Mr. Hastings for Sir John D'Oyly, I do not know; because they seem, as somebody said of two great friends, that they had but one will, one bed, and one hat between them. These gentlemen who compose Mr. Hastings's Council have but one style of writing among them; so that it is impossible for you to determine by which of the masters of this Roman school any paper was written,—whether by D'Oyly, by Shore, or by Hastings, or any other of them. They have a style in common, a kind of bank upon which they have a general credit; and you cannot tell to whose account anything is to be placed.
But to proceed.—Sir John D'Oyly says there, that the Nabob is reduced again to a cipher. Now hear what he afterwards says. "About the month of June, 1781, Mr. Hastings, being then at Moorshedabad, communicated to me his intention of performing his promise to the Nabob, by restoring him to the management of his own affairs,"—that is to say, by restoring Munny Begum again, and by turning out Mahomed Reza Khan. Your Lordships see that he communicated privately his intentions to Sir John D'Oyly, without communicating one word of them to his colleagues in the Supreme Council, and without entering any minute in the records of the Council, by which it could be known to the Directors.
Lastly, in order to show you in what manner the Nabob was to be restored to his power, I refer your Lordships to the order he gave to Sir John D'Oyly for investigating the Nabob's accounts, and for drawing up articles of instructions for the Nabob's conduct in the management of his affairs. You will there see clearly how he was restored: that is to say, that he was taken out of the hands of the first Mussulman in that country, the man most capable of administering justice, and whom the Company had expressly ordered to be invested with that authority, and to put him into the hands of Sir John D'Oyly. Is Sir John D'Oyly a Mussulman? Is Sir John D'Oyly fit to be at the head of such a government? What was there that any person could see about him, that entitled him to or made him a fit person to be intrusted with this power, in defiance of the Company's orders? And yet Mahomed Reza Khan, who was to have the management of the Nabob's affairs, was himself put under the most complete and perfect subjection to this Sir John D'Oyly. But, in fact, Munny Begum had the real influence in everything. Sir John D'Oyly himself was only Mr. Hastings's instrument there to preserve it, and between them they pillaged the Nabob in the most shocking manner, and must have done so to the knowledge of Mr. Hastings. A letter written at this time by Mr. Hastings to the Nabob discovers the secret beyond all power of evasion.
Instructions from the Governor-General to the Nabob Mobarek ul Dowlah, respecting his Conduct in the Management of his Affairs.
"9th. These I make the conditions of the compliance which the Governor-General and Council have yielded to your late requisition. It is but just that you should possess what is your acknowledged right; but their intention would be defeated, and you would be in a worse situation, if you were to be left a prey, without a guide, until you have acquired experience, (which, to the strength and goodness of your understanding, will be the work but of a short period,) to the rapacity, frauds, and artifices of mankind. You have offered to give up the sum of four lacs of rupees to be allowed the free use of the remainder of your stipend. This we have refused, because it would be contrary to justice. You should consider this as a proof of the sincerity of the above arrangements which have been recommended to you, and of their expediency to your real interests; and your attention to them will be a means of reconciling the Company to the resolution which we have taken, and which will be reported to them in a light very hurtful both to you and to us, if an improper effect should attend it. These I have ordered Sir John D'Oyly to read in your presence, and to explain them to you, that no part of them may escape your notice; and he has my positive orders to remonstrate to you against every departure from them. Upon all these occasions, I hope and expect that you will give him a particular and cordial attention, and regard what he shall say as if said by myself; for I know him to be a person of the strictest honor and integrity. I have a perfect reliance on him; and you cannot have a more attached or more disinterested counsellor. Although I desire to receive your letters frequently, yet, as many matters will occur which cannot so easily be explained by letter as by conversation, I desire that you will on such occasions give your orders to him respecting such points as you may desire to have imparted to me; and I, postponing every other concern, will give you an immediate and the most satisfactory reply concerning them."
My Lords, here is a man who is to administer his own affairs, who has arrived at sufficient age to supersede the counsel and advice of the great Mahometan doctors and the great nobility of the country, and he is put under the most absolute guardianship of Sir John D'Oyly. But Mr. Hastings has given Sir John D'Oyly a great character. I cannot confirm it, because I can confirm the character of none of Mr. Hastings's instruments. They must stand forth here, and defend their own character before you.
Your Lordships will now be pleased to advert to another circumstance in this transaction. You see here 40,000l. a year offered by this man for his redemption. "I will give you," he says, "40,000l. a year to have the management of my own affairs." Good heavens! Here is a man, who, according to Mr. Hastings's assertion, had an indisputable right to the management of his own affairs, but at the same time was notoriously so little fit to have the management of them as to be always under some corrupt tyranny or other, offers 40,000l. a year out of his own revenues to be left his own master, and to be permitted to have the disposal of the remainder. Judge you of the bribery, rapine, and peculation which here stare you in the face. Judge of the nature and character of that government for the management of which 40,000l., out of 160,000l. a year of its revenue, is offered by a subordinate to the supreme authority of the country. This offer shows that at this time the Nabob had it not himself. Who had it? Sir John D'Oyly; he is brought forward as the person to whom is given the management of the whole. Munny Begum had the management before. But, whether it be an Englishman, a Mussulman, a white man or a black man, a white woman or a black woman, it is all Warren Hastings.
With respect to the four lacs of rupees, he gets Sir John D'Oyly, in the narrative that he makes before the House of Commons, positively to deny in the strongest manner, and he says the Nabob would give oath of it, that the Nabob never gave a commission to any one to make such an offer. That such an offer was made had been long published and long in print, with the remarks such as I have made upon it in the Ninth Report of the Select Committee; that the Committee had so done was well known to Mr. Hastings and Sir John D'Oyly; not one word on the part of Mr. Hastings, not one word on the part of Sir John D'Oyly was said to contradict it, until the appearance of the latter before the House of Commons. But, my Lords, there is something much more serious in this transaction. It is this,—that the evidence produced by Mr. Hastings is the evidence of witnesses who are mere phantoms; they are persons who could not, under Mr. Hastings's government, eat a bit of bread but upon his own terms, and they are brought forward to give such evidence as may answer his purposes.
You would naturally have imagined, that, in the House of Commons, where clouds of witnesses had been before produced by the friends and agents of Mr. Hastings, he would then have brought forward Sir John to contradict this reported offer; but not a word from Sir John D'Oyly. At last he is examined before the Committee of Managers. He refuses to answer. Why? Because his answers might criminate himself. My Lords, every answer that most of them have been required to make they are sensible they cannot make without danger of criminating themselves, being all involved in the crimes of the prisoner. He has corrupted and ruined the whole service; there is not one of them that dares appear and give a fair and full answer in any case, as you have seen in Mr. Middleton, and many others at your bar. "I will not answer this question," they say, "because it tends to criminate myself." How comes it that the Company's servants are not able to give evidence in the affairs of Mr. Hastings, without its tending to criminate themselves?
Well,—Sir John D'Oyly is in England,—why is he not called now? I have not the honor of being intimately acquainted with him, but he is a man of a reputable and honorable family. Why is he not called by Mr. Hastings to verify the assertion, and why do they suffer this black record to stand before your Lordships to be urged by us, and to press it as we do against him? If he knows that Sir John D'Oyly can acquit him of this part of our accusation, he would certainly bring him as a witness to your bar; but he knows he cannot. When, therefore, I see upon your records that Sir John D'Oyly and Mr. Hastings received such an offer for the redemption of the Nabob's affairs out of their hands, I conclude, first, that at the time of this offer the Nabob had not the disposal of his own affairs,—and, secondly, that those who had the disposal of them disposed of them so corruptly and prodigally that he thought they could hardly be redeemed at too high a price. What explanation of this matter has been attempted? There is no explanation given of it at all. It stands clear, full, bare in all its nakedness before you. They have not attempted to produce the least evidence against it. Therefore in that state I leave it with you; and I shall only add, that Mr. Hastings continued to make Munny Begum the first object of his attention, and that, though he could not entirely remove Mahomed Reza Khan from the seat of justice, he was made a cipher in it. All his other offices were taken out of his hands and put into the hands of Sir John D'Oyly, directly contrary to the orders of the Company, which certainly implied the restitution of Mahomed Reza Khan to all the offices which he had before held. He was stripped of everything but a feeble administration of justice, which, I take for granted, could not, under the circumstances, have been much better in his hands than it had been in Sudder ul Huk Khan's.
Mr. Hastings's protection of this woman continued to the last; and when he was going away, on the 3d of November, 1783, he wrote a sentimental letter to the Court of Directors in her praise. This letter was transmitted without having been communicated to the Council. You have heard of delicate affidavits; here you have a sentimental official despatch: your Lordships will find it in page 1092 and 1093 of your printed Minutes. He writes in such a delicate, sentimental strain of this woman, that I will venture to say you will not find in all the "Arcadia," in all the novels and romances that ever were published, an instance of a greater, a more constant, and more ardent affection, defying time, ugliness, and old age, did ever exist, than existed in Mr. Hastings towards this old woman, Munny Begum. As cases of this kind, cases of gallantry abounding in sentimental expressions, are rare in the Company's records, I recommend it as a curiosity to your Lordships' reading, as well as a proof of what is the great spring and movement of all the prisoner's actions. On this occasion he thus speaks of Munny Begum.
"She, too, became the victim of your policy, and of the resentments which succeeded. Something, too, she owed of the source of her misfortunes to the belief of the personal gratitude which she might entertain for the public attention which I had shown to her. Yet, exposed as she was to a treatment which a ruffian would have shuddered at committing, and which no recollection of past enmities shall compel me to believe, even for a moment, proceeded from any commission of authority, she still maintained the decorum of her character; nor even then, nor before, nor since that period, has the malice of calumny ever dared to breathe on her reputation."—Delicate! sentimental!—"Pardon, honorable Sirs, this freedom of expostulation. I must in honest truth repeat, that your commands laid the first foundation of her misfortunes; to your equity she has now recourse through me for their alleviation, that she may pass the remainder of her life in a state which may at least efface the remembrance of the years of her affliction; and to your humanity she and an unseen multitude of the most helpless of her sex cry for subsistence."
Moving and pathetic!—I wish to recommend every word of this letter to your Lordships' consideration, as a model and pattern of perfection. Observe his pity for a woman who had suffered such treatment from the servants of the Company (a parcel of ruffians!)—treatment that a ruffian would be ashamed of! Your Lordships have seen, in the evidence, what this ruffianism was. It was neither more nor less than what was necessary in order to get at the accounts, which she concealed, as his own corrupt transactions. She was told, indeed, that she must privately remove to another house whilst her papers were examining. Mr. Hastings can never forget this. He cannot believe that anybody dare send such an order; and he calls upon you to consider the helplessness of their sex, and the affronts offered to women.
For Heaven's sake, my Lords, recollect the manner in which Mr. Hastings and his creatures treated the Begums of Oude, and consider that this woman was only threatened (for the threat was never attempted to be executed) that she must, if she did not deliver up the accounts, probably be removed to another house, and leave the accounts behind her. This blot can never be effaced; and for this he desires the Court of Directors to make her a large allowance to comfort her in her old age. In this situation Mr. Hastings leaves her. He leaves in the situation I have described the justice of the country. The only concern he has at parting is, that this woman may have a large allowance.
But I have yet to tell your Lordships, and it appears upon your printed Minutes, that this woman had a way of comforting herself:—for old ladies of that description, who have passed their youth in amusements, in dancing, and in gallantries, in their old age are apt to take comfort in brandy. This lady was a smuggler, and had influence enough to avoid payment of the duty on spirits, in which article she is the largest dealer in the district,—as, indeed, she is in almost every species of trade. Thus your Lordships see that this sentimental lady, whom Mr. Hastings recommends to the Directors, had ways of comforting herself. She carried on, notwithstanding her dignity, a trade in spirits. Now a Mahometan of distinction never carries on any trade at all,—it is an unknown thing,—very few Mahometans of any rank carry on any trade at all; but that a Mahometan should carry on a trade in spirits is a prodigy never heard of before; for a woman of quality, for a woman of sentiment, to become a dealer in spirits is, my Lords, a thing reserved for the sentimental age of Mr. Hastings; and I will venture to say that no man or woman could attempt any such a trade in India, without being dishonored, ruined in character, and disgraced by it. But she appears not only to have been a dealer in it, but, through the influence which Mr. Hastings gave her, to have monopolized the trade in brandy, and to have evaded the duties. This, then, is the state in which we leave the two sentimental lovers,—the one consoling herself with brandy, the other wheedling and whining; and, as Swift describes the progress of an intrigue in some respects similar, which he calls "The Progress of Love," whereas this is the Progress of Sentiment,
"They keep at Staines the Old Blue Boar, Are cat and dog, and rogue and whore."
Here they set up the sign of the Old Blue Boar. Munny Begum monopolizes the trade in spirits; and hence she and Mr. Hastings commence their sentimental correspondence.—And now, having done with this progress of love, we return to the progress of justice.
* * * * *
We have seen how Sudder ul Huk Khan, the chief-justice of Mr. Hastings's own nomination, was treated. Now you shall see how justice was left to shift for herself under Mahomed Reza Khan. In page 1280 of your Lordships' Minutes you will see the progress of all these enormities,—of Munny Begum's dealing in spirits, of her engrossing the trade, of her evading duties,—and, lastly, the extinction of all order in that country, and the funeral of justice itself. Mr. Shore's evidence respecting this state of the country will admit of no doubt.
Mr. Shore's Remarks accompanying the Governor-General's Minutes of the 18th May, 1785.
"Foujdarry jurisdiction.—Of the foujdarry jurisdiction nothing has yet been said. In this department criminal justice is administered, and it is the only office left to the Nabob. I do not see any particular reason for changing the system itself, and perhaps it would on many accounts be improper; but some regulations are highly necessary. Mahomed Reza is at the head of this department, and is the only person I know in the country qualified for it. If he were left to himself, I have not a doubt but he would conduct it well; but he is so circumscribed by recommendations of particular persons, and by the protection held out to his officers by Europeans, that to my knowledge he has not been able to punish them, even when they have been convicted of the greatest enormities; and he has often on this account been blamed, where his hands were tied up."
My Lords, you now see in this minute of Sir John Shore, now Governor-General of Bengal, one of Mr. Hastings's own committee for drawing up his defence, the review which he had just then taken of the ruins of the government which had been left to him by Mr. Hastings. You see here not the little paltry things which might deserve in their causes the animadversion of a rough satirist like Doctor Swift, whom I have just quoted, but you see things ten thousand times more serious, things that deserve the thunderbolt of vindictive justice upon the head of the prisoner at your bar. For you see, that, after he had ostensibly restored Mahomed Reza Khan, the man who could and would have executed his office with fidelity and effect, the man who was fit for and disposed to do his duty, there was still neither law, order, nor justice in the country. Why? Because of the interposition of Europeans, and men who must have been patronized and supported by Europeans. All this happened before Mr. Hastings's departure: so that the whole effect of the new arrangement of government was known to him before he left Calcutta. The same pretended remedy was applied. But in fact he left this woman in the full possession of her power. His last thoughts were for her; for the justice of the country, for the peace and security of the people of Bengal, he took no kind of care; these great interests were left to the mercy of the woman and her European associates.
My Lords, I have taken some pains in giving you this history. I have shown you his open acts and secret stratagems, in direct rebellion to the Court of Directors,—his double government, his false pretences of restoring the Nabob's independence, leading in effect to a most servile dependence, even to the prohibition of the approach of any one, native or European, near him, but through the intervention of Sir John D'Oyly. I therefore again repeat it, that Sir John D'Oyly, and the English gentlemen who were patronized and countenanced by Mr. Hastings, had wrought all that havoc in the country before Mr. Hastings left it.
I have particularly dwelt upon the administration of justice, because I consider it as the source of all good, and the maladministration of it as the source of all evil in the country. Your Lordships have heard how it was totally destroyed by Mr. Hastings through Sir John D'Oyly, who was sent there by him for the purpose of forming a clandestine government of corruption and peculation. This part of our charge speaks for itself, and I shall dismiss it with a single observation,—that not the least trace of an account of all these vast sums of money delivered into the hands of Sir John D'Oyly for the use of the Nabob appears in any part of the Company's records. The undeniable inferences to be drawn from this fact are, first, that, wherever we find concealment of money, and the ceasing of an account, there has been fraud,—and, secondly, that, if we find this concealment accompanied with the devastation of a country, and the extinction of justice in it, that devastation of the country and that extinction of justice have been the result of that fraudulent peculation.
I am sure your Lordships will not think that a charge of the annihilation of administrative justice, in which the happiness and prosperity of a great body of nobility, of numerous ancient and respectable families, and of the inhabitants in general of extensive and populous provinces are concerned, can, if it stood single and alone, be a matter of trifling moment. And in favor of whom do all these sacrifices appear to have been made? In favor of an old prostitute, who, if shown to your Lordships here, like Helen to the counsellors of Troy, would not, I think, be admitted to have charms that could palliate this man's abominable conduct; you would not cry out with them,—
[Greek: Ou nemesis, ... Toied' amphi gunaiki polun chronon algea paschein.]
For I will fairly say that there are some passions that have their excuses; but the passion towards this woman was the passion of avarice and rapacity only,—a passion, indeed, which lasted to the end of his government, and for which he defied the orders of the Court of Directors, rebelled against his masters, and finally subverted the justice of a great country.
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My Lords, I have done with this business. I come next to the third division of the natives, those who form the landed interest of the country. A few words only will be necessary upon this part of the subject. The fact is, that Mr. Hastings, at one stroke, put up the property of all the nobility and gentry, and of all the freeholders, in short, the whole landed interest of Bengal, to a public auction, and let it to the highest bidder. I will make no observations upon the nature of this measure to your Lordships, who represent so large a part of the dignity, together with so large a part of the landed interest of this kingdom: though I think, that, even under your Lordships' restrictive order, I am entitled so to do; because we have examined some witnesses upon this point, in the revenue charge. Suffice it to say, that it is in evidence before your Lordships that this sale was ordered. Mr. Hastings does not deny it. He says, indeed, he did it not with an ill intention. My answer is, that it could have been done with no other than a bad intention. The owners of the land had no way left to save themselves but to become farmers of their own estates; and from the competition which naturally took place, (and he himself declared, that the persons, whether owners or strangers, to whom he let the lands, had agreed to rents which surpassed their abilities to pay,) I need not tell you what must have been the consequence, when it got into such rapacious hands, and was taken out of the hands of its natural proprietors: that the public revenue had sunk and lost by it, and that the country was wasted and destroyed. I leave it to your Lordships' own meditation and reflection; and I shall not press it one step further than just to remind you of what has been so well opened and pressed by my fellow Managers. He, Mr. Hastings, confesses that he let the lands to his own banians; he took his own domestic servants and put them in the houses of the nobility of the country; and this he did in direct violation of an express order made by himself, that no banian of a collector (the spirit of which order implied ten thousand times more strongly the exclusion of any banians of a Governor-General) should have any one of those farms. We also find that he made a regulation that no farmers should rent more than a lac of rupees; but at the same time we find his banians holding several farms to more than that amount. In short, we find that in every instance, where, under some plausible pretence or other, the fixed regulations are violated, it touches him so closely as to make it absolutely impossible not to suppose that he himself had the advantage of it.
For, in the first place, you have proof that he does take bribes, and that he has corrupt dealings. This is what he admits; but he says that he has done it from public-spirited motives. Now there is a rule, formed upon a just, solid presumption of law, that, if you find a man guilty of one offence contrary to known law, whenever there is a suspicious case against him of the same nature, the onus probandi that he is not guilty is turned upon him. Therefore, when I find the regulations broken,—when I find farms given of more than a lac of rupees,—when I find them given to the Governor-General's own banian, contrary to the principle of the regulation, contrary, I say, in the strongest way to it,—when I find that he accumulates farms beyond the regulated number,—when I find all these things done, and besides that the banian has great balances of account against him,—then, by the presumption of law, I am bound to believe that all this was done, not for the servants, but for the master.
It is possible Mr. Hastings might really be in love with Munny Begum; be it so,—many great men have played the fool for prostitutes, from Mark Antony's days downwards; but no man ever fell in love with his own banian. The persons for whom Mr. Hastings was guilty of all this rapine and oppression have neither relations nor kindred whom they own, nor does any trace of friendship exist among them; they do not live in habits of intimacy with any one; they are good fellows and bottle-companions.
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I must now proceed to observe upon another matter which has been stated to your Lordships,—namely, that, as soon as he obtained the majority in the Council, (that beginning of all evils, that opening of Pandora's box,) by the death of General Clavering and Colonel Monson, the first thing he did was to appoint a commission, called an aumeeny, to go through the whole country, to enter every man's house, to examine his title-deeds, and to demand his papers of accounts of every kind, for the purpose of enabling himself to take advantage of the hopes and fears of all the parties concerned, and thus to ravage and destroy all their property.
And whom does he place at the head of this commission, to be the manager of the whole affair? Gunga Govind Sing, another banian of his, and one of his own domestic servants. This we have discovered lately, and not without some surprise; for though I knew he kept a rogue in his house, yet I did not think that it was a common receptacle of thieves and robbers. I did not know till lately that this Gunga Govind Sing was his domestic servant; but Mr. Hastings, in a letter to the Court of Directors, calls him his faithful domestic servant, and as such calls upon the Company to reward him. To this banian all the Company's servants are made subject; they are bound to obey all his orders, and those of his committee. I hope I need not tell your Lordships what sort of stuff this committee was made of, by which Gunga Govind Sing was enabled to ravage the whole country.
But, say his counsel, Mr. Hastings thought that the value of the lands was thoroughly known; they had been investigated three times over, and they were all let by public auction to the highest bidder.—This may or may not be a true test of their value; but it is a test which, as it led to the almost entire confiscation of the landed interest of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, three great kingdoms, by a dash of that man's pen, into the hands of his banians and creatures, I can never think of it, or of its author, without horror.
Some people say, you ought to hate the crime and love the criminal. No, that is the language of false morality; you ought to hate the crime and the criminal, if the crime is of magnitude. If the crime is a small one, then you ought to be angry with the crime and reluctant to punish the criminal; but when there are great crimes, then you may hate them together. What! am I to love Nero? to fall in love with Heliogabalus? is Domitian to be the subject of my affection? No, we hate the crime, and we hate the criminal ten times more; and if I use indignant language, if I use the language of scorn and horror with respect to the criminal, I use the language that becomes me.
But, says one of the counsel, the Company might possess a knowledge of the country in general, but they could not know every bega, of it, (about the third part of an acre of land,) without such a commission. That is to say, you could not squeeze everything out of the people, without ordering such a villain as Gunga Govind Sing, (I call things, by their names,) that most atrocious and wicked instrument of the most atrocious and wicked tyranny, to examine every man's papers, to oblige every man to produce his titles and accounts upon pain of criminal punishment, to be inflicted at the discretion of this commissioner, this Gunga Govind Sing. For an account of these acts, and for a description of an aumeeny, I refer your Lordships to the evidence in your Minutes, from page 1287 to 1301; and I pass on, expressing only my horror and detestation at it, and wishing to kindle in your Lordships' minds the same horror and detestation of it.
Thus you see that Mr. Hastings was not satisfied with confiscation only. He comes just afterwards with a blister upon the sore. He lets loose another set of ravagers and inquisitors upon them, under Gunga Govind Sing, and these poor people are ravaged by the whole tribe of Calcutta banians.
Mr. Hastings has himself defined an aumeen in page 1022, where he states that Nundcomar desired him to make his son an aumeen. "The promise which he [Nundcomar] says I made him, that he should be constituted aumeen, that is, inquisitor-general over the whole country, and that I would delegate to him my whole power and influence, is something more than a negative falsehood." He justly and naturally reprobates the proposition of appointing an inquisitor-general over the whole country; and yet we see him afterwards appointing Gunga Govind Sing such an inquisitor-general over the whole country, in order that a bega of land should not escape him.
Let us see how all this ended, and what it is that leads me directly to the presumption of corruption against him in this wicked aumeeny scheme. Now I will admit the whole scheme to have been well intended, I will forgive the letting all the lands of Bengal by public auction, I will forgive all he has done with regard to his banians, I shall forgive him even this commission itself, if he will show your Lordships that there was the smallest use made of it with regard to the settlement of the revenues of the Company. If there was not, then there is obviously one use only that could be made of it, namely, to put all the people of the whole country under obedience to Gunga Govind Sing. What, then, was done? Titles and accounts were exacted; the estimate was made, acre by acre; but we have not been able to find one word on their records of any return that was made to the Company of this investigation, or of any settlement or assessment of the country founded upon it, or of any regulation that was established upon it. Therefore, as an honest man, and as a man who is standing here for the Commons of Great Britain, I must not give way to any idle doubts and ridiculous suppositions. I cannot, I say, entertain any doubts that the only purpose it was designed to answer was to subject the whole landed interest of the country to the cruel inquisition of Gunga Govind Sing, and to the cruel purposes of Mr. Hastings. Show me another purpose and I will give up the argument: for if there are two ways of accounting for the same act, it is possible it may be attributed to the better motive; but when we see that a bad thing was done under pretence of some good, we must attach a bad motive to it, if the pretence be never fulfilled.
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I have now done with the landed interest of Bengal. I have omitted much which might have been pressed upon your Lordships, not from any indisposition to remark upon the matter more fully, but because it has been done already by abler persons; I only wished to make some practical inferences, which, perhaps, in the hurry of my brother Managers, might possibly have escaped them; I wished to show you that one system of known or justly presumed corruption pervades the whole of this business, from one end to the other. Having thus disposed of the native landed interest, and the native zemindars or landholders of the country, I pass to the English government.
My Lords, when we have shown plainly the utter extinction of the native Mahometan government, when we have shown the extinction of the native landed interest, what hope can there be for that afflicted country but in the servants of the Company? When we have shown the corrupt state of that service, what hope but from the Court of Directors, what hope but in the superintending control of British tribunals? I think as well of the body of my countrymen as any man can do. I do not think that any man sent out to India is sent with an ill purpose, or goes out with bad dispositions. No: I think the young men who go there are fair and faithful representatives of the people of the same age,—uncorrupted, but corruptible from their age, as we all are. They are sent there young. There is but one thing held out to them,—"You are going to make your fortune." The Company's service is to be the restoration of decayed noble families; it is to be the renovation of old, and the making of new ones. Now, when such a set of young men are sent out with these hopes and views, and with little education, or a very imperfect one,—when these people, from whatever rank of life selected, many from the best, most from the middling, very few from the lowest, but, high, middling, or low, they are sent out to make two things coincide which the wit of man was never able to unite, to make their fortune and form their education at once. What is the education of the generality of the world? Reading a parcel of books? No. Restraint of discipline, emulation, examples of virtues and of justice, form the education of the world. If the Company's servants have not that education, and are left to give loose to their natural passions, some would be corrupt of course, and some would be uncorrupt; but probably the majority of them would be inclined to pursue moderate courses between these two. Now I am to show you that Mr. Hastings left these servants but this alternative: "Be starved, be depressed, be ruined, disappoint the hopes of your families, or be my slaves, be ready to be subservient to me in every iniquity I shall order you to commit, and to conceal everything I shall wish you to conceal." This was the state of the service. Therefore the Commons did well and wisely, when they sent us here, not to attack this or that servant who may have peculated, but to punish the man who was sent to reform abuses, and to make Bengal furnish to the world a brilliant example of British justice.