Imatges de pàgina
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though it is not from the trunk, it smells of the trunk; it smells of the leather. I was as proud of my imaginary discovery as Sancho Pancha was, that one of his ancestors had discovered a taste of iron in some wine; and another a taste of leather in the same wine; and that afterwards there was found in the cask a little key tied to a thong of leather, which had given to the wine a taste of both. Now, whether this letter tasted of the leather of the trunk, or of the iron of Mr. Macpherson, I confess, I was a little out in my suggestion and my taste. The letter in question was written by Hyder Beg Khan, after Mr. Hastings's departure, to Mr. Macpherson when he succeeded to the government. That gentleman thus got possession of a key to the trunk, and it appears to have been his intentions to follow the steps of his predecessor, to act exactly in the same manner, and in the same manner to make the nabob the instrument of his own ruin.

This letter was written by the nabob's minister to Sir John Macpherson, newly inaugurated into his government, and who might be supposed not to be acquainted with all the best of Mr. Hastings's secrets, nor to have had all the trunk correspondence put into his hands. However, here is a trunk extraordinary, and its contents are much in the manner of the other. The nabob's minister acquaints him with the whole secret of the system. It is plain that the nabob considered it as a system not to be altered; that there was to be nothing true, nothing above board, nothing open in the government of his affairs. When you thus see that there can be little doubt of the true nature of the government, I am sure, that hereafter, when we come to consider the effects of that government, it will clear up, and bring home to the prisoner at your bar, all we shall have to say upon this subject.

Mr. Hastings having thrown off completely the authority of the company, as you have seen ;—having trampled upon those of their servants, who had manifested any symptom of independence, or who considered the orders of the directors as a rule of their conduct;—having brought every Englishman under his yoke; and made them supple and fit instruments for all his designs; then gave it to be understood, that such alone were fit persons to be employed in important affairs of state. Consider, my lords, the effect of this upon the whole service. Not one man, that appears to pay any regard to the authority of the directors, is to expect that any regard will be paid to himself. So that this man not only rebels himself in his own person against the authority of the company; but he makes all their servants join him in this very rebellion. Think, my lords, of this state of things ; and I wish it never to pass from your minds, that I have called him the captain general of the whole host of actors in Indian iniquity, under whom that host was arrayed, disciplined, and paid. This language which I used was not, as fools have thought proper to call it, offensive and abusive; it is in a proper criminatory tone justified by the facts that I have stated to you; and in every step we take, it is justified more and more. I take it as a text, upon which I mean to preach; I take it as a text, which I wish to have in your lordships' memory from the beginning to the end of this proceeding. He is not only guilty of iniquity himself, but is at the head of a system of iniquity and rebellion; and will not suffer, with impunity, any one honest man to exist in India if he can help it. Every mark of obedience to the legal authority of the company is by him condemned; and if there is any virtue remaining in India, as I think there is, it is not his fault that it still exists there.

We have shown you the servile obedience of the natives of the country; we have shown you the miserable situation to which a great prince, at least a person who was the other day a great prince, was reduced by Mr. Hastings's system. We shall next show you that this prince, who, unfortunately for himself, became a dependant on the company, and thereby subjected to the will of an arbitrary government, is made by him the instrument of his own degradation, the instrument of his (the governor's) falsehoods; the instrument of his peculations—and that he had been subjected to all this degradation for the purposes of the most odious tyranny, violence, and corruption.

Mr. Hastings, having assumed the government to himself, soon made Oude a private domain. It had, to be sure, a public name, but it was to all practical intents and purposes his park or his warren ; a place, as it were, for game ; whence he drew out or killed at an earlier or later season, as he thought fit, any thing he liked, and brought it to his table according as it served his purpose. Before I proceed, it will not be improper for me to remind your lordships of the legitimate ends to which all controlling and superintending power ought to be directed. Whether a man acquires this power by law or by usurpation, there are certain duties attached to his station. Let us now see what these duties are.

The first is to take care of that vital principle of every state, its revenue. The next is to preserve the magistracy and legal authorities, in honor, respect, and force. And the third to preserve the property, movable, and immovable, of all the people committed to his charge.

In regard to his first duty, the protection of the revenue; your lordships will find that from three millions and upwards, which I stated to be the revenue of Oude, and which Mr. Hastings, I believe, or any body for him, has never thought proper to deny—it sunk under his management to about 1,440,000: and even this, Mr. Middleton says, (as you may see in your minutes,) was not completely realized. Thus my lords, you see, that one half of the whole revenue of the country was lost after it came into' Mr. Hastings's management. Well, but it may perhaps be said this was owing to the nabob's own imprudence. No such thing, my lords; it could not be so; for the whole real administration and government of the country was in the hands of Mr. Hastings's agents, public or private.

To let you see how provident Mr. Hastings's management of it was, I shall produce to your lordships one of the principal manoeuvres that he adopted for the improvement of the revenue and for the happiness and prosperity of the country, the latter of which will always go along, more or less, with the first.

The nabob, whose acts your lordships have now learned to appreciate as no other than the acts of Mr. Hastings, writes to the council to have a body of British officers for the purposes of improving the discipline of his troops, collecting his revenues, and repressing disorder and outrage among his subjects. This proposal was ostensibly fair and proper; and if I had been in the council at that time, and the nabob had really and bona fide made such a request, I should have said he had taken a very reasonable and judicious step, and that the company ought to aid him in his design.

Among the officers sent to Oude, in consequence of this requisition, was the well known Colonel Hannay; a man whose name will be bitterly and long remembered in India. This person, we understand, had been recommended to Mr. Hastings by Sir Elijah Impey; and his appointment was the natural consequence of such patronage. I say the natural consequence, because Sir Elijah Impey appears on your minutes to have been Mr. Hastings's private agent and negotiator in Oude. In that light, and in that light only, I consider Colonel Hannay in this business. We cannot prove that he was not of Mr. Hastings's own nomination originally and primarily; but whether we take him in this way, or as recommended by Sir Elijah Impey, or any body else, Mr. Hastings is equally responsible.

Colonel Hannay is sent up by Mr. Hastings, and has the command of a brigade, of two regiments I think, given to him. Thus far all is apparently fair and easily understood; but in this country we find every thing in masquerade and disguise. We find this man, instead of being an officer, farmed the revenue of the country, as is proved by Colonel Lumsden and other gentlemen, who were his sub-farmers and his assistants. Here, my lords, we have a man, who appeared

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to have been sent up the country as a commander of troops, agreeably to the nabob's request; and who, upon our inquiry, we discover to have been farmer general of the country! We discover this with surprise; and I believe till our inquiries began it was unknown in Europe. We have, however, proved upon your lordships's minutes, by an evidence produced by Mr. Hastings himself, that Colonel Hannay was actually farmer-general of the countries of Barratch and Gurruckpore. We have proved upon your minutes that Colonel Hannay was the only person possessed of power in the country; that there was no magistrate in it, nor any admimistration of the law whatever. We have proved to your lordships that, in his character of farmer-general, he availed himself of the influence derived from commanding a battalion of soldiers; in short, we have proved that the whole power, civil, military, municipal, and financial, resided in him ; and we further refer your lordships to Mr. Lumsden and Mr. Halhed, for the authority which he possessed in that country. Your lordships, I am sure, will supply with your diligence what is defective, in my statement; I have therefore, taken the liberty of indicating to you where you are to find the evidence to which I refer. You will there, my lords, find this Colonel Hannay in a false character—he is ostensibly given to the nabob as a commander of his troops; while in reality he is forced upon that prince as his farmer-general. He is invested with the whole command of the country, while the sovereign is unable to control him, or to prevent his extorting from the people whatever he pleases.

If we are asked what the terms of his farm were ;—we cannot discover that he farmed the country at any certain sum. We cannot discover that he was subjected to any terms, or confined by any limitations. Armed with arbitrary power, and exercising that power under a false title, his exactions from the poor natives were only limited by his own pleasure. Under these circumstances, we are now to ask what there was to prevent him from robbing and ruining the

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