Imatges de pàgina
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people; and what security against his robbing the exchequer of the person whose revenue he farmed?

You are told by the witnesses in the clearest manner, and, after what you have heard of the state of Oude, you cannot doubt the fact, that nobody, not even the nabob, dared to complain against him; that he was considered as a man authorized and supported by the power of the British government; and it is proved in the evidence before you that he vexed and harassed the country to the utmost extent which we have stated in our article of charge, and which you would naturally expect from a man acting under such false names with such real powers. We have proved that from some of the principal zemindars in that country, who held farms let to them for 27,000 rupees a year, a rent of 60,000 was demanded, and in some cases enforced; and that upon the refusal of one of them to comply with this demand, he was driven out of the country.

Your lordships will find in the evidence before you, that the inhabitants of the country were not only harassed in their fortunes, but cruelly treated in their persons. You have it upon Mr. Halhed's evidence, and it is not attempted, that I know of, to be contradicted, that the people were confined in open cages exposed to the scorching heat of the sun, for pretended or real arrears of rent; it is indifferent which, because I consider all confinement of the person to support an arbitrary exaction, to be an abomination not to be tolerated. They have endeavored, indeed, to weaken this evidence by an attempt to prove that a man, day and night in confinement in an open cage, suffers no inconvenience. And here I must beg your lordships to observe the extreme unwillingness that appears in these witnesses. Their testimony is drawn from them drop by drop, their answers to our questions are never more than yes or no; but when they are examined by the counsel on the other side, it flows as freely as if drawn from a perennial spring ; and such a spring we have in Indian corruption. We have, however, proved, that in these cages the renters were confined, till they could be lodged in the dungeons or mud forts. We have proved that some of them were obliged to sell their children; that others fled the country, and that these practices were carried to such an awful extent, that Colonel Hannay was under the necessity of issuing orders against the unnatural sale and flight which his rapacity had occasioned. The prisoner's counsel have attempted to prove that this had been a common practice in that country—and though possibly some person as wicked as Colonel Hannay might have been there before at some time or other, no man ever sold his children, but under the pressure of some cruel exaction. Nature calls out against it. The love that God has implanted in the heart of parents towards their children is the first germ of that second conjunction, which he has ordered to subsist between them and the rest of mankind. It is the first formation and first bond of society. It is stronger than all laws; for it is the law of nature, which is the law of God. Never did a man sell his children, who was able to maintain them. It is therefore not only a proof of his exactions, but a decisive proof that these exactions were intolerable.

Next to the love of parents for their children, the strongest instinct both natural and moral, that exists in man, is the love of his country:—an instinct indeed, which extends even to the brute creation. All creatures love their offspring; next to that they love their homes; they have a fondness for the place where they have been bred, for the habitations they have dwelt in, for the stalls in which they have been fed, the pastures they have browsed in, and the wilds in which they have roamed. We all know that the natal soil has a sweetness in it beyond the harmony of verse. This instinct, I say, that binds all creatures to their country, never becomes inert in us, nor ever suffers us to want a memory of it. Those, therefore, who seek to fly their country, can only wish to fly from oppression; and what other proof can you want of this oppression, when, as a witness has told you, Colonel Hannay was obliged to put bars and guards to confine the inhabitants within the country? We have seen, therefore, nature violated in its strongest principles. We have seen unlimited and arbitrary exaction avowed on no pretence of any law, rule, or any fixed mode by which these people were to be dealt with. All these facts have been proved before your lordships, by costive and unwilling witnesses. In consequence of these violent and cruel oppressions, a general rebellion breaks out in the country, as was naturally to be expected. The inhabitants rise as if by common consent; every farmer, every proprietor of land, every man who loved his family and his country, and had not fled for refuge, rose in rebellion, as they call it. My lords, they did rebel; it was a just rebellion. Insurrection was there just and legal, inasmuch as Colonel Hannay, in defiance of the laws and rights of the people, exercised a clandestine, illegal authority, against which there can be no rebellion in its proper sense.

As a rebellion, however, and as a rebellion of the most unprovoked kind, it was treated by Colonel Hannay; and to one instance of the means taken for suppressing it, as proved by evidence before your lordships, I will just beg leave to call your attention. One hundred and fifty of the inhabitants had been shut up in one of the mud forts I have mentioned; the people of the country, in their rage, attacked the fort, and demanded the prisoners; they called for their brothers, their fathers, their husbands, who were confined there. It was attacked by the joint assault of men and women. The man who commanded in the fort immediately cut off the heads of eighteen of the principal prisoners, and tossed them over the battlements to the assailants. There happened to be a prisoner in the fort, a man loved and respected in his country, and who, whether justly or unjustly, was honored and much esteemed by all the people. "Give us our rajah, Mustapha Khan," (that was the name of the man confined,) cried out the assailants. We asked the witness at your bar, what he was confined for ; he did not know, but he said that Colonel Harinay had confined him, and added that he was sentenced to death. We desired to see the futwa or decree of the judge who sentenced him; no; no such thing, nor any evidence of its having existed, could be produced. We desired to know whether he could give any account of the process, any account of the magistrate, any account of the accuser, any account of the defence; in short, whether he could give any account whatever of this man's being condemned to death. He could give no account of it, but the orders of Colonel Hannay, who seems to have imprisoned and condemned him by his own arbitrary will. Upon the demand of rajah Mustapha, by the insurgents, being made known to Colonel Hannay, he sends an order to the commander of the fort, a man already stained with the blood of all the people who were murdered there, that if he had not executed Mustapha Khan, he should execute him immediately. The man is staggered at the order, and refuses to execute it, as not being directly addressed to him.

Colonel Hannay then sends a Captain Williams, who has appeared here as an evidence at your bar, and who, together with Captain Gordon and Major Macdonald, both witnesses also here, were all sub-farmers and actors under Colonel Hannay. This Captain Williams, I say, goes there, and without asking one of those questions which I put to the witness at your bar, and desiring nothing but Colonel Hannay's word, orders the man to be beheaded; and accordingly he was beheaded, agreeably to the orders of Colonel Hannay. Upon this, the rebellion blazed out with tenfold fury, and the people declared they would be revenged for the destruction of their zemindar.

Your lordships have now seen this Mustapha Khan imprisoned, and sentenced to death by Colonel Hannay, without judge and without accuser, without any evidence, without the futwa or any sentence of the law. This man is thus put to death by an arbitrary villain, by a more than cruel tyrant, Colonel Hannay, the substitute of a ten thousand times more cruel tyrant, Mr. Hastings.

In this situation was the country of Oude, under Colonel Hannay, when he was removed from it. The knowledge of his misconduct had before induced the miserable nabob to make an effort to get rid of him; but Mr. Hastings had repressed that effort by a civil reprimand, telling him indeed at the same time, "I do not force you to receive him." (Indeed the nabob's situation had in it force enough.) The nabob, I say was forced to receive him; and again he ravages and destroys that devoted country, till the time of which I have been just speaking; when he was driven out of it finally by the rebellion, and, as you may imagine, departed like a leech full of blood.

It is stated in evidence upon your minutes, that this bloated leech went back to Calcutta, that he was supposed from a state of debt, (in which he was known to have been when he left that city,) to have returned from Oude, with the handsome sum of £300,000, of which £80,000 was in gold mohurs. This is declared to be the universal opinion in India, and no man has ever contradicted it. Ten persons have given evidence to that effect, not one has contradicted it from that hour to this, that I ever heard of. The man is now no more. Whether his family have the whole of the plunder or not; what partnership there was in this business; what shares, what dividends were made, and who got them; —about all this public opinion varied, and we can with certainty affirm nothing ;—but there ended the life and exploits of Colonel Hannay, farmer general, civil officer, and military commander of Burratch and Gurruckpore. But not so ended Mr. Hastings's proceedings.

Soon after the return of Colonel Hannay to Calcutta, this miserable nabob received intelligence, which concurrent pubtic fame supported, that Mr. Hastings meant to send him up into the country again on a second expedition; probably with some such order as this—you have sucked blood enough for yourself, now try what you can do for your neighbors. The nabob was not likely to be misinformed. His friend and

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