Page images
PDF
EPUB

This circumstance inclines Your Committee to believe, that all of these charges were groundless; especially as it appears on the face of the proceedings, that the chief of them were not well founded." Mr. Hastings, in his letter to Mr. Wheler, urges the necessity of the monthly payment of the Nabob's stipend being regularly made; and says, that, to relieve the Nabob's present wants, he had directed the Resident to raise an immediate supply on the credit of the Company, to be repaid from the first receipts. From hence Your Committee conclude, that the monthly payments had not been regularly made; and that whatever distresses the Nabob might have suffered must have been owing to the Governour-General and Council, not to Mahomed Reza Khân; who, for aught that appears to the contrary, paid away the stipend as fast as he received it. Had it been otherwise, that is, if Mahomed Reza Khân had reserved a balance of the Nabob's money in his hands, he should, and undoubtedly he would, have been called upon to pay it in; and then there would have been no necessity for raising an immediate supply by other means.

The transaction, on the whole, speaks very sufficiently for itself. It is a gross instance of repeated disobedience to repeated orders; and it is rendered particularly offensive to the authority of the Court of Directors by the frivolous and contradictory reasons assigned for it. But, whether the Nabob's requisition

requisition was reasonable or not, the GovernourGeneral and Council were precluded by a special instruction from complying with it. The Directors, in their letter of the 14th of February 1779, declare, that a resolution of Council (taken by Mr.. Francis and Mr. Wheler, in the absence of Mr. Barwell), viz. "that the Nabob's letter should be "referred to them for their decision; and that no "resolution should be taken in Bengal, on his re"quisitions, without their special orders and in"structions," was very proper. They prudently reserved to themselves the right of deciding on such questions; but they reserved it to no purpose. In England the authority is purely formal. In Bengal the power is positive and real. When they clash, their opposition serves only to degrade the authority, that ought to predominate, and to exalt the power, that ought to be dependent.

Since the closing of the above Report many material Papers have arrived from India, and have been laid before Your Committee: that, which they think it most immediately necessary to annex to the Appendix to this report, is the resolution of the Council-General to allow to the members of the Board of Trade, resident in Calcutta, a charge of five per cent. on the sale in England of the Investment formed upon, their second, plan, namely, that plan, which had been communicated to Lord Macartney.

$ 3

1

Macartney. The Investment on this plan is stated to be raised from £.800,000 to £. 1,000,000 sterling.

It is on all accounts a very memorable transaction, and tends to bring on a heavy burthen, operating in the nature of a tax, laid by their own authority on the goods of their masters in England. If such a compensation to the Board of Trade was necessary on account of their engagement to take no further (that is to say, no unlawful) emolument, it implies, that the practice of making such unlawful emolument had formerly existed; and Your Committee think it very extraordinary, that the first notice the Company had received of such a practice should be, in taxing them for a compensation for a partial abolition of it, secured on the parole of honour of those very persons, who are supposed to have been guilty of this unjustifiable conduct. Your Committee consider this engagement, if kept, as only a partial abolition of the implied corrupt practice, because no part of the compensation is given to the members of the Board of Trade, who reside at the several factories, though their means of abuse are without all comparison greater; and if the corruption was supposed so extensive as to be bought off at that price where the means were fewer, the House will judge how far the tax has purchased off the evil.

t

ELEVENTH REPORT,

From the SELECT COMMITTEE appointed to take into consideration the state of the Administration of Justice in the provinces of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, and to report the same, as it shall appear to them, to the House; with their observations thereupon; and who were instructed to consider how the British Possessions in the East Indies may be held and governed with the greatest security and advantage to this Country; and by what means the happiness of the Native Inhabitants may be best promoted. vil (1783.)

[ocr errors]

OUR Committee, in the course of their inquiry into the obedience yielded by the Com pany's servants to the orders of the Court of Directors, (the authority of which orders had been strengthened by the Regulating Act of 1773,) could not overlook one of the most essential objects of that Act, and of those orders, namely, the taking of gifts and presents. These pretended free gifts from the Natives to the Company's servants in power

BW

$ 4

power had never been authorized by law; they are contrary to the covenants formerly entered into by the President and Council; they are strictly forbidden by the Act of Parliament; and forbidden upon grounds of the most substantial policy.

Before the Regulating Act of 1733, the allowances. made by the Company to the Presidents of Bengal were abundantly sufficient to guaranty them against any thing like a necessity for giving into that pernicious practice. The Act of Parliament, which appointed a Governour-General in the place of a President, as it was extremely particular in 'enforcing the prohibition of those presents, so it was equally careful in making an ample provision for supporting the dignity of the office, in order to remove all excuse for a corrupt increase of its emoluments.

Although evidence on record, as well as verbal testimony, has appeared before Your Committee of presents to a large amount having been received. by Mr. Hastings and others before the year 1775, they were not able to find distinct traces of that practice in him, or any one else, for a few years.

The inquiry set on foot in Bengal by order of the Court of Directors in 1775 with regard to all corrupt practices, and the vigour, with which they were for some time pursued, might have given a temporary check to the receipt of presents, or might have produced a more effectual concealment

of

« PreviousContinue »