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Vide Appendix B.

N® 6.

The present was not in ready money, nor, as Your Committee conceive, applicable to his immediate necessities. Even his credit was not bettered by bills at long periods; he does not pretend that he raised any money upon them; nor is it conceivable that a banker at Benares would be more willing to honour the draughts of so miserable, undone, and dependant a person as the Nabob of Oude, than those of the Governour-General of Bengal; which might be paid either on the receipt of the Benares revenue, or at the seat of his power, and of the Company's exchequer. Besides, it is not explicable upon any grounds, that can be avowed, why the Nabob, who could afford to give these bills as a present to Mr. Hastings, could not have equally given them in discharge of the debt, which he owed to the Company. It is indeed very much to be feared, that the people of India find it sometimes turn more to their account, to give presents to the English in authority, than to pay their debts to the Publick; and this is a matter of a very serious consideration.

No small merit is made by Mr. Hastings, and that too in a high and upbraiding style, of his having come to a voluntary discovery of this and other unlawful practices of the same kind. "That Ho"nourable Court (says Mr. Hastings, addressing " himself to his masters, in his letter of December 1782) ought to know whether I possess the "integrity

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integrity and honour, which are the first requi"sites of such a station. If I wanted these, they "have afforded me too powerful incentives to sup

66

press the information, which I now convey to "them through you, and to appropriate to my own "use the sums, which I have already passed to "their credit, by their unworthy, and, pardon me " if I add, dangerous reflections, which they have "passed upon me for the first communication of "this kind;" (and he immediately adds, what is singular and striking, and favours of a recriminatory insinuation)" and your own experience will suggest " to you, that there are persons, who would profit

by such a warning." To what Directors in particular this imputation of experience is applied, and what other persons they are, in whom experience has shown a disposition to profit of such a warning, is a matter highly proper to be inquired into. What Mr. Hastings says further on this subject is no less worthy of attention:" that he could have con- Vide above Appendix, "cealed these transactions, if he had a wrong mo"tive, from theirs and the publick eye for ever." It is undoubtedly true, that, whether the observation be applicable to the particular case, or not, practices of this corrupt nature are extremely difficult of detection any where, but especially in India; but all restraint upon that grand fundamental abuse of presents is' gone for ever, if the servants of the Company can derive safety from a defiance of the

law,

1

law, when they can no longer hope to screen them selves by an evasion of it. All hope of reformation is at an end, if, confiding in the force of a faction among Directors or Proprietors to bear them out, and possibly to vote them the fruit of their crimes as a reward of their discovery, they find that their bold avowal of their offences is not only to produce indemnity, but to be rated for merit. If once a presumption is admitted, that wherever something is divulged nothing is hid, the discovering of one offence may become the certain means of concealing a multitude of others. The contrivance is easy, and trivial, and lies open to the meanest proficient in this kind of art; it will not only become an effectual cover to such practices, but will tend infinitely to increase them. In that case sums of money will be taken for the purpose of discovery, and making merit with the Company; and other sums will be taken for the private advantage of the receiver. *

It must certainly be impossible for the natives to know what presents are for one purpose, or what for the other. It is not for a Gentû or a Mahometan land-holder, at the foot of the remotest mountains in India, who has no access to our records, and knows nothing of our language, to distinguish what lacks of rupees, which he has given, eo nomine, as a present to a Company's servant, are to be authorized by his masters in Leadenhall-street as proper and legal, or carried to their

publick

publick account at their pleasure; and what are laid up for his own emolument.

The Legislature, in declaring all presents to be the property of the Company, could not consider corruption, extortion, and fraud, as any part of their resources. The property in such presents was declared to be theirs, not as a fund for their benefit, but in order to found a legal title to a civil suit. It was declared theirs, to facilitate the recovery, out of corrupt and oppressive hands, of money illegally taken; but this legal fiction of property could not, nor ought, by the Legislature to be considered in any other light than as a trust held by them for those, who suffered the injury. Upon any other construction the Company would have a right, first, to extract money from the subjects or dependants of this kingdom, committed to their care, by means of particular conventions, or by taxes, by rents, and by monopolies; and, when they had exhausted every contrivance of publick imposition, then they were to be at liberty to let loose upon the people all their servants, from the highest rank to the lowest, to prey upon them at pleasure, and to draw, by personal and official authority, by influence, venality, and terrour, whatever was left to them; and that all this was justified, provided the product was paid into the Company's exchequer. This prohibition and permission of presents, with this declaration of property in the Company, would

III.Cap.68.

Act 13 Geo. leave no property to any man in India. If, how ever, it should be thought that this clause in the Act should be capable, by construction and retrospect, of so legalizing, and thus appropriating these presents, (which Your Committee conceive impossible,) it is absolutely necessary that it should be very fully explained.

The provision in the Act was made in favour of the natives. If such construction prevails, the provision, made as their screen from oppression, will become the means of increasing and aggravating it without bounds and beyond remedy. If presents, which when they are given were unlawful, can afterwards be legalized by an application of them to the Company's service, no sufferer can even resort to a remedial process at law for his own relief. The moment he attempts to sue, the money may be paid into the Company's treasury; it is then lawfully taken, and the party is non-suited.

The Company itself must suffer extremely in the whole order and regularity of their publick accounts, if the idea, upon which Mr. Hastings justifies the taking of these presents, receives the smallest countenance. On his principles, the same sum may Hastings's become private property, or publick, at the pleasure 16 Decem- of the receiver; it is in his power, Mr. Hastings

Vide Mr.

Letter of

ber 1782,

dix B, N°6.

in Appen says, to conceal it for ever. He certainly has it in his power not only to keep it back, and bring it forward at his own times, but even to shift and

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