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NINTH DAY: MONDAY, JUNE 16, 1794.
Y LORDS, -I should think it necessary to make
an apology to your Lordships for appearing before you one day more, if I were inclined to measure this business either by the standard of my own ability, or by my own impatience, or by any supposed impatience of yours. I know no measure, in such a case, but the nature of the subject, and the duty which we owe to it. You will therefore, my Lords, permit me, in a few words, to lead you back to what we did yesterday, that you may the better compre.. hend the manner in which I mean to conclude the business to-day.
My Lords, we took the liberty of stating to you the condition of Bengal before our taking possession of it, and of the several classes of its inhabitants. We first brought before you the Mahometan inhabitants, who had the judicial authority of the country in their hands; and we proved to you the utter ruin of that body of people, and with them of the justice of the country, by their being, both one and the other, sold to an infamous woman called Munny Begum. We next showed you, that the whole landed interest, the zemindars, or Hindoo gentry of the country, was likewise ruined by its being given over, by letting it
on a five years' lease, to infamous farmers, and giving it up to their merciless exactions, - and afterwards by subjecting the rank of those zemindars, their title-deeds, and all their pecuniary affairs, to the minutest scrutiny, under pain of criminal punishment, by a commission granted to a nefarious villain called Gunga Govind Sing. We lastly showed you that the remaining third class, that of the English, was partly corrupted, or had its authority dissolved, and that the whole superintending English control was subverted or subdued, — that the products of the country were diminished, and that the revenues of the Company were dilapidated, by an overcharge of expenses, in four
ur years, to the amount of 500,0001., in consequence of these corrupt, dangerous, and mischievous projects.
We have farther stated, that the Company's servants were corrupted by contracts and jobs; we proved that those that were not so corrupted were removed from their stations or reduced to a state of abject dependence; we showed you the destruction of the Provincial Councils, the destruction of the Council-General, and the formation of a committee for no other ends whatever but for the purposes of bribery, concealment, and corruption. We next stated some of the most monstrous instances of that bribery; and though we were of opinion that in none of them any satisfactory defence worth mentioning had been made, yet we have thought that this should not hinder us from recalling to your Lordships' recollection the peculiar nature and circumstances of one of those proceedings.
The proceedings to which we wish to call your attention are those belonging to the second bribe
given by the Nabob of Oude to Mr. Hastings. Mr. Hastings's own knowledge and opinion that that money was set apart for his use, either in bills or assets, I have before stated ; and I now wish to call your Lordships' minute recollection to the manner in which the fraudulent impeachment of Mr. Middleton, for the purpose of stifling an inquiry into that business, was carried on. Your Lordships will remember that I proved to you, upon the face of that proceeding, the collusive nature of the accusation, and that the real state of the case was not charged, -and that Mr. Hastings acquitted the party accused of one article of the charge, not upon the evidence of the case, contrary to his own avowed, declared, moral certainty of his guilt, but upon a pretended appeal to the conscience of the man accused. He did not, however, give him a complete, formal, official acquittal, but referred the matter to the Court of Directors, who could not possibly know anything of the matter, without one article of evidence whatever produced at the time or transmitted. We lastly proved to you, that, after finding him guilty of five charges, and leaving the other to the Court of Directors, Mr. Hastings, without any reason assigned, appointed him to a great office in the Company's service.
These proceedings were brought before you for two purposes: first, to show the corrupt principle of the whole proceeding; next, to show the manner in which the Company's servants are treated. They are accused and persecuted, until they are brought to submit to whatever terms it may be thought proper to impose upon them; they are then formally, indeed, acquitted of the most atrocious crimes charged against them, but virtually condemned upon some articles,
with the scourge hung over them, — and in some instances rewarded by the greatest, most honorable, and most lucrative situations in the Company's service. My Lords, it is on the same ground of the wicked, pernicious, and ruinous principles of Mr. Hastings's government, that I have charged this with everything that is chargeable against him, namely, that, if your Lordships should ratify those principles by your acquittal of him, they become principles of government, - rejected, indeed, by the Commons, but adopted by the Peerage of Great Britain.
There is another article which I have just touched but which I must do more than barely notice, upon account of the evil example of it: I mean the taking great sums of money, under pretence of an entertainment. Your Lordships will recollect, that, when this business was charged against him in India, Mr. Hastings neither affirmed nor denied the fact. Confession could not be there extorted from him. He next appeared before the House of Commons, and he still evaded a denial or a confession of it. He lastly appeared before your Lordships, and in his answer to our charge he in the same manner eraded either a confession or a denial. He forced us to employ a great part of a session in endeavoring to establish what we have at last established, the receipt of the sums first charged, and of seven lacs more, by him. At length the proof could not be evaded ; and after we had fought through all the difficulties which the law could interpose in his defence, and of which he availed himself with a degree of effrontery that has, I believe, no example in the world, he confesses, avows, and justifies his conduct. If the custom alleged be well founded, and be an honorable and a proper and just practice, why did he not avow it in every part and progress of our proceedings here? Why should he have put us to the necessity of wasting so many months in the proof of the fact? And why, after we have proved it, and not before, did he confess it, avow it, and even glory in it?
I must remind your Lordships that the sum charged to be so taken by way of entertainment made only a part, a single article, of the bribes charged by Nundcomar to have been received by Mr. Hastings; and when we find him confessing, what he could not deny, that single article, and evading all explanation respecting the others, and not giving any reason whatever why one was received and the others rejected, your Lordships will judge of the strong presumption of his having taken them all, even if we had given no other proofs of it. We think, however, that we have proved the whole very satisfactorily. But whether we have or not, the proof of a single present received is sufficient; because the principle to be established respecting these bribes is this, whether or not a Governor-General, paying a visit to any of the poor, miserable, dependent creatures called sovereign princes in that country, (men whom Mr. Hastings has himself declared to be nothing but phantoms, and that they had no che attribute of sovereignty about them,) whether, I say, he can consider them to be such sovereign princes as to justify his taking from them great sums of money by way of a present. The Nabob, in fact, was not a sovereign prince, nor a country power, in any sense but that which the Company meant to exempt from the custom of making presents. It was their design to prevent their servants from availing themselves of the