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improved description of that best religion ; I mean the Christian reformed religion; that we should have done honour to Europe, to letters, to laws, to religion ; done honour' to all the circumstances, of which, in this island, we boast ourselves, at the great and critical moment of that revolution.
My lords, it has bappened otherwise. It is now left for us to repair our former errours. Resuming the history where I broke off yesterday by your indulgence to my weakness.-Surajah Dowla was the adopted grandson of Ally Verdy Cawn, a cruel and ferocious tyrant ; the manner of whose acquisition of power I have already stated. He came too young and unexperienced to that throne of usurpation. It was a usurpation yet green in the country, and the country felt uneasy under it. It had not the advantage of that prescriptive usage, that inveterate habit, that traditionary opinion, which a long continuance of any system of government secures to it. The only real security, which Surajah Dowla's government could possess, was the security of an army. But the great aim of this prince, and his predecessor, was to supply the weakness of his government by the strength of his purse ; he therefore amassed treasures by all ways and on all hands. But, as the Indian princes, in general, are as unwisely tenacious of their treasure, as they are rapacious in getting it; the more money he amassed, the more he felt the effects of poverty. The consequence was, that their armies were unpaid, and being unpaid or irregularly paid, were undisciplined, disorderly, unfaithful. In this situation, a young prince, confiding more in the appearances, than examining into the reality of things, undertook (from motives, which the House of Commons with all their industry to discover the circumstances have found it difficult to make out) to attack a little miserable trading fort, that we had erected at Calcutta. He succeeded in that attempt, only because success in that attempt was easy. A close imprisonment of the whole settlement followed ; not owing, I believe, to the direct will of the prince, but, what will always happen when the will of the prince is but too much the law, to a gross abuse of his power by his lowest servants ; by which 120 or more of our countrymen perished miserably
in a dungeon by a fate too tragical for me to be desirous to relate, and too well known to stand in need of it.
At the time that this event happened, there was at the same time a concurrence of other events, which, from this partial and momentary weakness, displayed the strength of Great Britain in Asia. For some years before, the French and English troops began, on the coast of Coromandel, to exhibit the power, force, and efficacy of European discipline. As we daily looked for a war with France, our settlements on that coast were in some degree armed.
Lord Pigot, then governour of Madras,-Lord Pigot, the preserver, and the vietim of the British dominion in Asia,-detached such of the company's force as could be collected and spared, and such of his majesty's ships as were on that station, to the assistance of Calcutta. And, to hasten this history to its conclusion,-the daring and commanding genius of Clive, the patient and firm ability of Watson,
the treachery of Meer Jaffier,—and the battle of Plassey, gave us at once the patronage of a kingdom, and the command of all its treasures. We negotiated with Meer Jaffier for the viceroyal throne of his master. On that throne we seated him. And we obtained, on our part, immense sums of money. We obtained a million sterling for the company; upwards of a million for individuals : in the whole, a sum of about two millions two hundred and thirty thousand pounds for various purposes from the prince, whom we had set up. We obtained too the town of Calcutta, more completely than we had before possessed it, and the twenty-four districts adjoining. This was the first small seminal principle of the immense territorial acquisitions we have since made in India.
Many circumstances of this acquisition I pass by. There is a sacred veil to be drawn over the beginnings of all governments. Ours, in India, had an origin like those, which time has sanctified by obscurity. Time, in the origin of most governments, has thrown this mysterious veil over them ; prudence and discretion make it necessary to throw something of the same drapery over more recent foundations; in which otherwise the fortune, the genius, the talents, and military virtue of this nation never shone more conspicuous
ly. But, whatever necessity might hide, or excuse, or palliate in the acquisition of power, a wise nation, when it has once made a revolution upon its own principles, and for its own ends, rests there. The first step to empire is revolution, by which power is conferred; the next is good laws, good orders, good institutions, to give that power stability, I am sorry to say, that the reverse of this policy was the principle, on which the gentlemen in India acted.
It was such as tended to make the new government as unstable as the old. By the vast sums of money acquired by individuals
upon this occasion, by the immense sudden prodigies of fortune,-it was discovered, that a revolution in Bengal was a mine much more easily worked, and infinitely more productive, than the mines of Potosi and Mexico. It was found, that the work was not only very lucrative, but not at all difficult. Where Clive forded a deep water upon an unknown bottom, he left a bridge for his successours, over which the lame could hobble, and the blind might grope their way. There was not at that time a knot of clerks in a countinghouse ; there was not a captain of a band of ragged topasses, that looked for any thing less than the deposition of soubahs, and the sale of kingdoms. Accordingly, this revolution, which ought to have precluded other revolutions, unfortunately became fruitful of them; and when Lord Clive returned to Europe to enjoy his fame and fortune in his own country, there arose another description of men, who thought, that a revolution might be made upon his revolution ; and as lucrative to them as his was to the first projectors. Scarcely was Meer Jaffier, Lord Clive's nabob, seated on his musnud, than they immediately, or in a short time, projected another revolution—a revolution, which was to unsettle all the former had settled--a revolution to make way for new disturbances, and new wars; and which led to that long chain of peculation, which ever since has afflicted and oppressed Bengal.
If ever there was a time, when Bengal should have had respite from internal revolutions, it was this. nour, forced
upon the natives, was now upon the throne. All the great lords of the country, both Gentîis and Mahometans,
were uneasy, discontented, and disobedient; and some absolutely in arins, and refusing to recognize the prince we had
An imminent invasion of the Mahrattas, an actual invasion beaded by the son of the Mogul, the revenues on account of the late shock very ill collected, even where the country was in some apparent quiet, an hungry treasury at Calcutta, an empty treasury at Moorshedabad, -every thing demanded tranquillity, and with it order and economy.
In this situation it was resolved to make a new and entirely mercenary revolution ; and to set up to sale the government, secured to its present possessour by every tie of publick faith, and every sacred obligation, which could bind or influence mankind. This second revolution forms that period in the Bengal history, which had the most direct influence upon all the subsequent transactions. It introduces some of the persons, who were most active in the succeeding scenes, and from that time to this has given its tone and character to the British affairs and government. It marks and specifies the origin and true principle of all the abuses, which Mr. Hastings was afterwards appointed to correct, and which the Commons charge, that he continued and aggravated-namely, the venal depositions, and venal exaltations of the country powers,—the taking of bribes and corrupt presents from all parties in those changes; the vitiating and maiming the company's records ; the suppression of publick correspondence ; corrupt combinations and conspiracies ; perfidy in negotiation established into principle ;-acts of the most atrocious wickedness justified upon purity of intention ; mocktrials and collusive acquittals among the parties in common guilt, and in the end, the court of directors supporting the scandalous breach of their own orders. I shall state the particulars of this second revolution more at large.
Soon after the revolution, which had seated Meer Jaffier on the vice-royal throne, the spirit of the Mogul empire began, as it were, to make one faint struggle, before it finally expired. The then heir to that throne, escaping from the hands of those, who had held his father prisoner, had put himself at the head of several chiefs, collected under the standard of his house, and appeared in force on the frontiers
of the provinces of Bengal and Bahar, upon both which he made some impression. This alarmed the new powers, the nabob Meer Jaffier, and the presidency of Calcutta ; and as in a common cause, and by the terms of their mutual alliance, they took the field against him. The nabob's eldest son, and heir-apparent, commanded in chief. Major Calliaud commanded the English forces under the government of Calcutta. Mr. Holwell was in the temporary possession of the presidency. Mr. Vansittart was hourly expected to supersede him. Mr. Warren Hastings, a young gentleman about twenty-seven years of age, was resident for the company at the durbar, or court, of Meer Jaffier, our new created nabob of Bengal, allied to this country by the most solemn treaties, that can bind men ; for which treaties he had paid, and was then paying, immense sums of money. Mr. Warren Hastings was the pledge in his hands for the honour of the British nation, and their fidelity to their engagements.
In this situation Mr. Holwell, whom the terrible example of the black hole at Calcutta had not cured of ambition, thought an hour was not to be lost in accomplishing a revolution, and selling the reigning nabob.
My lords, there was in the house of Meer Jaffier, in his court, and in his family, a man of an intriguing, crasty, subtle, and at the same time bold, daring, desperate, bloody and ferocious character, called Cossim Ally Cawn. He was the son-in-law of Meer Jaffier ; and he made no other use of this affinity, than to find some means to dethrone and to murder him. This was the person, in whose school of politicks Mr. Hastings made bis first studies, and whose conduct he quotes as his example, and for whose friends, agents, and favourites, he has always shown a marked predilection. This dangerous man was not long without finding persons, who observed his talents with admiration, and who thought fit to employ him.
The council at Calcutta was divided into two departments; one, the council in general, the other, a select committee, which they had arranged for the better carrying on their political affairs. But the select committee had no power of acting wholly without the council at large, at least finally and