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him with this previous plot for the destruction of Nundcomar; and this identical person, Mohun Persaud, whom Nundcomar had charged as Mr. Hastings's associate in plotting his ruin, was now again brought forward, as the principal evidence against him.
I will not enter (God forbid I should) into the particulars of the subsequent trial of Nundcomar; but you will find the marks and characters of it to be these. You will find a close connexion between Mr. Hastings and the chief justice, which we shall prove. We shall prove, that one of the witnesses, who appeared there, was a person, who had been before, or has since been, concerned with Mr. Hastings in his most iniquitous transactions. You will find what is very odd, that in this trial for forgery, with which this man stood charged, forgery in a private transaction, all the persons, who were witnesses, or parties to it, had been, before or since, the particular friends of Mr. Hastings in short, persons from that rabble, with whom Mr. Hastings was concerned, both before and since, in various transactions and negotiations of the most criminal kind. But the law took its course. I have nothing more to say than that the man is gone—hanged justly if you please ; and that it did so happen luckily for Mr. Hastings—it so happened, that the relief of Mr. Hastings and the justice of the court, and the resolution never to relax its rigour, did all concur just at a happy nick of time and moment; and Mr. Hastings accordingly had the full benefit of them all.
His accuser was supposed to be what men may be, and yet very competent for accusers—namely, one of his accomplices in guilty actions ; one of those persons, who may have a great deal to say of bribes. All, that I contend for, is, that he was in the closest intimacy with Mr. Hastings, was in a situation for giving bribes ; and that Mr. Hastings was proved afterwards to have received a sum of money from him, which may be well referred to bribes.
This example had its use in the way, in which it was intended to operate, and in which alone it could operate. It did not discourage forgeries; they went on at their usual rate, neither more por less. But it put an end to all accusations against all persons in power for any corrupt practice. Mr. Hastings observes, that no man in India complains of
him. It is generally true. The voice of all India is stopped. All complaint was strangled with the same cord, that strangled Nundcomar. This murdered not only that accuser, but all future accusation; and not only defeated but totally vitiated and reversed all the ends, for which this country, to its eternal and indelible dishonour, had sent out a pompous embassy of justice to the remotest parts of the globe.
But though Nundcomar was put out of the way by the means, by which he was removed, a part of the charge was not strangled with him. Whilst the process against Nundcomar was carrying on before Sir Elijah Impey, the process was continuing against Mr. Hastings in other modes; the receipt of a part of those bribes from Munny Begum to the amount of 15,0001. was proved against him; and that a sum, to the same amount, was to be paid to his associate, Mr. Middleton, as it was proved at Calcutta, so it will be proved at your lordships' bar to your entire satisfaction by records and living testimony now in England. It was indeed obliquely admitted by Mr. Hastings himself.
The excuse for this bribe, fabricated by Mr. Hastings, and taught to Munny Begum, when he found, that she was obliged to prove it against him, was, that it was given to him for his entertainment, according to some pretended custom, at the rate of 2001. sterling a day, whilst he remained at Moorshedabad. My lords, this leads me to a few reflections on the apology or defence of this bribe. We shall certainly I hope render it clear to your lordships, that it was not paid in this manner, as a daily allowance, but given in a gross sum. But take it in his own way, it was no less illegal, and no less contrary to his covenant; but if true under the circumstances, it was an horrible aggravation of his crime. The first thing, that strikes, is, that visits from Mr. Hastings are pretty severe things ; and hospitality at Moorshedabad is an expensive virtue, though for provision it is one of the cheapest countries in the universe. No wonder, that Mr. Hastings lengthened his visit, and made it extend near three months. Such hosts and such guests cannot be soon parted. Two hundred pounds a day for a visit! it is at the rate of 73,0001, a year for himself; and as I find
his companion was put on the same allowance, it will be 146,0001. a year for hospitality to two English gentlemen.
I believe, that there is not a prince in Europe, who goes to such expensive hospitality of splendour. But that you may judge of the true nature of this hospitality of corruption, I must bring before you the business of the visiter, and the condition of the host, as stated by Mr. Hastings himself, who best knows what he was doing.
He was then at the old capital of Bengal, at the time of this expensive entertainment on a business of retrenchment, and for the establishment of a most harsh, rigorous, and oppressive economy. He wishes the task were assigned to spirits of a less gentle kind. By Mr. Hastings's account, he was giving daily and hourly wounds to his humanity in depriving of their sustenance hundreds of persons of the antient nobility of a great fallen kingdom. Yet it was in the midst of this galling duty, it was at that very moment of his tender sensibility, that from the collected morsels plucked from the famished mouths of hundreds of decayed, indigent, and starving nobility, he gorged his ravenous maw with 2001. a day for his entertainment. In the course of all this proceeding your lordships will not fail to observe, he is never corrupt, but he is cruel; he never dines with comfort, but where he is sure to create a famine.
He never robs from the loose superfluity of standing greatness; he devours the fallen, the indigent, the necessitous. His extortion is not like the generous rapacity of the princely eagle, who snatches away the living struggling prey : he is a vulture, who feeds upon the prostrate, the dying and the dead. As his cruelty is more shocking than his corruption, so his hypocrisy has something more frightful than his cruelty. For whilst his bloody and rapacious hand signs proscriptions, and now sweeps away the food of the widow and the orphan, his eyes overflow with tears, and he converts the healing balm, that bleeds from wounded humanity, into a rancorous and deadly poison to the race of man.
Well, there was an end to this tragick entertainment, this feast of Tantalus. The few left on the pension list, the poor remnants, that had escaped, were they paid by his ad
ministratrix and deputy Munny Begum ? Not a shilling. No fewer than forty-nine petitions, mostly from the widows of the greatest and most splendid houses of Bengal, came before the council, praying in the most deplorable manner for some sort of relief out of the pittance assigned them. His colleagues, General Clavering, Colonel Monson, and Mr. Francis, men, who, when England is reproached for the government of India, will, I repeat it, as a shield be held up between this nation and infamy, did, in conformity to the strict orders of the directors, appoint Mahomed Reza Khân to his old offices—that is, to the general superintendency of the household and the administration of justice, a person, who by his authority might keep some order in the ruling family and in the state. The court of directors authorized them to assure those offices to him, with a salary reduced indeed to 30,000l. a year, during his good behaviour. But Mr. Hastings, as soon as he obtained a majority by the death of the two best men ever sent to India, notwithstanding the orders of the court of directors, in spite of the publick faith solemnly pledged to Mahomed Reza Khân, without a shadow of complaint, had the audacity to dispossess him of all his offices, and appoint his bribing patroness, the old dancing girl, Munny Begum, once more to the vice-royalty and all its attendant honours and functions.
The pretence was more insolent and shameless than the act. Modesty does not long survive innocence.
He brings forward the miserable pageant of the nabob, as he called him, to be the instrument of his own disgrace, and the scandal of his family and government.
He makes him to pass by his mother, and to petition us to appoint Munny Begum once more to the administration of the vice-royalty. He distributed Mahomed Reza Khân's salary as a spoil.
When the orders of the court to restore Mahomed Reza Khân, with their opinion on the corrupt cause of his removal, and a second time to pledge to him the publick faith for his continuance, were received, Mr. Hastings, who had been just before a pattern of obedience, when the despoiling, oppressing, imprisoning, and persecuting this man was the object, yet when the order was of a beneficial nature, and plea
sant to a well-formed mind, he at once loses all his old principles, he grows stubborn and refractory, and refuses obedience. And in this sullen uncomplying mood he continues, until, to gratify Mr. Francis in an agreement on some of their differences, he consented to his proposition of obedience to the appointment of the court of directors. He grants to his arrangement of convenience what he had refused to his duty, and replaces that magistrate. But mark the double character of the man, never true to any thing but fraud and duplicity. At the same time that he publicly replaces this magistrate, pretending compliance with his colleague, and obedience to his masters, he did in defiance of his own and the publick faith, privately send an assurance to the nabob_that is, to Munny Begum, informs her, that he was compelled by necessity to the present arrangement in favour of Mahomed Reza Khân; but that on the first opportunity he would certainly displace him again. And he kept faith with his corruption ; and to show how vainly any one sought protection in the lawful authority of this kingdom, he displaced Mahomed Reza Khân from the lieutenancy and controullership, leaving him only the judicial department miserably curtailed.
But does he adhere to his old pretence of freedom to the nabob ? No such thing. He appoints an absolute master to him under the name of resident, a creature of his personal favour, Sir J. Doiley, from whom there is not one syllable of correspondence, and not one item of account. How grievous this yoke was to that miserable captive, appears by a paper of Mr. Hastings, in which he acknowledges, that the nabob bad offered, out of the 160,0001. payable to him yearly, to give up to the company no less than 40,0001. a year, in order to have the free disposal of the rest. On this all comment is superfluous. Your lordships are furnished with a standard, by which you may estimate his real receipt from the revenue assigned to him, the nature of the pretended residency, and its predatory effects. It will give full credit to what was generally rumoured and believed, that substantially and beneficially the nabob never received 50 out of the 160,000 pounds; which will account for his known poverty, and wretchedness, and that of all about him.