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tives for a corrupt act. There is no one capital act of his administration, that did not strongly imply corruption. When a man is known to be free from all imputation of taking money, and it becomes an established part of his character, the errours, or even crimes, of his administration ought to be, and are in general, traced to other sources. You know it is a maxim. But once convict a man of bribery in any instance, and once by direct evidence, and you are furnished with a rule of irresistible presumption, that every other irregular act, by which unlawful gain may arise, is done upon the same corrupt motive. Semel malus præsumitur semper malus. As for good acts candour, charity, justice, oblige me not to assign evil motives, unless they serve some scandalous purpose, or terminate in some manifest evil end, so justice, reason and common sense compel me to suppose, that wicked acts have been done upon motives correspondent to their nature. Otherwise I reverse all the principles of judgment, which can guide the human mind, and accept even the symptoms, the marks and criteria, of guilt, as presumptions of innocence. One that consounds good and evil, is an enemy to the good !
His conduct upon these occasions may be thought irrational. But, thank God, guilt was never a rational thing, it distorts all the faculties of the mind, it perverts them, it leaves a man no longer in the free use of his reason; it puts him into confusion. He has recourse to such miserable and absurd expedients for covering his guilt, as all those, who are used to sit in the seat of judgment, know have been the cause of detection of half the villanies in the world. To argue, that these could not be his reasons, because they were not wise, sound and substantial, would be to suppose what is not true, that bad men were always discreet and able.
But I can very well from the circumstances discover motives, which may affect a giddy, superficial, shattered, guilty, anxious, restless mind, full of the weak resources of fraud, craft and intrigue, that might induce him to make these discoveries, and to make them in the manner he has done. Not rational, and well-fitted for their purposes, I am very ready to admit. For God forbid,
that guilt should ever leave a man the free undisturbed use of his faculties. For as guilt never rose from a true use of our rational faculties, so it is very frequently subversive of them. God forbid, that prudence, the first of all the virtues, as well as the supreme director of them all, should ever be employed in the service of any of the vices. No, it takes the lead, and is never found where justice does not accompany it; and, if ever it is attempted to bring it into the service of the vices, it immediately subverts their cause. It tends to their discovery, and, I hope and trust, finally to their utter ruin and destruction.
In the first place I am to remark to your lordships, that the accounts he has given of one of these sums of money are totally false and contradictory. Now there is not a stronger presumption, nor can one want more reason, to judge a transaction fraudulent, than that the accounts given of it are contradictory ; and he has given three accounts utterly irreconcileable with each other. He is asked, How came you to take bonds for this money, if it was not your own ? How came you to vitiate and corrupt the state of the company's records, and to state yourself a lender to the company, when in reality you was their debtor ? His answer was, I really cannot tell; I have forgot my reasons ; the distance of time is so great (namely, a time of about two years or not so long) I cannot give an account of the matter; perhaps I had this motive, perhaps I had another ; (but what is the most curious,) perhaps I had none at all, which I can
now recollect. You shall hear the account, which Mr. Hastings himself gives, his own fraudulent representation of these corrupt transactions.
« For my motives for withholding “ the several receipts from the knowledge of the council, or of the court of directors, and for taking bonds for part of these sums, and paying others into the treasury as deposits on my own account, I have generally accounted in my letter to the honourable the court of directors of the 22d of May 1782, namely, that I either chose to conceal the first receipts from publick curiosity by receiving bonds for the amount, or possibly acted without any studied design, which my memory, at that distance
of time, could verify ; and that I did not think it worth my care to observe the same means with the rest. It will not be expected, that I should be able to give a more correct explanation of my intentions after a lapse of three years, having declared at the time, that many particulars had escaped my remembrance ; neither shall I attempt to add more than the clearer affirmation of the facts implied in that report of them, and such inferences, as necessarily, or with a strong probability, follow them.”
My lords, you see, as to any direct explanation, that he fairly gives it up : he has used artifice and stratagem, which he knows will not do ; and at last attempts to cover the treachery of his conduct by the treachery of his memory. Frequent applications were made to Mr. Hastings upon this article from the company-gentle hints, gemitus columbarather little amorous complaints, that he was not more open and communicative; but all these gentle insinuations were never able to draw from him any further account till he eame to England. When he came here, he left not only his memory, but all his notes and references, behind in India. When in India, the company could get no account of them, because he himself was not in England ; and when he was in England, they could get no account, because his papers were in India.
He then sends over to Mr. Larkins to give that account of his affairs, which he was not able to give himself.
Observe, here is a man taking money privately, corruptly, and which was to be sanctified by the future application of it, taking false securities to cover it ; and who when called upon to tell whom he got the money from, for what ends, and on what occasion, neither will tell in India, nor can tell in England, but sends for such an account as he has thought proper to furnish.
I am now to bring before you an account of what I think much the most serious part of the effects of his system of bribery, corruption and peculation. My lords, I am to state to you the astonishing and almost incredible means he made use of to lay all the country under contribution, to bring the whole into such dejection as should put his bribes out of the way of discovery. Such another example of boldness and contrivance I believe the world cannot furnish.
I have already shown amongst the mass of his corruptions, that he let the whole of the lands to farm to the banyans. Next, that he sold the whole Mahomedan government of that country to a woman. This was bold enough, one should think ; but without entering into the circumstances of the revenue change in 1772, I am to tell your lordships, that he had appointed six provincial councils, each consisting of many members, who had the ordinary administration of civil justice in that country, and the whole business of the collection of the revenues.
These provincial councils accounted to the governourgeneral and council, who in the revenue department had the whole management, controul, and regulation of the revenue. Mr. Hastings did in several papers to the court of directors declare, that the establishment of these provincial councils, wbich at first he stated only as experimental, had proved useful in the experiment.. And on that use, and upon that experiment, he had sent even the plan of an act of parliament to have it confirmed with the last and most sacred authority of this country. The court of directors desired, that, if he thought any other method more proper, he would send it to them for their approbation.
Thus the whole face of the British government, the whole of its order and constitution, remained from 1772 to 1781. -He had got rid sometime before this period, by death, of General Clavering ; by death, of Colonel Monson ; and by vexation and persecution, and his consequent dereliction of authority, he had shaken off Mr. Francis. The whole council consisting only of himself and Mr. Wheler, he, having the casting vote, was in effect the whole council ; and if ever there was a time, when principle, decency, and decorum rendered it improper for him to do any extraordinary acts without the sanction of the court of directors, that was the time. Mr. Wheler was taken off, despair perhaps rendering the man, who had been in opposition futilely before, compliable, The man is dead. He certainly did not oppose him; if he had, it would have been in vain. But those very circumstances, which rendered it atrocious in Mr. Hastings to make any change, induced him to make this.--He thought, that a
moment's time was not to be lost, that other colleagues might come where he might be overpowered by a majority again, and not able to pursue his corrupt plans. Therefore he was resolved—your lordships will remark the whole of this most daring and systematick plan of bribery and peculation,-he resolved to put it out of the power of his council in future to check or controul him in any of his evil practices.
The first thing he did was to form an ostensible council at Calcutta, for the management of the revenues, which was not effectually bound, except it thought fit, to make any reference to the supreme council. He delegated to themthat is, to four covenanted servants—those functions, which by act of parliament and the company's orders were to be exercised by the council-general ; he delegated to four gentlemen, creatures of his own, his own powers, but he laid them out to good interest. It appears odd, that one of the first acts of a governour-general, so jealous of his power as he is known to be, as soon as he had all the power in his own hands, should be to put all the revenues out of his own controul. This upon the first view is an extraordinary proceeding His next step was, without apprizing the court of directors of his intention, or without having given an idea of any such intention to his colleagues while alive, either those, who died in India, or those, who afterwards returned to Europe, in one day, in a moment, to annihilate the whole authority of the provincial councils, and delegate the whole power to these four gentlemen. These four gentlemen had for their secretary an agent given them by Mr. Hastings ; a name,
you will often hear of-a name, at the sound of which all India turns pale—the most wicked—the most atrocious—the boldest - the most dexterous villain, that ever the rank servitude of that country has produced. My lords, I am speaking with the most assured freedom, because there never was a friend of Mr. Hastings, there never was a foe of Mr. Hastings, there never was any human person, that ever differed on this occasion, or expressed any other idea of Gunga Govin Sing, the friend of Mr. Hastings, whom he intrusted with this important post. But you shall hear, from the account given by themselves, what the council thought of