Page images
PDF
EPUB

fourth part of the whole bribe was very reprehensible behaviour in Gunga Govin Sing, certainly very unworthy of the great and high trust, which Mr. Hastings reposed in his integrity. My lords, this letter tells us, Mr. Hastings was much irritated at Gunga Govin Sing. You will hereafter see how Mr. Hastings behaves to persons, against whom he is irritated for their frauds upon him in their joint concerns. In the mean time Gunga Govin Sing rests with you as a person, with whom Mr. Hastings is displeased on account of infidelity in the honourable trust of bribe-undertaker and manager.

My lords, you are not very much enlightened, I believe, by seeing these words Dinagepore peshcush. We find a province, we find a sum of money, we find an agent, and we find a receiver. The province is Dinagepore, the agent is Gunga Govin Sing, the sum agreed on is 40,0001., and the receiver of a part of that is Mr. Hastings. This is all that can be seen. Who it was, that gave this sum of money to Mr. Hastings in this manner, does no way appear ; it is murder by persons unknown : and this is the way, in which Mr. Hastings, after all the reiterated solicitations of parliament, of the company, and the publick, has left the account of this bribe.

Let us, however, now see what was the state of transactions at Dinagepore at that period. For, if Mr. Hastings, in the transactions at that period, did any thing for that country, it must be presumed this money was given for those acts; for Mr. Hastings confesses it was a sum of money corruptly received, but honestly applied. "It does not signify much, at first view, from whom he received it; it is enough to fix upon him, that he did receive it. But because the consequences of his bribes make the main part of what I intend to bring before your lordships, I shall beg to state to you, with your indulgence, what I have been able to discover by a very close investigation of the records respecting this business of Dinagepore.

Dinagepore, Rungpore and Edrackpore make a country, I believe, pretty nearly as large as all the northern counties of England, Yorkshire included ; it is no mean country, and

it has a prince of great, antient, illustrious descent at the head of it, called the rajah of Dinagepore.

I find, that, about the month of July 1780, the rajah of Dinagepore after a long and lingering illness died, leaving an half brother and an adopted son. A litigation respecting the succession instantly arose in the family; and this litigation was of course referred to, and was finally to be decided by, the governour-general in council, being the ultimate authority, to which the decision of all these questions was to be referred. This cause came before Mr. Hastings, and I find, that he decided the question in favour of the adopted son of the rajah against his half brother. I find,

I find, that upon that decision a rent was settled, and a peshcush, or fine, paid.—So that all, that is in this transaction, is fair and above-board; there is a dispute settled ; there is a fine paid; there is a rent reserved to the company; and the whole is a fair settlement. But I find along with it very extraordinary acts: for I find Mr. Hastings taking part in favour of the minor, agreeably to the principles of others, and contrary to his own. I find, that he gave the guardianship of this adopted son to the brother of the rannee, as she is called, or the widow of the deceased rajah ; and though the hearing and settling of this business was actually a part of the duty of his office, yet I find, that, when the steward of the province of Dinagepore was coming down to represent this case to Mr. Hastings, Mr. Hastings, on pretence, that it would only tend to increase the family dissensions, so far from hearing fully all the parties in this business, not only sent him back, but ordered him to be actually turned out of his office. If then the 40,0001. be the same with the money taken from the rajah in 1780, to which account it seems to refer (for it was taken in regular payments, beginning July 1780, and ending at the same period in 1781,) it was a sum of money corruptly taken by him as a judge in a litigation of inheritance between two great parties. So that he received the sum of 40,0001. for a judgment; which, whether that judgment was right or wrong, true or false, he corruptly received

This sum was received, as your lordships will observe,

through Gunga Govin Sing. He was the broker of the agreement; he was the person, who was to receive it by monthly instalments, and he was to pay it to Mr. Hastings.

His son was in the office of register-general of the whole country, who had in his custody all the papers, documents, and every thing, which could tend to settle a litigation among the parties.

If Mr. Hastings took this bribe from the rajah of Dinagepore, he took a bribe from an infant of five years old through the hands of the register. That is, the judge receives a bribe through the hands of the keeper of the genealogies of the family, the records, and other documents, which must have had the principal share in settling the question.

This history of this Dinagepore peshcush is the publick one received by the company, and which is entered upon the record—but not the private, and probably the true, history of this corrupt transaction.

Very soon after this decision, very soon after this peshcush was given, we find all the officers of the young rajah, who was supposed to have given it, turned out of their employment by Gunga Govin Sing, by the very man, who received the peshcush for Mr. Hastings. We find them all turned out of their employments : we find them all accused, without any appearance or trace in the records of any proof of embezzlement, of neglect in the education of the minor rajah, of the mismanagement of his affairs, or the allotment of an unsuitable allowance. And accordingly to prevent the relations of his adopteds mother—to prevent those, who might be supposed to have an immediate interest in the family, from abusing the trust of his education, and the trust of the management of his fortune, Gunga Govin Sing—(for I trust your lordships would not suffer me, if I had a mind, to quote that tool of a thing the committee of revenue, bought at 62,0001. a year, you would not suffer me to name it, especially when you know all the secret agency of bribes in the hand of Gunga Govin Sing)—this Gunga Govin Sing produces soon after another character, to whom he consigns the custody of the whole family and the whole province.

I will do Mr. Hastings the justice to say, that, if he had known there was another man more accomplished in all iniquity than Gunga Govin Sing, he would not have given him the first place in his confidence. But there is another next to him in the country, whom you are to hear of by and by, called Debi Sing. This person in the universal opinion of all Bengal is ranked next to Gunga Govin Sing; and, what is very curious, they have been recorded by Mr. Hastings as rivals in the same virtues.

Arcades ambo, Et cantare pares, et respondere parati. But Mr. Hastings has the bappiest modes in the world ; these rivals were reconciled on this occasion, and Gunga Govin Sing appoints Debi Sing, superseding all the other officers for no reason whatever upon record. And because like champions they ought to go in pairs, there is an English gentleman, one Mr. Goodlad, whom you will hear of presently, appointed along with him.

Absolute strangers to the rajah's family, the first act they do is—to cut off 1,000 out of 1,600 a month from his allowance. They state (though there was a great number of dependants to maintain) that 600 would be enough to maintain him. There appears in the account of these proceedings to be such a Autter about the care of the rajah, and the management of his household ; in short, that there never was such a tender guardianship as, always with the knowledge of Mr. Hastings, is exercised over this poor rajah, who had just given, if he did give, 40,000l. for his own inheritance, if it was his due

- for the inheritance of others, if it was not his due. One would think he was entitled to some mercy; but probably, because the money could not otherwise be supplied, his establishment was cut down by Debi Sing and Mr. Goodlad a thousand a month, which is just twelve thousand a year.

When Mr. Hastings had appointed those persons to the guardianship, who had an interest in the management of the rajah's education and fortune, one should have thought, before they were turned out, he would at least have examined whether such a step was proper or not. No, they were

turned out, without any such examination; and when I come to inquire into the proceedings of Gunga Govin Sing's committee, I do not find, that the new guardians have brought to account one single shilling they received, appointed as they were by that council newly made to superintend all the affairs of the rajah.

There is not one word to be found of an account : Debi Sing's honour, fidelity and disinterestedness, and that of Mr. Goodlad, is sufficient; and that is the way, in which the management and superintendence of one of the greatest houses in that country is given to the guardianship of strangers. And how is it managed ? we find Debi Sing in possession of the rajah's family, in possession of his affairs, in the management of his whole zemindary ; and in the course of the next year he is to give him in farm the whole of the revenues of these three provinces. Now whether the peshcush was received for the nomination of the rajah, as a-bribe in judgment, or whether Mr. Hastings got it from Debi Sing, as a bribe in office, for appointing him to the guardianship of a family, that did not belong to him, and for the dominion of three great, and once wealthy, provinces—which is best or worst I shall not pretend to determine. You find the rajah in his possession, you find his education, his household in his possession. The publick revenues are in his possession ; they are given over to him.

If we look at the records, the letting of these provinces appears to have been carried on by the new committee of revenue, as the course and order of business required it should. But by the investigation into Mr. Hastings's money transactions, the insufficiency and fallacy of these records is manifest beyond a doubt. From this investigation it is discovered, that it was in reality a bargain secretly struck between the governour-general and Debi Sing; and that the committee were only employed in the mere official forms. From the time, that Mr. Hastings new modelled the revenue system, nothing is seen in its true shape. We now know, in spite of the fallacy of these records, who the true grantor was ; it will not be amiss to go a little further in supplying their defects, and to inquire a little concerning the grantee

« PreviousContinue »