Page images
PDF
EPUB

ment of his in like manner calls upon government for favour of some kind or other, upon the same principle, and the same precedent.

Your lordships now see, how necessary it was to say something about arbitrary power : for, first, the wicked people of that country (Mr. Hastings's instruments I mean) pretend right, title, purchase, grant; and when their frauds in all these legal means are discovered, then they fly off, and have recourse to arbitrary power ; and say, It is true, I can make out no right, title, grant, or purchase ; the parties are minors; I am bound to take care of their right; but you bave arbitrary power; you have exercised it upon other occasions; exercise it upon this ; give me the rights of other people. This was the last act, and, i hope, will be the last act of Mr. Hastings's wicked power, done by the wickedest man in favour of the wickedest man, and by the wickedest means, which failed upon his own testimony.

To bring your lordships to the end of this business, which I hope will lead me very near to the end of what I have to trouble your lordships with ; I will now state the conduct of the council, and the resolution about Gunga Govin Sing. I am to inform your lordships, that there was a reference made by the council to the committee of revenue, namely to Gunga Govin Sing himself; a reference with regard to the right, title, mode, and proceeding, and many other circuinstances; upon which the committee, being such as I have described, very naturally were silent. Gunga Govin Sing loquitur 80lusin the manner you have just heard ; the committee were the chorus ; they sometimes talk,-fill up a vacant part, but Gunga Govin Sing was the great actor, the sole

The report of this committee being laid before the council, Mr. Stables, one of the board, entered the following minute on the fifteenth of May 1785 : “ I have perused the several papers upon this subject, and am sorry to observe, that the committee of revenue are totally silent on the most material points therein, and sending the petition to them has only been so much time thrown away-I mean, on the actual value of the lands in question : what the amount derived from them has been in the last year, and what advantages or

one.

disadvantages to government by the sale ; and whether, in their opinion, the supposed sale was compulsive, or not. But, it is not necessary for the discussion of the question respecting the regularity or irregularity of the pretended sale of Salbarry to Gunga Govin Sing, the dewan, to enter into the particular assertions of each party.

“ The representations of the rajah's agent, confirmed by the petitions of his principal, positively assert the sale to have been compulsive and violent; and the dewan as positively denies it, though the fears he expresses, that their common enemies would set aside the act before it was complete,' show clearly, that they were sensible the act was unjustifiable, if they do not tend to falsify his denial.

“ But, it is clearly established and admitted by the language and writings of both parties, that there has been a most unwarrantable collusion in endeavouring to alienate the rights of government, contrary to the most positive original laws of the constitution of these provinces, that no zemindur, and other landholder, paying revenue to government, shall be permitted to alienate his lands without the express authority of that government.'

“ The defence set up by Gunga Govin Sing does not go to disavow the transaction ; for, if it did, the deed of sale, &c. produced by himself, and the petition to the board for its confirmation, would detect him; on the contrary, he openly admits its existence, and only strives to show, that it was a voluntary one on the part of the ranny and the servants of the rajah. Whether voluntary or not, was equally criminal in Gunga Govin Sing, as the publick officer of government, because diametrically opposite to the positive and repeated standing orders of that government for the rule of his conduct, as dewan, and native guardian of the publick rights intrusted especially to his care ; because it was his duty, not only not to be guilty of a breach of those rules himself, but, as dewan, and exercising the efficient ofice of canongoe, to prevent, detect, expose, and apprize his employers of every instanee attempted to the contrary; because it was his duty to prevent the government being defrauded, and the rajah, a child of nine years old, robbed of his hereditary possessions, as he would have been, if this transaction had not been detected; whereas, on the contrary, the dewan is himself the principal mover, and sole instrument in that fraud and robbery, if I am rightly informed,* to the amount of 42,474 rupees in perpetuity, by which he alone was to benefit ; and because, he has even dared to stand forward in an attempt to obtain our sanction, and thereby make us parties to (in my opinion) a false deed and fraudulent transaction, as his own defence now shows the bill of sale and all its collateral papers to be.

“If offences of this dark tendency and magnitude were not to be punished in a publick manner, the high example here set the natives, employed under the government by their first native officer, would very soon render our authority contemptible, and operate to the destruction of the publick revenues.--I will not dwell further on the contradictions in these papers before us on this subject.

“ But, I beg leave to point out, how tenacious the government have been of ensuring implicit obedience to their rules on this subject in particular, and in prohibiting conduct like that here exhibited against their publick officer, and how sacredly they have viewed the publick institutes on this subject, which have been violated and trampled on; and it will suffice to show their publick orders on a similar instance, which happened some time ago, and which the dewan, from his official situation, must have been a party in detecting.

“I desire the board's letter to the committee on this subject, dated the 31st May 1782, may be read, and a copy be annexed to this minute.

“ I, therefore, move the board, that Gunga Govin Sing may be forthwith required to surrender the original deeds produced by him, as a title to the grant of Salbarry, in order that they may be returned to the rajah's agents, to be made null and void.

“ I further move the board, that the dewan Gunga Govin

* Vakeel states Mofussil Jumma, of Salbarry, for 1,191 Sa R: 96,229 Purchase money

53,755 Per annum, loss

42.474

[ocr errors]

Sing, together with his naib Prawn Kishin Sing, his son, and all his dependants, be removed from their offices, and that the roy royan, rajah Rajebullub, whose duty Gunga Govin Sing virtually is to perform, be reinstated in the exercise of the duties of his department; and that Gunga Govin Sing be ordered to deliver up all official papers of the sircar to the committee of revenue, and the roy royan, and that they be ordered accordingly to take charge of them, and finally setile all accounts.”—This motion was over-ruled, and no final proceeding appears.

My lords, you have heard the proceedings of the court, before which Gunga Govin Sing thought proper to appeal, in consequence of the power and protection of Mr. Hastings being understood to exist after he left India, and authenticated by his last parting deed. Your lordships will judge by that last act of Mr. Hastings, what the rest of his whole life was. -My lords, I do not mean now to go further, than just to remind your lordships of this, that Mr. Hastings's government was one whole system of oppression, of robbery of individuals, of destruction of the publick, and of supersession of the whole system of the English government, in order to vest in the worst of the natives all the powers, that could possibly exist in any government; in order to defeat the ends, which all governments ought in common to have in view. Thus, my lords, I show you, at one point of view, what you are to expect from him in all the rest. I have, I think, made out as clear as can be to your lordships, so far as it was necessary to go, that his bribery and peculation was not occasional, but habitual ; that it was not urged upon him at the moment, but was regular and systematick. I have shown to your lordships the operation of such a system on the revenues.

My lords, Mr. Hastings pleads one constant merit to justify those acts ; namely, that they produce an increase of the publick revenue ; and accordingly he never sells to any of those wicked agents any trusts whatever in the country, that you do not hear, that it will considerably tend to the increase of the revenue.-Your lordships will see, when he sold to wicked men the province of Bahar in the same way, in

which Debi Sing had this province of Dinagepore, that consequences of a horrid and atrocious nature (though not to so great an extent) followed from it. I will just beg leave to state to your lordships, that the kingdom of Bahar is annexed to the kingdom of Bengal ; that this kingdom was governed by another provincial council; that he turned out that provincial council, and sold that government to two wicked men,—one of no fortune at all, and the other of a very suspicious fortune ; one a total bankrupt, the other justly excommunicated for his wickedness in his country, and then in prison for misdemeanours in a subordinate situation of government.

Mr. Hastings destroyed the council, that imprisoned him ; and, instead of putting one of the best and most reputable of the natives to govern it, he takes out of prison this excommunicated wretch, hated by God and man,—this bankrupt, this man of evil and desperate character, this mismanager of the publick revenue in an inferiour station : and, as he had given Bengal to Gunga Govin Sing, he gave this province to rajahs Kelleram, and Cullian Sing.

It was done upon this principle, that they would increase, and very much better, the revenue. These men seemned to be as strange instruments for improving a revenue as ever were chosen, I suppose, since the world began. Perhaps their merit was giving a bribe of 40,0001. to Mr. Hastings. How he disposed of it, I don't know. He says, I disposed of it to the publick, and it was in a case of emergency. You will see in the course of this business the falsehood of that pretence ; for you will see, though the obligation is given for it as a round sum of money, that the payment was not accomplished till a year after ; that therefore it could not answer any immediate exigence of the company. Did it answer in an increase of the revenue ?-The very reverse. Those persons, who had given this bribe of 40,0001. at the end of that year were found 80,0001. in debt to the company. The company always loses, when Mr. Hastings takes a bribe ; and, when he proposes an increase of the revenue, the company loses often double. But I hope, and trust, your lordships will consider this idea of a monstrous rise of rent,

« PreviousContinue »