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it. The fact is, that I was not at the presidency when the Surprize arrived ; and when I returned to it, my time and attention were so entirely engrossed, to the day of my final departure from it, by a variety of other more important occupations, of which, sir, I may safely appeal to your testimony, grounded on the large portion contributed by myself of the volumes, which compose our consultations of that period.”
These consultations, my lords, to which he appeals, form matter of one of the charges, that the Commons bave brought against Mr. Hastings ; namely, a fraudulent attempt to ruin certain persons employed in subordinate situations under him, for the purpose, by intruding himself into their place, of secretly carrying on his own transactions. These volumes of consultation were written to justify that act. He next says, “ The submission, which my respect would have enjoined me to pay to the command imposed on me, was lost to my recollection perhaps from the stronger impression, which the first and distant perusal of it had left on my mind, that it was rather intended as a reprehension for something, which had given offence in my report of the original transaction, than an expression of any want of a further elucidation of it." Permit me to make a few remarks upon this extraordinary passage.
A letter is written to him, containing a repetition of the request, which had been made a thousạnd times before, and with which he had as often promised to comply. And here he says, " it was lost to my recollection." Observe his memory; he can forget the command, but he has an obscure recollection that he thought it a reprehension rather than a demand ! Now a reprehension is a stronger mode of demand. When I say to a servant, Why have you not given me the account, which I have so often asked for ? is he to answer, The reason I have not given it, is because I thought you were railing at and abusing me? He goes on, “ I will now endeavour to reply to the different questions, which have been stated to me, in as explicit 2 manner as I am able ; to such information as I can give, the honourable court is fully entitled; and where that shall prove defective, I will point out the only means, by which it may be rendered more complete.” In order that
your lordships may thoroughly enter into the spirit of this letter, I must request that you will observe, how handsomely and kindly these tools of directors have expressed themselves to him ; and that even their baseness and subserviency to him were not able to draw from bim any thing, that could be satisfactory to his enemies; for as to these his friends, he cares but little about satisfying them, though they call upon him in consequence of bis own promise ;, and this he calls a reprehension. They thus express themselves : “ Although it is not our intention to express any doubt of the integrity of the governour-general ; on the contrary, after having received the presents, we cannot avoid expressing our approbation of his conduct, in bringing them to the credit of the company, yet we must_confess the statement of those transactions appears to us in many points so unintelligible, that we feel ourselves under the necessity of calling on the governourgeneral for an explanation, agreeable to his promise, voluntarily made to us. We therefore desire to be informed of the different periods when each sum was received, and what were the governour-general's motives for withholding the several receipts from the knowledge of the council and of the court of directors, and what were his reasons for taking bonds for part of these sums, and paying other sums into. the treasury as deposits upon his own account." Such is their demand, and this is what his memory furnishes as nothing but a reprehension. He then proceeds: “ First, I believe I can affirm with certainty, that the several sums mentioned in the account, transmitted with my letter above-mentioned, were received at or within a very few days of the dates, which are affixed to them in the account. But as this contains only the gross sums, and each of these was received in different payments, though at no great distance of time, I cannot therefore assign a great degree of accuracy to the account.”
Your lordships see, that after all he declares he cannot make his account accurate; he further adds, “ Perhaps the honourable court will judge this sufficient" that is, this explanation, namely, that he can give none " for any purpose, to which their inquiry was directed; but, if it should not be so, I will beg leave to refer, for a more minute information, and for the means of making any investigation, which they may think it proper to direct respecting the particulars of this transaction, to Mr. Larkins, your accountant-general, who was privy to every process of it, and possessed, as I believe, the original paper, which contained the only account, that I ever kept of it.”
Here is a man, who of his bribe accounts cannot give an account in the country where they are carried on. When you call upon him in Bengal, he cannot give the account, because he is in Bengal : when he comes to England, he cannot give the account here, because his accounts are left in Bengal. Again, he keeps no accounts himself, but his accounts are in Bengal, in the hands of somebody else; to him he refers, and we shall see what that reference produced. “ In this, each receipt was, as I recollect, specifically inserted with the name of the person, by whom it was made ; and I shall write to him to desire, that he will furnish you with the paper itself, if it is still in being, and in his hands, or with whatever he can distinctly recollect concerning it.” Here are accounts kept for the company, and yet he does not know, whether they are in existence any where. " 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.”
You have heard of that oriental figure called, in the banyan language, a painche ; in English, a screw : it is a puzzled and studied involution of a period, framed in order to prevent the discovery of truth, and the detection of fraud; and surely it cannot be better exemplified than in this sentence : “ 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.” Observe, that he says, not facts stated, but facts implied in the report"--and of what was this to be a report?
Of things, which the directors declared they did not understand; and then the inferences, which are to follow these implied facts are to follow them-But how? With a strong probability. If you have a mind to study this oriental figure of rhetorick, the painche ; here it is for you in its most complete perfection. No rhetorician ever gave an example of any figure of oratory, that can match this. But let us endeavour to unravel the whole passage. First, he states, that in May 1782, he had forgotten bis motives for falsifying the company's accounts; but he affirms the facts contained in the report, and afterwards, very rationally, draws such inferences as necessarily or with a strong probability follow them. And, if I understand it at all, which, God knows, I no more pretend to do, than Don Quixote did those sentences of lovers in romance writers, of which, he said, it made him run mad to attempt to discover the meaning; the inference is, Why do you call upon me for accounts now, three years after the time, when I could not give you them? I cannot give them you; and, as to the papers relating to them, I do not know whether they exist : and if they do, perhaps you may learn something from them: perhaps you may not : I will write to Mr. Larkins for those
you please. Now, comparing this with his other accounts, you will see what a monstrous scheme he has laid of fraud and concealment to cover his peculation. He tells them, “1 have said, that the three first sums of the account were paid into the company's treasury, without passing through my hands. The second of these was forced into notice by its destination and application to the expense of a TOL. VII.
detachment, which was formed and employed against Mahdajee Scindia, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Camac, as I particularly apprized the court of directors in my letter of the 29th December 1780.” He does not yet tell the directors, from whom he received it; we have found it out by other collateral means. « The other two were certainly not intended, when I received them, to be made publick, though intended for publick service, and actually applied to it. The exigencies of government were at that time my own, and every pressure upon it rested with its full weight upon my mind. Wherever I could find allowable means of relieving those wants, I eagerly seized them.” Allowable means of receiving bribes! for such I shall prove them to be in the particular instances. « But neither could it occur to me as necessary to state on our proceedings every little aid, that I could thus procure, nor do I know how I could have stated it, without appearing to court favour by an ostentation, which I disdained, nor without the chance of exciting the jealousy of my colleagues by the constructive assertion of a separate and unparticipated merit, derived from the influence of my station, to which they might have had an equal claim.”
Now we see, that, after hammering his brains for many years, he does find out his motive, which he could not verify at the time ; namely, that if he let his colleagues know that he was receiving bribes, and gaining the glory of receiving them, they might take it into their heads likewise to have their share in the same glory, as they were joined in the same commission, enjoyed the same powers, and were subject to the same restrictions. It was indeed scandalous in Mr. Hastings, not behaving like a good fair colleague in office, not to let them know that he was going on in this career of receiving bribes, and to deprive them of their share in the glory of it; but they were grovelling creatures, who thought that keeping clean hands was some virtue. Well, but you have applied some of these bribes to your own benefit; why did you give no account of those bribes ? I did not, he says, because it might have excited the envy of my colleagues. To be sure, if he was receiving bribes