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tem of confederacy and connivance, which, under his auspices, was the vital principle of almost the whole service.
There is one member of the service, which I have omitted; but whether I ought to have put it first, or, as I do now, last, I must confess I am at some loss; because, though it appears to be the lowest (if any regular) part of the service, it is by far the most considerable, and the most eficient; without a full consideration and explanation of which hardly any part of the conduct of Mr. Hastings, and of many others, that may be in his situation, can be fully understood.
I have given your lordships an account of writers, factors, merchants, who exercise the office of judges, lord chancellors, chancellors of the exchequer, ministers of state, and managers of great revenues. But there is another description of men, of more importance than them all, a description you have often heard of, but which has not been sufficiently explained ; I mean, the banyan. When the company's service was no more than mercantile, and the servants were generally unacquainted with the country, they used the in, tervention of certain factors among the natives, which were called banyans; we called them so, because they were of the tribe, or cast of the banyans or merchants, the Indians being generally distributed into trades according to their tribes. The name still continues, when the functions of the banyans are totally altered. The banyan is known by other appellations. He is called dewan or steward; and, indeed, this is a term with more propriety applied to him in several of his functions. He is, by his name of office, the steward of the household of the European gentleman : he has the management of his affairs, and the ordering of his servants. He is himself a domestick servant, and generally chosen out of that class of natives, who, by being habituated to misery and subjection, can submit to any orders, and are fit for any of the basest services. Trained under oppression (it is the true education ) they are fit to oppress others. They serve an apprenticeship of servitude, to qualify them for the trade of tyranny. They know all the devices, all the little frauds, all the artifices and contrivances, the whole panoply of the defensive armour, by which ingenious slavery
secures itself against the violence of power. They know all the lurking holes, all the winding recesses, of the unfortunate; and they hunt out distress and unisery, even to their last retreats. They have suffered themselves; but, far from being taught by those sufferings to abstain from rigour, they have only learned the methods of afflicting their fellow slaves. They have the best intelligence of what is done in England. The moment a company's servant arrives in India, and his English connexions are known to be powerful, some of that class of people immediately take possession of him, as if he were their inheritance. They have knowledge of the country, and its affairs ; they have money; they have the arts of making money. The gentleman, who comes from England, has none of these; he enters into that world, as he enters into the world at large, naked. His portion is great 'simplicity, great indigence, and a strong disposition to relieve himself. The banyan, once in possession, employs his tyranny, not only over the native people of his country, but often over the master himself, who has little other share in the proceedings of his servant, but in giving him the ticket of his name to mark, that he is connected with, and supported by, an European, who is himself well connected and supported at home. This is a commission, which nothing can resist. From that moment forward, it is not the Englishman, it is the black banyan, that is the master. The nominal master often lives from his hand. We know how young men are sent out of this country: we know how happy we are to hear soon, that they are no longer a burthen to their friends and parents. The banyan knows it too. He supplies the young servant with money. He has him ảnder his power; first, from the necessity of employing such a man; and next, (and this is the more important of the two) he has that dreadful power over his master, which every creditor has over his debtor. Actions, the most abhorrent to his nature, he must see done before his face ; and thousands and thousands worse are done in his absence, and he dare not complain. The banyan extorts, robs, plunders, and then gives him just what proportion of the spoil he pleases.
If the master should murmur, the very power, that was
sent over to protect the people of India from these very abuses (the best things being perverted, when applied to unknown objects and put into unsuitable situations)—the very laws of England, by making the recovery of debts more easy, infinitely increase the power of the banyan over his master. Thus the supreme court of justice, the destined corrector of all abuses, becomes a collateral security for that abominable tyranny exercised by the monied banyans over Europeans as well as the natives. So that, while we are here boasting of the British power in the east, we are in perhaps more than half our service nothing but the inferiour, miserable instruments of the tyranny, which the lowest part of the natives of India exercise to the disgrace of the British authority, and to the ruin of all, that is respectable among their own countrymen. They have subverted the first houses, totally ruined and undone the country, cheated and defrauded the revenue; the master a silent, sometimes a melancholy spectator, until some office of high emolument has emancipated him. This has often been the true reason, that the company's servants in India, in order to free themselves from this horrid and atrocious servitude, are obliged to become instruments of another tyranny, and must prostitute themselves to men in power, in order to obtain some office, that may enable them to escape the servitudes below, and enable them to pay their debts. And thus many have become the instruments of Mr. Hastings.
These banyans or dewans were originally among the lower casts in the country. But now it is true, that, after seeing the power and profits of these men; that there is neither power, profession, nor occupation to be had, which a reputable person can exercise, but through that channel ; men of higher casts, and born to better things, have thrown themselves into that disgraceful servitude, have become menial servants to Englishmen, that they might rise by their degradation. But whoever they are, or of whatever birth, they have equally prostituted their integrity; they have equally lost their character ; and, once entered into that course of life, there is no difference between the best casts and the worst. That system Mr. Hastings confirmed, established,
increased, and made the instrument of the most austere tyranny, of the basest peculations, and the most scandalous and iniquitous extortions.
In the description I have given of banyans a distinction is to be made. Your lordships must distinguish the banyans of the British servants in subordinate situations, and the banyans, who are such to persons in higher authority. In the latter case the banyan is in strict subordination, because he may always be ruined by his superiour ; whereas in the former, it is always in his power to ruin his nominal superiour. It was not through fear, but voluntarily, and not for the banyan's purposes, but his own, Mr. Hastings has brought forward his banyan. He seated him in the houses of the principal nobility, and invested him with farms of the revenue; he has given him enormous jobs; he has put him over the heads of a nobility, which, for their grandeur, antiquity and dignity, might almost be matched with your lordships. He has made him supreme ecclesiastical judge, judge even of the very casts, in the preservation of the separate rules and separate privileges of which that people exists. He, who has dominion over the cast, has an absolute power over something more than life and fortune.
Such is that first or last (I know not which to call it) order in the company's service called a banyan. The mutseddies, clerks, accountants, of Calcutta, generally fall under this description. Your lordships will see hereafter the necessity of giving you, in the opening of the case, an idea of the situation of a banyan. You will see, as no Englishman, properly speaking, acts by himself, that he must be made responsible for that person called his banyan ; for the power he either uses under him, or the power he has acquired over him. The banyan escapes, in the night of his complexion and situation, the inquiry, that a white man cannot stand before in this country. Through the banyans, or other black natives, a bad servant of the company receives his bribes. Through them he decides falsely against the titles of litigants in the court of casts, or in the offices of publick registry. Through them Mr. Hastings has exercised oppressions, which, I will venture to say, in his own name, in his own character,
daring as he is (and he is the most daring criminal, that ever existed) he never would dare to practice. Many, if not most, of the iniquities of his interiour bad administration have been perpetrated through these banyans, or other native agents and confidants; and we shall show you, that he is not satisfied with one of them; confiding few of his secrets to Europeans, and hardly any of his instruments, either native or European, knowing the secrets of each other. This is the system of banyanism, and of concealment, which Mr. Hastings, instead of eradicating out of the service, has propagated by example and by support, and enlarged by converting even Europeans into that dark and insidious character.
I have explained, or endeavoured to explain, to your lordships these circumstances of the true spirit, genius, and character, more than the ostensible institutions, of the company's service. I now shall beg leave to bring before you one institution, taken from the mercantile constitution of the company, so excellent, that I will venture to say, that human wisdom has never exceeded it. In this excellent institution the counting-house gave lessons to the state.
The active, awakened, and enlightened principle of self-interest will provide a better system for the guard of that interest, than the cold, drowsy wisdom of those, who provide for a good out of themselves, ever contrived for the publick. The plans sketched by private prudence for private interest, the regulations by mercantile men for their mercantile purposes, when they can be applied to the discipline and order of the state, produce a discipline and order, which no state should be ashamed to copy. The company's mercantile regulations are admirably fitted for the government of a remote, large, disjointed empire. As merchants, having factors abroad in distant parts of the world, they have obliged them to a minuteness and strictness of register, and to a regularity of correspondence, which no state has ever used in the same degree with regard to its publick ministers. The company has made it a fundamental part of their constitution, that almost their whole government shall be a written government. Your lordships will observe, in the course of the proceeding, the