Page images

pit of despondence. He supported every one by his good- . ness ; overset the designs of evil-minded men by his authority ; tied the hands of oppression with the strong bandage of justice, and by these means expanded the pleasing appearance of happiness and joy over us : he re-established justice and impartiality. We were, during his government, in the enjoyment of perfect happiness and ease, and many of us are thankful and satisfied. As Mr. Hastings was well acquainted with our manners and customs, he was always desirous, in every respect, of doing whatever would preserve our religious rights, and guard them against every kind of accident and injury ; and at all times protected us. Whatever we have experienced from him, and whatever hap ed from him, we have written without deceit or exaggeration."

My lords, this Radanaut, zemindar of the purgunnah, who, as your lordships hear, bears evidence upon oath to all the great and good qualities of the governour, and particularly, to his absolute freedom from covetousness; this person, to whom Mr. Hastings appeals, was, as the committee state, a boy between five and six years old at the time when he was given into the hands of Debi Sing; and when Mr. Hastings left Bengal, which was in 1786, was between eleven and twelve years old! This is the sort of testimony, that Mr. Hastings produces, to prove, that he was clear from all sort of extortion, oppression, and covetousness, in this very zemindary of Dinagepore. This boy, who is so observant, who is so penetrating, who is so accurate in his knowledge of the whole government of Mr. Hastings, was, I say, when he left his government, at the utmost, but eleven years and a half old. Now, to what an extremity is this unhappy man at your bar driven, when oppressed by this accumulative load of corruption charged upon him, and seeing his bribery, his prevarication, his fraudulent bonds brought before you, he gives the testimony of this child, who for the greatest part of his time lived 300 miles from the seat of Mr. Hastings's government. Consider the miserable situation of this poor unfortunate boy, made to swear, with all the so

lemnities of his religion, that Mr. Hastings was never guilty in bis province of any act of rapacity. Such are the testimonies, which are there called rozannammas, in favour of Mr. Hastings, with which all India is said to sound. Do we attempt to conceal them from your lordships ? No, we bring them forth to show you the wickedness of the man, who, after he has robbed innocence, after he has divided the spoil between Gunga Govin Sing and himself, gets the party rob. bed to perjure himself for his sake, if such a creature is ca. pable of being guilty of perjury. We have another rozan: namma sent from Nuddea, by a person nearly under the same circumstances with Rhadanaut, namely, Maha Rajah Dheraja Scolbrûnd Bahadre, only made to differ in some expressions from the former, that it might not appear to originate from the same hand. These miserable rozannamaas he delivers to you as the collected voice of the country, to show how ill-founded the impressions are which committees of the House of Commons (for to them they allude, I suppose) have taken concerning this man, during their inquiries into the management of the affairs of the company in India,

Before I quit this subject, I have only to give you the opinion of Sir Elijah Impey, a name consecrated to respect for ever, (your lordships know him in this house as well as I do) respecting these petitions and certificates of good behaviour:

“ From the reasons and sentiments, that they contain, &c.

[This document cannot be found.]

The moment an Englishman appears, as this gentleman does in the province of Dinagepore, to collect certificates for Mr. Hastings, it is a command for them, the people, to say what he pleases.

And here, my lords, I would wish to say something of the miserable situation of the people of that country; but it is not in my commission, and I must be silent; and shall only request your lordships to observe, bow this crime of bribery grows in its magnitude. First, the bribe is taken, through Gunga Govin Sing, from this infant, for his succes



sion to the zemindary. Next follows, the removal from their offices, and consequent ruin, of all his nearest natural relations. Then the delivery of the province to Debi Sing, upon the pretence of the arrears due to the company, with all the subsequent horrours committed under the management of that atrocious villain. And lastly, the gross subor . nation of perjury in making this wretched minor, under twelve years of age, bear testimony, upon oath, to the good qualities of Mr. Hastings, and of his government; this minor, I say, who lived 300 miles from the seat of his govern. ment, and who, if he knew any thing at all of his own affairs, 'must have known that Mr. Hastings was the cause of all his sufferings.

My lords, I have now gone through the whole of what I have in charge. I have laid before you the covenants, by which the company have thought fit to guard against the avarice and 'rapacity of their governours. I have shown, that they positively forbid the taking of all sorts of bribes and presents : and I have stated the means adopted by them for preventing the evasion of their orders by directing, in all money transactions, the publicity of them. I have farther shown, that, in order to remove every temptation to a breach of their orders, the next step was the framing a legal fiction, by which presents and money, under whatever pretence taken, were made the legal property of the company, in order to enable them to recover them out of any rapacious hands, that might violate the new act of parliament. I have also stated this act of parliament. I have stated Mr. Hastings's sense of it. I have stated the violation of it by his taking bribes from all quarters. I have stated the fraudulent bonds, by which he claimed a security for money as his own, which belonged to the company. I have stated the series of frauds, prevarications, concealments, and all that mystery of iniquity, which I waded through with pain to myself, I am sure, and with infinite pain, I fear, to your lordships. I have shown your lordships, that his evasions of the clear words of his covenant, and the clear words of an act of parliament, were such as did not arise from an erroneous judgment, but from a corrupt intention : and, I believe,

you will find, that his attempt to evade the law aggravates infinitely his guilt in breaking it. In all this I have only opened to you the package of this business ; I have opened it to ventilate it, and give air to it: I have opened it, that a quarantine might be performed ; that the sweet air of heaven, which is polluted by the poison it contains, might be let loose upon it, and that it may be aired and ventilated before your lordships touch it. Those, who follow me, will endeavour to explain to your lordships, what Mr. Hastings has endeavoured to involve in mystery, by bringing proof after proof, that every bribe, that was bere concealed, was taken with corrupt purposes, and followed with the most pernicious consequences. These are things, which will be brought to you in proof. I have only regarded the system of bribery : I have endeavoured to show, that it is a system of mystery and concealment; and, consequently, a system of fraud.

You now see some of the means, by wbich fortunes have been made, by certain persons in India ; you see, the confederacies they have formed with one another for their mutual concealment and mutual support; you will see, how they reply to their own deceitful inquiries by fraudulent answers; you will see, that Cheltenham calls upon Calcutta, as one deep calls upon another; and that the call, which is made for explanation, is answered in mystery : in short, you will see the very constitution of their minds here developed.

And, now my lords, in what a situation are we all placed. This prosecution of the Commons (I wish to have it understood, and I am sure I shall not be disclaimed in it) is a prosecution not only for the punishing a delinquent, a prosecution not merely for preventing this and that offence, but it is a great censorial prosecution, for the purpose of preserving the manners, characters, and virtues, that characterize the people of England. The situation in which we stand is dreadful. These people pour in upon us every day. They not only bring with them the wealth, which they have acquired, but they bring with them into our country the vices by which it was acquired : formerly the people of England were censured, and, perhaps properly, with being a

sullen, unsocial, cold, unpleasant race of men : and as inconstant as the climate in which they are born. These are the vices, which the enemies of the kingdom charged them with, and people are seldom charged with vices, of which they do not in some measure partake. But nobody refused them the character of being an open-hearted, candid, liberal, plain, sincere people ; qualities, which would cancel a thousand faults, if they had them.

But if, by conniving at these frauds, you once teach the people of England, a concealing, narrow, suspicious, guarded conduct: if you teach them qualities directly the contrary to those by which they have hitherto been distinguished : if you make them a nation of concealers, a nation of dissemblers, a nation of liars, a nation of forgers ; my lords, if you, in one word, turn them into a people of banyans, the character of England, that character, which more than our arms and more than our commerce has made us a great nation, the character of England will be gone and lost.

Our liberty is as much in danger, as our honour and our national character. We

We, who here appear representing the Commons of England, are not wild enough, not to tremble both for ourselves and for our constituents, at the effect of riches : “ Opum metuenda potestas.We dread the operation of money.

Do we not know, that there are many men, who wait and who indeed hardly wait the event of this prosecution to let loose all the corrupt wealth of India acquired by the oppression of that country for the corruption of all the liberties of this : and to fill the parliament with men, who are now the object of its indignation.–To-day, the Commons of Great Britain prosecate the delinquents of India.-To-morrow the delinquents of India may be the Commons of Great Britain. We know, I say, and feel the force of money; and we now call upon your lordships for justice in this cause of money. We call upon you for the preservation of our manners,- of our virtues.

We call upon you for our national character. We call upon you for our liberties; and hope, that the freedom of the Commons will be preserved by the justice of the lords.

« PreviousContinue »