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be familiarized hereafter ;—it is enough, that those persons had the cast and character of all the people of Bengal in their hands. Through them he has taken effectual security against all complaint. Your lordships will hence discern how very necessary it is become, that some other personage should intervene, should take upon him their representation, and by his freedom and his power should supply the defects arising from their servitude and their impotence.
The Commons of Great Britain charge themselves with this character.
My lords, these Gentû people are the original people of Hindostan. They are still, beyond comparison, the most numerous. Faults this nation may have ;--but God forbid we should pass judgment upon people, who framed their laws and institutions prior to our insect origin of yesterday. With all the faults of their nature, and errours of their institutions, their institutions, which act so powerfully on their natures, have two material characteristics, which entitle them to respect :-first, great force and stability; and next, excellent moral and civil effects. Their stability has been proved by their holding on an uniform tenour for a duration commensurate to all the empires, with which history has made us acquainted ; and they still exist in a green old age, with all the reverence of antiquity, and with all the passion, that people have to novelty and change. They have stood firm on their antient base—they have cast their roots deep in their native soil ; perhaps because they have never spread them any where else than in their native soil. Their blood, their opinions, and the soil of their country, make one consistent piece ; admitting no mixture, no adulteration, no improvement : accordingly, their religion has made no converts ; their dominion has made no conquests; but, in proportion as their laws and opinions were concentred within themselves, and hindered from spreading abroad, they have doubled their force at home. They have existed in spite of Mahomedan and Portuguese bigotry; in spite of Tartarian and Arabian tyranny ; in spite of all the fury of successive foreign conquest ; in spite of a more formidable foe—the avarice of the English dominion.
I have spoken now, my lords, of what their principles are ;—their laws and religious institutions, in point of force and stability : I have given instances of their force in the very circumstance, in which all the institutions of mankind in other respects show their weakness. They have existed, when the country has been otherwise subdued. This alone furnishes full proof, that there must be some powerful influence resulting from them beyond all our little fashionable theories upon such subjects.
The second consideration in the Gentů institutions is their beneficial effects, moral and civil. The policy, civil or religious, or, as theirs is, composed of both, that makes a people happy, and a state flourishing (putting further and higher considerations out of the way, which are not now before us), must undoubtedly, so far as human considerations prevail, be a policy wisely conceived in any scheme of government. It is confirmed by all observation, that, where the Hindu religion has been established, that country has been flourishing. We have seen some patterns remaining to this day. The very country, which is to be the subject of your lordships judicial inquiry, is an instance, by an entire change of government, of the different effects resulting from the rapacity of a foreign hand, and the paternal, lenient, protecting arm of a native government, fornied on the long connexion of prejudice and power. I shall give you its state under the Hindû government from a book written by a very old servant of the company, whose authority is of the greater weight, as the very destruction of all this scheme of govern. ment is the great object of the author.
The author, Mr. Holwell, divides the country of- Bengal into its different provinces.
He supposes what they then paid to the supreme government; he supposes what the country is capable of yielding; and his project is to change entirely the application of the revenues of the country, and to secure the whole into the hands of government. In enumerating these provinces, at last he comes to the province of Burdwan.
“In truth (says this author), it would be almost cruelty to molest this happy people ; for in this district are the only vestiges of the beauty, purity, piety, regularity, equity, and
strictness of the antient Hindostan government.
Here the property, as well as the liberty, of the people are inviolate. Here no robberies are heard of, either publick or private. The traveller, either with or without merchandise, becomes the immediate care of the government, which allots him guards, without any expense, to conduct bim from stage to stage, and these are accountable for the safety and accommodation of his person and effects. At the end of the first stage he is delivered over, with certain benevolent formalities, to the guards of the next, who, after interrogating the traveller as to the usage he had received in bis journey, dismiss the first guard with a written certificate of their behaviour, and a receipt for the traveller and his effects; which certificate and receipt are returnable to the commanding offieer of the first stage, who registers the same, and regularly reports it to the rajah."
“ In this form the traveller is passed through the country; and if he only passes, he is not suffered to be at any expense for food, accommodation, or carriage for his merchandise or baggage ; but it is otherwise if he is permitted to make any residence in one place above three days, unless occasioned by sickness, or any unavoidable accident. thing is lost in this district, for instance a bag of money or other valuables, the person, who finds it, hangs it upon the next tree, and gives notice to the nearest chowkey, or place of guard ; the officer of which orders immediate publication of the same by beat of tomtom or drum."
These, my lords, are the effects universally produced by the Hindû polity throughout that vast region, before it was distorted and put out of frame by the barbarism of foreign conquests. Some choice reserved spots continued to flourish under it to the year 1756. Some remained till Mr. Hastings obtained the means of utterly defacing them. Such was the prospect of Benares under the happy government of Bulwant Sing. Such was the happy state of the same Benares in the happy days of Cheit Sing, until in the year 1781 Mr. Hastings introduced his reform into that country.
Having stated the general outline of the manners of the original people of Hindostan ; having stated the general
principles of their policy, which either probibit connexion, or oblige us to a connexion very different from what we have hitherto used towards them, I shall leave it to your lordships' judgment, whether you will suffer such fair monuments of wisdom and benevolence to be defaced by the rapacity of your governours. I hope I have not gone out of my way to bring before you any circumstance relative to the Gentû religion and manners, further than as they relate to the spirit of our government over them ; for though there never was such food for the curiosity of the human mind, as is found in the manners of this people, I pass it totally over.
I wish to divide this preliminary view into six periods ; and your lordships will consider that of the Hindûs, which I have now mentioned, as the first era.
The second era is an era of great misfortune to that country, and to the world in general ; I mean, the time of the prophet Mahomed. The enthusiasm, which animated his first followers, the despotiek power, which religion obtained through that enthusiasm, and the advantages, derived from both, over the enervated great empires, and broken, disunited lesser governments of the world, extended the influence of that proud and domineering sect from the banks of the Ganges to the banks of the Loire.
This second period is the era of the Arabs. ple made a great and lasting impression on India. They established, very early, Mabomedan sovereigns in all parts of it ; particularly in the kingdom of Bengal, which is the principal object of our present inquiry. They held that kingdom, for a long series of years, under a dynasty of thirtythree kings ; having begun their conquest, and founded their dominion in Bengal, not very long after the time of their prophet.
These people, when they first settled in India, attempted with the ferocious arm of their prophetick sword to change the religion and manners of that country ; but at length perceiving, that their cruelty wearied out itself, and never could touch the constancy of the sufferers, they permitted the native people of the country to remain in quiet, and left the Mahomedan religion to operate upon them as it could by ap
pealing to the ambition or avarice of the great, or by taking the lower people, who have lost their casts, into this new sect; and thus, from the refuse of the Gentů, increasing the bounds of the Mahomedan religion. They left many of the antient rajahs of the country possessed of an inferiour sovereignty ; and, where the strength of the country or other circumstances would not permit this subordination, they suffered them to continue in a separate state, approaching to independence, if not wholly independent.
The Mahomedans, during the period of the Arabs, never expelled or destroyed the native Gentû nobility, zemindars, or landholders of the country. They all, or almost all, remained fixed in their places, properties, and dignities; and the shadows of several of them remain under our jurisdiction.
The next, which is the third era, is an era the more necessary to observe upon, because Mr. Hastings has made many applications to it in his defence before the Commons; namely, the invasion of the Tartars, or the era of Tamerlane. These Tartars did not establish themselves on the ruins of the Hindûs. Their conquests were over the other Mahomedans : for Tamerlane invaded Hindostan, as he invaded other countries, in the character of the great reformer of the Mahomedan religion. He came as a sort of successour to the rights of the prophet upon a divine title. He struck at all the Mahomedan princes, who reigned at that time. He considered them as apostates, or at least as degenerated from the faith, and as tyrants abusing their power. To facilitate his conquests over these, he was often obliged to come to a sort of a composition with the people of the country he invaded.
Tamerlane had neither time, nor means, nor inclination, to dispossess the antient rajahs of the country.
Your lordships will observe, that I propose nothing more, than to give you an idea of the principles of policy, which prevailed in these several revolutions, and not an history of the furious military achievements of a barbarous invader. Historians, indeed, are generally very liberal of their information concerning every thing but what we ought to be ve- /