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ry anxious to know. They tell us, that India was conquered by Tamerlane, and conquered in such a year. The year will be found to coincide somewhere, I believe, with the end of the fourteenth century. Thinking the mere fact as of little moment, and its chronology as nothing, but thinking the policy very material, which, indeed, is to be collected only here and there, in various books written with various views, I shall beg leave to lay before you a very remarkable circumstance relative to that policy, and taken from the same book to which I formerly referred, Mr. Holwell's.
“ When the Hindû rajahs, or princes of Hindostan, submitted to Tamerlane, it was on these capital stipulations that the emperour should marry a daughter of Rajah Cheit Sing's house ; that the head of this house should be in perpetuity governours of the citadel of Agra, and anoint the king at his coronation; and that the emperours should never impose the jessera (or poll-tax) upon the Hindûs."
Here was a conquerour, as he is called, coming in upon terms; mixing his blood with that of the native nobility of the country he conquered ; and, in consequence of this mixture, placing them in succession upon the throne of the country he subdued ; making one of them even hereditary constable of the capital of his kingdom, and thereby putting his posterity as a pledge into their hands. What is full as remarkable, he freed the Hindûs for ever from that tax, which the Mahomedans have laid upon every country, over which the sword of Mahomed prevailed ; namely, a capitation tax upon all, who do not profess the religion of the Mahomedans. But the Hindús, by express charter, were exempted from that mark of servitude, and thereby declared not to be a conquered people. The native princes, in all their transactions with the Mogul government, carried the evident marks of this free condition in a noble independency of spirit. Within their own districts the authority of many of them seemed entire. We are often led into mistakes concerning the government of Hindostan, by comparing it with those governments where the prince is armed with a full, speculative, entire authority ; and where the great people have, with great titles, no privileges at all; or, having privileges, have those
privileges only as subjects. But in Hindostan the modes, the degrees, the circumstances of subjection, varied infinitely. In some places hardly a trace at all of subjection was to be discerned; in some the rajahs were almost assessors of the throne, as in this case of the Rajah Cheit Sing. These circumstances mark, that Tamerlane, however he may be indicated by the odious names of Tartar and conquerour, was no barbarian ;—that the people, who submitted to him, did not submit with the abject submission of slaves to the sword of a conquerour, but admitted a great, supreme emperour, who was just, prudent, and politick, instead of the ferocious, oppressive lesser Mahomedan sovereigns, who had before forced their way by the sword into the country.
That country resembled more a republick of princes with a great chief at their head, than a territory in absolute, uniform, systematick subjection from one end to the other; in which light Mr. Hastings and others of late have thought proper to consider it. According to them, if a subordinate prince, like Cheit Sing, was not ready to pay any exorbitant sum on instant demand, or submit to any extent of fine, which should be inflicted upon him by the mere will of the person, who called robbery a fine, and who took the measure of that fine without either considering the means of paying, or the degree of delinquency, that justified it ; their properties, liberties and lives were instantly forfeited. The rajahs of that country were armed ;-they had fortresses for their security ;-they had troops. In the receipt of both their own and the imperial revenue, their securities for justice were in their own hands : but the policy of the Mogul princes very rarely led them to push that people to such extremity, as it is supposed, that, on every slight occasion, we have a right to push those, who are the subjects of our pretended conquest.
Mr. Holwell throws much light on this policy, which became the standing law of the empire.
“ In the unfortunate wars, which followed the death of Manz O'Din Sevajee, Cheit Sing (the great rajah we have just mentioned) with a select body of Rhajapoots, by a well conducted retreat, recovered Agra ; and was soon after re
conciled to the king (the Mogul) and admitted to his favour ; conformable to the steady policy of this government in keeping a good understanding with the principal rajahs, and more especially with the head of this house, who is ever capable of raising and fomenting a very formidable party upon any intended revolution in this despotick and precarious monarchy.”
You see, that it was the monarchy, that was precarious, not the rights of the subordinate chiefs. Your lordships see, that notwithstanding our ideas of oriental despotism, under the successours of Tamerlane, these principal rajahs, instead of being called wretches, and treated as such, as Mr. Hastings has thought it becoming to call and treat them, when they were in arms against their sovereign, were regarded with respect, and were admitted to easy reconciliations; because in reality, in their occasional hostilities, they were not properly rebellious subjects, but princes, often asserting their natural rights, and the just constitution of the country.
This view of the policy, which prevailed during the dynasty of Tamerlane, naturally conducts me to the next, which is the fourth era in this history-I mean the era of the em
He was the first of the successours of Tamerlane, who obtained possession of Bengal. It is easy to show of what nature his conquest was. It was over the last Mabomedan dynasty. He too, like his predecessor Tamerlane, conquered the prince, not the country. It is a certain mark, that it was not a conquered country in the sense, in which we commonly call a country conquered, that the natives, great men and landholders, continued in every part in the possession of their estates, and of the jurisdictions annexed to them. It is true, that in the several wars for the succession to the Mogul empire, and in other of their internal wars, severe revenges were taken, which bore resemblance to those taken in the war of the Roses in this country, where it was the common course, in the heat of blood," off with his head, so much for Buckingham.”—Yet, where the country again recovered its form and settlement, it recovered the spirit of a mild government. Whatever rigour was used with regard to the Mabomedan adventurers from Persia, Turkey,
and other parts, who filled the places of servile grandeur in the Mogul court, the Hindûs were a favoured, protected, gently treated people.
The next, which is the fifth era, is a troubled and vexatious period—the era of the independent soubahs of Bengal. Five of these soubahs or viceroys governed from about the year 1717, or thereabouts. They grew into independence partly by the calamities and concussions of that empire, which happened during the disputes for the succession of Tamerlane ; and partly, and indeed principally, by the great shock, which the empire received when Thamas Kouli Khân broke into that country, carried off its revenues, overturned the throne, and massacred not only many of the chief nobility, but almost all the inhabitants of the capital city. This rude shock, which that empire was never able to recover, enabled the viceroys to become independent; but their independence led to their ruin. Those, who had usurped upon their masters, had servants, who usurped upon them. Allaverdy Khân murdered his master, and opened a way into Bengal for a body of foreign invaders, the Mahrattas, who cruelly harassed the country for several years.
Their retreat was at length purchased, and by a sum, which is supposed to amount to five millions sterling. By this purchase he secured the exhausted remains of an exhausted kingdom, and left it to his grandson Surajah w Dowlah in peace and poverty. On the fall of Surajah w Dowlah, in 1756, commenced the last, which is the sixth,—the era of the British empire.
On the fifth dynasty I have only to remark to your lordships, that, at its close, the Hindû chiefs were almost every where found in possession of the country; that though Allaverdy Khân was a cruel tyrant, though he was an untitled usurper, though he racked and tormented the people under his government, urged, however, by an apparent necessity from an invading army of 100,000 horse in his dominions ; yet, under him, the rajahs still preserved their rank, their dignity, their castles, their houses, their seigniories, all the insignia of their situation, and always the right, sometimes also the means, of protecting their subordinate people, till the last and unfortunate era of 1756.
Through the whole of this sketch of history I wish to impress but one great and important truth upon your minds; namely, that through all these revolutions in government, and changes in power, an Hindû polity, and the spirit of an Hindû government, did more or less exist in that province, with which he was concerned, until it was finally to be de- ! stroyed by Mr. Hastings.
My lords, I have gone through all the eras precedent to those of the British power in India, and am come to the first of those eras. Mr. Hastings existed in India, and was a servant of the company before that era, and had his education' between both. He is an antediluvian with regard to the British dominion in Bengal. He was co-existent with all the acts and monuments of that revolution, and had no small share in all the abuses of that abusive period, which preceded his actual government. But, as it was during that transit from eastern to western power, that most of the abuses had their origin, it will not be perfectly easy for your lordships thoroughly to enter into the nature and circumstances of them, without an explanation of the principal events, that happened from the year 1756, until the commencement of Mr. Hastings's government; during a good part of which time we do not often lose sight of him. If I find it agreeable to your lordships ; if I find, that you wish to know these annals of Indian suffering and British delinquency; if you desire, that I should unfold the series of the transactions from 1756 to the period of Mr. Hastings's government in 1771;—that you may know how far he promoted what was good ; how far he rectified what was evil; how far he abstained from innovation in tyranny, and contented himself with the old stock of abuse ;_your lordships will have the goodness to consult the strength, which, from late indisposition, begins almost to fail me. think the explanation is not time lost in this new world, and in this new business, I shall venture to sketch out, as briefly, and with as much perspicuity as I can give them, the leading events of that obscure and perplexed period, which intervened between the British settlement in 1757, and Mr. Hastings's government. If I should be so happy as to suc
And if you