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ceed in that attempt, your lordships' minds will be prepared for hearing this cause. Then, your lordships will have a clear view of the origin and nature of the abuses, which prevailed in that government before Mr. Hastings obtained his greatest power, and since that time; and then we shall be able to enter fully and explicitly into the nature of the cause; and I should hope, that it will pave the way, and make every thing easy for your subsequent justice. I therefore wish to stop at this period, in which Mr. Hastings became active in the service, pretty near the time when he began his political career;-and here, my lords, I pause, wishing your indulgence at such time as will suit your convenience for pursuing the rest of this eventful his
TRIAL-FOURTH DAY, 16th FEBRUARY 1788.
My Lords,--In what I had the honour of laying before your lordships yesterday, and in what I may further trouble you with to-day, I wish to observe a distinction, which if I did not lay down so perfectly as I ought, I hope I shall now be able to mark it out with sufficient exactness and perspicuity.
First, I beg leave to observe, that what I shall think necessary to state, as matter of preliminary explanation, in order to give your lordships a true idea of the scene of action— of the instruments, which Mr. Hastings employed—and the effects, which they produced—all this I wish to be distinguished from matter brought to criminate. Even the matter as stated by me, which may be hereafter brought to criminate, so far as it falls to my share at present, is only to be considered, in this stage of the business, as merely illustrative. Your lordships are to expect, as undoubtedly you will require, substantial matter of crimination to be laid open for that purpose, at the moment when the evidence to each. charge is ready to be produced to you. Thus your lordships will easily separate historical illustration from criminal opening. For instance, if I stated yesterday to your lordships, as I did, the tyranny and cruelty of one of the usurping viceroys, whose usurpation and whose vices led the way to the destruction of his country, and the introduction of a foreign power—I do not mean to charge Mr. Hastings with any part of that guilt. What bears upon Mr. Hastings is, his having avowedly looked to such a tyrant and such a usurper, as his model, and followed that pernicious example with a servile fidelity. When I have endeavoured to lay open to your lordships any thing abusive, or leading to abuse, from defects or errours in the constitution of the company’s service—I did not mean to criminate Mr. Hastings on any part of those defects and errours. I state them to show, that he took advantage of the imperfections of the institution to let in his abuse of the power, with which he was intrusted. If, for a further instance, I have stated, that in general the service of the India company was insufficient in legal pay or emolument, and abundant in the means of illegal profit—I do not state that defect as owing to Mr. Hastings. But I state it as a fact, to show in what manner and on what pretences he did, fraudulently, corruptly, and for the purposes of his own ambition, take advantage of that defect; and, under colour of reformation, make an illegal, partial, corrupt rise of emoluments to certain favoured persons without regard to the interests of the service at large : increasing rather than lessening the means of illicit emolument, as well as loading the company with many heavy and ruinous expenses in avowed salaries and allowances. Having requested your lordships to keep in mind, which I trust you would do, even without my taking the liberty of suggesting it to you, these necessary distinctions ; I shall revert to the period, at which I closed yesterday—that great and memorable period, which has remotely given occasion to the trial of this day. My lords, to obtain empire is common : to govern it well has been rare indeed. To chastise the guilt of those, who have been instruments of imperial sway over other nations, by the high superintending justice of the sovereign state, has not many striking examples among any people. Hitherto we have not furnished our contingent to the records of honour. We have been confounded with the herd of conquerours. Our dominion has been a vulgar thing. But we begin to emerge; and I hope, that a severe inspection of ourselves, a purification of our own offences, a lustration of the exorbitances of our own power is a glory reserved to this time, to this nation, and to this august tribunal. The year 1756 is a memorable era, in the history of the world—it introduced a new nation from the remotest verge of the western world, with new manners, new customs, new institutions, new opinions, new laws, into the heart of Asia. My lords, if in that part of Asia, whose native regular government was then broken up ; if, at the moment when it had fallen into darkness and confusion from having become the prey and almost the sport of the ambition of its home
born grandees; if, in that gloomy season, a star had risen
from the west, that would prognosticate a better generation, and would shed down the sweet influences of order, peace, science and security to the natives of that vexed and harassed country; we should have been covered with genuine honour. It would have been a beautiful and noble spectacle to mankind. Indeed something might have been expected of the kind, when a new dominion emanated from a learned and enlightened part of the world in the most enlightened period of its existence. Still more might it have been expected, when that dominion was found to issue from the bosom of a free country, that it would have carried with it the full benefit of the vital principle of the British liberty and constitution, though its municipal forms were not communicable, or at least the advantage of the liberty and spirit of the British constitution. Had this been the case, (alas! it was not,) you would have been saved the trouble of this day. It might have been expected too, that in that enlightened state of the world, influenced by the best religion, and from an
improved description of that best religion; I mean the Christian reformed religion; that we should have done honour to Europe, to letters, to laws, to religion; done honour to all the circumstances, of which, in this island, we boast ourselves, at the great and critical moment of that revolution. My lords, it has happened otherwise. It is now left for us to repair our former errours. Resuming the history where I broke off yesterday by your indulgence to my weakness.—Surajah Dowla was the adopted grandson of Ally Verdy Cawn, a cruel and ferocious tyrant; the manner of whose acquisition of power I have already stated. He came too young and unexperienced to that throne of usurpation. It was a usurpation yet green in the country, and the country felt uneasy under it. It had not the advantage of that prescriptive usage, that inveterate habit, that traditionary opinion, which a long continuance of any system of government secures to it. The only real security, which Surajah Dowla's government could possess, was the security of an army. But the great aim of this prince, and his predecessor, was to supply the weakness of his government by the strength of his purse ; he therefore amassed treasures by all ways and on all hands. But, as the Indian princes, in general, are as unwisely tenacious of their treasure, as they are rapacious in getting it; the more money he amassed, the more he felt the effects of poverty. The consequence was, that their armies were unpaid, and being unpaid or irregularly paid, were undisciplined, disorderly, unfaithful. In this situation, a young prince, confiding more in the appearances, than examining into the reality of things, undertook (from motives, which the House of Commons with all their industry to discover the circumstances have found it difficult to make out) to attack a little miserable trading fort, that we had erected at Calcutta. He succeeded in that attempt, only because success in that attempt was easy. A close imprisonment of the whole settlement followed ; not owing, I believe, to the direct will of the prince, but, what will always happen when the will of the prince is but too much the law, to a gross abuse of his power by his lowest servants; by which 120 or more of our countrymen perished miserably in a dungeon by a fate too tragical for me to be desirous to relate, and too well known to stand in need of it. At the time that this event happened, there was at the same time a concurrence of other events, which, from this partial and momentary weakness, displayed the strength of
Great Britain in Asia. For some years before, the French
and English troops began, on the coast of Coromandel, to exhibit the power, force, and efficacy of European discipline. As we daily looked for a war with France, our settlements on that coast were in some degree armed. Lord Pigot, then governour of Madras, Lord Pigot, the preserver, and the victim of the British dominion in Asia,-detached such of the company’s force as could be collected and spared, and such of his majesty’s ships as were on that station, to the assistance of Calcutta. And, to hasten this history to its conclusion,-the daring and commanding genius of Clive, the patient and firm ability of Watson, the treachery of Meer Jaffier,-and the battle of Plassey, gave us at once the patronage of a kingdom, and the command of all its treasures. We negotiated with Meer Jaffier for the viceroyal throne of his master. On that throne we seated him. And we obtained, on our part, immense sums of money. We obtained a million sterling for the company; upwards of a million for individuals : in the whole, a sum of about two millions two hundred and thirty thousand pounds for various purposes from the prince, whom we had set up. We obtained too the town of Calcutta, more completely than we had before possessed it, and the twenty-four districts adjoining. This was the first small seminal principle of the immense territorial acquisitions we have since made in India.
Many circumstances of this acquisition I pass by. There is a sacred veil to be drawn over the beginnings of all governments. Ours, in India, had an origin like those, which time has sanctified by obscurity. Time, in the origin of most governments, has thrown this mysterious veil over them ; prudence and discretion make it necessary to throw something of the same drapery over more recent foundations; in which otherwise the fortune, the genius, the talents, and military virtue of this nation never shone more conspicuous