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the exhibition of scattered bands of wild, naked, meagre, half-famished wretches, who rent heaven with their cries and howlings, left him no sort of doubt of the real cause of the late tumults. In his first letters he conveyed his sentiments to the Committee with these memorable words. "In my two reports I have set forth in a general manner the oppressions which provoked the ryots to rise. I shall, therefore, not enumerate them now. Every day of my inquiry serves but to confirm the facts. The wonder would
have been, if they had not risen. It was not collection, but real robbery, aggravated by corporal punishment and every insult of disgrace, — and this not confined to a few, but extended over every individual. Let the mind of man be ever so much inured to servitude, still there is a point where oppressions will rouse it to resistance. Conceive to yourselves what must be the situation of a ryot, when he sees everything he has in the world seized, to answer an exaggerated demand, and sold at so low a price as not to answer one half of that demand, when he finds himself so far from being released, that he remains still subject to corporal punishment. But what must be his feelings, when his tyrant, seeing that kind of severity of no avail, adds family disgrace and loss of caste! You, Gentlemen, who know the reserve of the natives in whatever concerns their women, and their attachment to their castes, must allow the full effect of these prejudices under such circumstances."
He, however, proceeded with steadiness and method, and in spite of every discouragement which could be thrown in his way by the power, craft, fraud, and corruption of the farmer-general, Debi Sing, by the collusion of the Provincial Chief, and by the decay of
support from his employers, which gradually faded away and forsook him, as his occasions for it increased. Under all these, and under many more discouragements and difficulties, he made a series of able, clear, and well-digested reports, attended with such evidence as never before, and, I believe, never will again appear, of the internal provincial administration of Bengal, — of evils universally understood, which no one was ever so absurd as to contradict, and whose existence was never denied, except in those places where they ought to be rectified, although none before Paterson had the courage to display the particulars. By these reports, carefully collated with the evidence, I have been enabled to lay before you some of the effects, in one province and part of another, of Governor Hastings's general system of bribery.
But now appeared, in the most striking light, the good policy of Mr. Hastings's system of 1780, in placing this screen of a Committee between him and his crimes. The Committee had their lesson. Whilst Paterson is left collecting his evidence and casting up his accounts in Rungpore, Debi Sing is called up, in seeming wrath, to the capital, where he is received as those who have robbed and desolated provinces, and filled their coffers with seven hundred thousand pounds sterling, have been usually received at Calcutta, and sometimes in Great Britain. Debi Sing made good his ground in Calcutta, and when he had well prepared his Committee, in due time Paterson returns, appears, and reports.
Persons even less informed than your Lordships are well apprised that all officers representing government, and making in that character an author
ized inquiry, are entitled to a presumptive credit for all their proceedings, and that their reports of facts (where there is no evidence of corruption or malice) are in the first instance to be taken for truth, especially by those who have authorized the inquiry; and it is their duty to put the burden of proof to the contrary on those who would impeach or shake the report.
Other principles of policy, and other rules of government, and other maxims of office prevailed in the Committee of Mr. Hastings's devising. In order to destroy that just and natural credit of the officer, and the protection and support they were bound to afford him, they in an instant shift and reverse all the relations in which the parties stood.
This executive board, instituted for the protection of the revenue and of the people, and which was no court of justice in fact or name, turned their own representative officer, reporting facts according to his duty, into a voluntary accuser who is to make good his charge at his peril; the farmer-general, whose conduct was not criminally attacked, but appeared as one of the grounds of a public inquiry, is turned into a culprit before a court of justice, against whom everything is to be juridically made out or not admitted; and the members of an executive board, by usurpation and fraud, erect themselves into judges bound to proceed by strict rules of law.
By this infamous juggle they took away, as far as in them lay, the credit due to the proceedings of government. They changed the natural situation of proofs. They rejected the depositions of Paterson's witnesses, as not on oath, though they had never ordered or authorized them so to be taken.
They went further, and disabled, in a body, all the deponents themselves, whether on oath or not on oath by discrediting the whole province as a set of crimi nals who gave evidence to palliate their own rebellion. They administered interrogatories to the commissioner instead of the culprit. They took a base fellow, whom they had themselves ordered their commissioner to imprison for crimes, (crimes charged on him, not by the commissioner, but by themselves,) and made him a complainant and a witness against him in the stupidest and most improbable of all accusations, namely, that Paterson had menaced him with punishment, if he did not, in so many words, slander and calumniate Debi Sing; and then the Committee, seating this wretch as an assessor at their own board, who a few days before would have trembled like a whipped slave at the look of an European, encouraged him to interrogate their own commissioner.
[Here Mr. Burke was taken ill, and obliged to sit down. After some time Mr. Burke again addressed the House.]
My Lords, I am sorry to break the attention of your Lordships in such a way. It is a subject that agitates me. It is long, difficult, and arduous; but with the blessing of God, if I can, to save you any further trouble, I will go through it this day.
I am to tell your Lordships, that the next step they took was, after putting Mr. Paterson as an accuser to make good a charge which he made out but too much to their satisfaction, they changed their battery.
[Mr. Burke's illness increased; upon which the House, on the motion of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, adjourned.]
OPENING THE IMPEACHMENT.
FOURTH DAY: TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 1788.
Y LORDS,-In any great undertaking, a failure in the midst of it, even from infirmity, though to be regarded principally as a misfortune, is attended with some slight shadow of disgrace; but your Lordships' humanity, and your love of justice, have remedied everything, and I therefore proceed with confidence this day.
My Lords, I think (to the best of my remembrance) the House adjourned at the period of time in which I was endeavoring to illustrate the mischiefs that happened from Mr. Hastings's throwing off his responsibility, by delegating his power to a nominal Council, and in reality to a black bad man, a native of the country, of the worst character that could be found in it, and the consequence of it, in preventing the detection and the punishment of the grossest abuses that ever were known to be committed in India, or any other part of the world.
My Lords, I stated to you that Mr. Commissioner Paterson was sent into that country. I stated that he was sent into it with all the authority of government, with power to hear, and not only to hear and to report, but to redress, the grievances which he should find in the country. In short, there was noth