Page images





MY LORDS, our charge

,- We are called, with an awful

voice, to come forth and make good our charge against the prisoner at your bar; but as a long time has elapsed since your Lordships heard that charge, I shall take the liberty of requesting my worthy fellow Manager near me to read that part to your Lordships which I am just now going to observe upon, that you may be the better able to apply my observations to the letter of the charge.

[Mr. Wyndham reads.]

"That the said Warren Hastings, having, as aforesaid, expelled the said Cheyt Sing from his dominions, did, of his own usurped authority, and without any communication with or any approbation given by the other members of the Council, nominate and appoint Rajah Mchip Narrain to the government of the provinces of Benares, and did appoint his father, Durbege Sing, as administrator of his authority, and did give to the British Resident, William Markham, a controlling authority over both; and did farther abrogate and set aside all treaties and agreements which subsisted between the state of Benares and the British nation; and did arbitrarily and tyrannically, of his mere au

thority, raise the tribute to the sum of four hun. dred thousand pounds sterling, or thereabouts; did further wantonly and illegally impose certain oppressive duties upon goods and merchandise, to the great injury of trade and ruin of the provinces; and did farther dispose of, as his own, the property within the said provinces, by granting the same, or parts thereof, in pensions to such persons as he thought fit.

"That the said Warren Hastings did, some time in the year 1782, enter into a clandestine correspondence with William Markham, Esquire, the then Resident at Benares, which said Markham had been by him, the said Warren Hastings, obtruded into the said of fice, contrary to the positive orders of the Court of Directors; and, in consequence of the representations of the said Markham, did, under pretence that the new excessive rent or tribute was in arrear, and that the affairs of the provinces were likely to fall into confusion, authorize and impower him, by his own. private authority, to remove the said Durbege Sing from his office and deprive him of his estate.

"That the said Durbege Sing was, by the private orders and authorities given by the said Warren Hastings, and in consequence of the representations aforesaid, violently thrown into prison, and cruelly confined therein, under pretence of the non-payment of the arrears of the tribute aforesaid.

"That the widow of Bulwant Sing, and the Rajah Mehip Narrain, did pointed.y accuse the said Markham of being the sole cause of any delay in the payment of the tribute aforesaid, and did offer to prove the innocence of the said Durbege Sing, and also to prove that the faults ascribed to him were solely the faults of the said Markham; yet the said Warren Hastings

did pay no regard whatever to the said representations, nor make any inquiry into the truth of the same, but did accuse the said widow of Bulwant Sing and the Rajah aforesaid of gross presumption for the same; and, listening to the representations of the person accused, (viz., the Resident Markham,) did continue to confine the said Durbege Sing in prison, and did invest the Resident Markham with authority to bestow his office upon whomsoever he pleased.

"That the said Markham did bestow the said office of administrator of the provinces of Benares upon a certain person named Jagher Deo Seo, who, in order to gratify the arbitrary demands of the said Warren Hastings, was obliged greatly to distress and harass the unfortunate inhabitants of the said provinces.

"That the said Warren Hastings did, some time in the year 1784, remove the said Jagher Deo Seo from the said office, under pretence of certain irregularities and oppressions; which irregularities and oppressions are solely imputable to him, the said Warren Hastings.

"That the consequences of all these violent changes and arbitrary acts were the total ruin and desolation of the country, and the flight of the inhabitants: the said Warren Hastings having found every place abandoned at his approach, even by the officers of the very government which he established, and seeing nothing but traces of devastation in every village, the provinces in effect without a government, the administration misconducted, the people oppressed, trade discour aged, and the revenue in danger of a rapid decline.

[ocr errors]

All which destruction, devastation, oppression, and ruin are solely imputable to the abovementioned and other arbitrary, illegal, unjust, and tyrannical acts of him, the said Warren Hastings, who, by all

and every one of the same, was and is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors."

[Mr. Burke proceeded.]

My Lords, you have heard the charge; and you aro now going to see the prisoner at your bar in a new point of view. I will now endeavor to display him in his character of a legislator in a foreign land, not augmenting the territory, honor, and power of Great Britain, and bringing the acquisition under the dominion of law and liberty, but desolating a flourishing country, that to all intents and purposes was our own, a country which we had conquered from freedom, from tranquillity, order, and prosperity, and submitted, through him, to arbitrary power, misrule, anarchy, and ruin. We now see the object of his corrupt vengeance utterly destroyed, his family driven. from their home, his people butchered, his wife and all the females of his family robbed and dishonored in their persons, and the effects which husband and parcuts had laid up in store for the subsistence of their families, all the savings of provident economy, distributed amongst a rapacious soldiery. His malice. is victorious. He has well avenged, in the destruction of this unfortunate family, the Rajah's intended visit to General Clavering; he has well avenged the suspected discovery of his bribe to Mr. Francis.

"Thou hast it now, King, Cawdor, Glamis, all!”


Let us see, my Lords, what use he makes of this power, how he justifies the bounty of Fortune, bestowing on him this strange and anomalous conquest. Anomalous I call it, my Lords, because it was the result of no plan in the cabinet, no opera

tion in the field. No act or direction proceeded from him, the responsible chief, except the merciless orders, and the grant to the soldiery. He lay skulking and trembling in the fort of Chunar, while the British soldiery entitled themselves to the plunder which he held out to them. Nevertheless, my Lords, he conquers; the country is his own; he treats it as his own. Let us, therefore, see how this successor of Tamerlane, this emulator of Genghis Khân, governs a country conquered by the talents and courage of others, without assistance, guide, direction, or counsel given by himself.

My Lords, I will introduce his first act to your Lordships' notice in the words of the charge.

"The said Warren Hastings did, some time in the year 1782, enter into a clandestine correspondence with William Markham, Esquire, the then Resident at Benares; which said Markham had been by him, the said Warren Hastings, obtruded into the said of fice, contrary to the positive orders of the Court of Directors."


This unjustifiable obtrusion, this illegal appointment, shows you at the very outset that he defies the laws of his country, most positively and pointedly defies them. In attempting to give a reason for this defiance, he has chosen to tell a branch of the legislature from which originated the act which wisely and prudently ordered him to pay implicit obedience to the Court of Directors, that he removed Mr. Fowke from Benares, contrary to the orders of the Court, on political grounds; because, says he, "I thought it necessary the Resident there should be a man of my own nomination and confidence. I avow the principle, and think no government can subsist without it.

« PreviousContinue »