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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 destroyed 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 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 obseure and perplexed period, which intervened between the British settlement in 1757, and Mr. Hastings's government. If I should be so happy as to suce
And if you
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 history.
TRIAL.-FOURTH DAY, 16th FEBRUARY 1788.
(MR. BURKE.) 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— 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 homeborn 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