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ly. But, whatever necessity might hide, or excuse, or palliate in the acquisition of power, a wise nation, when it has once made a revolution upon its own principles, and for its own ends, rests there. The first step to empire is revolution, by which power is conferred; the next is good laws, good orders, good institutions, to give that power stability. I am sorry to say, that the reverse of this policy was the principle, on which the gentlemen in India acted.
It was such as tended to make the new government as unstable as the old. By the vast sums of money acquired by individuals upon this occasion, by the immense sudden prodigies of fortune, -it was discovered, that a revolution in Bengal was a mine much more easily worked, and infinitely more productive, than the mines of Potosi and Mexico. It was found, that the work was not only very lucrative, but not at all difficult. Where Clive forded a deep water upon an unknown bottom, he left a bridge for his successours, over which the lame could hobble, and the blind might grope their way. There was not at that time a knot of clerks in a countinghouse ; there was not a captain of a band of ragged topasses, that looked for any thing less than the deposition of soubahs, and the sale of kingdoms. Accordingly, this revolution, which ought to have precluded other revolutions, unfortunately became fruitful of them; and when Lord Clive returned to Europe to enjoy his fame and fortune in his own country, there arose another description of men, who thought, that a revolution might be made upon his revolution; and as lucrative to them as his was to the first projectors. Scarcely was Meer Jaffier, Lord Clive's nabob, seated on his musnud, than they immediately, or in a short time, projected another revolution—a revolution, which was to unsettle all the former had settled—a revolution to make way for new disturbances, and new wars; and which led to that long chain of peculation, which ever since has afflicted and oppressed Bengal.
If ever there was a time, when Bengal should have had respite from internal revolutions, it was this. The governour, forced upon the natives, was now upon the throne. All the great lords of the country, both Gentûs and Mahometans, VOL. VII.
were uneasy, discontented, and disobedient; and some absolutely in arins, and refusing to recognize the prince we had
An imminent invasion of the Mahrattas, an actual invasion headed by the son of the Mogul, the revenues on account of the late shock very ill collected, even where the country was in some apparent quiet, an hungry treasury at Calcutta, an empty treasury at Moorshedabad,-every thing demanded tranquillity, and with it order and economy. In this situation it was resolved to make a new and entirely mercenary revolution ; and to set up to sale the government, secured to its present possessour by every tie of publick faith, and every sacred obligation, which could bind or influence mankind. This second revolution forms that period in the Bengal history, which had the most direct influence upon all the subsequent transactions. It introduces some of the persons, who were most active in the succeeding scenes, and from that time to this has given its tone and character to the British affairs and government. It marks and specifies the origin and true principle of all the abuses, which Mr. Hastings was afterwards appointed to correct, and which the Commons charge, that he continued and aggravated-namely, the venal depositions, and venal exaltations of the country powers,—the taking of bribes and corrupt presents from all parties in those changes; the vitiating and maiming the company's records ; the suppression of publick correspondence ; corrupt combinations and conspiracies ; perfidy in negotiation established into principle ;-acts of the most atrocious wickedness justified upon purity of intention; mocktrials and collusive acquittals among the parties in common guilt,—and in the end, the court of directors supporting the scandalous breach of their own orders. I shall state the particulars of this second revolution more at large.
Soon after the revolution, which had seated Meer Jaffier on the vice-royal throne, the spirit of the Mogul empire began, as it were, to make one faint struggle, before it finally expired. The then heir to that throne, escaping from the hands of those, who had held his father prisoner, had put himself at the head of several chiefs, collected under the standard of his house, and appeared in force on the frontiers
of the provinces of Bengal and Bahar, upon both which he made some impression. This alarmed the new powers, the nabob Meer Jaffier, and the presidency of Calcutta ; and as in a common cause, and by the terms of their mutual alliance, they took the field against him. The nabob's eldest son, and heir-apparent, commanded in chief. Major Calliaud commanded the English forces under the government of Caleutta. Mr. Holwell was in the temporary possession of the presidency. Mr. Vansittart was bourly expected to supersede bim. Mr. Warren Hastings, a young gentleman about twenty-seven years of age, was resident for the company at the durbar, or court, of Meer Jaffier, our new created nabob of Bengal, allied to this country by the most solemn treaties, that can bind men; for which treaties he had paid, and was then paying, immense sums of money. Mr. Warren Hastings was the pledge in his hands for the honour of the British nation, and their fidelity to their engagements.
In this situation Mr. Holwell, whom the terrible example of the black hole at Calcutta had not cured of ambition, thought an hour was not to be lost in accomplishing a revolution, and selling the reigning nabob.
My lords, there was in the house of Meer Jaffier, in his court, and in his family, a man of an intriguing, crafty, subtle, and at the same time bold, daring, desperate, bloody and ferocious character, called Cossim Ally Cawn. He was the son-in-law of Meer Jaffier ; and he made no other use of this affinity, than to find some means to dethrone and to murder him. This was the person, in whose school of politicks Mr. Hastings made his first studies, and whose conduct be quotes as his example, and for whose friends, agents, and favourites, he has always shown a marked predilection. This dangerous man was not long without finding persons, who observed his talents with admiration, and who thought fit to employ him.
The council at Calcutta was divided into two departments; one, the council in general, the other, a select committee, which they had arranged for the better carrying on their political affairs. But the select committee had no power of acting wholly without the council at large, at least finally and
conclusively. The select committee thought otherwise. Between these litigant parties for power I shall not determine on the merits ; thinking of nothing but the use, that was made of the power, to whomsoever it belonged. This secret committee then, without communicating with the rest of the council, formed the plan for a second revolution. But the concurrence of Major Calliaud, who commanded the British troops, was essential to the purpose, as it could not be accomplished without force. Mr. Hastings's assistance was necessary, as it could not be accomplished without treachery.
These are the parties concerned in the intended revolution. Mr. Holwell, who considered himself in possession only of temporary power, was urged to precipitate the business ; for, if Mr. Vansittart should arrive before his plot could be finally put into execution, he would have all the leading advantages of it, and Mr. Holwell would be considered only as a secondary instrument. But whilst Mr. Holwell, who originally conceived this plot, urged forward the execution of it, in order that the chief share of the profits might fall to him, the Major, and possibly the resident, held back, till they might receive the sanction of the permanent governour, who was hourly expected, with whom one of them was connected, and who was to carry with him the whole weight of the authority of this kingdom. This difference produced discussions. Holwell endeavoured by his correspondence to stimulate Calliaud to this enterprise, which, without him, could not be undertaken at all. But Major Calliaud had different views. He concurred inwardly, as he tells us himself, in all the principles of this intended revolution, in the propriety and necessity of it. wished delay. But he gave such powerful, solid, and satisfactory reasons, not against the delay, but the very merits of the design itself, exposing the injustice, and the danger of it, and the impossibility of mending by it their condition in any respect, as must have damned it in the mind of all rational men. At least it ought to have damned it forever in his own.
But you will see, that Holwell persevered in his plan ; and that Major Calliaud thought two things necessary : first, not wholly to destroy the scheme, which he tells us he
He only always approved ; but to postpone the execution ; and, in the mean time, to delude the nabob by the most strong, direct, and sanguine assurances of friendship and protection, that it was possible to give to man.
Whilst the projected revolution stood suspended ; whilst Mr. Holwell urged it forward, and Mr. Vansittart was expected every day to give it effect; whilst Major Calliaud with this design of ruining the nabob lodged in his breast, suspended in execution, and condemned in principle, kept the fairest face, and the most confidential interviews with that unfortunate prince and his son-as the operations of the campaign relaxed, the army drew near to Moorshedabad the capital—when a truly extraordinary scene happened, such I am sure the English annals before that time had furnished no example of, nor will I trust in future. I shall state it as one piece from beginning to end-reserving the events, which intervened ; because, as I do not produce any part of this series for the gratification of historical curiosity, the contexture is necessary to demonstrate to your lordships the spirit of our Bengal politicks, and the necessity of some other sort of judicial inquiries than those, which that government institute for themselves. The transaction so manifestly marks the character of the whole proceeding, that I hope I shall not be blamed for suspending for a moment the narrative of the steps taken towards the revolution, that you may see the whole of this episode together; that by it you may judge of the causes, which led progressively to the state, in which the company's affairs stood, when Mr. Hastings was sent for the express purpose of reforming it.
The business I am going to enter into is commonly known by the name of the story of the three seals : it is to be found in the appendix, No. 10, to the first report of the state and condition of the East-India Company, made in 1773. The word report, my lords, is sometimes a little equivocal; and may signify sometimes, not what is made known, but what remains in obscurity ; the detail and evidence of many facts, referred to in the report, being usually thrown into the appendix. Many people, and I among the rest, (I take shame to myself for it) may not have fully examined that appendix. I was not a member of either of the India commit