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bad set upon the throne of Bengal. But there is a circumstance in this business, that comes across here, and will tend to show another grievance, that vexed that country, which vexed it long, and is one of the causes of its chief disasters, and which, I sear, is not so perfectly extirpated but that some part of its roots may remain in the ground at this moment.
Commerce, which enriches every other country in the world, was bringing Bengal to total ruin. The company, in former times, when it had no sovereignty or power in the country, had large privileges under their dustuck or permit; their goods passed without paying duties through the country. Phe servants of the company made use of this dustuck for their own private trade, which, while it was used with moderation, the native government winked at in some de-gree ; but, when it got wholly into private hands, it was more like robbery than trade. These traders appeared every where ; they sold at their own prices, and forced the people to sell to them at their own prices also. It appeared more like an army going to pillage the people, under pretence of commerce, than any thing else. In vain the people claimed the protection of their own country courts. This English army of traders, in their march, ravaged worse than a Tartarian conquerour.
The trade they carried on, and which more resembled robbery than commerce, anticipated the resources of the tyrant, and threatened to leave him no materials for imposition or confiscation. Thus this miserable country was torn to pieces by the horrible rapaciousness of a double tyranny. This appeared to be so strong a case, that a deputation was sent to him at his new capital Monghir, to form a treaty for the purpose of giving some relief against this cruel, cursed, and oppressive trade, which was worse even than the tyranny of the sovereign. This trade Mr. Vansittart, the president about this time, that is in 1763, who succeeded to Mr. Holwell, and was in close union of interests with the tyrant Cossim Ally Cawn, by a treaty known by the name of the treaty of Monghir, agreed very much to suppress and to confine within something like reasonable bounds, There never was a doubt on the face
of that treaty, that it was a just, proper, fair transaction. But as nobody in Bengal did then believe, that rapine was ever foreborn, but in favour of bribery, the persons, who lost every advantage by the treaty of Monghir, when they thought they saw corrupt negotiation carrying away the prizes of unlawful commerce, and were likely to see their trade crippled by Cossim Ally Cawn, fell into a most violent fury at this treaty; and as the treaty was made without the concurrence of the rest of the council, the company's servants grew divided, one part were the advocates of the treaty, the other of the trade. The latter were universally of opinion, that the treaty was bought for a great sum of money.
The evidence we have on our records of the sums of money, that are stated to have been paid on this occasion, has never been investigated to the bottom. have it on record, that a great sum (70,0001.) was paid to persons concerned in that negotiation. The rest were exceedingly wroth to see themselves not profiting by the negotiation, and losing the trade, or likely to be excluded from it; and they were the more so, because, as we have it upon our journals, during all that time the trade of the negotiators was not proscribed, but a perwannah was issued by Cossim Ally Cawn, that the trade of his friends, Mr. Vansittart and Mr. Hastings, should not be subject to the general regulations. This filled the whole settlement with ill blood; but in the regulation itself (I put the motive and the secret history out of the case) undoubtedly Mr. Hastings and Mr. Vansittart were on the right side. They had shown to a demonstration the mischief of this trade.
However, as the other party were strong, and did not readily let go their hold of this great advantage, first, dissentions, murmurs, various kinds of complaints and ill blood arose. Cossim Ally was driven to the wall; and, having at the same time made what he thought good preparations, a war broke out at last. And how did it break out ? This Cossim Ally Cawn signalized his first acts of hostility by an atrocity committed against the faith of treaties, against the rules of war, against every principle of honour. This intended murderer of his father-in-law, whom Mr. Hastings had assisted to raise
to the throne of Bengal, well knowing his character and his disposition, and well knowing what such a man was capable of doing, this man massacred the English wherever he met them. There were two hundred or thereabouts of the company's servants, or their dependants, slaughtered at Patna with every circumstance of the most abominable cruelty. Their limbs were cut to pieces. The tyrant, whom Mr. Hastings set up, cut and hacked the limbs of British subjects in the most cruel and perfidious manner; threw them into wells, and polluted the waters of the country with British blood. Immediately war is declared against him in form. That war sets the whole country in a blaze ; and then other parties begin to appear upon the scene, whose transactions you will find yourselves deeply concerned in hereafter.
As soon as war was declared against Cossim, it was necessary to resolve to put up another nabob, and to have another revolution ; and where do they resort but to the man, whom, for his alleged tyranny, for his incapacity, for the numberless iniquities he was said to have committed, and for his total unfitness and disinclination to all the doties of government, they had dethroned. This very man they take up again to place on the throne, from which they had about two years before removed him, and for the effecting of which they had committed so many iniquities. Even this revolution was not made without being paid for. Aca cording to the usual order of procession, in which the youngest walk first-First comes the company; and the company had secured to it in perpetuity those provinces which Cossim Ally Cawn had ceded, as it was thought, rather in the way of mortgage than any thing else. Then, under the - name of compensation for sufferings to the people concerned
in the trade, and in the name of donation to an army and a navy, which had little to do in this affair, they tax him, what sum do you think? They tax that empty and undone treasury of that miserable and undone country, 500,0001. for a private emolument to themselves; for the compensation for this iniquitous trade; for the compensation for abuses, of which he was neither the author nor the abettor ; they tax this miserable prince, 500,0001. That sum was given to individuals. Now comes the company at home, which, on hearing this news, was all inflamed. The directors were on fire. They were shocked at it, and particularly at this donation to the army and navy. They resolved they would give it no countenance and support. In the mean time the gentlemen did not trouble their heads upon that subject, but meant to exact and get their 500,0001. as they could.
Here was a third revolution bought at this amazing sum, and this poor miserable prince first dragged from Moorshedabad to Calcutta, then dragged back from Calcutta to Moorshedabad, the sport of fortune, and the plaything of avarice. This poor man is again set up, but is left with no authority ; his troops limited, his person—every thing about him in a manner subjugated, a British resident the master of his court: he is set up as a pageant on this throne, with no other authority but what would be sufficient to give a countenance to presents, gifts, and donations.
That authority was always left, when all the rest was taken away. One would have thought, that this revolution might have satisfied these gentlemen, and that the money gained by it would have been sufficient. No. The partisans of Cossim Ally wanted another revolution. The partisans of the other side wished to have something more done in the present. They now began to think, that to depose Cossim instantly, and to sell him to another, was too much at one time ; especially as Cossim Ally was a man of vigour and resolution, carrying on a fierce war against them. But what do you think they did? They began to see, from the example of Cossim Ally, that the lieutenancy, the ministry of the king, was a good thing to be sold, and the sale of that might turn out as good a thing as the sale of the prince. For this office there were two rival candidates, persons of great consideration in Bengal; one, a principal Mahomedan called Mahomed Reza Cawn, a man of high authority,—great piety in his own religion--great learning in the law,—of the very first class of Mahomedan nobility : but at the same time, on all these accounts, he was abhorred and dreaded by the nabob, who necessarily feared, that a man of Mahomed Reza Cawn's description would be considered as better entitled and fitter for his scat, as nabob of the provinces.
To balance him, there was another man, known by the name of the great_Rajah Nundcomar : this man was accounted the highest of his cast, and held the same rank among the Gentûs, that Mabomed Reza Cawn obtained among the Mabomedans.
The prince on the throne had no jealousy of Nundcomar, because he knew, that, as a Gentů, he could not aspire to the office of soubahdar. For that reason he was firmly attached to him ; he might depend completely on his services; he was his against Mabomed Reza Cawn, and against the whole world. There was, however, a flaw in the nabob's title, which it was necessary should be hid. And perhaps it lay against Mahomed Reza Cawn as well as him. But it was a source of apprehension to the nabob, and contributed to make him wish to keep all Mahomedan influence at a distance. For he was a syed, that is to say, a descendant of Mahomed, and as such, though of the only acknowledged nobility among Mussulmen, would be by that circumstance excluded by the known laws of the Mogul empire from being soubahdar in any of the Mogul provinces, in case the revival of the constitution of that empire should ever again take place.
An auction was now opened before the English council at Calcutta. Mahomed Reza Cawn bid largely ; Nundcomar bid largely. The circumstances of these two rivals at the nabob's court were equally favourable to the pretensions of each. But the preponderating merits of Mahomed Reza Cawn, arising from the subjection, in which he was likely to keep the nabob, and make him fitter for the purpose of continued exactions, induced the council to take his money, which amounted to about 220,0001. Be the sum paid what it may, it was certainly a large one. In consequence of which the council attempted to invest Mahomed Reza Cawn with the office of paib soubab or deputy viceroy. As to Nundcomar, they fell upon him with a vengeful fury : he fought his battle as well as he could ; he opposed bribe to bribe, eagle to eagle ; but at length be was driven to the wall. Some received his money, but did him no service in return : others, more conscientious, refused to receive it : and in this battle of bribes he was vanquished. A deputaVOL. VII.