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ferred a groundless charge. Should it be querors. Each province was also consi-
The code of political principles of government which they should that day establish, as the principles of British government in its distant provinces, would stand recorded as a lasting proof of their wisdom and justice, or a test of their injustice and folly. Lord Cornwallis, who was now going out with great additional powers to India, would learn from the decision of that day what the system of government was, and what the principles were as the basis of that system of which the House approved. The distant dependencies had put their sword into the hand of Britain; be it then their business to hold it as the sword of justice, and not to turn it against the natives of India, and use it as the sword of vengeance, cruelty, and murder! The House would please to recollet the mode adopted by Rome as to the government of her distant provinces, so long as a spark of patriotism and public virtue remained in her bosom. The Roman empire was an empire of continuity, each province being either immediately or nearly accessible by land: they had likewise one general tongue to speak with, so that each man was able to tell his tale in his own way. This common tongue was Greek, which, with some of their own jargon, constituted all their language, so that they in a manner realized the miraculous gift of tongues. They had another advantage, rather a melancholy one, as it arose from the very circumstance of their being conquered, and it was, that the principal persons who accomplished the conquest, always acquired a property and influence in each new province by them subdued; and of course, the vanquished found patrons and protectors in the persons of their con
When he considered that Mr. Hastings had been for fourteen years at the head of the government in India, and that not one complaint had been sent home against him, he trembled at the enormous degree of power he had to contend with, to which alone could be ascribed the silence in question; since it was not in human nature, situated as Mr. Hastings had been, to preserve so pure, even-handed, and unimpeachable a conduct, as to afford no room for a single accusation to be stated against him. He mentioned also the never having seen the face of an Indian in this country, except a single Mahratta; and stated the difficulties which must arise, should any oppressed native of Hindostan madly venture to come to England to urge the complaint of the grievous oppressions under which he had laboured. These circumstances were additional which ought to operate with the House, and induce them still more anxiously to convince all India by their decision, that they were the firm friends of freedom and justice, ever ready to relieve the oppressed and punish the oppressor. As to the charges themselves, excepting in some few points, the facts which they contained had been admitted by Mr. Hastings at their bar, in what he had called his defence, but which he had couched and delivered rather in the style of their master than that of the person they were accusing of high crimes and misdemeanors. He read a passage from Mr. Hastings's defence, against the charge relative to the affairs at Benares, and dwelt on it as an express avowal of a system of despotism and arbi trary power which Mr. Hastings declared
he had uniformly made the rule of his conduct. It was repugnant to any principles of government that he had ever heard of, and most especially where the constitution of the superintending government was free. Mischiefs must necessarily arise from subordinate directors of provinces exercising arbitrary and despotic authority; and highly reproachable indeed was Mr. Hastings's rapacity after money: it was one of the prominent features of his government and although he had told the House when at the bar, that he went out to India with his education but half finished, it was plain he had completed it in Bengal upon the true Indian system. Nor was his unlawful taking of money singly a crime in his mind; but Mr. Hastings having always contrived to make the India Company a party in his rapacious proceedings, was a very great aggravation of it, inasmuch as it cast an odium on the national character, by making a private vice appear to be ascribable to a public feeling.
With respect to the circumstances immediately precedent to the commencement of the Rohilla war, during its conduct and progress, and subsequent to its conclusion, he felt it necessary to observe, that had Mr. Hastings so conducted his government, as to leave a country which he found rich and fertile, increased in its cultivation and produce; had he left its venerable nobles in possession of their ancient honours and fortunes; its merchants in the pursuit of an improved and advantageous commerce, productive of a still more enlarged return of wealth and usury upon their capital; employed its husbandmen in carrying their victorious ploughshares into desarts and woods, and warring against that destruction, solitude and famine, which warred against mankind; he would in that case have said to the governor-general, “ I inquire not into your particular conduct; I am satisfied with the result; I want not to know whether you made two or three or five hundred thousand pounds; keep what you have got: you have made a numerous people rich and happy; you have increased the commerce of the country; enlarged its means of wealth, and improved its revepues; in so doing, you have reflected honour and glory on the character of the British nation." Just such a people had the Rohillas been previous to their extermination; but alas! they were now bapished, and their country no longer that
luxuriant garden which every spot of it had been before the Rohilla war. He gave a history of the origin and life of Sujah Dowlah and Cossim Ally Khan, and entered into an ample statement of the affair of Nundcomar, and of all the facts contained in the charge; remarking, that sir Robert Barker had been offered 500,000!., and the remission of an annuity of 250,000%. due from the Company before Mr. Hastings came out, only for employing the British brigade in the conquest of a small part of the Rohillas belonging to Haffez Ramet; and that Mr. Hastings had undertaken to extirpate the whole nation or tribe for 400,000l. Mr. Burke then moved to have the Resolution in May, 1782, which stigmatized Mr. Hastings's conduct, read.
The Master of the Rolls desired to know to what purpose the hon. gentleman wished to have the resolution read?
Mr. Burke said, his motive for wishing to have the resolution read, was, in order to clear himself from the imputation of having rashly and singly meddled with the subject, by shewing that the House had in very strong terms already reprobated Mr. Hastings's conduct in regard to the Rohilla war.
The resolution having been read, Mr. Burke rose again and gave his motion to Mr. St. John, who read it to the House.
Mr. Wilbraham hoped, for the sake of Mr. Hastings's honour, that the House would suffer the charges to go to the Lords; for there, and there only, Mr. Hastings could have what he said at the bar he was so anxious for, a full acquittal. Wonderful and transcendent were the conciliatory talents of Mr. Hastings, who had found means to conciliate sir Elijah Impey after a public quarrel; he had also found means to conciliate the hon. gentleman, who at this time with so much ability appeared as his agent in that House; and he had beside conciliated the right hon. and learned gentleman, who originally moved the resolutions, which they had just heard read. The hon. governor would, he had no doubt, make an ample display of his conciliatory talents in the House of Lords. An improper interpretation had been put on sir Robert Barker's having signed the the treaty with the Rohillas; but surely such an attestation could not fairly be construed into a guaranteeing of the treaty on the part of sir Robert.
Mr. Nicholls said, that the Rohillas were originally adventurers and a warlike peor
ple, but were neither the cultivators of the soil, nor the collectors of the revenue. They crossed the Ganges, and took possession of Rohilcund about the year 1741, and held the offices of power ever since, till the period of their expulsion in 1775. Mr. Nicholls justified every step taken by Mr. Hastings, and insisted upon it, that sir Robert Barker's attestation was with a view to guarantee the treaty. He ridiculed the idea that sir Robert only guaranteed the treaty on the part of the Rohillas, declaring that no man ever heard of a guarantee on one side only. Sujah ul Doula had been our ally, and our interests being necessarily involved in his, when it appeared to be his determination to make war on the Rohillas, we were obliged in a manner to join him; but the making the Rohillas cross the Ganges was not an extirpation any more than sending the Austrian army out of Austria would be an extirpation of the whole Austrian nation. He went through the history of the sale of the provinces of Corah and Illahabad, and justified the demanding of the five additional lacks of rupees, when the Vizier desired to suspend the war he had meditated against the Rohillas. He also justified that part of the charge relative to Mr. Hastings's conduct in regard to his secret manner of conducting the treaty of Benares, and summed up his speech, by declaring that he would give his negative against the question.
Mr. Powys declared, that he did not ascribe the strange nature of the question to any improper intention on the part of his right hon. friend, who had with such wonderful ability expatiated upon it; but he had imagined that the committee would not have been expected to do more than vote some general resolution that night, such as, that the charge contained matter of a criminal nature, or words to something like that effect. To explain what he meant more fully; the present motion enumerated almost every fact alleged in the charge as criminal. To that extent he was not prepared to go. Several of the facts did not appear to him to have been proved, or if proved, were not criminal; others, on the contrary, did appear to be criminal, and he was ready to vote them. If the right hon. gentleman would withdraw his motion and put it generally, as he had hinted, he would vote for it; if the present motion were to stand, he must go through its detail, and separate what he thought criminal, and was prepared to
vote, from that concerning which he entertained a different opinion.
Mr. Burke begged leave to inform his hon. friend why he had drawn the motion in its present shape. The right hon. gentleman opposite had desired that the motion might be proposed, as nearly as possible, in the form in which he should be of opinion it might go to the Lords. Being therefore well aware that the Lords would expect the articles sent up as grounds of an impeachment, to contain a specific statement of facts and periods of time and place, he had drawn his motion accordingly; but he was not wedded to its form. If in addition to the hon. gentleman's opinion he should find it to be the opinion of the House, he had no objection to retire for a minute or two, and draw up a short general motion of the nature pointed out, and which, but for the reason he had stated, would certainly have been the form in which he should have introduced it.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer joining with Mr. Powys, and likewise Mr. Wilberforce, those gentlemen, as well as Mr. Fox, suggested different forms of motions, so as to meet the general idea; whereupon Mr. Burke withdrew his first motion, and substituted the following, "That this committee having considered the charge of the Rohilla war, and examined witnesses thereupon, is of opinion that there is ground for charging Warren Hastings, esq. with high crimes and misdemeanors upon the matter of the said charge." Mr. Powys then resumed. He declared, that the part of the charge which related to an imputation of cruel treatment to the prisoners had not been proved or brought home to Mr. Hastings. He stated what facts he thought had been proved, and especially that of extirpating the Rohillas. He answered Mr. Nicholls's argument, that forcing the Rohillas to cross the Ganges was no more the extirpation of a nation than obliging the Austrian army to quit Austria would be extirpating the Austrian nation. He asked what the learned gentleman would think if the militia of England were compelled to quit the island of Great Britain? He read some extracts from Mr. Hastings's own letters, and declared that upon the whole he saw no ground to impute either personal or vindictive motives to Mr. Hastings; and therefore, though he should vote for the motion, he begged to be up
derstood as by no means pledging him. self to vote for the other charges, or to vote for carrying up articles of impeachment to the Lords, merely on the single ground of the present resolution. He also alluded to the circumstance of Mr. Hastings having been appointed three several times by the same administration, after the affair of the Rohilla war, and said, it was undoubtedly a circumstance in his favour; but what must the House think of the conduct of that Administration, who could not but know of all the criminal facts stated in the charge of that day, and yet continued to employ him?
Mr. Montague observed, that the recovery of the forty lacks of rupees due from the Rohillas to Sujah ul Dowlah, was the only apparent and ostensible reason for commencing the war upon that people; but it was evident there had been some other reason, which ought to be known and stated.
Lord North observed, that he felt it highly requisite to explain a matter personal to himself, and alluded to by an hon. gentleman. His lordship then gave a circumstantial account of his conduct while at the head of administration, relative to the appointment of Mr. Hastings three several times. When the Bill appointing a new constitution for the East India Company, and abridging part of the powers before enjoyed by the directors, was before the House, he moved to nominate Mr. Hastings for five years president at Calcutta, and after that time the power of nominating their chief servants in India was to revert to the court of directors, and be by them enjoyed as before. By the same Bill general Clavering, Mr. Monson, and Mr. Francis, had been appointed (and a better council had never been sent out), and at that time the news of the Rohilla war, and all its circumstances, had not reached England. Soon after the arrival of the new council in India, they sent home complaints against the governorgeneral on the subject of the Rohilla war, stating such facts as had then come to their knowledge. As soon as he was apprised of those facts, he thought Mr. Hastings's conduct highly censurable, and he sent to the court of directors, and desired them to make every possible exertion for the recall or dismission of Mr. Hastings. The court of directors condemned Mr. Hastings's conduct as much as he did; a court was called, and his dismission resolved on. That vote of the directors, however, was
rendered abortive by the court of proprietors, among whom Mr. Hastings had so many friends, that they sent back the vote of the court of directors, and kept Mr. Hastings in his situation. No other means for removing him, therefore, could have been resorted to, but his bringing in a new Bill to alter again the constitution of the East India Company. That, as their constitution had been so lately settled, he did not think it advisable, because, if any alteration had been made, he must still farther have encroached on the powers of the court of directors. At a subsequent period, two gentlemen (Mr. Grant and Mr. Macleane) came over from India, and made it appear to the court of directors that they were authorized to make a tender of Mr. Hastings's resignation. The court accepted the resignation, and Mr. Wheeler was appointed to succeed Mr. Hastings; but, on their return to Calcutta, Mr. Hastings refused to acknowledge that he had given the gentlemen any authority to tender his resignation, and would not give up his office. In 1778, when a new bill was necessary to be passed, the French war commenced, and he did not think that a fit time to nake an alteration in the constitution of our government in India, and considering Mr. Hastings as a man of abilities, he continued him in his government. For his own part, he had, ever since he first heard of the Rohilla war, uniformly condemned it; and one reason for his not recalling Mr. Hastings, was an expectation that he would voluntarily resign, from knowing that the court of directors continued to condemn his acts, and he (Mr. Hastings) to declare, that he should disdain to hold an employment under those who reprobated his measures.
The Earl of Mornington expressed his surprise at the extraordinary reasons which the noble lord had assigned for his having three times appointed Mr. Hastings to the chief place in the government of Bengal, subsequent to the Rohilla war. First the noble lord had said, that he knew nothing of the Rohilla war till lately: this was an extraordinary declaration from a noble lord who had been at the head of his Majesty's councils at the time; for who ought to know such a fact, but an administration possessing the then newly-given control and inspection over the Company's affairs and dispatches? Next, the noble lord had expressed great delicacy with regard to interfering with
the East India Company's constitution. | necessary to constitute guaranteeshipHe was glad to hear the noble lord's that there ought to be three parties to the delicacy on that subject had been of such treaty, the two contracting parties, and antiquity; he presumed, therefore, that it that which was to guarantee: that the had been owing to that subserviency which relation of the parties to each other should a right hon. gentleman had lately talked be specially recited, and of course the of exacting from all those parties, which intention of one of the parties to become coalesced with him and his friends, that guarantee be fully set forth, and that the noble lord had condescended to pursue without such recital and particular specifithat line of conduct that he had followed cation there could be no guarantee, and in respect to a bill relative to the East any signature could only stand as a simple India Company, which was not a little attestation. famous in that House and throughout the country. The noble lord had stated to the House, that the court of directors condemned every one of the acts of Mr. Hastings, and therefore the noble lord thought it would be wrong to turn him out of his government! A most extraordinary reason, with an explanation to which he should hope that the noble lord would favour the House, not without stating (what he had hitherto omitted) his sentiments concerning the subject of the present debate.
Lord North answered, that with regard to any delicacy which he felt about the East India Company's constitution, he did not recollect to have put the question on delicacy; and as to chartered rights, he had not said one word about them. If the noble lord wished to know why he did not move or take a part in supporting that bill during the war, he was ready to admit, that the moving it when it was moved did him no good; and the loss of it was, in his mind, a great public evil. Had it been moved in the war time, it certainly would not have made his administration more firm. With regard to his opinion on the present question, if the noble lord would have the patience to wait till he voted, he would then discover the nature of his opinion, to guide him in which he felt it necessary (and perhaps the noble lord stood in a similar case) to hear more arguments.
Mr. M. A. Taylor elucidated the doctrine of guaranteeship, proving from thence that the Company were by no means guarantees to the treaty between the Rohillas and Sujah ul Dowla, and of course that Mr. Hastings had no excuse whatever for entering into a war with the latter against the former. Sir R. Barker had told them at their bar, that when he signed the treaty he had not done it with any intention that it should make the Company guarantee to that treaty, but simply as an attestation. He pointed out what he thought
Mr. Windham contended, that as sir Robert had declared that he signed the treaty merely because otherwise the Rohillas would not have had faith in the Vizier, if sir Robert was to be considered as a guarante at all, it must be as a guarantee and security to the Rohillas. But putting that circum stance out of the question, Mr. Windhan asked, whether it was pretended the Rohillas had violated the treaty? No suci pretence was urged, and therefore Mr. Hastings was left without excuse for his conduct in having employed the Britis.. arms to attack and extirpate a nation c. tribe, who had given no offence to the British forces or the British civil government in India.
Lord Mulgrave defended the conduct of Mr. Hastings, declaring that he could make out the policy, and would assume the justice of it. He rested his argument upon the customs of the East, where treaties were generally negociated sword in hand, and the commander in chief was usually deemed by the native princes the supreme power. This he applied to sir Robert's having signed the treaty as a mutual guarantee between the nabob vizier, our ally, and the Rohillas.
Mr. Hardinge said, that his own feelings and his duty to the public, had, after the most mature consideration, determined him as to the vote he should give on the present occasion, which should certainly be in the affirmative of the motion before the House. He flattered himself that there was nothing in his general conduct and character that could subject him to a suspicion of being influenced either by personal acrimony against Mr. Hastings, or by the tide of party prejudice. In fact, his only aim was to promote the true interest of his country, the honour of that House, and the distribution of impartial justice. He was sorry to see a tendency in some of those gentlemen who had spoken against the motion, to adopt those pernicious principles with which the House