Page images

"The rajah is also desired to prepare and transmit a table of similar rates to the Aband Kar, of pergunnah Khereed. Jonn Duncan,



"the 12th September, 1788."


Here your lordships find, in spite of Mr. Hastings himself, in spite of all the testimonies which he has called, and of all the other testimonies which he would have called, that his own account of the matter is confirmed against his own pretended evidence; you find his own written account confirmed in a manner not to be doubted; and the only difference between his account and this is, that the people did not fly from Mr. Duncan when he approached, as they fled from Mr. Hastings. They did not feel any of that terror at the approach of a person from the beneficient government of Lord Cornwallis, with which they had been entirely filled at the appearance of the prisoner at your bar. From him they fled in dismay. They fled from his very presence as from a consuming pestilence, as from something far worse than drought and famine; they fled from him as a cruel, corrupt, and arbitrary governor, which is worse than any other evil that ever afflicted mankind.

You see, my lords, in what manner the country has been wasted and destroyed; and you have seen by the date of these measures, that they have happened within a few years, namely, since the expulsion of rajah Cheit Sing. There begins the era of calamity. Ask yourselves then, whether you will or can countenance the acts which led directly and necessarily to such consequences? Your lordships will mark what it is to oppress and expel a cherished individual from his government, and finally to subvert it. Nothing stands after him; down go all order and authority with him; ruin and desolation fall upon the country; the fields are uncultivated, the wells are dried up. The people, says Mr. Duncan, promised indeed, some time or other, under some other gov

ernment, to do something. They will again cultivate the lands, when they can get assurance of security. My lords, judge, I pray you, whether the House of Commons, when they had read the account which Mr. Hastings has himself given of the dreadful consequences of his proceedings, when they had read the account given by Mr. Duncan, of an uncultivated country as far as the eye could reach, would not have shown themselves unworthy to represent not only the Commons of Great Britain, but the meanest village in it, if they had not brought this great criminal before you, and called upon your lordships to punish him. This ruined country, its desolate fields, and its undone inhabitants, all call for vengeance upon the head of this execrable criminal.

Oh! but we ought to be tender towards his personal character; extremely cautious in our speech; we ought not to let indignation loose. My lords, we do let our indignation loose. We cannot bear with patience this affliction of mankind. We will neither abate our energy, relax in our feelings, nor in the expressions which those feelings dictate. Nothing but corruption like his own could enable any man to see such a scene of desolation and ruin unmoved. We feel pity for the works of God and man; we feel horror for the debasement of human nature; and feeling thus, we give a loose to our indignation, and call upon your lordships for justice.

Strange as it may appear to your lordships, there remains to be stated an aggravation of his crimes, and of his victims' misery. Would you consider it possible, my lords, that there could be an aggravation of such a case as you have heard? Would you think it possible for a people to suffer more than the inhabitants of Benares have suffered, from the noble possessor of the splendid mansion down to the miserable tenants of the cottage and the hut? Yes, there is a state of misery, a state of degradation far below all that you have yet heard. It is, my lords, that these miserable people should come to your lordships' bar, and declare, that they have

never felt one of those grievances of which they complain; that not one of those petitions, with which they pursued Mr. Hastings, had a word of truth in it; that they felt nothing under his government but ease, tranquillity, joy, and happiness; that every day during his government was a festival, and every night an illumination and rejoicing. The addresses which contain these expressions of satisfaction have been produced at your bar, and have been read to your lordships. You must have heard with disgust, at least, these flowers of oriental rehetoric, penned at ease by dirty hireling moonshees at Calcutta, who make these people put their seals, not to declarations of their ruin, but to expressions of their satisfaction. You have heard what he himself says of the country; you have heard what Mr. Duncan says of it; you have heared the cries of the country itself calling for justice upon him; and now, my lords, hear what he has made these people say. "We have heard that the gentlemen in England are displeased with Mr. Hastings, on suspicion that he pressed us, the inhabitants of this place;-took our money by deceit and force, and ruined the country." They then declare solemnly before God, according to their different religions, that Mr. Hastings "distributed protection and security to religion, and kindness and peace to all. He is free," (say they,)" from the charge of embezzlement and fraud, and his heart is void of covetousness and avidity. During the period of his government, no one ever experienced from him other than protection and justice, never having felt hardships from him; nor did the poor ever know the weight of an oppressive hand from him. Our characters and reputation have been always guarded in quiet from attack, by the vigilance of his prudence and foresight, and by the terror of his justice."


Upon my word, my lords, the paragraphs are delightful. Observe, in this translation from the Persian, there is all the fluency of an English paragraph well preserved. All I can say is, that these people of Benares feel their joy, comfort, and

satisfaction, in swearing to the falseness of Mr. Hastings's representation against himself. In spite of his own testimony, they say, "He secured happiness and joy to us. He reestablished the foundation of justice; and we at all times during his government lived in comfort and passed our days in peace." The shame of England, and of the English government, is here put upon your lordships records. Here you have, just following that afflicting report of Mr. Duncan's, and that account of Mr. Hastings himself, in which he said the inhabitants fled before his face, the addresses of these miserable people. He dares to impose upon your eyesightupon your common sense-upon the plain faculties of mankind. He dares, in contradiction to all his own assertions, to make these people come forward and swear, that they have enjoyed nothing but complete satisfaction and pleasure, during the whole time of his government.

My lords, I have done with this business, for I have now reached the climax of degradation and suffering, after moving step by step through the several stages of tyranny and oppression. I have done with it, and have only to ask in what country do we live, where such a scene can by any possibility be offered to the public eye!

Let us here, my lords, make a pause.-You have seen what Benares was under its native government. You have seen the condition in which it was left by Cheit Sing, and you have seen the state in which Mr. Hastings left it. The rankling wounds which he has inflicted upon the country, and the degradation to which the inhabitants have been subjected, have been shown to your lordships. You have now to consider, whether or not you will fortify with your sanction, any of the detestable principles upon which the prisoner justifies his enormities.

My lords, we shall next come to another dependent province, when I shall illustrate to your lordships still further, the effects of Mr. Hastings's principles. I allude to the province of Oude; a country, which, before our acquaintance

with it, was in the same happy and flourishing condition with Benares; and which dates its period of decline and misery from the time of our intermeddling with it. The nabob of Oude was reduced, as Cheit Sing was, to be a dependant on the company; and to be a greater dependant than Cheit Sing, because it was reserved in Cheit Sing's agreement, that we should not interfere in his government. We interfered in every part of the nabob's government; we reduced his authority to nothing; we introduced a perfect scene of anarchy and confusion into the country, where there was no authority but to rob and destroy.

I have not strength at present to proceed; but I hope I shall soon be enabled to do so. Your lordships cannot, I am sure, calculate from your own youth and strength; for I have done the best I can, and find myself incapable just at this moment of going any further.


« PreviousContinue »