Page images





MY LORDS,-When I last had the honor of addressing your lordships from this place, my want of strength obliged me to conclude where the patience of a people, and the prosperity of a country, subjected by solemn treaties to British government, had concluded. We have left behind us the inhabitants of Benares; after having seen them driven into rebellion by tyranny and oppression, and their country desolated by our misrule. Your lordships, I am sure, have had the map of India before you, and know that the country so destroyed and so desolated, was about one-fifth of the size of England and Wales, in geographical extent, and equal in population to about a fourth. Upon this scale you will judge of the mischief which has been done.

My lords, we are now come to another devoted province : we march from desolation to desolation; because we follow the steps of Warren Hastings, Esq., governor-general of Bengal. You will here find the range of his atrocities widely extended. But before I enter into a detail of them, I have one reflection to make, which I beseech your lordships to bear in mind throughout the whole of this deliberation. It is this; you ought never to conclude that a man must necessarily be obnoxious, because he is, in other respects, insignifi

cant. You will see that a man, bred in obscure, vulgar, and ignoble occupations, and trained in sordid, base, and mercenary habits, is not incapable of doing extensive mischief, because he is little, because his vices are of a mean nature. My lords, we have shown to you already, and we shall demonstrate to you more clearly in future, that such minds placed in authority can do more mischief to a country, can treat all ranks and distinctions with more pride, insolence, and arrogance, than those who have been born under canopies of state and swaddled in purple you will see, that they can waste a country more effectually than the proudest and most mighty conquerors, who by the greatness of their military talents have first subdued and afterwards plundered nations.

The prisoner's counsel have thought proper to entertain your lordships, and to defend their client, by comparing him with the men who are said to have erected a pyramid of ninety thousand human heads. Now, look back, my lords, to Benares; consider the extent of country laid waste and desolated and its immense population, and then see whether famine may not destroy as well as the sword; and whether this man is not as well entitled to erect his pyramid of ninety thousand heads, as any terrific tyrant of the East. We follow him now to another theatre, the territories of the nabob of Oude.

My lords, Oude, (together with the additions made to it by Sujah Dowlah,) in point of geographical extent, is about the size of England. Sujah Dowlah, who possessed this country as nabob, was a prince of a haughty character; ferocious in a high degree towards his enemies, and towards all those who resisted his will. He was magnificent in his expenses, yet economical with regard to his resources; maintaining his court in a pomp and splendor, which is perhaps unknown to the sovereigns of Europe. At the same time he was such an economist, that from an inconsiderable revenue, at the beginning of his reign, he was annually enabled to make great savings. He thus preserved, towards the end of it, his people

in peace, tranquillity, and order; and though he was an arbitrary prince, he never strained his revenue to such a degree as to lose their affections, while he filled his exchequer. Such appears to have been the true character of Sujah Dowlah; your lordships have heard what is the character which the prisoner at your bar and his counsel have thought proper to give you of him.

Surely, my lord, the situation of the great, as well as of the lower ranks in that country, must be a subject of melancholy reflection to every man. Your lordships' compassion will, I presume, lead you to feel for the lowest; and I hope that your sympathetic dignity will make you consider in what manner the princes of this country are treated. They have not only been treated at your lordships' bar, with indignity by the prisoner, but his counsel do not leave their ancestors to rest quietly in their graves. They have slandered their families, and have gone into scandalous history, that has no foundation in facts whatever.

Your lordships have seen how he attempted to slander the ancestors of Cheit Sing, to deny that they were zemindars; and yet he must have known from printed books, taken from the company's records, the utter falsity of his declaration. You need only look into Mr. Verelst's Appendix, and there you will see that that country has always been called, the zemindary of Bulwant Sing. You will find him always called the zemindar; it was the known acknowledged name, till this gentleman thought proper at the bar of the House of Commons to deny that he was a zemindar, and to assert that he was only an aumil. He slanders the pedigree of this man as mean and base, yet he was not ashamed to take from him £23,000; in like manner he takes from Azoph ul Dowlah £100,000, which he would have appropriated to himself, and then directs his counsel to rake up the slander of Dow's History, a book of no authority; a book that no man values in any respect or degree. In this book they find that romantic, absurd, and ridiculous story, upon which an honorable

fellow manager of mine, who is much more capable than I am of doing justice to the subject, has commented with his usual ability; I allude to that story of spitting on the beard; the mutual compact to poison one another. That Arabian tale, fit only to form a ridiculous tragedy, has been gravely mentioned to your lordships, for the purpose of slandering the pedigree of this vizier of Oude, and making him vile in your lordships' eyes. My honorble friend has exposed to you the absurdity of these stories, but he has not shown you the malice of their propagators. The prisoner and his counsel have referred to Dow's History, who calls this nabob, "the more infamous son of an infamous Persian pedlar." They wish that your lordships should consider him as a person vilely born, ignominiously educated, and practising a mean trade; in order that, when it shall be proved, that he and his family were treated with every kind of indignity and contempt by the prisoner at your bar, the sympathy of mankind should be weakened. Consider, my lords, the monstrous perfidy and ingratitude of this man, who after receiving great favors from the nabob, is not satisfied with oppressing his offspring, but goes back to his ancestors, tears them out of their graves, and vilifies them with slanderous aspersions. My lords, the ancestor of Sujah Dowlah was a great prince; certainly a subordinate prince, because he was a servant of the Great Mogul, who was well called, King of Kings, for he had in his service persons of high degree. He was born in Persia; but was not, as is falsely said, the more infamous son of an infamous Persian pedlar. Your lordships are not unacquainted with the state and history of India; you therefore know that Persia has been the nursery of all the Mahomedan nobility of India; almost every thing in that country, which is not of Gentoo origin, is of Persian; so much so that the Persian language is the language of the court, and of every office from the highest to the lowest. Among these noble Persians, the family of the nabob stands in the highest degree. His father's ancestors were of noble descent, and

those of his mother, Munny Begum, more eminently and more illustriously so. This distinguished family, on no better authority than that of the historian Dow, has been slandered by the prisoner at your bar, in order to destroy the character of those whom he had already robbed of their substance. Your lordships will have observed with disgust, how the Dows and the Hastingses, and the whole of that tribe, treat their superiors; in what insolent language they speak of them, and with what pride and indignity they trample upon the first names and the first characters in that devoted country.

But supposing it perfectly true, that this man was "the more infamous son of an infamous Persian pedlar: " he had risen to be the secondary sovereign of that country. He had a revenue of £3,600,000 sterling; a vast and immense revenue; equal perhaps to the clear revenue of the king of England. He maintained an army of one hundred and twenty thousand men. He had a splendid court, and his country was prosperous and happy. Such was the situation of Sujah Dowlah, the nabob of Oude, and such the condition of Oude under his government. With his pedigree, I believe, your lordships will think, we have nothing to do in the cause now before us. It has been pressed upon us; and this marks the indecency, the rancor, the insolence, the pride, and tyranny, which the Dows and the Hastingses, and the people of that class and character, are in the habit of exercising over the great in India.

My lords, I shall be saved a great deal of trouble in proving to you the flourishing state of Oude, because the prisoner admits it as largely as I could wish to state it; and, what is more, he admits too the truth of our statement of the condition to which it is now reduced; (but I shall not let him off so easily upon this point.) He admits, too, that it was left in this reduced and ruined state at the close of his administration. In his defence he attributes the whole mischief generally to a faulty system of government. My lords, systems

« PreviousContinue »