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whole of the arrangement, by which Munny Begum was appointed guardian of the two preceding nabobs stands in the company's records, stigmatized as a transaction base, wicked, and corrupt. We will read to your lordships an extract from a letter which has the signature of Mr. Sumner, the gentleman who sits here by the side of Mr. Hastings, and from which you will learn what the company and the council thought of the original nomination of Munny Begum and of her son. You will find that they considered her as a great agent, and instrument of all the corruption there; and that this whole transaction, by which the bastard son of Munny Begum was brought forward to the prejudice of the legitimate son of the nabob, was considered to be, what it upon the very face of it speaks itself to be, corrupt and scandalous.
Extract of a general letter from the president and council at Calcutta, Bengal, to the select committee of the directors. Paragraph 5.-"At Fort Saint George we received the first advices of the demise of Meer Jaffier, and of Sujah Dowlah's defeat, it was there firmly imagined that no definitive measures would be taken, either with respect to a peace or filling the vacancy in the nizamut before our arrival, as the Lapwing arrived in the month of January with your general letter, and the appointment of a committee with express powers to that purpose, for the successful exertion of which the happiest occasion now offered. However, a contrary resolution prevailed in the council; the opportunity of acquiring immense fortunes was too inviting to be neglected, and the temptation too powerful to be resisted; a treaty was hastily drawn up by the board, or rather transcribed with few unimportant additions from that concluded with Meer Jaffier, and a deputation, consisting of Messrs. Johnstone, senior, Middleton, and Leycester, appointed to raise the natural son of the deceased nabob to the soubahdarry, in prejudice of the claim of the grandson; and for this measure such reasons assigned
as ought to have dictated a diametrically opposite resolution. Miran's son was a minor, which circumstance alone would have naturally brought the whole administration into our hands, at a juncture when it became indispensably necessary we should realize the shadow of power and influence, which, having no solid foundation, was exposed to the danger of being annihilated by the first stroke of adverse fortune. But this inconsistence was not regarded, nor was it material to the views for precipitating the treaty, which was pressed on the young nabob at the first interview, in so earnest and indelicate a manner, as highly disgusted him and chagrined his ministers, while not a single rupee was stipulated for the company, whose interests were sacrificed, that their servants might revel in the spoils of a treasury, before impoverished, but now totally exhausted."
"6. This scene of corruption was first disclosed at a visit the nabob paid to Lord Clive and the gentlemen of the committee a few days after our arrival; he there delivered to his lordship a letter filled with bitter complaints of the insults and indignity he had been exposed to, and the embezzlement of near twenty lacks of rupees issued from his treasury for purposes unknown, during the late negotiations;—so public a complaint could not be disregarded, and it soon produced an inquiry. We referred the letter to the board, in expectation of obtaining a satisfactory account of the application of this money, and were answered only by a warm remonstrance, entered by Mr. Leycester, against that very nabob in whose elevation he boasts of having been a principal agent."
"7.-Mahomed Reza Khân, the naib soubah, was then called upon to account for this large disbursement from the treasury; and he soon delivered to the committee the very extraordinary narrative entered in our proceedings, the 6th of June, wherein he specifies the several names and sums, by whom paid, and to whom, whether in cash, bills or obligation. So precise, so accurate an account as this of money for secret and venal services was never, we believe, before
this period, exhibited to the honorable court of directors; at least never vouched by undeniable testimony and authentic documents by Juggut Seet, who himself was obliged to contribute largely to the sums demanded by Moolyram, who was employed by Mr. Johnstone in all these pecuniary transactions by the nabob and Mahomed Reza Khân, who were the heaviest sufferers; and lastly, by the confession of the gentlemen themselves, whose names are specified in the distribution list."
- Juggut Seet expressly declared in his narrative, that the sum which he agreed to pay the deputation, amounting to 125,000 rupees, was extorted by menaces; and since the close of our inquiry, and the opinions we delivered in the proceedings of the 21st of June, it fully appears, that the presents from the nabob and Mahomed Reza Khân, exceeding the immense sum of seventeen lacks, were not the voluntary offerings of gratitude, but contributions levied on the weakness of the government, and violently exacted from the dependent state and timid disposition of the minister. The charge, indeed, is denied on the one hand, as well as affirmed on the other. Your honorable board must therefore determine, how far the circumstance of extortion may aggravate the crime of disobedience to your positive orders; the exposing the government in a manner to sale, and receiving the infamous wages of corruption from opposite parties and contending interests. We speak with boldness, because we speak from conviction founded upon indubitable evidence, that, besides the above sums specified in the distribution account, to the amount of £228,125 sterling, there was likewise to the value of several lacks of rupees procured from Nundcomar and Roydullub, each of whom aspired at, and obtained, a promise of that very employment it was predetermined to bestow on Mahomed Reza Khân.-Signed at the end,Clive, Wm B. Sumner, John Carnac, H. Verelst, Fras Sykes."
My lords, the persons who sign this letter are mostly the
friends of, and one of them is the gentleman who is bail for, and sits near, Mr. Hastings. They state to you this horrible and venal transaction, by which the government was set to sale, by which a bastard son was elevated to the wrong of the natural and legitimate heir; and in which a prostitute, his mother, was put in the place of the honorable and legitimate mother of the representative of the family.
Now if there was one thing more than another under heaven, which Mr. Hastings ought to have shunned, it was the suspicion of being concerned in any such infamous transaction as that which is here recorded to be so-a transaction in which the country government had before been sold to this very woman and her offspring, and in which two great candidates for power in that country fought against each other, and perhaps the largest offerer carried it.
When a governor-general sees the traces of corruption in the conduct of his predecessors, the traces of injustice following that corruption, the traces of notorious irregularity, in setting aside the just claimants in favor of those that have no claim at all,—he has that before his eyes which ought to have made him the more scrupulously avoid, and to keep at the farthest distance possible from, the contagion, and even the suspicion of being corrupted by it. Moreover, my lords, it was in consequence of these very transactions, that the new covenants were made, which bind the servants of the company, never to take a present of above £200, or some such sum of money, from any native in circumstances there described. This covenant I shall reserve for consideration in another part of this business. It was in pursuance of this idea, and to prevent the abuse of the prevailing custom of visiting the governing powers of that country, with a view of receiving presents from them, that the House of Commons afterwards, in its inquiries, took up this matter, and passed the regulating act in 1773. But to return to Munny Begumthis very person, that had got into power by the means already mentioned, did Mr. Hastings resort to, knowing her to be
well skilled in the trade of bribery; - knowing her skilful practice in business of this sort; knowing the fitness of her eunuchs, instruments, and agents to be dealers in this kind of traffic. This very woman did Mr. Hastings select, stigmatized as she was in the company's record, stigmatized by the very gentleman who sits next to him, and whose name you have heard read to you, as one of those members of the council that reprobated the horrible iniquity of the transaction, in which this woman was a principal agent. For though neither the young nabob nor his mother ought to have been raised to the stations in which they were placed, and were placed there for the purpose of facilitating the receipt of bribes; yet the order of nature was preserved, and the mother was made the guardian of her own son. For though she was a prostitute and he a bastard, yet still she was a mother and he a son; and both nature and legitimate disposition, with regard to the guardianship of a son, went together.
But what did Mr. Hastings do? Improving upon the preceding transaction, improving on it by a kind of refinement in corruption-he drives away the lawful mother from her lawful guardianship; the mother of nature he turns out, and he delivers her son to the stepmother, to be the guardian of his person. That your lordships may see who this woman was, we shall read to you a paper from your lordships' minutes, produced before Mr. Hastings's face, and never contradicted by him from that day to this.
At a consultation, 24th July, 1775:-" Shah Chanim, deceased, was sister to the nabob Mahub ul Jung by the same father, but different mothers; she married Meer Mahomed Jaffier Khân, by whom she had a son and a daughter; the name of the former was Meer Mahomed Sadduc Ali Khân, and the latter was married to Meer Mahomed Cossim Khân Sadduc; Ali Khân had two sons and two daughters; the sons' names are Meer Sydoc and Meer Sobeem, who are now living; the daughters were married to Sultan Merza Daood.