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he found what the nature of the crimes alleged was, and how strong was the presumption that the allegations were true, he confessed that he could not expect that gentlemen, when reciting what they thought actions of treachery, actions of violence and oppression, and demanding an investigation into those actions, should speak a language different from that which would naturally arise from the contemplation of such actions..
The honourable magistrate had argued, that the honour of the House was not committed to adopt the resolutions of the committee, and had endeavoured to prevent such an impression from falling upon gentlemen as an inducement to their voting for them. But, was there any danger of gentlemen being influenced by such a consideration in the present case ? Had the resolutions of the secret committee been a new matter, perhaps there might then have been some room for cautioning the House not to be drawn into too hasty an adoption of them from motives of consistency, because, in such a case, their adoption might possibly be attributed to such motives; but even then such a caution must prove unnecessary; for no member could consider himself bound to support the resolutions of a committee, merely because they were resolutions of a committee. In this instance, the object of the honourable alderman ought to be to convince such gentlemen individually as hadvoted for the several charges, that, having done so, yet they would not be inconsistent in now opposing the report; but this argument, he must say, he believed no gentleman would attempt to support; for certainly no gentleman who had supported the charges could, consistently with the principles on which he did so, now oppose the farther progress of the business. But, in fact, hè not only considered those gentlemen who voted for the charges individually, but the whole House collectively, as called upon by every motive of honour and consistency, by their regard for the national character as well as their own, to unite and persevere in bringing the matter to a final conclusion before the other House. The honourable gentleman * who had spoken last, and whom
* Mr. Nathaniel Smith,
every body knew to be most perfectly conversant in the affairs of the East Indies, who had done himself so much honour in every part he had at any time taken in the management of their affairs, and who had been besides in general a strenuous opposer of the measures of Mr. Hastings, had that day made the best defence for him which he had yet heard; but still, upon the very grounds of that defence, Mr. Hastings appeared highly culpable. The principal argument which that honourable gentleman had stated in favour of Mr. Hastings, was, that a great part of those rapacious exactions which he had made in India, arose from the orders he had received from his employers, the East-India directors, who were so elated with the acquisition of the Dewanee of Bengal, and the expectations they from thence entertained of becoming the channels of vast wealth into this country, that they gave him directions for such extensive investments as could not be provided by the ordinary resources of the company, and of course drove him to the necessity of supplying, by rapacity and extortion, the means of fulfilling their injunctions. Taking this to be the fact, it was, he contended, no argument whatsoever to screen Mr. Hastings from punishment; for it went to say, that whatever acts of injustice a servant of the company might commit, provided that he does it by the orders of his immediate superiors and employers, he should not be amenable to punishment; - a principle which, of all others, that House should be most assiduous to resist, because such a principle, if once established, would entirely overthrow the responsibility of all public officers - even of ministers themselves. But were the fact even thus, the EastIndia company might entertain too flattering and too sanguine ideas of their situation, and in so doing, would naturally (as they did) give orders to their servants measured by the scale of those ideas; still was Mr. Hastings justifiable in recurring to acts of oppression and tyranny, in order to realise the visionary prospects of his masters? Was it not his duty to undeceive them, and by a proper representation of their affairs excuse himself for the nonperformance to its full extent of their commands ? He should recapitulate, as shortly as possible, the state of the charges against Mr. Hastings, from which it would appear, how impossible it was for him, or such gentlemen as were of opinion with him, to give him any other vote but one of concurrence with the motion : though he certainly considered the whole of the charges as originally brought forward, as highly exaggerated in some parts, and as not wholly founded in others; yet there appeared from the evidence which had been produced, that there was in them a great deal of matter of substantial criminality, and sufficiently authenticated to warrant that House in proceeding upon it.
The chief point of this mass of delinquency was all which he could touch upon ; nor would he go into the articles at any length, having already delivered his sentiments at large upon such of them as he was not anticipated in by gentlemen who thought as he did. In one part of the charge of Benares, there was great criminality; in that of the princesses of Oude there was still more; and that, indeed, he looked upon as the leading feature in the whole accusation. In the charges concerning Farruckabad and Fyzula Khan, there was also much criminal matter. In all of those there were instances of the most violent acts of injustice, tyranny, and oppression; acts which had never been attempted to be vindicated except on the plea of necessity. What that necessity was, had never been proved; but there was no necessity whatsoever which could excuse such actions as those, attended with such circumstances. He could conceive a state, compelled by the necessity of a sudden invasion, an unprovided army, and an unexpected failure of supplies, to lay violent hands on the property of its subjects ; but then, in doing so, it ought to do it openly, it ought to avow the necessity, it ought to avow the seizure, and it ought, unquestionably, to make provision for a proper compensation as soon as that should become practicable. But was this the principle on which Mr. Hastings went ? No: he neither avowed the necessity nor the exaction; he made criminal charges, and under the colour of them he levied heavy and inordinate penalties ; seizing that which, if he had a right to take it at all, he would be highly criminal in taking in such a shape, but which having no right to take, the mode of taking it rendered it much more heinous and culpable. He certainly had no right to impose a fine of any sort on the princesses of Oude; for there was not sufficient proof of their disaffection or rebellion. And the fine imposed on Cheit Sing, in a certain degree, partook of a similar guilt, though not to so great an extent; for then the crime was, in his opinion, not so much in the fine itself as the amount of it, and its disproportion to the circumstances of the person who was to pay it, and the offence which he had committed. But this vindication, from one part of the charge, in itself so weak, became, when coupled with other parts, a great aggravation; for, when a person on the one hand commits extortion, and, on the other, is guilty of profusion, if he attempts to screen himself under the plea of necessity, for his rapacity, it follows that he is doubly criminal for the offence itself, and for creating the necessity of that offence by his prodigality. And a still higher aggravation arises from the manifest, and, indeed, palpable corruption attending that prodigality ; to what else could be attributed the private allowances made to Heyder Beg Khan, the minister of the Nabob Vizier, and the sums paid to the Vakeel of Cheit Sing, when it was remembered that the one led the way to the treaty of Chunar, and the other to the revolution in Benares ?
The honourable gentleman who spoke last, had attempted to excuse all these actions, by shewing that Mr. Hastings was not the person who first began the interference of the company with the native princes, nor the influence which it had obtained in their politics; and that the inconveniences attending the double government of Oude were not to be imputed to him. But, surely, to whatever cause that influence might be originally attributed, Mr. Hastings was answerable for the management of it, as long as it was in his hands; and to excuse him on this plea, would be to justify the tyranny by the power ; for, though the influence of the company had given him the power to oppress the neighbouring country, it had not imposed on him the necessity of doing so. The honourable gentleman had attempted to palliate those parts of Mr. Hastings's conduct, by stating, that if he were guilty, he
was so in common with the rest of the council; but this, if it were the case, was by no means a sufficient excuse for him, nor could it be a reason with the House for dropping the impeachment; for his having accomplices in his crimes could be no exculpation, and it would be highly derogatory to the honour of that House, if they were to say — “No; we will not bring the delinquent to justice, because there are a number of delinquents besides him." Nor would this be a reason even for impeaching the rest; for it was by no means advisable to multiply examples : the proper way was to select such as, from their exalted and ostensible situations, were the more likely to become an effectual example. But, it was impossible to justify Mr. Hastings on such a ground as this, even if it were tenable at all; because a considerable part of those enormities with which he was charged were committed at a distance from his council, and when he was entirely out of the reach of their advice or control. · In the articles of the contracts, there were some glaring instances of breach of orders, and of improvidence and profusion, which, though not of so heinous a nature as those he had before mentioned, were such as called loudly for punishment. But there was another charge which he was astonished to find the gentlemen who defended Mr. Hastings could treat so lightly, as it was one which appeared to him in itself sufficient to justify the impeachment, though it had stood alone, and was of such a nature as in a peculiar degree called for the interference of that House. This was the charge of taking presents, which, in every light it could be considered in, whether as a direct breach of the law which appointed him a positive evidence of corruption, or a degradation of the character of his employers, was a great and heavy accusation; and as to the excuse which had been offered, that he had received those presents for the use of the company, even that was criminal in a degree. But, for his part, he could not accede to the opinion either that he had received those sums with an intention of applying them to the service of the company, or that he had actually applied them at all in that way; for, had this been his intention, he would have kept such accounts, and