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usury and extortion upon tyranny and oppression. To enforce this unjust demand, the miserable victims were imprisoned, ironed, scourged, and at last threatened to be sent prisoners to Chunar. This menace succeeded. The persons who had resisted irons, who had been, as the Begums say, refused food and water, stowed in an unwholesome, stinking, pestilential prison, these persons withstood everything till the fort of Chunar was mentioned to them; and then their fortitude gave way: and why? The fort of Chunar was not in the dominions of the Nabob, whose rights they pretended to be vindicating: to name a British fort, in their circumstances, was to name everything that is most horrible in tyranny; so, at least, it appeared to them. They gave way; and thus were committed acts of oppression and cruelty unknown, I will venture to say, in the history of India. The women, indeed, could not be brought forward and scourged, but their ministers were tortured, till, for their redemption, these princesses gave up all their clothes, all the ornaments of their persons, all their jewels, all the memorials of their husbands and fathers, – all were delivered up, and valued by merchants at 50,0001. ; and they also gave up 5,0001. in money, or thereabouts : so that, in reality, only about 5,0001., a mere nothing, a sum not worth mentioning, even in the calculations of extortion and usury, remained unpaid.
But, my Lords, what became of all this money ? When you examine these witnesses here, they tell you it was paid to Hyder Beg Khân. Now they had themselves received the money in tale at their own assay-table. And when an account is demanded of the produce of the goods, they shrink from it, and say
it was Hyder Beg Khân who received the things and sold them. Where is Hyder Beg Khân's receipt ? The Begums say (and the thing speaks for itself) that even gold and jewels coming from them lost their value; that part of the goods were spoilt, being kept long unsold in damp and bad warehouses; and that the rest of the goods were sold, as thieves sell their spoil, for little or nothing. In all this business Mr. Hastings and Mr. Middleton were themselves the actors, chief actors; but now, when they are called to account, they substitute Hyder Beg Khân in their place, a man that is dead and gone, and you hear nothing more of this part of the business.
But the sufferings of these eunuchs did not end here; they were, on account of this odd 5,0001., confined for twelve months, - not prisoners at large,
– like this prisoner who thrusts his sore leg into your Lordships' faces every day, but in harsh and cruel confinement. These are the persons that I feel for. It is their dungeon, it is their unrevenged wrongs that move me.
It is for these innocent, miserable, unhappy men, who were guilty of no offence but fidelity to their mistresses, in order to vex and torture whom (the first women in Asia) in the persons of their ministers these cruelties were exercised, these are they for whom I feel, and not for the miserable sore leg or whining cant of this prisoner. He has been the author of all these wrongs; and if you transfer to him any of the sympathy you owe to these sufferers, you do wrong, you violate compassion. Think of their irons. Has not this criminal, who put on these irons, been without one iron? Has he been threatened with torture? Has he been locked up without food and water? Have his sufferings been aggravated as the sufferings of these poor men were aggravated ? What punishment has been inflicted, and what can be inflicted upon him, in any manner commensurate with the atrocity of his crimes ?
At last, my Lords, these unhappy men were released. Mr. Bristow, who had been sent to Lucknow, writes to Mr. Hastings, and informs him that severities could do no more, that imprisonments and menaces could get no more money. I believe not, for I doubt much whether any more was to be got. But whether there was or not, all the arts of extortion, fortified by all the arts of tyranny, of every name and species, had failed, and therefore Mr. Bristow released the prisoners, – but without any warrant for
so doing from Mr. Hastings, who, after having received this letter from Mr. Bristow, gets the Supreme Council to order these very severities to be continued till the last farthing was paid. In order to induce the Council to sanction this measure, he suppressed Mr. Bristow's declaration, that severities could do nothing more in exacting further payments; and the Resident, I find, was afterwards obliquely punished for his humanity by Mr. Hastings.
Mr. Bristow's letter is dated the 12th of December, and he thus writes.
“The battalion at Fyzabad” (where the Begums and their ministers had been confined) “ is recalled, and my letter to the board of the 1st instant has explained my conduct to the Begum. The letter I addressed her, a translation of which I beg leave to inclose, (No. 2,) was with a view of convincing her that you readily assented to her being freed from the restraints which had been imposed upon her, and that
your acquiescence in her sufferings was a measure of necessity, to which you were forced by her extraordinary conduct. I wished to make it appear this was a matter on which you directed me to consult the Vizier's pleasure, that it might be known you were the spring from whence she was restored to her dignity and consequence."
On the 3d of March following, the Council agree to send the following order to Mr. Bristow.
“We desire you will inform us if any and what means have been taken for recovering the balance due from the Begum at Fyzabad, and, if necessary, that you recommend it to the Vizier to enforce the most effectual means for that purpose.”
My Eords, you see the fraud he has put upon the Council. You will find that Mr. Bristow's letters,
. up to the 3d of March, had been suppressed ; and though then communicated, yet he instigated his cat’s-paw, that blind and ignorant Council, to demand from the Vizier the renewal of these very severities and cruelties, the continuance of which the letters in his pocket had shown him were of no effect. Here you have an instance of his implacable cruelty; you see that it never relaxes, never remits, and that, finding all the resources of tyranny useless and ineffective, he is still willing to use them, and for that purpose he makes a fraudulent concealment of the utter inefficacy of all the means that had been used.
But, you will ask, what could make him persevere in these acts of cruelty, after his avarice had been more than satiated ? You will find it is this. He had had some quarrel with these women. He believed that they had done him some personal injury
or other, of which he nowhere informs you. But, as you find that in the case of Cheyt Sing he considered his visit to General Clavering as an horrid outrage against himself, which he never forgave, and revenged to the ruin of that miserable person, so you find that he has avowed the same malicious disposition towards the Begums, arising from some similar
In page 367 of your printed Minutes, he says, “I am sorry that I must in truth add, that a part of the resentment of the Begums was, as I had too much reason to suspect, directed to myself personally. The incidents which gave rise to it are too light to be mixed with the professed subject and occasion of this detail; and as they want the authenticity of recorded evidence, I could lay no claim to credit in my relation of them. At some period I may be induced to offer them to the world, my ultimate and unerring judges, both of that and of every other trait in my political character."
My Lords, you have an anecdote here handed to you which is the key of a great part of this transaction. He had determined upon some deep and desperate revenge for some injury or affront of some kind or other that he thought he had received from these people. He accuses them of a personal quarrel with himself; and yet he has not the honor or honesty to tell you what it was, — what it was that could induce them to entertain such a personal resentment against him as to ruin themselves and their country by their supposed rebellion. He says, that some time or other he will tell it to the world. Why did he not tell his counsel, and authorize them to tell a story which could not be unimportant, as it was connected with a rebellion which shook the British