Изображения страниц

the exaction, and, inversely, to the number of the persons who are the objects of it; these are clear, irrefragable, and eternal principles.

But if instead of exacting a part by a proportionable rate, the prince should go further and attempt to shake the whole mass of property itself, a mass perhaps not much less than that which is possessed by the whole Peers of Great Britain, by confiscating the whole of the estates at once as a government resource, without the charge or pretence of any crime; I say, that such an act would be oppressive, cruel, and wicked in the highest degree. Yet this is what Mr. Hastings projected, and actually did accomplish.

My Lords, at the treaty of Chunar, as it is called, Mr. Hastings (for he always artfully feels his way as he proceeds) first says, that the Nabob shall be permitted to do this act if he pleases. He does not assume the government. He does not compel the Nabob to do anything. He does not force upon him this abandoned and wicked confiscation of the property of the whole nobility of a great country. All that he says is this,the Nabob may be permitted to resume these jaghires. Why permitted? If the act had been legal, proper, and justifiable, he did not want our permission; he was a sovereign in his own dominions. But Mr. Hastings: recollected that some of these jaghires (as they are called, and on which I shall say a very few words to your Lordships,) were guaranteed by the Company. The jaghires of his own house, of his mother and grandmother, were guaranteed by us. I must inform your Lordships, that upon some of our other exactions at an earlier period, the Nabob had endeavoured to levy a forced loan upon the jaghirdars. This forced loan was made and submitted to by those people, upon a direct assurance of their rights in the jaghires, which right was guaranteed by the British Resident, not only to the Begums, and to the whole family of the Nabob, but also to all the other objects of the tax.


Before I proceed, I will beg leave to state to you briefly the nature of these jaghires. The jaghirdars, the holders of jaghires, form the body of the principal Mahometan nobility. The great nobility of that country are divided into two parts : one part consists of the zemindars, who are the ancient proprietors of land, and the hereditary nobility of the country, these are mostly Gentoos. The Mahometans forın the other part, whose whole interest in the land consist in the jaghires, for very few indeed of them are zemindars any where, in some of the provinces none of them are so; the whole of them are jaghirdars. VOL. XV.



We have heard, my Lords, much discussion about jaghires. It is in proof before your

Lordships, that they are of two sorts :--that a jaghire signifies exactly what the word fee does in the English language, or feodum in the barbarous Latin of the Feudists; that it is a word which signifies a salary or a maintenance, as did originally the English word fee, derived from the word feod and feodum. These jaghires, like other fees and like other feods, were given in land, as a maintenance; some with the condition of service, some without any condition; some were annexed to an office, some were granted as the support of a dignity, and none were granted for a less term than life, except those that were immediately annexed to a lease. We have shewn your Lordships, (and in this we have followed the example of Mr. Hastings,) that some of them are. fees granted actually in perpetuity; and in fact many of them are so granted. We are farther to tell your Lordships, that by the custom of the empire they are almost all grown as the feods in Europe are grown by use into something which is at least virtually an inheritance. This is the state of the jaghires and jaghirdars.

Among these jaghires we find, what your Lordships would expect to find, an ample provision for all the nobility of that illustrious family, of which the Nabob is the head ; a prince

whose CC 2


whose family, both by father and mother, notwithstanding the slander of the Prisoner against his benefactor, was undoubtedly of the first and most distinguished nobility of the Mahometan empire. . Accordingly his uncles, all his near relations, his mother, grandmother, all possessed jaghires, some of very long standing, and most of them not given by the Nabob.

I take some pains in explaining this business, because I trust your Lordships will have a strong feeling against any confiscation for the purpose of Believe me, my Lords, if there is

any thing which will root the present order of things out of Europe, it will begin, as we see it has already begun in a neighbouring courtry, by confiscating, for the purposes of the State, grants made to classes of men, let them be held by what names, or be supposed susceptible of what abuses

I will venture to say that Jacobinism never can strike a more deadly blow against property, rank and dignity, than your Lordships, if you were to acquit this man, would strike against your own dignity, and the very being of the society in which we live.

Your Lordships will find in your printed Minutes, who the jaghirdars were, and what was the amount of their estates. The jaghires of which Mr. Hastings authorized the confiscation, or what he calls a resumption, appear from Mr. Purling's account, when first the forced loan was



levied upon them, under his residentship, to amount to 285,000 l. sterling per annum; which 285,000 l. if rated and valued according to the different value of provisions and other necessaries of life in that country and in England, will amount, as near as may be, to about 600,000 1. a year.

I am within compass. Every body conversant with India will say it is equivalent at least to 600,000 1. a year in England; and what a blow such a confiscation as this would be, on the fortunes of the peers of Great Britain, your Lordships will judge. I like to see your estates as great as they are ;--I wish they were greater than they are ; but whatever they are, I wish above all that they should be perpetual. For dignity and property in this country, esto perpetua shall be my prayer this day, and the last prayer


life. The Commons, therefore, of Great Britain, those guardians of property, who will not suffer the Monarch they love, the government which they adore, to levy one shil. ling upon the subject, in any other way than the law and statutes of this kingdom prescribe, will not suffer, nor can they bear the idea, that any single class of people should be chosen to be the objects of a contrary conduct, nor that even the Nabob of Oude should be permitted to act upon such a flagitious principle. When an English governour has substituted a power of his own instead of the legal government of the


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »