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applaud the proceedings of the Board, meaning the majority (then consisting of General Cldvering, Colonel Monson, and Mr. Francis) as highly meri. torious, and promise them their firmest support. es Some of the cases, they say, are so flagrantly
corrupt, and others attended with circumstances so
so oppressive to the inhabitants, that it would be
unjust to suffer the delinquents to go unpunished.” With this observation their proceedings appear to have ended, and paused for more than a year.
On the 4th of March 1778, the Directors appear to have resumed the subject. In their letter of that date they instructed the Governour and Council forthwith to commence a prosecution, in the Supreme Court of Judicature, against the persons,
who composed the Committee of Circuit, or their représentatives, and also against Mr. Barwell, in order to recover, for the use of the Company, the amount of all advantages acquired by them from their several engagements in Salt Contracts and Farms. Adverting, however, to the declaration made by Mr. Barwell, that he would account to the Court of Directors for the last shilling he had received, and abide implicitly by their judgment, they thought it probable that, on being acquainted with their peremptory orders for commencing a prosecution, he might be desirous of paying his share of profits into the Company's treasury; and they
pointed out a precaution to be used in accepting such a tender on his part.
On this part of the transaction Your Committee observe, that the Court of Directors appear blamable in having delayed till February 1777 to take any measure in consequence of advices so interesting and important, and on a matter, concerning which they had made so strong a declaration; considering that, early in April 1776, they say, “ they " had investigated the charges, and had then come " to certain resolutions concerning them.” But their delaying to send out positive orders for commencing a prosecution against the parties concerned till March 1778 cannot be accounted for. In the former letter they promise, if they should find it necessary, to return the original covenants of such of their servants as had been any ways concerned in the undue receipt of money, in order to enable the Governour-General and Council to recover the same by suits in the Supreme Court. But Your Committee do not find that the covenants were ever transmitted to Bengal. To whatever cause these instances of neglect and delay may be attributed, they could not fail to create an opinion in Bengal, that the Court of Directors were not heartily intent upon the execution of their own orders, and to discourage those members of Government, who were disposed to undertake so invidious a duty.
In 'consequence of these delays, even their first orders did not arrive in Bengal until some time after the death of Colonel Monson, when the whole power of the Board had devolved to Mr. Hastings and Mr. Barwell. When they sent, what they call their positive orders, in March 1778, they had long been apprized of the death of Colonel Monson, and must have been perfectly certain of the effect, which that event would have on the subsequent measures >, and proceedings of the Governour-General and Council. Their opinion of the principles of those gentlemen appears in their letter of the 28th of November 1777, wherein they say, they cannot " but express their concern, that the power of “ granting away their property in perpetuity should “ have devolved upon such persons.'
But the conduct of the Court of Directors appears to be open to objections of a nature still more serious and important. A recovery of the amount of Mr. Barwell's profits seems to be the only purpose, which they even professed to have in view. But Your Committee are of.opinion, that to preserve the reputation and dignity of the Government of Bengal was a much more important object, and ought to have been their first consideration The prosecution was not the pursuit of mean and subordinate
persons, who might, with safety to the publick interest, remain in their seats during such an inquiry into their conduct. It appears very
doubtful, whether, if there were grounds for such a prosecution, a proceeding in Great Britain were not more politick than one in Bengal. Such a pro secution ought not to have been ordered by the Directors, but upon grounds, that would have fully authorized the recall of the gentleman in question. This prosecution, supposing it to have been seriously undertaken, and to have succeeded, must have tended to weaken the Government, and to degrade it in the eyes of all India. On the other hand, to intrust a man, armed as he was with all the powers of his station, and indeed of the Go
vernment, with the conduct of a prosecution against • himself, was altogether inconsistent and absurd.
The same letter, in which they give these orders, exhibits an example, which sets the inconsistency of their conduct in a stronger light, because the case is somewhat of a similar nature, but infinitely less pressing in its circumstances. Observing that the Board of Trade had commenced a prosecution against Mr. William Barton, a member of that Board, for various acts of peculation committed by him, they say, “we must be of opinion, that, as “prosecutions are actually carrying on against " him by our Board of Trade, he is, during such
prosecution at least, an improper person to hold
a seat at that Board; and therefore we direct « that he be suspended from the Company's ser« vice until our further pleasure concerning him be
“ known." -The principle laid down in this instruc-
It is possible, that particular persons, in high judicial and political situations, may, by force of an unusual strain of virtue, be placed far above the influence of those circumstances, which in ordinary cases are known to make an impression on the human mind. But Your Committee, sensible that laws and publick proceedings ought to be made for general situations, and not for personal dispositions, are not inclined to have any confidence in the effect of criminal proceedings, where no means are