Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

1

But Mr. Barwell declares, that he declines obedience to any orders, which he shall interpret to be indignities on a Governour-General. To the clear injunctions of the Legislature Mr. Hastings and Mr. Barwell have thought proper to oppose their pretended reputation and dignity; as if the chief honour of publick ministers in every

situation was not to yield a cheerful obedience to the laws of their country. Your Committee, to render evident to this House the general nature and tendency of this pretended dignity, and to illustrate the real principles, upon which they appear to have acted, think it necessary to make observations on three or four of the cases, already reported, of marked disobedience to particular and special orders; on one of which the above extraordinary doctrine was maintained.

These are the cases of Mr. Fowke, Mr. Bristow, and Mahomed Reza Khân. In a few weeks after the death of Colonel Monson, Mr. Hastings having obtained a majority in Council by his casting vote; Mr. Fowke and Mr. Bristow were called from their respective offices of residents at Benares and Oude; places, which have become the scenes of other extraordinary operations under the conduct of Mr: Hastings in person. For the recall of Mr. Bristow no reason was assigned. The reason assigned for the proceeding with regard to Mr. Fowke was, that

[ocr errors]

$the purposes, for which he was appointed, were " then fully accomplished.”

An account of the removal of Mr. Fowke was communicated to the Court of Directors, in a letter of the 22d of December 1776. On this notification, the Court had nothing to conclude, but that Mr. Hastings, from a rigid pursuit of economy

in the management of the Company's affairs, had recalled a useless officer. But without alleging any variation whatsoever in the circumstances, in less than twenty days after the order for the recall of Mr. Fowke, and the very day after the dispatch containing an account of the transaction, Mr. Hastings recommended Mr. Graham to this very office; the end of which, he declared to the Directors but the day before, had been fully accomplished. And not thinking this sufficient, he appointed Mr. D. Barwell as his assistant at a salary of about four hundred pounds a year. Against this extraordinary act General Clavering and Mr. Francis entered a protest.

So early, as the 6th of the following January the appointment of these gentlemen was communicated in a letter to the Court of Directors, without any sort of colour, apology, or explanation. That Court found a servant removed from his station without complaint, contrary to the tenour of one of their standing injunctions. They allow, however, and with reason, that “if it were possible to suppose

that

[ocr errors]

" that a saving, &c. had been his motive, they “ would have approved his proceeding. But that, “.when immediately afterwards two persons, with

two salaries, had been appointed to execute the

office, which had been filled with reputation by “ Mr. Fowke alone, and that Mr. Graham enjoys " all the emoluments annexed to the office of “ Mr. Fowke;"—they properly conclude, that Mr. Fowke was removed without just cause to make, way for Mr. Graham; and strictly enjoin, that the former be reinstated in his office of resident as post-master of Benares. In the same letter they assert their rights in a tone of becoming firmness, and declare, that “ou no account we can permiti “ our orders to be disobeyed, or our authority dis. “regarded."

It was now to be seen, which of the parties was to give way. The orders were clear and precise, and enforced by a strong declaration of the resolution of the Court to make itself obeyed. Mr. Hastings fairly joined issue upon this point with his masters; and having disobeyed the general instructions of the Company, determined to pay no obedience to their special order.

On the 21st July 1778 he moved, and succeeded in his proposition, that the execution of these orders should be suspended. The reason he assigned for this suspension lets in great light upon the true character of all these proceedings," that his consent

to

[ocr errors]

to the recall of Mr. Graham would be adequate to his own resignation of the service, as it would «inflict such a wound on his authority and influence, that he could not maintain it."

If that had been his opinion he ought to have resigned, and not disobeyed; because it was not necessary that he should hold his office; but it was necessary that whilst he held it he should obey his superiours, and submit to the law. Much more truly was his conduct a virtual resignation of his lawful office, and at the same time an usurpation of a situation, which did not belong to him, to hold a subordinate office, and to refuse to act according to its duties. Had his authority been self-originated it would have been wounded by his submission; but in this case the true nature of his authority was affirmed, not injured, by his obedience, because it was a power derived from others, and, by its essence, to be executed according to their directions.

In this determined disobedience he was supported by Mr. Barwell, who on that occasion delivered the dangerous doctrine, to which Your Committee have lately adverted. Mr. Fowke, who had a most material interest in this determination, ap. plied by letter to be informed concerning it. An answer was sent, acquainting him coldly, and without any reason assigned, of what had been resolved relative to his office. This communication was soon followed by another letter from Mr. Fowke, with

great

VOL. XI.

great submission and remarkable decency, asserting
his right to his office under the authority of the
Court of Directors; and for solid reasons, grounded
on the Company's express orders, praying to be
informed of the charge against him. This letter
appears to have been received by Mr. Hastings and
Mr. Barwell very loftily. Mr. Hastings said, " that
< such applications were irregular ; that they are
* not accountable to Mr. Fowke for their resolution
“ respecting him. The reasons for suspending the
« execution of the orders of the Court of Diree-
« tors contain no charge, nor the slightest imputo
* tion of a charge, against Mr. Fowke; but I see

no reason why the Board should condescend to tell
" him 50.Accordingly, the proposition of Mr.
Francis and Mr. Wheler, to inform Mr. Fowke
" that they had no reason to be dissatisfied with
* his conduct,” on the previous question, was re-
jected.

By this resolution Mr. Hastings and Mr. Barwell discovered another principle, and no less dangerdus than the first; namely, that persons deriving * valuable interest under the Company's orders, so far from being heard in favour of their right, are not so much as to be informed of the grounds, 'on which they are deprived of it.

The arrival soon after of Sir Eyre Coote giving another opportunity of trial, the question for obedience to the Company's orders was again *brought

1st and

1779.

1

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »