Изображения страниц

sequent proceedings of the said Warren Hastings do all concur in proving that such was his intention ; for he did afterwards, in conformity to the advice of the judges, move a resolution in Council,“ that all parties be placed in the same situation in which they stood before the receipt of the last advices from England, reserving and submitting to a decision in England the respective claims that each party may conceive they have a right to make, but not acting upon those claims till such decision shall arrive in Bengal”: thereby clearly and explicitly declaring that it was not his intention to surrender the government until such decision should arrive in Bengal, which could not be expected in less time than a year and a half after the date of the said resolution; and thereby clearly and explicitly declaring that he did not consider his resignation as binding for the present. And the said intention was manifested, if possible, still more directly and expressly in a letter written by the said Warren Hastings to the Court of Directors, dated the 15th of August, 1777, being almost two months after the receipt of the said dispatches, in which the said Warren Hastings declares that “ he did not hold himself bound by the notification made by Mr. Macleane, nor by any of the acts consequent of it.”

That, such appearing to have been the intention of the said Warren Hastings, General Clavering was justified in immediately assuming the government, without waiting for any future act of the said Warren Hastings for the actual surrender of the said government, none such being likely to happen; and Philip Francis, Esquire, was justified in supporting General Clavering in the same on the soundest principles of justice, and on a maxim received in courts of equity,

namely, that no one shall avail himself of his own wrong, - and that, if any one refuse or neglect to perform that which he is bound to do, the rights of others shall not be prejudiced thereby, but such acts shall be deemed and reputed to have been actually performed, and all the consequences shall be enforced which would have followed from such actual performance. And therefore the resolutions moved and voted in Council by the said Warren Hastings, declaring the offices of General Clavering to be vacant, were not only illegal, inasmuch as the said Warren Hastings had no authority to warrant such a declaration, even on the supposition of the acts of General Clavering being contrary to law, but the said resolutions were further highly culpable and criminal, inasmuch as the said acts done by General Clavering, which were made the pretence of that proceeding, were strictly regular and legal.

That the refusal of the said Warren Hastings to ratify the said resignation, and his disavowal of the said Lauchlan Macleane, his agent, is not justified by anything contained in his said letter to the Court of Directors, dated on the 15th of August, 1777,—the said Warren Hastings nowhere directly and positively asserting that the said Lauchlan Macleane was not his agent, and had not both full and general powers, and even particular instructions for this very act, although the said Warren Hastings uses many indirect and circuitous, but insufficient and inapplicable, insinuations to that effect. And the said letter does, on the contrary, contain a clear and express avowal that the said Lauchlan Macleane was his confidential agent, and that in that capacity he acted throughout, and particularly in this special matter,

with zeal and fidelity. And the said letter does further admit in effect the instructions produced by the said Lauchlan Macleane, Esquire, confirmed by Mr. Vansittart and Mr. Stewart, and relied on and confided in by the Court of Directors, by which the said Lauchlan Macleane appeared to be specially empowered to declare the said resignation, the words of the said instruction being as follows: “ That he [Mr. Hastings] will not continue in the government of Bengal, unless certain conditions therein specified can be obtained"; and the words of the said letter being as follows: “ What I myself know with certainty, or can recollect at this distance of time, concerning the powers and instructions which were given to Messieurs Macleane and Graham, when they undertook to be my agents in England, I will circumstantially relate. I am in possession of two papers which were presented to those gentlemen at the time of their departure from Bengal, one of which comprises four short propositions which I required as the conditions of my being confirmed in this government.And although the said Warren Hastings does here artfully somewhat change the words of his written instructions (and which having in his possession he might as easily have given verbatim) to other words which may appear less explicit, yet they are in fact capable of only the same meaning: for, as, at the time of giving the said instructions to his agents, he was in full possession of his office, he could want no confirmation therein except his own; and, in such circumstances, “ to require certain things, as the conditions of his being confirmed in his government,is tantamount to a declaration that he will not continue in his government, unless those conditions can be obtained.And

the said attempt at prevarication can serve its author the less, as either both sentences have one and the same meaning, or, if their meaning be different, the original instructions in his own handwriting, or, in other words, the thing itself, must be preferred as evidence of its contents to a loose statement of its purport, founded, perhaps, on a loose recollection of it at a great distance of time.

That the said refusal of Warren Hastings, Esquire, was a breach of faith with the Court of Directors and his Majesty's ministers in England; as the said resignation was not merely a voluntary offer without any consideration, and therefore subject to be recalled or retracted at the pleasure of the said Warren Hastings, but ought rather to be considered as having been the result of a negotiation carried on between Mr. Macleane for the benefit of Warren Hastings, Esquire, on the one hand, and by the Court of Directors for the interests of the Company on the other : which view of the transaction will appear the more probable, when it is considered that at the time of the said resignation a strict inquiry had been carrying on by the Court of Directors into the conduct of the said Warren Hastings, and the solicitor and counsel to the Company, and other eminent counsel, had given it as their opinions, on cases stated to them, that there were grounds for suing the said Warren Hastings in the courts of law and equity, and that the Company would be entitled to recover in the said suits against Warren Hastings, Esquire, several very large sums of money taken by him in his office of Governor-General, contrary to law, and in breach of his covenants, and of his duty to the Company and the public; and the Court of Directors had also come to

various severe resolutions of censure against the said Warren Hastings, and amongst others to a resolution to recall the said Warren Hastings, and remove him from his office of Governor-General, to answer for sundry great crimes and delinquencies by him com mitted in his said office. And on these accounts it appears probable that the said resignation was tendered and accepted as a consideration for some beneficial concessions made in consequence thereof to the said Warren Hastings in his said dangerous and desperate condition.

And the said refusal was also an act of great disrespect to the Court of Directors and to his Majesty, and, by rendering abortive their said measures, solemnly and deliberately taken, and ratified and confirmed by his Majesty, tended to bring the authority of the Court of Directors and of his Majesty into contempt.

And the said refusal was an injury to General Clavering.

And was also, or might have been, a great injury to Edward Wheler, Esquire.

And was an act of signal treachery to Lauchlan Macleane, Esquire, as also to Mr. Vansittart and Mr. Stewart, whose honors and veracity were thereby brought into question, doubt, and suspicion.

And the said refusal was prejudicial to the affairs of the servants of the Company in India, by shaking the confidence to be placed in their agents by those persons with whom it might be for their interests to negotiate on any matter of importance, and by thus subjecting the communication of persons abroad with those at home to difficulties not known before.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »