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the Committee of Revenue at Fort William, of the 14th May, 1772, and afterwards relinquishing that security without satisfaction made to the Company, was highly improper, and has been attended with considerable loss to the Company”; and that in the whole of this transaction the said Warren Hastings has been guilty of gross collusion with his servant, and manifest breach of trust to his employers.
That, whereas it was acknowledged by the said Warren Hastings, that the country, in the years 1770 and 1771, had suffered great depopulation and decay, and that the collections of those years, having been violently kept up to their former standard, had added to the distress of the country, the settlement of the revenues made by him for five years, commencing the 1st May, 1772, instead of offering any abatement or relief to the inhabitants who had survived the famine, held out to the East India Company a promise of great increase of revenue, to be exacted from the country by the means hereinbefore described. That this settlement was not realized, but fell considerably short, even in the first of the five years, when the demand was the lightest; and that on the whole of the five years the real collections fell short of the settlement to the enormous amount of two millions and a half sterling, and upwards. That such a settlement, if it had been or could have been rigorously exacted from a country already so distressed, and from a population so impaired, that, in the belief of the said Warren Hastings, it was impossible such loss could be recruited in four or five years, would have been in fact, what it appeared to be in form, an act of the most cruel and tyrannical oppression ; but that the real use made of that unjust demand upon the natives of Bengal was,
to oblige them to compound privately with the persons who formed the settlement, and who threatened to enforce it. That the enormous balances and remissions on that settlement arose from a general collusion between the farmers and collectors, and from a general peculation and embezzlement of the revenues, by which the East India Company was grossly imposed on, in the first instance, by a promised increase of rev, enue, and defrauded, in the second, not only by the failure of that increase, but by the revenues falling short of what they were in the two years preceding the said settlement to a great amount. That the said Warren Hastings, being then at the head of the gove
nent of Bengal, was a party to all the said imposition, fraud, peculation, and embezzlement, and is principally and specially answerable for the same; and that, whereas sundry proofs of the said peculation and embezzlement were brought before the Court of Directors, the said Directors in a letter dated the 4th of March, 1778, and signed by William Devaynes and Nathaniel Smith, Esquires, now Chairman and Deputy-Chairman of the said Court, and members of this House) did declare, that,“ although it was rather their wish to prevent future evils than to enter into a severe retrospection of past abuses, yet, as in some of the cases then before them they conceived there had been flagrant corruption, and in others great oppressions committed on the native inhabitants, they thought it unjust to suffer the delinquents to pass wholly unpunished, and therefore they directed the GovernorGeneral and Council forth with to commence a prosecution against the persons who coinposed the Committee of Circuit, and their representatives, and against all other proper parties”; but that the prosecutions so
ordered by the Court of Directors in the year 1778 have never been brought to trial; and that the said Warren Hastings did, on the 23d of December, 1783, propose and carry it in Council, that orders should be given for withdrawing the said prosecutions, — declaring, that he was clearly of opinion that there was no ground to maintain them, and that they would only be productive of expense to the Company and unmerited vexation to the parties.
That the said Warren Hastings has on sundry occasions declared his deliberate opinion generally against all innovations, and particularly in the col. lection and management of the revenues of Bengal: that “he was well aware of the expense and inconvenience which ever attends innovations of all kinds, on their first institution ;*-- that innovations are always attended with difficulties and inconveniences, and innovations in the revenue with a suspension of the collections ; t - that the continual variations in the mode of collecting the revenue, and the continual usurpation on the rights of the people, have fixed in the minds of the ryots a rooted distrust of the ordinances of government.” \ That the Court of Directors have repeatedly declared their apprehensions " that a sudden transition from one mode to another, in the investigation and collection of their revenue, might have alarmed the inhabitants, lessened their confidence in the Company's proceedings, and been attended with other evils.” $ * 30 November, 1772. † 24th October, 1774. | 226 April, 1775,
5th February, 1777; 4th July, 1777.
That the said Warren Hastings, immediately after his appointment to the government of Fort William, in April, 1772, did abolish the office of Naib Dewan, or native collector of the revenues, then existing; that he did at the same time appoint a committee of the board to go on a circuit through the provinces, and to form a settlement of the revenues for five years; that he did then appoint sundry of the Company's servants to have the management of the collections, viz., one in each district, under the title of Collector; that he did then abolish the General Board of Revenue or Council at Moorshedabad, for the following reasons: “That, while the controlling and executive part of the revenue and the correspondence with the collectors was carried on by a council at Moorshedabad, the members of the administration at Calcutta had no opportunity of acquiring that thorough and comprehensive knowledge which could only result from practical experience ; that the orders of the Court of Directors, which established a new system, which enjoined many new regulations and inquiries, could not properly be delegated to a subordinate council, and it became absolutely necessary that the business of the revenue should be conducted under the immediate observation and direction of the board.” That in November, 1773, the said Warren Hastings abolished the office of Collector, and transferred the collection and management of the revenues to several councils of revenue, commonly called Provincial Councils. That on the 24th of October, 1774, the said Warren Hastings earnestly offered his advice (to the Governor-General and Council, then newly appointed by act of Parliament) for the continuation of the said
* 30 November, 1772.
system of Provincial Councils in all its parts. That the said Warren Hastings did, on the 22d of April, 1775, transmit to the Directors a formal plan for the future settlement of the revenues, and did therein declare, that, “ with respect to the mode of managing the collection of the revenue and the administration of justice, none occurred to him so good as the system which was already established of Provincial Councils.” That on the 18th of January, 1776, the said Warren Hastings did transmit to the Court of Directors a plan for the better administration of justice, that in this plan the establishment of the said Provincial Councils was specially provided for and confirmed, and that Warren Hastings did recommend it to the Directors to obtain the sanction of Parliament for a confirmation of the said plan. That on the 30th of April, 1776, the said Warren Hastings did transmit to the Court of Directors the draft or scheme of an act of Parliament for the better administration of justice in the provinces, in which the said establishment of Provincial Councils is again specially included, and special jurisdiction assigned to the said Councils. That the Court of Directors, in a letter dated 5th of February, 1777, did give the following instruction to the Governor-General and Council, a majority of whom, viz., Sir John Clavering, Colonel Monson, and Mr. Francis, had disapproved of the plan of Provincial Councils : “If you are fully convinced that the establishment of Provincial Councils has not answered nor is not capable of answering the purposes intended by such institutions, we hereby direct you to form a new plan for the collection of the revenues, and to transmit the same to us for our consideration.” — That the said Warren Hastings, in contradiction to his own