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ciple to be established respecting these bribes, is this-Whether, or not, a Governour General, paying a visit to any of the poor miserable de pendent creatures, called Sovereign Princes in that country, (men whom Mr. Hastings has himself declared to be nothing but phantoms, and that they had no one attribute of sovereignty about them,) whether, I say, he can consider them to be such sovereign princes, as to justify his taking from them great sums of money by way of a present. The Nabob, in fact, was not a sovereign prince, nor a country power
any sense, but that which the Company meant to exempt from the custom of making presents. It was their design to prevent: their servants from availing themselves of the real dependence of the nominal native powers, to extort money from them under the pretence of their sovereignty. Such presents, so far from being voluntary, were in reality obtained from their weakness, their hopeless and unprotected condition ; and you are to decide, whether or not, this custom, which is insisted upon by the Prisoner's counsel, with great triumph, to be a thing which he could not evade, without breaking through all the usages of the country, and violating principles established by the most clear law. of India, is to be admitted as his justification: It was on this very account, namely, the ex
tortion suffered by these people, under the name or pretence of presents, that the Company first bound their servants by a covenant, which your Lordships shall now hear read :--" That they .“ shall not take any grant of lands, or rents, “ or revenues issuing out of lands, or any terri" torial possession, jurisdiction, dominion, power “ or authority whatsoever, from any of the
Indian Princes, Subahs or Nabobs, or any of " their ministers, servants or agents, for any “ service or services, or upon any account or " pretence whatsoever, without the licence. or « consent of the Court of Directors."
This clause in the covenant had doubtless, 'a regard to Lord Clive, and to Sir Hector Munro, and to some others, who had received gifts, and grants of jaghires and other territorial revenues, that were confirmed by the Company ; but though this confirmation might be justifiable at a time when we had no real sovereignty in the country, yet the Company very wisely provided afterwards, that under no pretence whatever, should their servants have the means of extorting from the sovereigns, or pretended sovereigns of the country, any of their lands or possessions. Afterwards it appeared that there existed abuses of a similar nature, and particularly (as was proved before us in the year 1773, and reported to our House, upon the
evidence of Mahomed Reza Khan,) the practice of frequently visiting the princes, and of extorting, under pretence of such visits, great sums of money. All their servants, and the Governour General particularly, were therefore obliged to enter into the following covenant:“ That they shall not, directly or indirectly, aca cept, take or receive, or agree to accept, take or " receive, any gift, reward, gratuity, allowance, “ donation or compensation, in money, effects, jewels or otherwise howsoever, from
of tha “ Indian Princes, Sovereigns, Subahs or Nabobs,
or any of their ministers, servants or agents, ! exceeding the value of 4,000 rupees, for any “'service or services performed by them in “ India, or upon any other account or pretence 56 whatsoever."
By this covenant, my Lord, Mr. Hastings is forbidden to accept, upon any pretence, aud under any name whatsoever, any sum above 4,000 rupees; that is to say, any sum above four hundred pounds. Now, the sum that was here received, is 18,000l. sterling, by way of a present, under the name of an allowance for an entertainment, which is the precise thing which his covenant was made to prevent. The covenant suffered him to receive 4001. if he received more than that money, he became a
criminal; he had broken his covenant, and for feited the obligation he had made with his masters. Think with yourselves, my Lords, what you will do, if you acquit the Prisoner of this charges You will avow the validity, you will sanction-the principle of his defence ; for as the fact is avowed, there is an end of that.
Good God, My Lords! Where are we? If they conceal their gifts and presents, they are safe by their concealment; if they avow them, they are still safer. They plead the customs of the country, or rather the customs which we have introduced into the country ; customs which have been declared to have their foundation in a system of the most abominable corruption, the most flagitious extortion, the most dreadful oppression; those very customs which their covenant is made to abolish.
Think where your Lordships are. You have before you a covenant, declaring, that he should take under no name' whatever (I do not know how words could be selected in the English language more expressive,) any sum more than 4001. He
I have taken 18,000 l. ; he makes his counsel de- clare, and he desires your Lordships to confirm their declaration, that he is not only justifiable in so doing, but that he ought to do so ;. that he ought to break his covenant, and act in direct contradiction to it. He does not even pretend to
say, that this money was intended, either inwardly or outwardly, avowedly or covertly, for the Company's service. He put absolutely into his own pocket 18,000 l. besides his salary.
Consider, my Lords, the consequences of this species of iniquity. If any servant of the Company, high in station, chooses to make a visit from Calcutta to Morshedabad; which Morshedabad was then the residence of our principal revenue government; if he should choose to take an airing for his health ; if he has a fancy to make a little voyage for pleasure as far as Morshedabad, in one of those handsome barges or budgerows, of which you have heard so much in his charge against Nundcomar, he can put 20,000 l. into his pocket any day he pleases, in defiance of all our Acts of Parliament, covenants, and regulations.
Do you make your laws, do you make your covenants for the very purpose of their being evaded ? Is this the purpose for which a British tribunal sits here, to furnish a subject for an epigram, or a tale for the laughter of the world? - Believe me, niy Lords, the world is not to be thus trifled with. But, my Lords, you will never trifle with your duty. You have a gross, horrid piece of corruption before you ; impudently confessed, and more impudently defended. But you will not suffer Mr. Hastings to say, I have