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“ further protection, it is our pleasure that
you afford those ladies an asylum within the “ Company's territories, and these be paid the
amount of the net collections of their jaghires
agreeably to the second article of the late “ treaty, through the medium of our Resident,
be ascertained upon an average esti“ mate of some years back."
You see, my Lords, the Directors had received every one of his false impressions. They had conceived an idea, that after the rebellion of Cheit Sing (but not before upon his own shewing) the Begums had shewn a disposition to arm. They here assume a false fact, which Mr. Hastings stated in his representation of the business to them. They assume a variety of other false facts,--they assume, that the amount of the jaghires of the Begums were to be paid them in regular pensions, whereas they were totally confiscated without any compensation at all. And yet upon Mr. Hastings's own shewing, they found the transaction to be so dishonourable to the British government, that they desire him to make inquiry into it, and give redress accordingly.
Here then is another order of the Company another call upon Mr. Hastings to examine to the bottom of this affair. The Directors, after Vol. XVI.
giving him credit for that enormous mass of falsehoods which we have proved him to have stated in his 'narrative, found themselves so utterly dissatisfied, that they gave this conditional order to restore the Begums to their jaghires. Your Lordships will find it in evidence upon your Minutes, that he contumaciously disobeyed this order; that he would not consent to the propositions of the Council for inquiring into the conduct of these injured women; but stified every attempt that was made by others to do them justice. And yet he here has the effrontery to propose that your Lordships should inquire into the business at your bar ; that you should investigate a matter here, which he refused to inquire into on the spot, though expressly ordered by his masters so to do.
I will now read to your Lordships a short 'extract from his own narrative of his own proceedings. It begins with reciting part of a note entered by Mr. Macpherson in the Consultations of the Council, at the time when the orders of the Court of Directors, which I have just alluded to, were taken into consideration: What the " Court of Directors seem to have most at heart
áre, first, That the engagement of the second "article of the Benares Treaty should be faith“ fully fulfilled ; and secondly, to guard against
“ the future misconduct of the Vizier; if he
should be disposed to oppress the Begums : :66 That we should therefore ascertain whether “ the amount of the jaghires of the Begums is ;" regularly paid to them through the Company's “ Resident; and give them notice, that no 6 future demands shall be made upon them. «« .This the Governour General might, I think, -“ do in a letter, that would make the Begums ;" sensible of their past misconduct, yet inform “ them of the lenity and gracious intentions of “ the Company, in ordering them an asylum in “ Bengal, in case of future distress.”
In consequence of the foregoing opinion from Mr. Macpherson, the following Minute was delivered by the Governour General:
“ I should gladly acquiesce in the motion made by Mr. Macpherson, if I thought it possible
to frame a letter to the Begums, in any terms “ which should at the same time convey the .intimation proposed by it, and not defeat the purpose
of it, or be productive of evils greater "than
which exist in consequence of the .“ proceedings which have already taken place, 1" and which time has almost obliterated; the «« orders of the Court of Directors are con.“ ditional, they require nothing; but in the :“ event of discoveries made subsequent to the
“advices which were before you on the 14th “ February last, in alleviation of the former “ conduct of the Begums, nothing has since
appeared in relation to them but their refusal,
or rather that of one to fulfil her engagements " for the payment of the remainder of the sum
exacted from her by the Nabob Vizier, in the beginning of last year. Whatever obedience
may be due to the clear and ascertained spirit " of the orders of the Court of Directors, this
obligation cannot extend to points of which “ neither the letter nor evident spirit of their « orders apply. If I am rightly informed, the “ Nabob Vizier and the Begums are on terms '" of mutual good will ; it would ill become this “ government to interpose its influence by any " act which might tend to revive their animo“ sities, and a very slight occasion would be “ sufficient to effect it; it will be to little pur“ pose to tell them that their conduct has, in
our estimation of it, been very wrong; and “ at the same time to announce to them the “ orders of our superiors, which more than
indicate the reverse; they will instantly. take i fire on such a declaration, proclaim the judg. ".« ment of the Company in their favour, demand
a reparation of the acts, which they will '“ construe wrongs; with such a sentence war“. ranting that construction, and either accept
“ the invitation to the proclaimed scandal of “ the Vizier, which will not add to the credit of
our government, or remain in his dominions, “ but not under his authority, to add to his “ vexations and the disorders of the country, by “ continued intrigues and seditions; enough “ already exists to affect his peace, and the " quiet of his people; if we cannot heal, let
us not inflame the wounds which have been " inflicted:
“ If the Begums think themselves aggrieved “ to such a degree as to justify them in an appeal “ to foreign jurisdiction ; to appeal to it against “a man standing in the relation of son and
grandson to them; to appeal to the justice of " those who have been the abettors and instru“ ments of their imputed wrongs; let us at.
least permit them to be the judges of their
own feelings, and prefer their complaints, “ before we offer to redress them; they will “ not need to be prompted:
“ I hope I shall not depart from the simplicity of official language, in saying, that the “ majesty of justice ought to be approached “ with solicitation, not descend to provoke or “. invite it, much less to debase itself by: the
suggestion of wrongs and the promise of re“ dress, with the denunciation of punishment “ before trial, and even before accusation."