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Sing, together with his naib Prawn Kishin Sing, his son, and all his dependants, be removed from their offices, and that the roy royan, rajah Rajebullub, whose duty Gunga Govin Sing virtually is to perform, be reinstated in the exercise of the duties of his department; and that Gunga Govin Sing be ordered to deliver up all official papers of the sircar to the committee of revenue, and the roy royan, and that they be ordered accordingly to take charge of them, and finally settle all accounts.”—This motion was over-ruled, and no final proceeding appears.
My lords, you have heard the proceedings of the court, before which Gunga Govin Sing thought proper to appeal, in consequence of the power and protection of Mr. Hastings being understood to exist after he left India, and authenticated by his last parting deed. Your lordships will judge by that last act of Mr. Hastings, what the rest of his whole life was.
-My lords, I do not mean now to go further, than just to remind your lordships of this, that Mr. Hastings's government was one whole system of oppression, of robbery of individuals, of destruction of the publick, and of supersession of the whole system of the English government, in order to vest in the worst of the natives all the powers, that could possibly exist in any government; in order to defeat the ends, which all governments ought in common to have in view. Thus, my lords, 1 show you, at one point of view, what you are to expect from him in all the rest. I have, I think, inade out as clear as can be to your lordships, so far as it was necessary to go, that his bribery and peculation was not occasional, but habitual ; that it was not urged upon him at the moment, but was regular and systematick. I have shown to your lordships the operation of such a system on the revenues.
My lords, Mr. Hastings pleads one constant merit to justify those acts; namely, that they produce an increase of the publick revenue ; and accordingly he never sells to any of those wicked agents any trusts whatever in the country, that you do not hear, that it will considerably tend to the increase of the revenue.—Your lordships will see, when he sold to wicked men the province of Bahar in the same way, in
which Debi Sing had this province of Dinagepore, that consequences of a horrid and atrocious nature (though not to so great an extent) followed from it. I will just beg leave to state to your lordships, that the kingdom of Bahar is annexed to the kingdom of Bengal ; that this kingdom was governed by another provincial council; that he turned out that provincial council, and sold that government to two wicked men,-one of no fortune at all, and the other of a very suspicious fortune ; one a total bankrupt, the other justly excommunicated for his wickedness in his country, and then in prison for misdemeanours in a subordinate situation of government.
Mr. Hastings destroyed the council, that imprisoned him ; and, instead of putting one of the best and most reputable of the natives to govern it, he takes out of prison this excommunicated wretch, bated by God and man,--this bankrupt, this man of evil and desperate character, this mismanager of the publick revenue in an inferiour station : and, as he had given Bengal to Gunga Govin Sing, he gave this province to rajahs Kelleram, and Cullian Sing.
It was done upon this principle, that they would increase, and very much better, the revenue. These men seemed to be as strange instruments for improving a revenue as ever were chosen, I suppose, since the world began. Perhaps their merit was giving a bribe of 40,000l. to Mr. Hastings, How he disposed of it, I don't know. He says, I disposed of it to the publick, and it was in a case of emergency. You will see in the course of this business the falsehood of that pretence ; for you will see, though the obligation is given for it as a round sum of moncy, that the payment was not accomplished till a year after ; that therefore it could not answer any immediate exigence of the company. Did it answer in an increase of the revenue ?-The very reverse. Those persons, who had given this bribe of 40,0001. at the end of that year were found 80,0001. in debt to the company.
The company always loses, when Mr. Hastings takes a bribe ; and, when he proposes an increase of the revenue, the company loses often double. But I hope, and trust, your lordships will consider this idea of a monstrous rise of rent,
given by men of desperate fortunes and characters, to be one of the grievances instead of one of the advantages of this system
It has been necessary to lay these facts before you (and I have stated them to your lordships far short of their reality, partly through my infirmity, and partly on account of the odiousness of the task of going through things, that disgrace human nature) that you may be enabled fully to enter into the dreadful consequences, which attend a system of bribery and corruption in a governour-general. On a transient view, bribery is rather a subject of disgust than horrour ; the sordid practice of a venal, mean and abject mind; and the effect of the crime seems to end with the act. It looks to be no more than the corrupt transfer of property from one person to another; at worst a theft. But it will appear in a very different light, when you regard the consideration, for which the bribe is given ; namely, that a governour-general, claiming an arbitrary power in himself, for that consideration delivers up the properties, the liberties, and the lives of an whole people to the arbitrary discretion of any wicked and rapacious person, who will be sure to make good from their blood the purchase he has paid for his power over them. It is possible, that a man may pay a bribe merely to redeem himself from some evil. It is bad however to live under a power, whose violence has no restraint except in its avarice. But no man ever paid a bribe for a power to charge and tax others, but with a view to oppress them. No man ever paid a bribe for the handling of the publick money, but to peculate from it. When once such offices become thus privately and corruptly venal, the very worst men will be chosen (as Mr. Hastings has in fact constantly chosen the very worst,) because none but those, who do not scruple the use of any means, are capable, consistently with profit, to discharge at once the rigid demands of a severe publick revenue, and the private bribes of a rapacious chief magistrate. Not only the worst men will be thus chosen, but they will be restrained by no dread whatsoever in the execution of their worst oppressions. Their protection is sure. thority, that is to restrain, to controul, to punish them, is
previously engaged ; he has his retaining fee for the support of their crimes. Mr. Hastings never dared, because he could not, arrest oppression in its course, without drying up the source of his own corrupt emolument.
Mr. Hastings never dared, after the fact, to punish extortion in others, because he could not, without risking the discovery of bribery in himself. The same corruption, the same oppression, and the same impunity will reign through all the subordinate gradations.
A fair revenue may be collected without the aid of wicked, violent, and unjust instruments. But, when once the line of just and legal demand is transgressed, such instruments are of absolute necessity; and they comport themselves accordingly. When we know, that men must be well paid (and they ought to be well paid) for the performance of honourable duty, can we think, that men will be found to commit wicked, rapacious, and oppressive acts with fidelity and disinterestedness, for the sole emolument of dishonest employers ? No; they must have their full share of the prey, and the greater share as they are the nearer and more necessary instruments of the general extortion. We must not therefore flatter ourselves, when Mr. Hastings takes 40,000l. in bribes for Dinagepore and its annexed provinces, that from the people nothing more than 40,0001. is extorted. I speak within compass, four times forty must be levied on the people; and these violent sales, fraudulent purchases, confiscations, inhuman and unutterable tortures, imprisonment, irons, whips, fines, general despair, general insurrection, the massacre of the officers of revenue by the people, the massacre of the people by the soldiery, and the total waste and destruction of the finest provinces in India, are things of course ; and all a necessary consequence involved in the very substance of Mr. Hastings's bribery.
I, therefore, charge Mr. Hastings with having destroyed, for private purposes, the whole system of government by the six provincial councils, which he had no right to destroy.
I charge him with having delegated to others that power, which the act of parliament had directed him to preserve unalienably in himself. vol. VII.
I charge him with having formed a committee to be mere instruments and tools, at the enormous expense of 62,0001. per annum.
I charge him with having appointed a person their dewan, to whom these Englishmen were to be subservient tools; whose name, to his own knowledge, was by the general voice of India, by the general recorded voice of the company, by recorded official transactions, by every thing, that can make a man known, abhorred, and detested, stamped with infamy; and with giving him the whole power, which he had thus separated from the council-general, and from the provincial councils.
I charge him with taking bribes of Gunga Govin Sing.
I charge him with not having done that bribe-service, which fidelity even in iniquity requires at the hands of the worst of men.
I charge him with having robbed those people, of whom he took the bribes.
I charge him with having fraudulently alienated the fortunes of widows.
I charge him with having, without right, title, or purchase, taken the lands of orphans, and given them to wicked persons under him.
I charge him with having removed the natural guardians of a minor rajah, and with having given that trust to a stranger, Debi Sing, whose wickedness was known to himself and all the world ; and by whom the rajah, his family, and dependants were cruelly oppressed.
I charge him with having committed to the management of Debi Sing three great provinces; and thereby, with having wasted the country, ruined the landed interest, cruelly harassed the peasants, burnt their houses, seized their crops, tortured and degraded their persons, and destroyed the honour of the whole female race of that country.
In the name of the Commons of England, I charge all this villany upon Warren Hastings, in this last moment of my application to you.
My lords, what is it, that we want here to a great act of national justice? Do we want a cause, my lords ? You