« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Things continued in this state, till the time of the letter from Cheltenham : the Cheltenham letter declared, that Mr. Hastings knew nothing of the matter : that he had brought with him no accounts, to England, upon the subject ; and though it appears by this very letter, that he had with bim at Cheltenham (if he wrote the letter at Cheltenham) a great deal of his other correspondence : that he had his letter of the 22d of May with him, yet any account, that could elucidate that letter, he declared that he had not : but he hinted, that a Mr. Larkins in India, whom your lordships will be better acquainted with, was perfectly apprized of all that transaction. Your lordships will observe, that Mr. Hastings has all his faculties, some way or other, in deposit ; one person can speak to his motives ; another knows his fortune better than himself; to others he commits the sentimental parts of his defence ; to Mr. Larkins he commits his memory We shall see what a trustee of memory Mr. Larkins is, and how far he answers the purpose, which might be expected when appealed to by a man, who has no memory himself, or who has left it on the other side of the water ; and who leaves it to another to explain for him accounts, which he ought to have kept himself, and circumstances, which ought to be deposited in his own memory.
This Cheltenham letter, I believe, originally became known, as far as I can recollect, to the House of Commons, upon a motion of Mr. Hastings's own agent: I do not like to be positive upon that point; but, I think, that was the first appearance of it. It appeared likewise in publick ; for, it was thought so extraordinary and laborions a performance, by the writer, or his friends, as indeed it is ; that it might serve to open a new source of eloquence in the kingdom; and, consequently, was printed, I believe, at the desire of the parties themselves. But however it became known, it raised an extreme curiosity in the publick to hear, when Mr. Hastings could say nothing, after so many years, of his own concerns and his own affairs, what satisfaction Mr. Larkins, at last, would give concerning them. This letter was directed to Mr. Devaynes, chairman of the court of directors. It does not appear, that the court of directors
wrote any thing to India in consequence of it, or that they directed this satisfactory account of the business should be given them ; but some private communications passed between Mr. Hastings, or his agents, and Mr. Larkins. There was a general expectation upon this occasion, I believe, in the House of Commons, and in the nation at large, to know what would become of the portentous inquiry. Mr. Hastings has always contrived to have half the globe between question and answer ; when he was in India, the question went to him, and then he adjourned his answer till he came to England ; and, when he came to England, it was necessary his answer should arrive from India ; so that there is no manner of doubt, that all time was given for digesting, comparing, collating and making up a perfect memory upon the occasion. But, my lords, Mr. Larkins, who has in custody Mr. Hastings's memory, no small part of his conseience, and all his accounts, did, at last, in compliance with Mr. Hastings's desire, think proper to send an account. at last, we may expect light. Where are we to look for accounts but from an accountant-general ? where are they to be met with, unless from him ? and, accordingly, in that night of perplexity, into which Mr. Hastings's correspondence had plunged them, men looked up to the dawning of the day, which was to follow that star; the little Lucifer, which, with his lamp, was to dispel the shades of night, and give us some sort of light into this dark mysterious transaction. At last, the little lamp appeared, and was laid on the table of the House of Commons, on the motion of Mr. Hastings's friend ; for we did not know of its arrival. It arrives, with all the intelligence, all the memory, accuracy, and elearness, which Mr. Larkins can furnish for Mr. Hastings, upon a business, that, before, was nothing but mystery and confusion. The account is called, “Copy of the particulars of the dates, on which the component parts of sundry sums included in the account of sums received on the account of the honourable company by the governour-general, or paid to their treasury by his order, and applied to their service, when received for Mr. Hastings, and paid to sub-treasurer.” The letter from Mr. Larkins consisted of two parts ; first,
what was so much wanted, an account ; next, what was wanted most of all to such an account as he sent, a comment and explanation. The account consisted of two members; one gave an account of several detached bribes, that Mr. Hastings had received within the course of about a year and a half; and, the other, of a great bribe, which he had received in one gross sum of 100,000l. from the nabob of Oude. It appeared to us, upon looking into these accounts, that there was some geography, a little bad chronology, but nothing else in the first ; neither the persons, who took the money, nor the persons, from whom it was taken, nor the ends, for which it was given, nor any other circumstances, are mentioned.
The first thing we saw was Dinagepore. I believe you know this piece of geography, that it is one of the provinces of the kingdom of Bengal. We then have a long series of months, with a number of sums added to them ; and, in the end, it is said, that on the 18th and 19th of Assin, meaning part of September and part of October, were paid to Mr. Croftes, two lacks of rupees; and then remains one lack, which was taken from a sum of three lacks six thousand nine hundred and seventy-three rupees.
After we had waited for Mr. Hastings's own account ; after it had been pursued through a series of correspondence in vain ; after his agents had come to England to explain it, this is the explanation, that your lordships have got of this first article, Dinagepore; not the person paid to, not the person paying, are mentioned, nor any other circumstance, except the signature, G. G. S.; this might serve for George Gilbert Sanders, or any other name you please : and seeing Croftes above it, you might imagine it was an Englishman : and this, which I call a geographical and a chronological account, is the only account we have. Mr. Larkins, upon the mere face of the account, sadly disappoints us; and I will venture to say, that in matters of account Bengal bookkeeping is as remote from good book-keeping, as the Bengal painches are remote from all the rules of good composition.
We have however got some light ; namely, that one G.
G. S. has paid some money to Mr. Croftes for some purpose ; but, from whom, we know not, nor where : that there is a place called Dinagepore, and that Mr. Hastings received some money from somebody in Dinagepore.
The next article is Patna. Your lordships are not so ill acquainted with the geography of India, as not to know, that there is such a place as Patna, nor so ill acquainted with the chronology of it, as not to know, that there are three months called, Bysack, Assin, Cheit. Here was paid to Mr. Croftes two lacks of rupees, and there was left a balance of about two more.
But, though you learn, with regard to the province of Dinagepore, that there is a balance to be discharged by G. G. S.; yet, with regard to Patna, we have not even a G. G. S.; we have no sort of light whatever to know through whose hands the money passed, nor any glimpse of light whatever respecting it. You may expect to be made amends in the other province, called Nuddea, where Mr. Hastings had received a considerable sum of money : there is the very same darkness ; not a word from whom received, by whom received, or any other circumstance, but that it was paid into the hands of Mr. Hastings's white banyan, as he was commonly called in that country, into the hands of Mr. Croftes, who is his white agent in receiving bribes ; for be was very far from having but one.
After all this inquiry, after so many severe animadversions from the House of Commons, after all those reiterated letters from the directors, after an application to Mr. Hastings himself, when you are hunting to get at some explanation of the proceedings mentioned in the letter of the month of May 1782, you receive here, by Mr. Larkins's letter, which is dated the 5th of August 1786, this account ; which, to be sure, gives an amazing light into this business : it is a letter, for which it was worth sending to Bengal, worth waiting for with all that anxious expectation, with which men wait for great events. Upon the face of the account there is not one single word, which can tend to illustrate the matter : He sums up the whole, and makes out, that there was received five lacks and 50,000 rupees; that VOL. VII.
is to say, 55,0001. out of the sum of nine lacks and 50,000 engaged to be paid-namely, From Dinagepore
4,00,000 From Nuddea
1,50,000 And from Patna
Now you have got full light ! Cabooleat signifies a contract, or an agreement; and this agreement was to pay Mr. Hastings, as one should think, certain sums of money ; it does not say from whom, but only that such a sum of money was paid, and that there remains such a balance.
When you come and compare the money received by Mr. Croftes with these cabooleats, you find that the cabooleats amount to 95,000l. and that the receipt has been about 55,0001. and that upon the face of this account, there is 40,0001. somewhere or other unaccounted for. There never was such a mode of account keeping, except in the new system of this bribe exchequer.
Your lordships will now see, from this luminous, satisfactory, and clear account, which could come from no other than a great accountant and a great financier, establishing some new system of finance, and recommending it to the world as superiour to those old-fashioned foolish establishments, the exchequer and bank of England, what lights are received from Mr. Hastings.
However, it does so happen, that from these obscure hints we have been able to institute examinations, which have discovered such a mass of fraud, guilt, corruption, and oppression, as probably never before existed since the beginning of the world : and in that darkness, we hope and trust, the diligence and zeal of the House of Commons will find light sufficient to make a full discovery of his base crimes. We hope and trust, that after all his concealments, and, though he appear resolved to die in the last dyke of prevarication, all his artifices will not be able to secure him