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E.ctract of the Proceedings of the Resident at Benares,
under date the 27th February, at the Purgunnah Sekunderpoor.
“The Resident meant to have proceeded from this place to Cossimabad; but understanding that the village of Ressenda, the capital of the purgunnah of Susknesser, is situated at three coss' distance, and that many rahdarry collections are there exacted, the zemindars and ryots being, it seems, all one body of Rajpoots, who affect to hold themselves in some sort independent of the Rajah's government, paying only a mokurrery, or fixed jumma, (which it may be supposed is not overrated,) and managing their interior concerns as they think fit, the Resident thought it proper on this report to deviate a little from his intended route, by proceeding this day to Ressenda, where he accordingly arrived in the afternoon; and the remaining part of the country near the road through Sekunderpoor, from Nuggurha to Seundah, appearing nearly equally waste with the former part, as already noticed in the proceedings of the 26th instant.
“ The Rajah is therefore desired to appoint a person to bring those waste lands into cultivation, in like manner as he has done in Khereed, with this difference or addition in his instructions, — that he subjoin in those to the Aband Kar, or manager, of the re-cultivation of Sekunderpoor, the rates at which he is authorized to grant pottahs for the various kinds of land ; and it is recommended to him to make these rates even somewhat lower than he may himself think strictly conformable to justice, reporting the particulars to the Resident.
“ The Rajah is also desired to prepare and transmit a table of similar rates to the Aband Kar of purgunnah Khereed.
(Signed) “JON DUNCAN, Resident. BENARES, the 12th September, 1788."
Here your Lordships find, in spite of Mr. Hastings himself, in spite of all the testimonies which he has called, and of all the other testimonies which he would have called, that his own account of the matter is confirmed against his own pretended evidence; you find his own written account confirmed in a manner not to be doubted: and the only difference between his account and this is, that the people did not fly from Mr. Duncan, when he approached, as they fled from Mr. Hastings. They did not feel any of that terror at the approach of a person from the beneficent government of Lord Cornwallis with which they had been entirely filled at the appearance of the prisoner at your bar. From him they fled in dismay. They fled from his very presence, as from a consuming pestilence, as from something far worse than drought and famine; they fled from him as a cruel, corrupt, and arbitrary governor, which is worse than any other evil that ever afflicted mankind.
You see, my Lords, in what manner the country has been wasted and destroyed; and you have seen, by the date of these measures, that they have happened within a few years, namely, since the expulsion of Rajah Cheyt Sing. There begins the era of calamity. Ask yourselves, then, whether you will or can countenance the acts which led directly and necessarily to such consequences. Your Lordships will mark what it is to oppress and expel a cherished individual from his government, and finally to subvert it. Nothing stands after him; down go all order and authority with him; ruin and desolation fall upon the country; the fields are uncultivated, the wells are dried up. The people, says Mr. Duncan, promised, indeed, some time or other, under some other government, to do something. They will again cultivate the lands, when they can get an as. surance of security. My Lords, judge, I pray you, whether the House of Commons, when they had read the account which Mr. Hastings has himself given of the dreadful consequences of his proceedings, when they had read the account given by Mr. Duncan of an uncultivated country as far as the eye could reach, would not have shown themselves unworthy to represent not only the Commons of Great Britain, but the meanest village in it, if they had not brought this great criminal before you, and called upon your Lordships to punish him. This ruined country, its desolate fields and its undone inhabitants, all call aloud for British justice, all call for vengeance upon the head of this execrable criminal.
Oh! but we ought to be tender towards his personal character, - extremely cautious in our speech; we ought not to let indignation loose. - My Lords, , we do let our indignation loose; we cannot bear with patience this affliction of mankind. We will neither abate our energy, relax in our feelings, nor in the expressions which those feelings dictate. Nothing but corruption like his own could enable any man to see such a scene of desolation and ruin unmoved. We feel pity for the works of God and man; we feel horror for the debasement of human nature; and feeling thus, we give a loose to our indignation, and call upon your Lordships for justice.
Strange as it may appear to your Lordships, there remains to be stated an aggravation of his crimes, and of his victims' misery. Would you consider it possible, my Lords, that there could be an aggravation of such a case as you have heard ? think it possible for a people to suffer more than the inhabitants of Benares have suffered, from the noble possessor of the splendid mansion down to the miserable tenants of the cottage and the hut? Yes, there is a state of misery, a state of degradation, far below all that you have yet heard. It is, my Lords, that these miserable people should come to your Lordships' bar, and declare that they have never felt one of those grievances of which they complain; that not one of those petitions with which they pursued Mr. Hastings had a word of truth in it; that they felt nothing under his government but ease, tranquillity, joy, and happiness; that every day during his government was a festival, and every night an illumination and rejoicing. The addresses which contain these expressions of satisfaction have been produced at your bar, and have been read to your Lordships. You must have heard with disgust, at least, these flowers of Oriental rhetoric, penned at ease by dirty hireling moonshees at Calcutta, who make these people put their seals, not to declarations of their ruin, but to expressions of their satisfaction. You have heard what he himself says of the country; you have heard what Mr. Duncan says of it; you have heard the cries of the country itself calling for justice upon him: and now, my Lords, hear what he has made these people say. “We have heard that the gentlemen in England are displeased with Mr. Hastings, on suspicion that he oppressed us, the inhabitants of this place, took our money by deceit and force, and ruined the country.” They then declare solemnly before God, according to their different religions, that Mr. Hastings “ distributed protection and security to religion, and kindness and peace to all. He is free,” say they, “ from the charge of embezzlement and fraud, and his heart is void of covetousness and avidity. During the period of his government no one ever experienced from him other than protection and justice, never having felt hardships from him; nor did the poor ever know the weight of an oppressive hand from him. Our characters and reputation have been always guarded in quiet from attack, by the vigilance of his prudence and foresight, and by the terror of his justice."
Upon my word, my Lords, the paragraphs are delightful. Observe, in this translation from the Persian there is all the fluency of an English paragraph well preserved. All I can say is, that these people of Benares feel their joy, comfort, and satisfaction in swearing to the falseness of Mr. Hastings's representation against himself. In spite oi his own testimony, they say, "He secured happiness and joy to us; he reëstablished the foundation of justice; and we at all times, during his government, lived in comfort and passed our days in peace.” The shame of England and of the English government is here put upon your Lordships' records. Here you have, just following that afflicting report of Mr. Duncan's, and that account of Mr. Hastings himself, in which he said the inhabitants fled before his face, the addresses of these miserable people. He dares to impose upon your eyesight, upon your common sense, upon the plain faculties of mankind. He dares, in contra