Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

diction to all his own assertions, to make these people come forward and swear that they have enjoyed nothing but complete satisfaction and pleas-. ure during the whole time of his government.

My Lords, I have done with this business, for I have now reached the climax of degradation and suffering, after moving step by step through the several stages of tyranny and oppression. I have done with it, and have only to ask, In what country do we live, where such a scene can by any possibility be offered to the public eye?

Let us here, my Lords, make a pause. — You have seen what Benares was under its native government. You have seen the condition in which it was left by Cheyt Sing, and you have seen the state in which Mr. Hastings left it. The rankling wounds which he has inflicted upon the country, and the degradation to which the inhabitants have been subjected, have been shown to your Lordships. You have now to consider whether or not you will fortify with your sanction any of the detestable principles upon which the prisoner justifies his enormities.

My Lords, we shall next come to another dependent province, when I shall illustrate to your Lordships still further the effects of Mr. Hastings's principles. I allude to the province of Oude, - a country which, before our acquaintance with it, was in the same happy and flourishing condition with Benares, and which dates its period of decline and misery from the time of our intermeddling with it. The Nabob of Oude was reduced, as Cheyt Sing was, to be a dependant on the Company, and to be a greater dependant than Cheyt Sing, because it was reserved in Cheyt Sing's agreement that we should not in

terfere in his government. We interfered in every part of the Nabob's government; we reduced his authority to nothing; we introduced a perfect scene of anarchy and confusion into the country, where there was no authority but to rob and destroy.

I have not strength at present to proceed; but I hope I shall soon be enabled to do so. Your Lordships cannot, I am sure, calculate from your own youth and strength; for I have done the best I can, and find myself incapable just at this mo. ment of going any further.

SPEECH

IN

GENERAL REPLY.

FOURTH DAY: THURSDAY, JUNE 5, 1794.

MY

Y LORDS,- When I last had the honor of

addressing your Lordships from this place, my want of strength obliged me to conclude where the patience of a people and the prosperity of a country subjected by solemn treaties to British government had concluded. We have left behind us the inhabitants of Benares, after having seen them driven into rebellion by tyranny and oppression, and their country desolated by our misrule. Your Lordships, I am sure, have had the map of India before you, and know that the country so destroyed and so desolated was about one fifth of the size of England and Wales in geographical extent, and equal in population to about a fourth. Upon this scale you will judge of the mischief which has been done.

My Lords, we are now come to another devoted province: we march from desolation to desolation ; because we follow the steps of Warren Hastings, Esquire, Governor-General of Bengal. You will here find the range of his atrocities widely extended; but before I enter into a detail of them, I have one reflection to make, which I beseech your Lordships to bear in mind throughout the whole of this deliberation. It is this · you ought never to conclude that a man must necessarily be innoxious because he is in other respects insignificant. You will see that a man bred in obscure, vulgar, and ignoble occupations, and trained in sordid, base, and mercenary habits, is not incapable of doing extensive mischief, because he is little, and because his vices are of a mean nature. My Lords, we have shown to you already, and we shall demonstrate to you more clearly in future, that such minds placed in authority can do more mischief to a country, can treat all ranks and distinctions with more pride, insolence, and arrogance, than those who have been born under canopies of state and swaddled in purple : you will see that they can waste a country more effectually than the proudest and most mighty conquerors, who, by the greatness of their military talents, have first subdued and afterwards plundered nations.

The prisoner's counsel have thought proper to entertain your Lordships, and to defend their client, by comparing him with the men who are said to have erected a pyramid of ninety thousand human heads. Now look back, my Lords, to Benares; consider the extent of country laid waste and desolated, and its immense population ; and then see whether famine may not destroy as well as the sword, and whether this man is not as well entitled to erect his pyramid of ninety thousand heads as any terrific tyrant of the East. We follow him now to another theatre, the territories of the Nabob of Oude.

My Lords, Oude, (together with the additions made to it by Sujah Dowlah,) in point of geographical extent, is about the size of England. Sujah Dowlah, who possessed this country as Nabob, was a prince of a haughty character, - ferocious in a high degree to

wards his enemies, and towards all those who resisted his will. He was magnificent in his expenses, yet economical with regard to his resources, - maintaining his court in a pomp and splendor which is perhaps unknown to the sovereigns of Europe. At the same time he was such an economist, that from an inconsiderable revenue, at the beginning of his reign, he was annually enabled to make great savings. He thus preserved, towards the end of it, his people in peace, tranquillity, and order; and though he was an arbitrary prince, he never strained his revenue to such a degree as to lose their affections while he filled his exchequer. Such appears to have been the true character of Sujah Dowlah: your Lordships have heard what is the character which the prisoner at your bar and his counsel have thought proper to give

you of him.

Surely, my Lords, the situation of the great, as well as of the lower ranks in that country, must be a subject of melancholy reflection to every man.. Your Lordships' compassion will, I presume, lead you to feel for the lowest; and I hope that your sympathetic dignity will make you consider in what manner the princes of this country are treated. They have not only been treated at your Lordships' bar with indignity by the prisoner, but his counsel do not leave their ancestors to rest quietly in their graves. They have

. slandered their families, and have gone into scandalous history that has no foundation in facts whatever.

Your Lordships have seen how he attempted to slander the ancestors of Cheyt Sing, to deny that they were zemindars; and yet he must have known from printed books, taken from the Company's records,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »