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wonder if the merchants of foreign countries are discouraged from resorting to Benares, and if the commerce of that province should annually decay.
“Other evils or imputed evils have accidentally come to my knowledge, which I will not now particularize, as I hope that, with the assistance of the resident, they may be in part corrected; one, however, I must mention, because it has been verified by my own observation, and is of that kind which reflects an unmerited reproach on our general and national character. When I was at Buxar, the resident at my desire enjoined the naib to appoint creditable people to every town through which our route lay, to persuade and encourage the inhabitants to remain in their houses, promising to give them guards as I approached, and they required it for their protection; and that he might perceive how earnest I was for his observance of this precaution, (which I am certain was faithfully delivered,) I repeated it to him in person, and dismissed him, that he might precede me for that purpose; but to my great disappointment, I found every place through which I passed abandoned ; nor had there been a man left in any of them for their protection. I am sorry to add, that from Buxar to the opposite boundary, I have seen nothing but the traces of complete devastation in every village, whether caused by the followers of the troops, which have lately passed, for their natural relief, and I know not whether my own may not have had their share, or from the apprehension of the inhabitants left to themselves, and of themselves deserting their houses. I wish to acquit my own countrymen of the blame of these unfavorable appearances ; and in my own heart I do acquit them: for at one encampment, near a large village called Derrara, in the pergunnah of Zemaneea, a crowd of people came to me, complaining that their former aumil, who was a native of the place, and had long been established in authority over them, and whose custom it had been, whenever any troops passed, 'to remain in person on the spot, for their protection, having been re
moved, the new aumil, on the approach of any military detachment, himself first fed from the place, and the inhabitants, having no one to whom they could apply for redress, or for the representation of their grievances, and being thus remediless, fled also; so that their houses and effects became a prey to any person who chose to plunder them. The general conclusion appeared to me an inevitable consequence from such a state of facts, and my own senses bore testimony to it in this specific instance; nor do I know how it is possible for any officer commanding a military party, how attentive soever he may be to the discipline and forbearance of his people, to prevent disorders, when there is neither opposition to hinder, nor evidence to deter them. These, and many other irregularities, I impute solely to the naib; and I think it my duty to recommend his instant removal. I would myself have dismissed him, had the control of this province come within the line of my powers, and have established such regulations and checks, as would have been most likely to prevent the like irregularities. I have said checks, because, unless there is some visible influence, and a powerful and able one impended over the head of the manager, no system can avail. The next appointed may prove, from some defect, as unfit for the office as the present ; for the choice is limited to few, without experience to guide it. The first was of my own nomination; his merits and qualifications stood in equal balance with my knowledge of those who might have been the candidates for the office : but he was the father of the rajah, and the affinity sunk the scale wholly in his favor ; for who could be so fit to be entrusted with the charge of his son's interest, and the new credit of the rising family? He deceived my expectations. Another was recommended by the resident, and at my instance the board appointed him. This was Jagger Deo Sing, the present naib. I knew him not, and the other members of the board as little.
While Mr. Markham remained in office, of whom, as his
immediate patron, he may have stood in awe, I am told that he restrained his natural disposition, which has been described to me as rapacious, unfeeling, haughty, and to an extreme, vindictive. I cannot avoid remarking, that, excepting the city of Benares itself, the province depending upon it is in effect, without a government, the naib exercising only a dependant jurisdiction without a principal. The rajah is without authority, and even his name disused in the official instruments issued or taken by the manager. The representation of his situation shall be the subject of another letter ; I have made this already too long, and shall confine it to the single subject for the communication of which it was begun. This permit me to recapitulate. The administration of the province is misconducted, and the people oppressed ; trade discouraged, and the revenue, though said to be exceeded in the actual collections by many lacks, (for I have a minute account of it, which states the net amount, including jaghires, as something more than fifty-one lacks,) in danger of a rapid decline, from the violent appropriation of its means; the naib or manager is unfit for his office ; a new manager is required, and a system of official control, in a word, a constitution ; for neither can the board extend its superintending powers to a district so remote from its observation, nor has it delegated that authority to the resident, who is merely the representative of government, and the receiver of its revenue in the last process of it; nor indeed would it be possible to render him wholly so, for reasons which I may hereafter detail."
My lords, you have now heard,—not from the managers, —not from records of office,—not from witnesses at your bar-but from the prisoner himself, the state of the country of Benares, from the time that Mr. Hastings and his delegated residents had taken the management of it. My lords, it is a proof, beyond all other proof, of the melancholy state of the country, in which, by attempting to exercise usurped and arbitrary power, all power and all authority become extinguished, complete anarchy takes place, and nothing of
government appears but the means of robbing and ravaging, with an utter indisposition to take one step for the protection of the people.
Think, my lords, what a triumphal progress it was for a British governor, from one extremity of the province to the other, (for so he has stated it,) to be pursued by the cries of an oppressed and ruined people, where they dared to appear before him ; and when they did not dare to appear, flying from every place ; even the very magistrates being the first to fly! Think, my lords, that when these unhappy people saw the appearance of a British soldier, they fled as from a pestilence; and then think, that these were the people who labored in the manner which you have just heard ; who dug their own wells; whose country would not produce any thing but from the indefatigable industry of its inhabitants; and that such a meritorious, such an industrious people, should be subjected to such a cursed anarchy, under pretence of revenue; to such a cursed 1yranny, under the pretence of government!
But Jagger Deo Sing was unfit for his office.-How dared you to appoint a man unfit for his office ?-0, it signified little, without their having a constitution.- Why did you destroy the official constitution that existed before ? How dared you to destroy those establishments which enabled the people to dig wells and to cultivate the country like a garden, and then to leave the whole in the hands of your arbitrary and wicked residents, and their instruments, chosen without the least idea of government, and without the least idea of protection ? God has sometimes converted wickedness into madness; and it is to the credit of human reason, that men who are not in some degree mad, are never capable of being in the highest degree wicked. The human faculties and reason are in such cases deranged ; and, therefore, this man has been dragged by the just vengeance of providence to make his own madness the discoverer of his own wicked, perfidious, and cursed machinations, in that devoted country.
Think, my lords, of what he says respecting the military. He says, there is no restraining them, that they pillage the country wherever they go. But had not Mr. Hastings him-' self just before encouraged the military to pillage the country? Did he not make the people's resistance, when the soldiers attempted to pillage them, one of the crimes of Cheit Sing? And who would dare to obstruct the military in their abominable ravages, when they knew that one of the articles of Cheit Sing's impeachment was his having suffered the people of the country, when plundered by these wicked soldiers, to return injury for injury, and blow for blow? When they saw, I say, that these were the things for which Cheit Sing was sacrificed, there was manifestly nothing left for them but flight. What ! fly from a governor-general ? You would expect he was bearing to the country, upon his balmy and healing wings, the cure of all its disorders and of all its distress. No; they knew him too well; they knew him to be the destroyer of the country; they knew him to be the destroyer of their sovereign, the destroyer of the persons whom he had appointed to govern under him ; they knew that neither governor, sub-governor, nor subject, could enjoy a moment's security while he possessed supreme power. This was the state of the country; and this the Commons of England call upon your lordships to avenge.
Let us now see what is next done by the prisoner at your bar. He is satisfied with simply removing from his office Jagger Deo Sing, who is accused by him of all these corruptions and oppressions; the other poor unfortunate man, who was not even accused of malversations in such a degree, and against whom not one of the accusations of oppression was regularly proved ; but who had, in Mr. Hastings's eye, the one unpardonable fault of not having been made richer by his crimes, was twice imprisoned, and finally perished in prison. But we have never heard one word of the imprisonment of Jagger Deo Sing, who, I believe, after some mock inquiry, was acquitted.