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Here, my lords, I must beg you to recollect Mr. Hastings's proceeding with Gunga Govin Sing ; and to contrast his conduct towards these two peculators with his proceeding towards Durbedgy Sing. Such a comparison will let your lordships into the secret of one of the prisoner's motives of conduct upon such occasions. When you will find a man pillaging and desolating a country, in the manner Jagger Deo Sing is described by Mr. Hastings to have done, but who takes care to secure to himself the spoil, you will likewise find that such a man is safe, secure, unpunished. Your lordships will recollect the desolation of Dinagepore. You will recollect that the rapacious Gunga Govin Sing, (the coadjutor of Mr. Hastings in peculation,) out of £80,000, which he had received on the company's account, retained £40,000 for his own use; and that instead of being turned out of his employment, and treated with rigor and cruelty, he was elevated in Mr. Hastings's grace and favor, and never called upon for the restoration of a penny. Observe, my lords, the difference in his treatment of men who have wealth to purchase impunity, or who have secrets to reveal, and of another who has no such merit, and is poor and insolvent.
We have shown your lordships the effects of Mr. Hastings's government upon the country and its inhabitants; and although I have before suggested to you some of its effects upon the army of the company, I will now call your attention to a few other observations on that subject. Your lordships will, in the first place, be pleased to attend to the character which he gives of this army. You have heard what he tells you of the state of the country in which it was stationed, and of the terror which it struck into the inhabitants. The appearance of an English soldier was enough to strike the country people with affright and dismay. They, every where, he tells you, fled before them, and yet they are the officers of this very army, who are brought here as witnesses to express the general satisfaction of the people of India. To be sure a man who never calls Englishmen to an
account for any robbery or injury whatever ; who acquits them, upon their good intentions, without any inquiry, will in return for this indemnity have their good words. not surprised to find them coming with emulation to your bar, to declare him possessed of all virtues; and that no body has or can have a right to complain of him. But we, my lords, protest against these indemnities. We protest against their good words. We protest against their testimonials ; and we insist upon your lordships trying him, not upon what this or that officer says of his good conduct, but upon the proved result of the actions tried before you. Without ascribing, perhaps, much guilt to men who must naturally wish to favor the person who covers their excesses,—who suffers their fortunes to be made, you will know what value to set upon their testimony. The Commons look on those testimonies with the greatest slight, and they consider as nothing all evidence given by persons, who are interested in the very cause ; persons who derive their fortunes from the ruin of the very people of the country, and who have divided the spoils with the man whom we accuse. Undoubtedly these officers will give him their good word. Undoubtedly the residents will give him their good word. Mr. Markham and Mr. Benn, and Mr. Fowke, if he had been called ; every servant of the company, except some few, will give him the same good word, every one of them ; because, my lords, they have made their fortunes under him, and their conduct has not been inquired into
But to return to the observations we were making upon the ruinous effects, in general, of the successive governments which had been established at Benares, by the prisoner at your bar. These effects, he would have you believe, arose from the want of a constitution. Why, I again ask, did he destroy the constitution, which he found established there, or suffer it to be destroyed ? But he had actually authorized Mr. Markham to make a new, a regular, an official constitution. Did Mr. Markham make it ? No; though he professed
to do it, it never was done ; and so far from there being any regular, able, efficient constitution, you see there was an absolute and complete anarchy in the country. The native inhabitants, deprived of their ancient government, were so far from looking up to their new masters for protection, that the moment they saw the face of a soldier or of a British person in authority they fled in dismay, and thought it more eligible to abandon their houses to robbery, than to remain exposed to the tyranny of a British governor. Is this what they call British dominion ? Will you sanction, by your judicial authority, transactions done in direct defiance of your legislative authority? Are they so injuriously mad as to suppose your lordships can be corrupted to betray in your judicial capacity, (the most sacred of the two,) what you have ordained in your legislative character ?
My lords, I am next to remind you, what this man has had the insolence and audacity to state at your bar. " In fact," says he, “I can adduce very many gentlemen now in London, to confirm my assertions, that the countries of Benares and Gauzepore, were never, within the memory of Englishmen, so well protected, so peaceably governed, or more industriously cultivated than at the present moment.”
Your lordships know, that this report of Mr. Hastings, which has been read, was made in the year 1784. Your lordships know, that no step was taken, while Mr. Hastings remained in India, for the regulation and management of the country. If there was, let it be shown. There was no constitution framed, nor any other means taken for the settlement of the country, except the appointment of Ajit Sing in the room of Durbedgy Sing, to reign like him, and like him to be turned out. Mr. Hastings left India, in February, 1785, he arrived here, as I believe, in June, or July following: Our proceedings against him commenced in the sessions of 1786, and this defence was given, I believe, in the year 1787. Yet, at that time, when he could hardly have received any account from India, he was ready he says to produce the
evidence (and no doubt might have done so) of many gentlemen, whose depositions would have directly contradicted what he had himself deposed of the state in which he, so short a time before, had left the country. Your lordships cannot suppose that it could have recovered its prosperity within that time. We know you may destroy that in a day which will take up years to build. We know a tyrant can in a moment ruin and oppress, but you cannot restore the dead to life : you cannot in a moment restore fields to cultivation : you cannot, as you please, make the people, in a moment, restore old or dig new wells; and yet Mr. Hastings dared to say to the Commons that he would produce persons to refute the account which we had fresh from himself. We will, however, undertake to show you, that the direct contrary was the fact.
I will first refer you to Mr. Barlow's account of the state of trade. Your lordships will there find a full exposure of the total falsehood of the prisonor's assertions. You will find that Mr. Hastings himself had been obliged to give orders for the change of almost every one of the regulations he had made ; your lordships may there see the madness and folly of tyranny attempting to regulate trade. In the printed minutes, page 2830, your lordships will see how completely Mr. Hastings had ruined the trade of the country. You will find, that, wherever he pretended to redress the grievances which he had occasioned, he did not take care to have any one part of his pretended redress executed. When you consider the anarchy in which he states the country through which he passed to have been, you may easily conceive, that regulations for the protection of trade, without the means of enforcing them, must be nugatory.
Mr. Barlow was sent, in the years 1786 and 1787, to examine into the state of the country. He has stated the effect of all those regulations, which Mr. Hastings has had the assurance to represent here as prodigies of wisdom. At the very time when our charge was brought to this House, (it is
a remarkable period, and we desire your lordships to advert to it,) at that time—I do not know whether it was not on the very same day that we brought our charge to your bar, Mr. Duncan was sent by Lord Cornwallis to examine into the state of that province. Now, my lords, you have Mr. Duncan's report before you, and you will judge whether or not, by any regulation which Mr. Hastings had made, or whether, through any means used by him, that country had recovered, or was recovering. Your lordships will there find other proofs of the audacious falsehood of his representation, that all which he had done had operated on the minds of the inhabitants very greatly in favor of British integrity and good government. Mr. Duncan's report will not only enable you to decide upon what he has said himself; it will likewise enable you to judge of the credit which is due to the gentlemen now in London, whom he can produce to confirm his assertions, that the country of Benares and Gauze pore were never, within the memory of Englishmen, so well protected and cultivated as at the present moment.
Instead, therefore, of a speech from me, you shall hear what the country says itself, by the report of the last commissioner who was sent to examine it by Lord Cornwallis. The perfect credibility of his testimony, Mr. Hastings has established out of Lord Cornwallis's mouth; who, being asked the character of Mr. Jonathan Duncan, has declared, that there is nothing he can report of the state of the country, to which you ought not to give credit. Your lordships will now see how deep the wounds are which tyranny and arbitrary power must make in a country where their existence is suffered ; and you will be pleased to observe, that this statement was made at a time when Mr. Hastings was amusing us with his account of Benares.