« PreviousContinue »
and Call, and should, in return, be secured by I thought fit to determine on the debt of 1777. their bond.
The recorded proceedings at this The debt thus exonerated of so great a weight time knew nothing of any debt to ted to return to of its odium, and otherwise reduced from its Benfield. There was his own testialarming bulk, the agents thought they might mony; there was the testimony of the list; there venture to print a list of the creditors. This was was the testimony of the Nabob of Arcot against done for the first time in the year 1783, during it; yet such was the ministers' feeling of the true che Duke of Portland's administration. In this secret of this transaction, that they thought proplist the name of Benfield was not to be seen. To er, in the teeth of all these testimonies, to give this strong negative testimony was added the him license to return to Madras ! Here the min. farther testimony of the Nabob of Arcot. That isters were under some embarrassment. Conprince (or, rather, Mr. Benfield for him) writes founded between their resolution of rewarding the to the court of Directors a letter full of com- good services of Benfield's friends and associates plaints and accusations against Lord Macartney, in England, and the shame of sending that notoriconveyed in such terms as were natural for one ous incendiary to the court of the Nabob of Arof Mr. Benfield's habits and education to employcot, to renew his intrigues against the British Among the rest, he is made to complain of his government, at the time they authorize his reLordship’s endeavoring to prevent an intercourse turn, they forbid him, under the severest penalof politeness and sentiment between him (the ties, from any conversation with the Nabob or Nabob) and Mr. Benfield; and, to aggravate the his ministers; that is, they forbid his communiaffront, he expressly declares Mr. Benfield's vis-cation with the very person on account of his its to be only on account of respect and of grat- dealings with whom they permit his return to itude, as no pecuniary transactions subsisted be- that city! To overtop this contradiction, there tween them!
is not a word restraining him from the freest inSuch, for a considerable space of time, was the tercourse with the Nabob's second son, the real Suit of Benfield outward form of the loan of 1777, in author of all that is done in the Nabob's name, the rhystery to which Mr. Benfield had no sort of who, in conjunction with this very Benfield, has
concern. At length intelligence ar- acquired an absolute dominion over that unhappy rived at Madras that this debt, which had always man, is able to persuade him to put his signature been renounced by the court of Directors, was to whatever paper they please, and often without rather like to become the subject of something any communication of the contents. This manmore like a criminal inquiry than of any patron- agement was detailed to them at full length by age or sanction from Parliament. Every ship Lord Macartney, and they can not pretend ignobrought accounts, one stronger than the other, rance of it. of the prevalence of the determined enemies of I believe, after this exposure of facts, no man the Indian system. The public revenues be- can entertain a doubt of the collusion This proves came an object desperate to the hopes of Mr. of ministers with the corrupt interest tercourse be Benfield; he therefore resolved to fall upon his of the delinquents in India. When-ween the associates, and, in violation of that faith which ever those in authority provide for the Benfield. subsists among those who have abandoned all interest of any person, on the real but concealed other, commences a suit in the Mayor's Court state of his affairs, without regard to his avowed, against Taylor, Majendie, and Call for the bond public, and ostensible pretenses, it must be pregiven to him, when he agreed to disappear for sumed that they are in confederacy with him, his own benefit as well as that of the common because they act for him on the same fraudulent concern. The assignees of his debt, who little principles on which he acts for himself. It is expected the springing of this mine even from plain that the ministers were fully apprised of such an engineer as Mr. Benfield, after recov- Benfield's real situation, which he had used ering their first alarm, thought it best to take means to conceal while concealment answered ground on the real state of the transaction. his purposes. They were, or the person on They divulged the whole mystery, and were whom they relied was, of the cabinet council of prepared to plead that they had never received Benfield, in the very depth of all his mysteries. from Mr. Benfield any other consideration for An honest magistrate compels men to abide by the bond than a transfer, in trust for himself, of one story. An equitable judge would not hear his demand on the Nabob of Arcot. A univers of the claim of a man who had himself thought al indignation arose against the perfidy of Mr. proper to renounce it. With such a judge his Benfield's proceedings. The event of the suit shuffling and prevarication would have damned was looked upon as so certain, that Benfield was his claims ; such a judge never would have compelled to retreat as precipitately as he had known, but in order to animadvert upon, proadvanced boldly; he gave up his bond, and was ceedings of that character. reinstated in his original demand, to wait the for- I have thus laid before you, Mr. Speaker, I tune of other claimants. At that time, and at think with sufficient clearness, the connection of Madras, this hope was dull indeed; but at home the ministers with Mr. Atkinson at the general another scene was preparing.
election; I have laid open to you the connection It was long before any public account of this of Atkinson with Benfield; I have shown Bendiscovery at Madras had arrived in England that field's employment of his wealth, in creating a the present minister and his Board of Control parliamentary interest, to procure a ministerial
the whole as to the motives
Hence the op
charged with acting from
protection; I have set before your eyes his that they have only formed an alliance with them large concern in the debt, his practices to hide for screening each other from justice, according that concern from the public eye, and the lib- to the exigence of their several necessities. That eral protection which he has received from the they have done so is evident; and the junction of minister. If this chain of circumstances do not the power of office in England with the abuse of lead you necessarily to conclude that the minis-authority in the East has not only prevented even Inference from ter has paid to the avariçe of Ben- the appearance of redress to the grievances of
field the services done by Benfield's India, but I wish it may not be found to have the payment of connections to his ambition, I do not dulled, if not extinguished, the honor, the candor, Arcot's debts. know any thing short of the confes- the generosity, the good nature, which used forsion of the party that can satisfy you of his guilt. merly to characterize the people of England. I Clandestine and collusive practice can only be confess I wish that some more feeling than I traced by combination and comparison of cir- have yet observed for the sufferings of our felcumstances. To reject such combination and low-creatures and sellow-subjects in that opcomparison is to reject the only means of de- pressed part of the world had manisested itself tecting fraud; it is, indeed, to give it a patent in any one quarter of the kingdom, or in any and free license to cheat with impunity. one large description of men.
I confine myself to the connection of ministers, That these oppressions exist is a fact no more mediately or immediately, with only two persons denied, than it is resented as it ought concerned in this debt. How many others, who to be. Much evil has been done in pressions of the support their power and greatness within and India under the British authority. looked and the without doors, are concerned originally, or by What has been done to redress it? transfers of these debts, must be left to general We are no longer surprised at any thing. We opinion. I refer to the reports of the select com- are above the unlearned and vulgar passion of mittee for the proceedings of some of the agents admiration. But it will astonish posterity when in these affairs, and their attempts, at least, to they read our opinions in our actions, that, after furnish ministers with the means of buying Gen- years of inquiry, we have found out that the sole eral Courts, and even whole Parliaments, in the grievance of India consisted in this, that the gross.
servants of the Company there had not profited I know that the ministers will think it little enough of their opportunities, nor drained it sufMinisters not less than acquittal, that they are not ficiently of its treasures; when they shall bear
charged with having taken to them that the very first and only important act of a Liceumur eine selves some part of the money of which commission, specially named by act of Parlialove of power. they have made so liberal a donation ment, is to charge upon an undone country, in to their partisans, though the charge may be in favor of a handful of men in the humblest ranks disputably fixed upon the corruption of their pol of the public service, the enormous sum of peritics. For my part, I follow their crimes to that haps four millions of sterling money! point to which legal presumptions and natural in- It is difficult for the most wise and upright dications lead me, without considering what spe- government to correct the abuses of remote delcies of evil motive tends most to aggravate or to egated power, productive of unmeasured wealth, extenuate the guilt of their conduct; but if I am and protected by the boldness and strength of to speak my private sentiments, I think that in a the same ill-got riches. These abuses, full of thousand cases for one it would be far less mis- their own wild native vigor, will grow and flourchievous to the public, and full as little dishon- ish under mere neglect. But where the supreme orable to themselves, to be polluted with direct authority, not content with winking at the rabribery, than thus to become a standing auxiliary pacity of its inferior instruments, is so shameless to the oppression, usury, and peculation of mul- and corrupt, as openly to give bounties and pretitudes, in order to obtain a corrupt support to miums for disobedience to its laws; when it will
It is by bribing, not so often by not trust to the activity of avarice in the pursuit being bribed, that wicked politicians bring ruin of its own gains; when it secures public robbery on mankind. Avarice is a rival to the pursuits by all the careful jealousy and attention with of many. It finds a multitude of checks, and which it ought to protect property from such many opposers, in every walk of life. But the violence; the commonwealth then is become toobjects of ambition are for the few; and every tally perverted from its purposes ; neither God person who aims at indirect profit, and therefore nor man will long endure it; nor will it long wants other protection than innocence and law, endure itself. In that case, there is an unnat. instead of its rival, becomes its instrument. ural infection, a pestilential taint fermenting in There is a natural allegiance and fealty due to the constitution of society, which sever and conthis domineering, paramount evil, from all the vulsions of some kind or other must throw off; vassal vices, which acknowledge its superiority, or in which the vital powers, worsted in an unand readily militate under its banners; and it is under that discipline alone that avarice is able 48 Nil admirari prope res est una, Numici, to spread, to any considerable extent, or to ren- Sola qua possit facere et servare beatum. der itself a general public mischief. It is, there
Horace, Epist. vi. fore, no apology for ministers that they have not Not to admire is all the art I know, been bought by the East India delinquents, but To make men happy, and to keep them so.
The concerns of
equal struggle, are pushed back upon them- While discovery of the misgovernment of othselves, and, by a reversal of their whole func- ers led to his own power, it was wise to inquire; tions, fester to gangrene—to death ; and instead it was safe to publish; there was then no deliof what was but just now the delight and boast cacy; there was then no danger. But when of the creation, there will be cast out in the face his object is obtained, and in his imitation he has of the sun a bloated, putrid, noisome carcass, full outdone the crimes that he had reprobated in of stench and poison, an offense, a horror, a les volumes of reports, and in sheets of bills of pains son to the world.
and penalties, then concealment becomes pruIn my opinion, we ought not to wait for the dence, and it concerns the safety of the state that fruitless instruction of calamity to inquire into we should not know, in a mode of parliamentary the abuses which bring upon us ruin in the worst cognizance, what all the world knows but too of its forms, in the loss of our fame and virtue. well; that is, in what manner he chooses to disMr. Dundas
But the right honorable gentleman pose of the public revenues to the CREATURES Pretense that (Mr. Dundas) says, in answer to all of his politics. toro delicate to the powerful arguments of my honor- The debate has been long, and as much so
able friend (Mr. Fox], " that this inqui- on my part, at least, as on the part Peroration: ry is of a delicate nature, and that the state will of those who have spoken before me. suffer detriment by the exposure of this transac. But long as it is, the more material perplexed or retion.” But it is exposed. It is perfectly known half of the subject has hardly been er cease to in in every member, in every particle, and in every touched on; that is, the corrupt and and safety of the way, except that which may lead to a remedy. destructive system to which this debt empire. He knows that the papers of correspondence are has been rendered subservient, and which seems printed, and that they are in every hand. to be pursued with at least as much vigor and
He and delicacy are a rare and singular coa- regularity as ever. If I considered your ease or lition. He thinks that to divulge our Indian poli- my own, rather than the weight and importance tics may be highly dangerous. He! the mov- of this question, I ought to make some apology er! the chairman! the reporter of the Commit- to you, perhaps some apology to myself, for hav. tee of Secrecy! he that brought forth in the ut- ing detained your attention so long. I know on most detail, in several vast, printed folios, the what ground I tread. This subject, at one time most recondite parts of the politics, the military, taken up with so much fervor and zeal, is no the revenues of the British empire in India! longer a favorite in this House. The House itWith six great chopping bastards (Reports of sell has undergone a great and signal revolution. the Committee of Secrecy), each as lusty as an To some the subject is strange and uncouth; to infant Hercules, this delicate creature blushes at several harsh and distasteful; to the relics of the the sight of his new bridegroom, assumes a vir- last Parliament it is a matter of fear and appregin delicacy; or, to use a more fit, as well as a hension. It is natural for those who have seen more poetic comparison, the person so squeam- their friends sink in the tornado which raged ish, so timid, so trembling, lest the winds of during the late shift of the monsoon, and have heaven should visit too roughly, is expanded to hardly escaped on the planks of the general broad sunshine, exposed like the sow of imperial wreck, it is but too natural for them, as soon as augury, lying in the mud with all the prodigies they make the rocks and quicksands of their of her fertility about her, as evidence of her deli- former disasters, to put about their new-built cate amours :
barks, and, as much as possible, to keep aloof Triginta capitum fætus enixa jacebit,
from this perilous lee-shore. Alba, solo recubans, albi circum ubera nati.49 But let us do what we please to put India
from our thoughts, we can do nothing to sepa49 Mr. Burke bere accommodates to his purpose a
rate it from our public interest and our national passage of Virgil's Æneid, book iii., p. 391, in which the prophet Helenus gives a sign to Æneas indica- reputation. Our attempts to banish this importutive of the spot where he should build a city, and nate duty will only make it return upon us again cease from his labors.
and again, and every time in a shape more unCum tibi solicito secretò ad fluminis andam,
pleasant than the former. A government has Littoreis ingens inventa sub ilicibus sus
been fabricated for that great province; the right Trigenta capitum fælus enira jacebit, honorable gentleman says, that therefore you Alba, solo recubans, albi circum ubera nati; ought not to examine into its conduct. Heavens !
Is locus urbis erit, requies ea certa laborum. what an argument is this! We are not to exDryden has rendered the lines somewhat loosely, amine into the conduct of the direction, because in the following manner:
it is an old government; we are not to examine When in the shady shelter of a wood,
into this Board of Control, because it is a new And near the margin of a gentle flood, Thou shalt behold a sow upon the ground,
one; then we are only to examine into the con
duct of those who have no conduct to account With thirty sucking young encompass'd round, The dam and offspring white as fallen snow,
for. Unfortunately, the basis of this new govThese on thy city shall their name bestow,
ernment has been laid on old, condemned delinAnd there shall end thy labor and thy woe. quents, and its superstructure is raised out of
No one will dispate the ingenuity of Mr. Barke scription of the Queen of France, could ever have in turning these lines to his purpose ; but it will be soiled his pages with such a passage as the one a wonder to most men, that he, who wrote the de- above.
prosecutors turned into protectors. The event ough inquiry. A Board of Commissioners was aphas been such as might be expected. But if pointed to examine into these new claims. After it had been otherwise constituted; had it been an investigation of many years, only £1,346,796 constituted even as I wished, and as the mover were allowed as good, thus showing that less than of this question had planned, the better part of one part in twenty of all these claims could be the proposed establishment was in the publicity regarded as true and lawful debts. It is the of its proceedings ; in its perpetual responsibility opinion of well-informed men that the claims of to Parliament. Without this check, what is our Benfield and his associates, if fairly investigated, government at home; even awed, as every Eu. would have been reduced in very near the same ropean government is, by an audience formed of proportion. the other states of Europe, by the applause or But has Mr. Burke made out his case as to the condemnation of the discerning and critical com- motives of Mr. Pitt? Has he proved that these pany before which it acts ? But if the scene claims were allowed without inquiry, as a "recon the other side of the globe, which tempts, in- ompense” to Benfield and the other creditors for vites, almost compels to tyranny and rapine, be their parliamentary influence? This question not inspected with the eye of a severe and unre- will be differently answered by different persons, mitting vigilance, shame and destruction must according to their estimate of Mr. Pitt's characFor one, the worst event of this day, ter. Mill
, in his British India, speaking of Mr. though it may deject, shall not break or subdue Burke's charge, says, “In support of it, he ad
The call upon us is authoritative. Let duces as great a body of proof as it is almost who will shrink back, I shall be found at my ever possible to bring to a fact of such a depost. Baffled, discountenanced, subdued, discred- scription." He goes on to examine Mr. Dunited, as the cause of justice and humanity is, it das' defense, that the Nabob and others were al. will be only the dearer to me. Whoever, there- lowed “to object” to these claims, and adds, fore, shall at any time bring before you any “That this was a blind is abundantly clear, thing toward the relief of our distressed fellow- though it is possible that it stood as much becitizens in India, and toward a subversion of the tween his own eyes and the light, as he was present most corrupt and oppressive system for desirous of putting it between the light and its government, in me shall find a weak, I am eyes of other people.” There was also another afraid, but a steady, earnest, and faithful assistant." blind," mentioned by Wraxall, viz., that these
claims had, to some extent, changed hands, and The motion for inquiry was voted down. Mr. that the innocent would suffer with the guilty, Pitt was now at the height of his popularity, and if any of them were disallowed. It is easy to had an overwhelming majority at his command, see how strongly Mr. Pitt was tempted, at this ready to sustain him in all his measures. The critical moment of his life, to attach undue imconsequences were very serious to the finances portance to such considerations. It was imposof the country. Many years were necessarily sible to go back and lay bare all the frauds and occupied in paying so large a debt. In 1814 crimes of the English residents in India. To Mr. Hume publicly stated that, according to the prevent them hereafter was the great object. best information he could obtain, the amount paid Once firmly seated in power, he was resolved (interest included) was nearly five millions of to do it; and when he was brought off in tripounds; nor was this all. Mr. Hume adds, umph at the polls through the agency (to a con“the knowledge of the fact that Mr. Dundas siderable extent) of men like Benfield, in conhad in that manner admitted, without any kind nection with the immense East India interest of inquiry, the whole claims of the Consolidated throughout the country, it was natural for him Debt of 1777, served as a strong inducement to to feel that he must not be too scrupulous in reothers to get from the Nabob obligations or bonds spect to the past, but must rather aim in future of any description, in hopes that some future good- at the prevention of all such evils. It is thus natured president of the Board of Control would that the errors of political men spring from mindo the same for them. We accordingly find that gled motives; and while we can not doubt that an enormous debt of near thirty millions sterling Mr. Pitt was more or less influenced in this was very soon formed after that act of Mr. Dun- case, as in that of Mr. Hastings' impeachment, das, and urgent applications were soon again by his “avarice of power," we should be slow made to have the claims paid in the same man- to admit that his conduct implies that dereliction ner." It now became necessary to make a thor- of principle imputed to him by Mr. Burke.
EXTRACTS PERORATION OF THE OPENING SPEECH AT THE
My Lords, what is it that we want here to a Trial OF WARREN HASTINGS.
great act of national justice? Do we want a
cause, my Lords? You have the cause of opIn the name of the Commons of England, I pressed princes, of undone women of the first charge all this villainy upon Warren Hastings, rank, of desolated provinces, and of wasted kingin this last moment of my application to you.
Do you want a criminal, my Lords ? When Church in its ancient form, in its ancient ordiwas there so much iniquity ever laid to the nances, purified from the superstitions and the charge of any one ? No, my Lords, you must vices which a long succession of ages will bring not look to punish any other such delinquent upon the best institutions. You have the reprefrom India. Warren Hastings has not left sub- sentatives of that religion which says that their stance enough in India to nourish such another God is love, that the very vital spirit of their indelinquent.
stitution is charity—a religion which so much My Lords, is it a prosecutor you want? You hates oppression, that when the God whom we have before you the Commons of Great Britain adore appeared in human form, he did not appear as prosecutors; and I believe, my Lords, that in a form of greatness and majesty, but in symthe sun, in his beneficent progress round the pathy with the lowest of the people, and thereby world, does not behold a more glorious sight made it a firm and ruling principle that their than that of men, separated from a remote peo- welfare was the object of all government, since ple by the material bounds and barriers of na- the person, who was the Master of Nature, chose ture, united by the bond of a social and moral to appear himself in a subordinate situation. community-all the Commons of England re- These are the considerations which influence senting, as their own, the indignities and cruel them, which animate them, and will animate ties that are offered to all the people of India. them, against all oppression ; knowing that He
Do we want a tribunal? My Lords, no ex- who is called first among them, and first among ample of antiquity, nothing in the modern world, us all, both of the flock that is fed and of those nothing in the range of human imagination, can who feed it, made himself" the servant of all." supply us with a tribunal like this. My Lords, My Lords, these are the securities which we here we see virtually, in the mind's eye, that sa- have in all the constituent parts of the body of cred majesty of the Crown, under whose author- this House. We know them, we reckon, we ity you sit, and whose power you exercise. We rest upon them, and commit safely the interests see in that invisible authority, what we all feel of India and of humanity into your hands. Therein reality and life, the beneficent powers and pro- fore, it is with confidence, that, ordered by the tecting justice of his Majesty. We have here the Commons, heir-apparent to the Crown, such as the fond wish- I impeach Warren Hastings, Esquire, of high es of the people of England wish an heir-apparent crimes and misdemeanors. of the Crown to be. We have here all the branch- I impeach him in the name of the Commons of es of the royal family, in a situation between maj. Great Britain, in Parliament assembled, whose esty and subjection, between the Sovereign and parliamentary trust he has betrayed. the subject-offering a pledge, in that situation, I impeach him in the name of all the Commons for the support of the rights of the Crown and the of Great Britain, whose national character he has liberties of the people, both which extremities dishonored. they touch. My Lords, we have a great hered- I impeach him in the name of the people of itary peerage here; those who have their own India, whose laws, rights, and liberties he has honor, the honor of their ancestors, and of their subverted, whose property he has destroyed, posterity, to guard, and who will justify, as they whose country he has laid waste and desolate. have always justified, that provision in the Con- I impeach him in the name, and by virtue, of stitution by which justice is made an hereditary those eternal laws of justice which he has viooffice. My Lords, we have here a new nobility, lated. who have risen, and exalted themselves, by va- I impeach him in the name of human nature rious merits, by great military services, which itself, which he has cruelly outraged, injured, have extended the fame of this country from the and oppressed, in both sexęs, in every age, rank, rising to the setting sun. We have those, who, situation, and condition of life. by various civil merits and various civil talents, have been exalted to a situation which they well deserve, and in which they will justify the favor French Revolution: Errors at its Comof their Sovereign and the good opinion of their
MENCEMENT. fellow-subjects, and make them rejoice to see You began ill, because you began by despising those virtuous characters, that were the other every thing that belonged to you. You set up day upon a level with them, now exalted above your trade without a capital. "If the last generthem in rank, but feeling with them in sympathy ations of your country appeared without much what they felt in common with them before. We luster in your eyes, you might have passed them have persons exalted from the practice of the by, and derived your claims from a more early law, from the place in which they administered race of ancestors. Under a pious predilection high, though subordinate justice, to a seat here, to for those ancestors, your imaginations would enlighten with their knowledge, and to strength have realized in them a standard of virtue and en with their votes, those principles which have wisdom, beyond the vulgar practice of the hour, distinguished the courts in which they have pre- and you would have risen with the example to sided.
1 The extracts which follow under this bead are My Lords, you have here, also, the lights of our taken from Mr. Burke's Reflections on the Revoreligion; you have the bishops of England. My lation in France, and his Letters on the Regicide Lords, you have that true image of the primitive Peace.