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llection of the Jagher Deo the committee
dra and enforce the and justice of the chose to beings,
stated the appointment of Derbege Sing to act as representative of the abdicated rajah, and his being soon afterwards deprived of his office, and thrown into prison, and the administration of affairs given to Jagher Deo Seo, who levied and collected the revenue with extraordinary severity to the great oppression of the natives. He also read the celebrated letter to the council at Calcutta, from Mr. Hastings at Lucknow, which was deemed so disgraceful to the British government; and he appealed to the common sense of the committee, if it was to be wondered at that Jagher Deo Seo should be rigorous in his collection of the revenue, when it was considered what an example Mr. Hastings had held out to him?
After having circumstantially gone through the whole, and applied a great deal of reasoning as he proceeded, in order to elucidate and enforce the criminality of the facts, he at length appealed to the honour and justice of the House, to decide by their vote of that evening, whether they chose to be considered as the avengers of those oppressed by Mr. Hastings, or his accomplices ? There was, he declared, no alternative, They must either appear as the one or as the other. He recollected the language that had been held in 1782, when that code of laws, the resolutions were voted, and when it had been well said by an honourable and learned gentleman opposite, (Mr. Dundas) that Mr. Hastings scarcely ever left the walls of Calcutta, that his steps were not followed with the deposition of some prince, the desertion of some ally, or the depopulation of some country. How oddly, then, must have sounded in his ears, the arguments in justification of the Rohilla war, that had lately come from the bench on which the learned gentleman sat_arguments that appeared to him to be the voice of the directors and proprietors of old defending those servants who had disobeyed their orders, and disgraced the British character by their rapine and injustice, but had taken care to make the company sharers in the spoil, by remitting home the produce of their plunder in investments, so as to ensure a good dividend to the proprietors! · There had been, he acknowledged, something like a colour for the vote the committee had come to respecting the Rohilla war; the extreme distance of the time at which it happened, the little information the House had of it till of late, the alleged important services of Mr. Hastings since, (though he maintained that they were neither meritorious nor services), and other causes and justifications; but there were none such to be urged against voting on the present occasion. The facts were all of them undeniable, and they were atrocious,, and they were important; so much so, that upon the vote of that night, would, in his mind, the fate of Bengal depend.
Happy was it for them that they could plead ignorance of East India affairs for so long a period! It was the best salvo for their honours, and could be advanced with confidence as an argument, that the individual servants of the company alone had been guilty of all the enormities that had disgraced and disgusted Indostan, but that they had neither participated in the guilt, nor approved of the principle upon which it had been carried on. The facts had now been brought before them, and that in so able, so clear, so comprehensive and intelligible a point of view, that they had no longer their former plea to fly to for an excuse. They must do something, and they might rejoice that the happy hour was arrived when they might make the distinction manifest to all the world, between the enormities committed by individuals, and the sense of a British House of Commons, as to the system under which those enormities have been committed. From their vote that night, France and all Europe would learn what the system of government was, that they chose to be carried on in India, and it would be seen whether they determined, upon sufficient proof of this guilt, to reprobate oppression and punish the oppressor. He never would be the advocate of despotism, but he had, he said, often heard it argued, that the happiness of a people was secure, where the despot's mind was virtuous. He never had heard it contended, that the most despotic had a right to use his power for the misery of those under him, and not for their happiness. He thanked his right honourable friend, therefore, for having brought the charges forward. In one shape or other, they must have been subjected to discussion; and, let the House in general decide as they thought proper, what had passed would prove, that there were Englishmen who did not avow those principles which had originated in the corrupt heart of a most corrupt individual; but that they set their faces against them and execrated the conduct, which had been marked with the most gross oppression, inhumanity and injustice. Nor was it in his mind, Mr. Fox said, enough that the House should content itself with the punishment of an oppressor, it ought also to make atonement to the oppressed. He heartily wished, therefore, that all that had been taken from individuals could be restored; but as that necessarily could not be proceeded upon just at present, he should, till an opportunity offered, content himself with singling out an offender for justice.
Mr. Fox emphatically repeated, that they must appear either as the avengers of the oppressed or the accomplices of their oppressor. He hoped they would not confess themselves the accomplices of Mr. Hastings, but would assume the nobler character. He added an infinite number of warm appeals to.
an Mr. Forbe avenger hoped they but we
the feelings of the committee, and before he sat down, moved “ That this committee, having considered the third article of the charge of high crimes and misdemeanours against Warren Hastings, esq. late governor general of Bengal, and examined evidence thereupon, is of opinion, that there is ground for impeaching the said Warren Hastings, esq. of high crimes and misdemeanors, upon the matter of the said article.”
Mr. Pitt concurred with the motion, but upon very narrow ground. He thought that the demands made upon the rajah went beyond the exigence of the case, and that Mr. Hastings had pushed the exercise of the arbitrary discretion entrusted to him beyond the necessity of the service. The conduct of the minister on this occasion drew upon him much calumny from the friends of Mr. Hastings; they did not hesitate to accuse him out of doors, both publicly and privately, of treachery. They declared it was in the full confidence of his protection and support, that they had urged on Mr. Burke to bring forward his charges; and that the gentleman accused had been persuaded to come to their bar, with an hasty and premature defence: and they did not scruple to contri. bute this conduct in the minister to motives of the basest jealousy. Nearly the same persons took a part in this debate as in the former, and it was carried by a majority of 119 to 79.
ADDRESS ON THE King's SPEECH AT THE OPENING OF
. : January 23. 1787. N the 23rd of January, his majesty opened the session with the
following speech to both Houses : “ My lords and gentlemen; I have particular satisfaction in ac. quainting you, that since I last met you in parliament, the tranquillity of Europe has remained uninterrupted, and that all foreign powers continue to express their friendly disposition to this country. I have concluded a treaty of navigation and commerce with the most christian king, a copy of which shall be laid before you. I must recommend it to you to take such measures as you shall judge proper for carrying it into effect; and I trust you will find that the provisions contained in it are calculated for the en. couragement of industry and the extension of lawful commerce in both countries, and, by promoting a beneficial intercourse bea tween our respective subjects, appear likely to give additional per. manence to the blessings of peace, I shall keep the same salutary
objects in view in the commercial arrangements which I am negotiating with other powers.--I have also given directions for laying before you a copy of a convention agreed upon between me and the catholic king, for carrying into effect the sixth article of the last treaty of peace.
“Gentlemen of the House of Commons; I have ordered the estimates for the present year to be laid before you; and I have the fullest reliance on your readiness to make the provision for the several branches of the public service. The state of the revenue will, I am persuaded, continue to engage your constant attention, as being essentially connected with the national credit, and the prosperity and safety of my dominions."
“ My lords and gentlemen; A plan has been formed, by my direction, for transporting a number of convicts, in order to remove the inconvenience which arose from the crouded state of the gaols in different parts of the kingdom ; and you will, I doubt not, take such farther measures as may be necessary for this purpose. I trust you will be able this session to carry into effect regulations for the ease of the merchants, and for simplifying the public accounts in the various branches of the revenue; and I rely upon the uniform continuance of your exertions in pursuit of such objects as may tend still farther to improve the national resources, and to promote and confirm the welfare and happiness of my people."
On the usual address being moved by Lord Compton and second. ed by Mr. Matthew Montague,
sincerely ei of one anotion,
Mr. Fox rose and declared, that there was not in the speech nor in the address one sentiment which he did not fully agree with, nor which he was not ready to avow. Indeed, he should have been exceedingly sorry had there been occasion for any difference of opinion respecting an address beginning with expressions of congratulation to his majesty, upon an event, in the failure of which every man, of every party and description, both within and without those walls, must be of one and the same mind, and must cordially and sincerely join in the most heart-felt joy and satisfaction. He was glad, therefore, that the address had been so properly worded, that it did not call for opposition or objection of any sort, since, without pledging the House to an approbation of the treaty of commerce, or to any future vote upon the subject, it barely returned thanks for his majesty's gracious communication of the fact, and promised to consider it, when properly before the House, with the attention which a matter of such infinite importance well deserved.
That being the case, and as from the subject of the early part of the address, it must be to be wished, that such an'address should pass nemine contradicente, he assured the House he would not object to it, and that, in all probability, he should have contented himself with giving bis silent vote on the ques. tion then before the House, had not something fallen from the noble lord and the honourable gentleman, who moved and seconded the address, and particularly from the latter, that looked so like grasping at general principles, as the principles upon which the commercial treaty was to be maintained, that he thought it necessary to rise then, and in as few words as possible, take some notice of those principles, which he would do in a general manner, without entering at all into detail upon the treaty, which he was well aware was neither properly before the House, nor then under discussion, but which he would give his sentiments upon at a future opportunity.
The noble lord who moved the address, and the honoura able gentleman who seconded it, had contrasted the uncertainty of war with the solid advantages of peace, and the subtantial benefits of commerce with the destructive means of conquest, as if it were a fact, that this country had ever gone to war for the sake of extending dominion, or gratifying a lust of power, and an inordinate ambition. The fact, he declared was notoriously otherwise, and he was enough of an English man to rise in vindication of his country, and assert in that assembly, and he would assert the same in an assembly appointed to hear the cause of nations, were it possible for such an assembly to exist, that in all our wars — all our late wars at least - this country had not gone to war for the sake of ambition, nor with a view to acquire extension of dominion, but had been forced to take up arms either in her own defence, or for the sake of defending the liberties, and balance of power of Europe, endangered by the over-weening pride of France, and her alarming endeavours to grasp at the government of all the European powers of this quarter of the globe. This, any one who looked into the history of this country, would find to be the true state of the case; he therefore denied, in the most unequivocal manner, that any insinuations to the prejudice of this country, as if she had heretofore gone to war for the mere sake of triumph and of conquest, had any, the smallest foundation in truth. Every man knew, that peace was preferable to war; commerce preferable to conquest: it would be highly preposterous to advance an opposite opinion; and upon that principle had the government of this country been uniformly conducted for the last century. · After dwelling upon these points for some time, with his usual warmth and energy, Mr. Fox adverted to the treaty with France,, upon which, he said, he had not yet made up his mind; nor was it possible for him so to do, until the treaty was not only properly before the House, but until he had heard from his majesty's ministers a full. explanation of the real character of the measure. He was not yet aware whether