Abbildungen der Seite

pany's funds bad involved the government in an enormous and accumulating debt; where agencies, embassies, and contracts, had drained the public coffers to fill the pockets of individuals *, and where there was a total want of economy, both in the civil and military department. At Bengal therefore no character could be more obnoxious than one of an established reputation for inflexible integrity, armed with the power of correcting abuses.” P. 226.

The same Benfield was afterwards appointed a commissioner for the arrangement of the finances of the nabob of the Carnatic, and Sullivan was also allowed to hold another lucrative office in the same country. It is much to be wished that Mr. L. D. Campbell, or some other honest and impartial man of talents, well acquainted with the affairs of India, would favour the world with a sketch of the natural history of such adventurers, as some work of the kind seems necessary, not only to the salvation of our Indian dominions, but also to the purity of British legislation. Did the electors of the United Kingdom better know the real character of many of those who now call upon them for their suffrages, we might then hope for a radical reform where indeed all true reform should commence; namely, in the people's exercise of judgeinent in the choice of their representatives. We cannot believe the public feeling of justice to be so low, that such information would not produce most important effects; and if so, the Commons would necessarily cease to be a theatre of corruption, the unavoidable invasions of civil liberty occasioned by French revolutionary despotism be obviated, and the British cons stitution transmitted unimpaired to future ages. It is a sacred duty to our king, our country, and to civil society, to exert ourselves to the utmost to prevent all men of suspicious integrity from sharing in any civil honours, or becoming legislators of a brave and yet virtuous people. But without a thorough knowledge of the means by which wealth has been acquired in the East and in the West too, it is impossible that this duty can be faithfully discharged; and unless it is duly fulfilled, we must continue our progress in corruption, and expect the fate of other corrupt

* « * Several instances are on record, where agencies on provisions · and grain for the use of government were granted to servants of government; where embassadors were appointed with large salaries, who never proceeded on their embassies; but as there is no inten. tion to particularise abuses, the fact only is mentioned to show the different systems pursued by the two governments.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

immoral nations. When' we revert to Holland, Prussia; and other states on the continent, which owe their fall and present misery more to the want of moral honesty than to Buonaparte's sword, we can find nothing in them indicative of greater depravity, than that of technically designating bribes, the hire of dishonesty, nay even of perjury, as only a little betel among friends!!” This is the slang phrase, familiar (will it be believed?) among British subjects in India. We confess we should willingly have doubted it, had not the very words of a governor himself established the fact beyond the possibility of doubt.

It was once thought” (says Lord Macartney very coolly, in a confidential letter to Mr. Macpherson, in July, 1782) “ that no knight of the Bath'could resist the dazzle of one of these gewgaws (diamond stars, given as bribes, by the native petty princes]; yet out of half a dozen brethren there is one, at least, who has not been blinded by them. That lure, among others, was thrown out, when still stronger was rejected, and was called only betel among friends; but it was a kind of betel I was determined neither to chew nor swallow, and I wish some of our friends had been of the same way of thinking.”

Abandoned or unthinking men may scoff at these things, but we are persuaded that there is not one honest intelligent person in the United Kingdom who is not convinced that moral honesty is indispensable both to the governors and governed in every state, and that without this essential ingredient the best of governments must soon fall a prey, either to an external enemy, or to some ambitious demagogue. The awful events which have passed, and are now passing before our eyes, should teach us the necessity of having only men of probity and talents in every department of the state.

Lord Macartney, anticipating his re-call, determined to leave a full treasury to his successor, and collected “ unexpected mass of thirteen lacks of rupees,” to prevent any adverse consequence to the Company, from the voluntary, but culpably foolish, resignation of the assignment on the Carnatic, which, after spending immense blood and treasure, has since been violently re-assumed.

“ A great part of this sum consisted of such presents and fees on presentations to appointments as had been usual for governors to take for their private emolument, but which had rarely, if ever, before been applied to public use.'

His lordship, before leaving Madras, voluntarily made

[ocr errors]

perance and

oath of the whole amount of his property, and declared, that, from his arrival on the 22d of January, 1781, to that hour, June 1, 1785,

“ I have never by myself, or by any other person for me, directly, or indirectly, accepted or received for my own benefit, from any person or persons whomsoever, a present or presents of any kind, except two pipes of Madeira wine from two particular friends (one of whom never was in India, the other is at Bengal), a few bottles of champaign and burgundy, and some fruit and provisions of very trifling value; and I further swear and declare that I have confined myself solely to the honourable Company's allowances, which are 40,000 pagodas per annum, &c.; that I have never embezzled or misappropriated to my own use any part of the Company's monies or effects; that I have not been engaged in any trade, traffic, or dealing, &c.; but strictly and bona fide observed all my covenants, &c."

A statement of his whole property was also drawn out by him, and entered in the books of the presidency as a public record, by which it appeared that, notwithstanding his temeconomy,


twenty-one years of public employment, he had added nothing to his family inheritance." His lordship's only recompense indeed was the proud consciousness of having honestly and honourably fulfilled the important duties of his station. The following observations too fully prove that talents and integrity are not so advantageous to their possessor as to the state.

" For some years after this [his lordship’s çeturn from India), notwithstanding the most honourable public testimony of the minister to his conduct and character, notwithstanding the many great and eminent services in arduous and trying situations, and a steady and uniform attachment to his majesty's person


government, Lord Macartney had the mortification of experiencing the inattention and neglect of governmeut; being suffered to remain almost a singular instance of all those employed in high stations in India, in not having received any kind of favour from his employers, whilst many others, whose services were scarcely ever heard of, were particularly distinguished. Yet surely it will not be considered as presuming too much to say, that the preservation of the northern Circars of the annual value of half a million sterling, the obtaining an assignment which saved the Carnatic, a rigid economy which saved millions to the public, an inflexible integrity which gave an eminent example where an example was 80 much wanted, an honourable and advantageous peace which restored the tranquillity, the commerce, and the prosperity of India, exhausted and incapable of further resistance, a steady perseverance of duty, regardless of all personal consequences, and an invariable preference of public to private interest - it cannot gurely be thought too much to say, that such important benefits,


joined to many other eminent services in former employments, did not render Lord Macartney less worthy of distinction than many others on whom it had been bestowed: but diis aliter visum est. There were however many gentlemen in the direction of the affairs of the East-India Company, who thought so highly of Lord Macartney's services as to declare, that not to notice them by some distinguished mark of approbation, would be a severe reflection on the justice as well as gratitude of the Company." P. 332.

The reason assigned for not granting him a pension was, that, as a precedent, it would strengthen the ill-founded claims of Mr. Hastings to a like remuneration. A better reason was offered by Lord Melville for not granting him an English peerage, when he was appointed to the governor-generalship of Bengal, because, said that minister, it was asked as a “sine qua non preliminary,” and that at a time when the Company had resolved to place men of rank at the head of their affairs, and when the minister wished to make it an office to which the first men in the country might aspire as an honour. In consequence of this, Lord Macartney declined the governor-generalship, and afterwards a place in the Board of Control, being determined to have nothing more to do with India affairs. Of the personal character, of such a man, cannot forbear to make a few more extracts, especially as they convey very important information. His reflexions and observations are likewise equally profound and interesting: and he used to say, that * a man who has not been in India knows mankind but by halves; and that he who has been there, knows mankind, alas! too much."

« Lord Macartney, on his return from his travels on the continent, was considered among the handsomest and most accomplished young men of the day. His features were regular and well proportioned, his complexion wore the glow of health, and his countenance was open, placid, and agreeable. His person was somewhat above the middle size, and rather corpulent: in the early part of his life it must have been powerful and athletic; his manners were engaging, and his carriage easy but dignified; in conversation he was extremely affable, cheerful, and entertaining; at the same time he was no admirer of that confident assurance, that easy familiarity and careless neglect of personal appearance, which are assumed by many young men of fashion in the present day. He possessed all the dignity of the old school without its stiffness; and he retained it in his dress, the fashion of which for the last forty years of his life could scarcely be said to have undergone any change; in his person he was always remarkably peat. P. 370.

« It has been observed, maliciously enough, that every man



has his price; but if this satire on human nature were strictly true, taken in its greatest latitude, it must however be allowed that a few public men do now and then appear on the stage, whose price, at least, has never been ascertained. One of those few was Lord Macartney. The whole revenues of the Carnatic, which were, in fact, at his command, with the fee simple of Bengal added to them, could not have bribed him to swerve one inch from his public duty. That wealth which is able to purchase power, and influence, and honors, and without which they are rarely attainable, had no temptation for him. In fact, the system of corruption is so well established in India, that those who disposed to avail themselves of that source of wealth run very little risk of detection *. No blame was ever thrown by the nabub of Arcot on any of Lord Macartney's predecessors for taking his money; but torrents of abuse were poured out against his lord. ship, because he would not take it. It was a maxim with him that plain dealing and clean hands will always in the end be an overmatch for artifice and dishonesty; the truth of which he had very frequent occasions to put to the test. Nothing indeed could have supported him in the line of conduct he pursued in India, against the intrigues, the duplicity, and the universal corruption which surrounded him, but an unsullied integrity, and an inflexible firmness. Never perhaps was the mens conscia recti (the motto on his lordship's arms) more eminently displayed than in the arduous struggles he was called upon to make in his government of Madras. But conscious of standing upon high and solid ground, perhaps on such as few, if any, ever stood before in that part of the world, he maintained his elevated position with the most perfect calmness in himself though surrounded by turbulence and agitation. Like the proud rock dashed by the waves of the ocean, he remained unsullied and unshaken in the midst of a sea of corruption For the purity of his conduct he pretended to little merit. Let it not be supposed,' says he, that the spirit of disinterestedness and integrity which governs my actions arises from any heroic virtue or better motives than those which actuate the generality

•* The nabobs, and rajahs, and khans, with others of inferior rank, deem it so dishonourable to discover their private transactions, even with those whom they are dissatisfied with, that no motive of resentment ever leads to their developement, and those in subordinate stations, who must necessarily be entrusted with such secrets, have the additional inducement of considering their inviolable fidelity to their employers as the basis of their future fortunes. When the East-India Company sent out, in 1781, a gentleman in the law (Mr. Newman) for the express purpose of obtaining proof of the sums of money that were said to have been taken by some of their servants from the nabob of Arcot and other Indian

powers, that gentleman, with all the assistance of the Madras presidency in the upright administration of Lord Macartney, embarked for England without having gained one single object for which he was sent out, or a single proof against the most notorious de linquents.

« ZurückWeiter »