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England has any pretence to uphold principles of justice and humanity to the governed. India has been ruled for a hundred and fifty years, or as much of the territory as was held by the Company for the time being, and until a recent period nothing was done for the benefit of the governed. Even down to the present day torture was practised to extort the taxes in certain districts. The governor-general was not ubiquitous. The council of the Company at Calcutta were his eyes and ears, unless he happened to see a thing for himself from its occurring just under his nose. All that was done, even the colleges of instruction, were acts emanating from England, and some reluctantly conceded by the Company. If we traffic at a corn-exchange or a market, we do not care from whom we purchase, nor are we at all regardful of the success or prosperity of the sellers only as far as it may contribute to spare our purse. India was but a mart of the East India Company, a body whose aim was to make money fairly or unfairly, according to European ideas. Its ruling object was gain-profit; not confined, indeed, to the banker's counter, to the workshop, or the vessel, but extended to schemes of conquest, to profit by the revenue of conquered nations in order to cover preceding conquests for the same end that had unluckily disappointed their speculative expectations. It was the sale of kingdoms in countinghouses. Nations stood ticketed on their shelves in the shape of bills of parcels, and ledgers of the cost and profit of wars upon feeble races for territorial aggrandisement, as if the lives and properties of mankind were the wares of a manufactory.
We confine ourselves to the Bengal Presidency, to which we had permission to trade as far back as 1534, though the first adventure did not date until 1591, and the first charter 1600. There was a factory at Calcutta in 1690, soon after which the town was bought of the Mogul, and fortified. The Company seems to have provoked early the jealousy of the nabobs of Bengal, over whom the power of the Mogul was scarcely more than nominal. At length Surajah Dowlah attacked successfully the fort at Calcutta. Clive came from Madras to the rescue, a bold man of genius, who did not fear, with three thousand men, to attack the nabob with fifty thousand, and he routed him on Plassey plains. He thus elevated the Company to a high position. In eight years, principally through his sagacity and ability, at first acting defensively, the Company received the entire revenue of Bengal, which in 1773 was made the chief presidency. At that time the Company had already departed from the policy marked out to them originally by Lord Clive. A bill was passed wholly inefficient for restraining the Company's ambitious cupidity. Bengal was made the chief presidency. Warren Hastings, who had been originally a clerk in the Company's service, a bold, cold-blooded, unscrupulous, dishonest, hypocritical man, was made the governor. His trial as a peculator, plunderer, and oppressor of the natives, discloses, without the shadow of a justification, the most notorious extortion and crime. The Company were continually pressing him for money, and he had the same desire to enrich himself which they had to enrich themselves. Under such a ruler and such a system, assisted by Sir Elijah Impey, a lawyer accomplished to aid in any iniquity, the history of the Roman Verres in Sicily re-enacted was not wonderful, nor that the rapacity of Hastings was commensurate with his moral feeling and character. At
length, finding himself in a minority in the Bengal council, Lucifer fell from heaven.
What a picture did the acts of this man present to the world, and what fearful disclosures were made of kingdoms desolated, alliances broken, princes dethroned, territory appropriated, despite honest treaties, and the most glaring misuse of power, even to murder! There was no preventing these disclosures on his trial; and the India Bill, to which we alluded in our last, was passed before the trial and his impeachment by the Commons took place. It became us to set a good example to the people of the East. If lying, broken faith, rapacity, and dishonour, were found prevalent among the native population, it did not become the Company to outvie the native in these vices in the way of replication, but rather to oppose them by a more scrupulous regard for honourable principle in our dealings. To make money was the principle; there were men who, when rice was scarce in certain districts-and the natives live on that grain-bought up all they could procure to retail it at an enormous cost to the dying people. Among other of the acts of the East India Company, under Hastings, we may mention the breach of a treaty to pay to the Mogul 260,000l. in return for his numberless favours to the Company; and the Soubah of Bengal cheated out of 400,000l. Treaties with the Nizam and Hyder Ally were broken without the shade of an excuse; the invasion of the Mahrattas took place without provocation, during a profound peace. The peace then made with them was broken by Hastings-again made, and broken again-and the same with other powers, according to his own capricious will, or as blinds to other objects. Five or six of the Company's staunchest allies were ruined by him. He sold the whole Rohilla territory to Suja Dowlah for 400,000%., and great enormities were practised there in consequence. Twelve sovereign native princes were betrayed and sold by him, and the population of Bengal let to the highest bidder, and some of the leading natives were reduced to live on charity. Oude was confiscated. Benares fined 500,000l. when the Rajah was in want and could not pay it. Fitzula Cawn was made to pay 150,000l. to satisfy Hastings's rapacity; and hearing that the Rajah had bequeathed his son a million of rupees, Hastings made a false accusation of rebellion against him, that he might seize the money. Hearing further that the Rajah's mother and grandmother had money, he ordered their castle to be besieged, when they capitulated, and Hastings robbed them of 200,000l., all their property. He then quarrelled with the instruments he had employed about the disposition of the booty. There was and is a law that no one in the Company's service shall accept a donation from a native, pecuniary or otherwise. Hastings received from Cheyt Singe 23,000l., and sums of 34,500l., 16,000, and 23,8717, from others. The excuses he made for these receipts were all unsatisfactory. He took 100,000l. from the Soubah of Oude while the Soubah was in the Company's debt. He received 228,000l. in seventeen months. He pocketed clandestinely 1,050,000 rupees, under the pretence of an entertainment, and he hung out of the way a most respectable native, because he happened to be in the secret of his exactions for he was lord of life as well as death there—this abandoned peculator. To one individual he gave a post, dispossessing the holder, on condition of himself receiving half the salary, although he was Governor-General! Such were
some of the acts of this faithful servant of the Company for thirteen years.
The trial was dragged on for seven years, and in the teeth of the plainest evidence this governor was declared innocent. The Lords and the Crown were at war with the Commons and common-sense of the English people. The House of Commons, as we have already shown was the case in passing the India Bill, was considered of no moment in the matter. We have already stated that George III. sent a message, declaring he should regard as his " personal enemy" any peer who voted for the India Bill-that bill under which India has been brought into its present condition. There can be little doubt how the Crown inclined in the case of Hastings's trial. This great criminal, in order to propitiate the Crown, as it may be fairly presumed by a characteristic act, proffered a present of enormous value to the queen during the trial. It is said to have been refused. The act was no doubt a conciliatory one, and it was possible it was not forgotten when the prosecution terminated, although there might have been no message like that on the India Bill openly conveyed to the judges while sitting as a tribunal.
The above shows the worth of those constitutional aphorisms with which some people are so ready, in repeating that the three estates of the realm are independent of each other, and that the Crown cannot interfere in the deliberations of either House of Parliament. A Stuart could not have acted more decidedly in proving the dependence of one house at least upon the Crown. It is in vain, therefore, to suppose that the royal pressure exerted in the case of the India Bill upon the peers, had not an influence, direct or indirect, in the acquittal of Hastings. The East India Company, too, was ever eminently active as a supporter of the ministry of the day, and ready to meet on all occasions the royal as well as the ministerial wishes. The evidence at length, compared with the result, shows the little value of the verdict on Hastings's trial. It is easily accessible to all who choose to wade through the parliamentary documents.
Hastings was succeeded by Lord Cornwallis, the best governor India ever had, and he remained there seven years. He was followed by Sir John Shore, after whom came the Marquis Wellesley, whose personal extravagance, unscrupulousness, and warlike propensities, caused a lavish expenditure and great injustice, covered by the military successes of a much greater man, Sir A. Wellesley, and much ill-management by the third brother, Mr. H. Wellesley. The marquis was allowed 20,000l. per annum, and spent 100,000l. He even fitted up the Company's ships at an enormous expense to convey body-guards for himself round to Madras -body-guards to visit another presidency in due pomp-as if he would vie with the Easterns in show. Here we had the spectacle of the governor of a trading company's domain playing the sultan. It became absolutely necessary to recal the marquis, or in a little time he might have seated himself on the throne of the Great Mogul, and nothing would have better suited his temperament. Lord Cornwallis was again sent out to restore things to a sober level, and there this excellent servant of the public died at his post. The Lords Hastings, Amherst, Bentinck, Auckland, Ellenborough, Hardinge, and Dalhousie followed, under most of whom a little war was got up, as became the sovereigns of an empire with traders viceroys over
them. The most unlucky of the number was Lord Auckland, with his Affghanistan campaigns, because down to this hour a valid ground for that war cannot be discovered. Here it is certain the Company's war ledger showed no balance on the credit side a balance always hoped for, and as often found wanting. Lord Ellenborough succeeded Lord Auckland, a strong proof that a governor-general is but a name. Just before his departure the facetious Punch had represented the noble lord learning navigation, by putting tiny vessels to sail in the reservoirs in the basins of the fountains at Charing-cross, for he had been before appointed to the Admiralty; he was now to rule Hindustan under an experience hardly ripened at the Admiralty. In India he became another Samson, and bore off in triumph by deputy the gates of Somnauth as trophies of his conquest. The governors-general, like the Board of Control, are essentially in their acts the creatures of the council of officials in India. They are not men experienced in Eastern affairs, and can hardly be expected to act upon their own judgment. The council, therefore, should be most carefully selected from experienced persons, not the mere puppets of the India House here. What should we think of Sir Samuel Peto, who employs painters, glaziers, carpenters, masons, and smiths, with a head officer over each body of men, were he to make the smith the superintendent of the glaziers, and set the painters to the anvil by way of a change, when death or caprice caused the removal of the acting head? Just so it is with rulers unaccustomed to the manners of the country which they are sent to rule. They must necessarily rely upon a council, and learn their lessons from it; and if that council be a creature of an extraneous body twelve thousand miles off, he will be an official only by rote, not, as in the privy council in England, native, and consisting of those who act to the best of their judgment, free from sinister influence and experienced in public affairs peculiar to the people and locality they rule. These, indeed, may err, from the fallibility of human nature, but can never be the open instruments of any other body of men; and, in consequence, never will plead subserviency to the principle which, of all others, is most detrimental to the interests of the governed.
We have shown that George III. was content, having secured the army to himself and the Board of Control to his minister, and thus prevented parliamentary supervision. His narrow intellect, and more than that, his arbitrary inclination, forbade his considering the future action of an enactment, which was a gross fallacy, like the sinking fund of his minister. The Company held the reins of misrule more arbitrarily than ever; but the excesses of the ruling instrument were prevented by the India Bill, although inferior officials might still trespass. The governorgeneral was still a piece of raw material sent out for the council to shape and fashion, to see with their spectacles, and be impressed with no other idea than the necessity of making up a deficient revenue. New annexations were the mode adopted. Hastings showed how he was pressed for money from home-money which should have gone to strengthen the territory and render the people ruled more comfortable. A new annexation looks well on paper," according to Cocker," but such were too often losing concerns their morality was only in the way of trade. It would be astonishing how annexations became so frequent did we not know that "hope tells a flattering tale" to rulers as well as subjects. The governor
for the time being took the paternity of the measures carried into effect according to this irresponsible system.
Thus, by the India House Directors here, commanding a council in India, and the latter to a great extent, or wholly, directing the governorgeneral, one hundred and fifty millions of people were expected to pay and be peaceful. Individually treated with contempt, everything was done to estrange them. Their fidelity appeared to be insured-the council ought to have known it was not insured. The motive instrument, or the council in India, was culpably careless, and ignorant of its duty. It neglected the commonest precautions, and sat, like Hogarth's wiseacre, on the projecting beam he was himself sawing asunder.
The natives were estimated too lightly. The confidence of the ruling power was firm from ignorance, as that of Lisbon before the earthquake. The Europeans, withdrawn from the native regiments, taught them to feel self-reliance; the relaxation of discipline; the instruction of the natives in the science of artillery, in place of keeping corps of artillery consisting of Europeans only; the fortification of large cities, and converting them into arsenals without European garrisons, in place of having arsenals in strong places of a little circuit and small native population, and garrisoned by at least one-half Europeans; an interference with religious points of great moment to the native, though, because we deem them of no moment, they were, and are, considered to be really of none at all; an air of disregard continually shown towards the natives by persons from Europe, some of them in authority; and the continual extension of territory to obtain revenue,―all these causes must have generated a degree of discontent that the dim optics of our officials were not sharp enough to discover. One symptom of such a disaffection must have some time existed, or the punishment of the men of the 3rd Cavalry would not have caused it to break forth like a volcanic eruption, firing all inflammable substances in its burning career. We can fancy the council in that relaxing climate well inclined to let things alone. What were the rigid religious feelings of the natives about a little grease or a loss of caste? Put it down. To think all was going right, nor to regard the handwriting on the wall, was due proof of bad government. That they were negligent of their duty, or incapable, there is no doubt; and the first thing they did was to put down the liberty of the press (of the English press), lest they should be told of it. There might have been a plea for putting down the native press, if inflammatory.
What remedy is to be applied? We cannot keep up a British force of sixty thousand men in India, and that number at least will be required. An English soldier may hold out in full strength in that climate about three years, in stations tolerably healthy, but not longer. He will then begin to decline. The renewals must be incessant. We must, in some considerable degree, retain a native force, and how this is to be done it is for those better informed than ourselves to explain. There is one thing, however, upon which we may venture to repeat the opinion already expressed, and that is the substitution of direct responsible government for that irresponsible one which at present exists. A power over that of the acts of which it can have no truthful knowledge cannot control it. A coloured or uncoloured statement, without the means of judging whether it be the one or the other, is a very idle thing presented to any body of