The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol. VIII. (of 12)
by Edmund Burke
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The earliest instructions that appear to have been given by the Court of Directors in consequence of these transactions in Bengal are dated the 5th of February, 1777. In their letter of that date they applaud the proceedings of the board, meaning the majority, (then consisting of General Clavering, Colonel Monson, and Mr. Francis,) as highly meritorious, and promise them their firmest support. "Some of the cases" they say, "are so flagrantly corrupt, and others attended with circumstances so oppressive to the inhabitants, that it would be unjust to suffer the delinquents to go unpunished." With this observation their proceedings appear to have ended, and paused for more than a year.

On the 4th of March, 1778, the Directors appear to have resumed the subject. In their letter of that date they instructed the Governor and Council forthwith to commence a prosecution in the Supreme Court of Judicature against the persons who composed the Committee of Circuit, or their representatives, and also against Mr. Barwell, in order to recover, for the use of the Company, the amount of all advantages acquired by them from their several engagements in salt contracts and farms. Adverting, however, to the declaration made by Mr. Barwell, that he would account to the Court of Directors for the last shilling he had received and abide implicity by their judgment, they thought it probable, that, on being acquainted with their peremptory orders for commencing a prosecution, he might be desirous of paying his share of profits into the Company's treasury; and they pointed out a precaution to be used in accepting such a tender on his part.

On this part of the transaction your Committee observe, that the Court of Directors appear blamable in having delayed till February, 1777, to take any measure in consequence of advices so interesting and important, and on a matter concerning which they had made so strong a declaration,—considering that early in April, 1776, they say "they had investigated the charges, and had then come to certain resolutions concerning them." But their delaying to send out positive orders for commencing a prosecution against the parties concerned till March, 1778, cannot be accounted for. In the former letter they promise, if they should find it necessary, to return the original covenants of such of their servants as had been any ways concerned in the undue receipt of money, in order to enable the Governor-General and Council to recover the same by suits in the Supreme Court. But your Committee do not find that the covenants were ever transmitted to Bengal. To whatever cause these instances of neglect and delay may be attributed, they could not fail to create an opinion in Bengal that the Court of Directors were not heartily intent upon the execution of their own orders, and to discourage those members of government who were disposed to undertake so invidious a duty.

In consequence of these delays, even their first orders did not arrive in Bengal until some time after the death of Colonel Monson, when the whole power of the board had devolved to Mr. Hastings and Mr. Barwell. When they sent what they call their positive orders, in March, 1778, they had long been apprised of the death of Colonel Monson, and must have been perfectly certain of the effect which that event would have on the subsequent measures and proceedings of the Governor-General and Council. Their opinion of the principles of those gentlemen appears in their letter of the 28th of November, 1777, wherein they say "they cannot but express their concern that the power of granting away their property in perpetuity should have devolved upon such persons."

But the conduct of the Court of Directors appears to be open to objections of a nature still more serious and important. A recovery of the amount of Mr. Barwell's profits seems to be the only purpose which they even professed to have in view. But your Committee are of opinion that to preserve the reputation and dignity of the government of Bengal was a much more important object, and ought to have been their first consideration. The prosecution was not the pursuit of mean and subordinate persons, who might with safety to the public interest remain in their seats during such an inquiry into their conduct. It appears very doubtful, whether, if there were grounds for such a prosecution, a proceeding in Great Britain were not more politic than one in Bengal. Such a prosecution ought not to have been ordered by the Directors, but upon grounds that would have fully authorized the recall of the gentleman in question. This prosecution, supposing it to have been seriously undertaken, and to have succeeded, must have tended to weaken the government, and to degrade it in the eyes of all India. On the other hand, to intrust a man, armed as he was with all the powers of his station, and indeed of the government, with the conduct of a prosecution against himself, was altogether inconsistent and absurd. The same letter in which they give these orders exhibits an example which sets the inconsistency of their conduct in a stronger light, because the case is somewhat of a similar nature, but infinitely less pressing in its circumstances. Observing that the Board of Trade had commenced a prosecution against Mr. William Barton, a member of that board, for various acts of peculation committed by him, they say, "We must be of opinion, that, as prosecutions are actually carrying on against him by our Board of Trade, he is, during such prosecution at least, an improper person to hold a seat at that board; and therefore we direct that he be suspended from the Company's service until our further pleasure concerning him be known." The principle laid down in this instruction, even before their own opinion concerning Mr. Barton's case was declared, and merely on the prosecution of others, serves to render their conduct not very accountable in the case of Mr. Barwell. Mr. Barton was in a subordinate situation, and his remaining or not remaining in it was of little or no moment to the prosecution. Mr. Barton was but one of seven; whereas Mr. Barwell was one of four, and, with the Governor-General, was in effect the Supreme Council.

In the present state of power and patronage in India, and during the relations which are permitted to subsist between the judges, the prosecuting officers, and the Council-General, your Committee is very doubtful whether the mode of prosecuting the highest members in the Bengal government, before a court at Calcutta, could have been almost in any case advisable.

It is possible that particular persons, in high judicial and political situations, may, by force of an unusual strain of virtue, be placed far above the influence of those circumstances which in ordinary cases are known to make an impression on the human mind. But your Committee, sensible that laws and public proceedings ought to be made for general situations, and not for personal dispositions, are not inclined to have any confidence in the effect of criminal proceedings, where no means are provided for preventing a mutual connection, by dependencies, agencies, and employments, between the parties who are to prosecute and to judge and those who are to be prosecuted and to be tried.

Your Committee, in a former Report, have stated the consequences which they apprehended from the dependency of the judges on the Governor-General and Council of Bengal; and the House has entered into their ideas upon this subject. Since that time it appears that Sir Elijah Impey has accepted of the guardianship of Mr. Barwell's children, and was the trustee for his affairs. There is no law to prevent this sort of connection, and it is possible that it might not at all affect the mind of that judge, or (upon his account) indirectly influence the conduct of his brethren; but it must forcibly affect the minds of those who have matter of complaint against government, and whose cause the Court of Directors appear to espouse, in a country where the authority of the Court of Directors has seldom been exerted but to be despised, where the operation of laws is but very imperfectly understood, but where men are acute, sagacious, and even suspicious of the effect of all personal connections. Their suspicions, though perhaps not rightly applied to every individual, will induce them to take indications from the situations and connections of the prosecuting parties, as well as of the judges. It cannot fail to be observed, that Mr. Naylor, the Company's attorney, lived in Mr. Barwell's house; the late Mr. Bogle, the Company's commissioner of lawsuits, owed his place to the patronage of Mr. Hastings and Mr. Barwell, by whom the office was created for him; and Sir John Day, the Company's advocate, who arrived in Bengal in February, 1779, had not been four months in Calcutta, when Mr. Hastings, Mr. Barwell, and Sir Eyre Coote doubled his salary, contrary to the opinion of Mr. Francis and Mr. Wheler.

If the Directors are known to devolve the whole cognizance of the offences charged on their servants so highly situated upon the Supreme Court, an excuse will be furnished, if already it has not been furnished, to the Directors for declining the use of their own proper political power and authority in examining into and animadverting on the conduct of their servants. Their true character, as strict masters and vigilant governors, will merge in that of prosecutors. Their force and energy will evaporate in tedious and intricate processes,—in lawsuits which can never end, and which are to be carried on by the very dependants of those who are under prosecution. On their part, these servants will decline giving satisfaction to their masters, because they are already before another tribunal; and thus, by shifting responsibility from hand to hand, a confederacy to defeat the whole spirit of the law, and to remove all real restraints on their actions, may be in time formed between the servants, Directors, prosecutors, and court. Of this great danger your Committee will take farther notice in another place.

No notice whatever appears to have been taken of the Company's orders in Bengal till the 11th of January, 1779, when Mr. Barwell moved, that the claim made upon him by the Court of Directors should be submitted to the Company's lawyers, and that they should be perfectly instructed to prosecute upon it. In his minute of that date he says, "that the state of his health had long since rendered it necessary for him to return to Europe."

Your Committee observe that he continued in Bengal another year. He says, "that he had hitherto waited for the arrival of Sir John Day, the Company's advocate; but as the season was now far advanced, he wished to bring the trial speedily to issue."

In this minute he retracts his original engagement to submit himself to the judgment of the Court of Directors, "and to account to them for the last shilling he had received": he says, "that no merit had been given him for the offer; that a most unjustifiable advantage had been attempted to be made of it, by first declining it and descending to abuse, and then giving orders upon it as if it had been rejected, when called upon by him in the person of his agent to bring home the charge of delinquency."

Mr. Barwell's reflections on the proceedings of the Court of Directors are not altogether clearly expressed; nor does it appear distinctly to what facts he alludes. He asserts that a most unjustifiable advantage had been attempted to be made of his offer. The fact is, the Court of Directors have nowhere declined accepting it; on the contrary, they caution the Governor-General and Council about the manner of receiving the tender of the money which they expect him to make. They say nothing of any call made on them by Mr. Barwell's agent in England; nor does it appear to your Committee that they "have descended to abuse." They have a right, and it is their duty, to express, in distinct and appropriated terms, their sense of all blamable conduct in their servants.

So far as may be collected from the evidence of the Company's records, Mr. Barwell's assertions do not appear well supported; but even if they were more plausible, your Committee apprehend that he could not be discharged from his solemn recorded promise to abide by the judgment of the Court of Directors. Their judgment was declared by their resolution to prosecute, which it depended upon himself to satisfy by making good his engagement. To excuse his not complying with the Company's claims, he says, "that his compliance would be urged as a confession of delinquency, and to proceed from conviction of his having usurped on the rights of the Company." Considerations of this nature might properly have induced Mr. Barwell to stand upon his right in the first instance, "and to appeal" (to use his own words) "to the laws of his country, in order to vindicate his fame." But his performance could not have more weight to infer delinquency than his promise. Your Committee think his observation comes too late.

If he had stood a trial, when he first acknowledged the facts, and submitted himself to the judgment of the Court of Directors, the suit would have been carried on under the direction of General Clavering, Colonel Monson, and Mr. Francis; whereas in the year 1779 his influence at the board gave him the conduct of it himself. In an interval of four years it may be presumed that great alterations might have happened in the state of the evidence against him.

In the subsequent proceedings of the Governor-General and Council the House will find that Mr. Barwell complained that his instances for carrying on the prosecution were ineffectual, owing to the legal difficulties and delays urged by the Company's law officers, which your Committee do not find have yet been removed. As far as the latest advices reach, no progress appears to have been made in the business. In July, 1782, the Court of Directors found it necessary to order an account of all suits against Europeans depending in the Supreme Court of Judicature to be transmitted to them, and that no time should be lost in bringing them to a determination.


The next article of direct monopoly subservient to the Company's export is saltpetre. This, as well as opium, is far the greater part the produce of the province of Bahar. The difference between the management and destination of the two articles has been this. Until the year 1782, the opium has been sold in the country, and the produce of the sale laid out in country merchandise for the Company's export. A great part of the saltpetre is sent out in kind, and never has contributed to the interior circulation and commerce of Bengal. It is managed by agency on the Company's account. The price paid to the manufacturer is invariable. Some of the larger undertakers receive advances to enable them to prosecute their work; but as they are not always equally careful or fortunate, it happens that large balances accumulate against them. Orders have been sent from Calcutta from time to time to recover their balances, with little or no success, but with great vexation to all concerned in the manufacture. Sometimes they have imprisoned the failing contractors in their own houses,—a severity which answers no useful purpose. Such persons are so many hands detached from the improvement and added to the burden of the country. They are persons of skill drawn from the future supply of that monopoly in favor of which they are prosecuted. In case of the death of the debtor, this rigorous demand falls upon the ruined houses of widows and orphans, and may be easily converted into a means either of cruel oppression or a mercenary indulgence, according to the temper of the exactors. Instead of thus having recourse to imprisonment, the old balance is sometimes deducted from the current produce. This, in these circumstances, is a grievous discouragement. People must be discouraged from entering into a business, when, the commodity being fixed to one invariable standard and confined to one market, the best success can be attended only with a limited advantage, whilst a defective produce can never be compensated by an augmented price. Accordingly, very little of these advances has been recovered, and after much vexation the pursuit has generally been abandoned. It is plain that there can be no life and vigor in any business under a monopoly so constituted; nor can the true productive resources of the country, in so large an article of its commerce, ever come to be fully known.

The supply for the Company's demand in England has rarely fallen short of two thousand tons, nor much exceeded two thousand five hundred. A discretionary allowance of this commodity has been made to the French, Dutch, and Danes, who purchase their allotted shares at some small advance on the Company's price. The supply destined for the London market is proportioned to the spare tonnage; and to accommodate that tonnage, the saltpetre is sometimes sent to Madras and sometimes even to Bombay, and that not unfrequently in vessels expressly employed for the purpose.

Mr. Law, Chief of Patna, being examined on the effect of that monopoly, delivered his opinion, that with regard to the Company's trade the monopoly was advantageous, but as sovereigns of the country they must be losers by it. These two capacities in the Company are found in perpetual contradiction. But much doubt may arise whether this monopoly will be found advantageous to the Company either in the one capacity or the other. The gross commodity monopolized for sale in London is procured from the revenues in Bengal; the certain is given for the hazardous. The loss of interest on the advances, sometimes the loss of the principal,—the expense of carriage from Patna to Calcutta,—the various loadings and unloadings, and insurance (which, though borne by the Company, is still insurance),—the engagement for the Ordnance, limited in price, and irregular in payment,—the charge of agency and management, through all its gradations and successions,—when all these are taken into consideration, it may be found that the gain of the Company as traders will be far from compensating their loss as sovereigns. A body like the East India Company can scarcely, in any circumstance, hope to carry on the details of such a business, from its commencement to its conclusion, with any degree of success. In the subjoined estimate of profit and loss, the value of the commodity is stated at its invoice price at Calcutta. But this affords no just estimate of the whole effect of a dealing, where the Company's charge commences in the first rudiments of the manufacture, and not at the purchase at the place of sale and valuation: for they [there?] may be heavy losses on the value at which the saltpetre is estimated, when, shipped off on their account, without any appearance in the account; and the inquiries of your Committee to find the charges on the saltpetre previous to the shipping have been fruitless.


The other link by which India is bound to Great Britain is the government established there originally by the authority of the East India Company, and afterwards modified by Parliament by the acts of 1773 and 1780. This system of government appears to your Committee to be at least as much disordered, and as much perverted from every good purpose for which lawful rule is established, as the trading system has been from every just principle of commerce. Your Committee, in tracing the causes of this disorder through its effects, have first considered the government as it is constituted and managed within itself, beginning with its most essential and fundamental part, the order and discipline by which the supreme authority of this kingdom is maintained.

The British government in India being a subordinate and delegated power, it ought to be considered as a fundamental principle in such a system, that it is to be preserved in the strictest obedience to the government at home. Administration in India, at an immense distance from the seat of the supreme authority,—intrusted with the most extensive powers,—liable to the greatest temptations,—possessing the amplest means of abuse,—ruling over a people guarded by no distinct or well-ascertained privileges, whose language, manners, and radical prejudices render not only redress, but all complaint on their part, a matter of extreme difficulty,—such an administration, it is evident, never can be made subservient to the interests of Great Britain, or even tolerable to the natives, but by the strictest rigor in exacting obedience to the commands of the authority lawfully set over it.

But your Committee find that this principle has been for some years very little attended to. Before the passing the act of 1773, the professed purpose of which was to secure a better subordination in the Company's servants, such was the firmness with which the Court of Directors maintained their authority, that they displaced Governor Cartier, confessedly a meritorious servant, for disobedience of orders, although his case was not a great deal more than a question by whom the orders were to be obeyed.[12] Yet the Directors were so sensible of the necessity of a punctual and literal obedience, that, conceiving their orders went to the parties who were to obey, as well as to the act to be done, they proceeded with a strictness that, in all cases except that of their peculiar government, might well be considered as rigorous. But in proportion as the necessity of enforcing obedience grew stronger and more urgent, and in proportion to the magnitude and importance of the objects affected by disobedience, this rigor has been relaxed. Acts of disobedience have not only grown frequent, but systematic; and they have appeared in such instances, and are manifested in such a manner, as to amount, in the Company's servants, to little less than absolute independence, against which, on the part of the Directors, there is no struggle, and hardly so much as a protest to preserve a claim.

Before your Committee proceed to offer to the House their remarks on the most distinguished of these instances, the particulars of which they have already reported, they deem it necessary to enter into some detail of a transaction equally extraordinary and important, though not yet brought into the view of Parliament, which appears to have laid the foundation of the principal abuses that ensued, as well as to have given strength and encouragement to those that existed. To this transaction, and to the conclusions naturally deducible from it, your Committee attribute that general spirit of disobedience and independence which has since prevailed in the government of Bengal.

Your Committee find that in the year 1775 Mr. Lauchlan Macleane was sent into England as agent to the Nabob of Arcot and to Mr. Hastings. The conduct of Mr. Hastings, in assisting to extirpate, for a sum of money to be paid to the Company, the innocent nation of the Rohillas, had drawn upon him the censure of the Court of Directors, and the unanimous censure of the Court of Proprietors. The former had even resolved to prepare an application to his Majesty for Mr. Hastings's dismission.

Another General Court was called on this proceeding. Mr. Hastings was then openly supported by a majority of the Court of Proprietors, who professed to entertain a good opinion of his general ability and rectitude of intention, notwithstanding the unanimous censure passed upon him. In that censure they therefore seemed disposed to acquiesce, without pushing the matter farther. But, as the offence was far from trifling, and the condemnation of the measure recent, they did not directly attack the resolution of the Directors to apply to his Majesty, but voted in the ballot that it should be reconsidered. The business therefore remained in suspense, or it rather seemed to be dropped, for some months, when Mr. Macleane took a step of a nature not in the least to be expected from the condition in which the cause of his principal stood, which was apparently as favorable as the circumstances could bear. Hitherto the support of Mr. Hastings in the General Court was only by a majority; but if on application from the Directors he should be removed, a mere majority would not have been sufficient for his restoration. The door would have been barred against his return to the Company's service by one of the strongest and most substantial clauses in the Regulating Act of 1778. Mr. Macleane, probably to prevent the manifest ill consequences of such a step, came forward with a letter to the Court of Directors, declaring his provisional powers, and offering on the part of Mr. Hastings an immediate resignation of his office.

On this occasion the Directors showed themselves extremely punctilious with regard to Mr. Macleane's powers. They probably dreaded the charge of becoming accomplices to an evasion of the act by which Mr. Hastings, resigning the service, would escape the consequences attached by law to a dismission; they therefore demanded Mr. Macleane's written authority. This he declared he could not give into their hands, as the letter contained other matters, of a nature extremely confidential, but that, if they would appoint a committee of the Directors, he would readily communicate to them the necessary parts of the letter, and give them perfect satisfaction with regard to his authority. A deputation was accordingly named, who reported that they had seen Mr. Hastings's instructions, contained in a paper in his own handwriting, and that the authority for the act now done by Mr. Macleane was clear and sufficient. Mr. Vansittart, a very particular friend of Mr. Hastings, and Mr. John Stewart, his most attached and confidential dependant, attended on this occasion, and proved that directions perfectly correspondent to this written authority had been given by Mr. Hastings in their presence. By this means the powers were fully authenticated; but the letter remained safe in Mr. Macleane's hands.

Nothing being now wanting to the satisfaction of the Directors, the resignation was formally accepted. Mr. Wheler was named to fill the vacancy, and presented for his Majesty's approbation, which was received. The act was complete, and the office that Mr. Hastings had resigned was legally filled. This proceeding was officially notified in Bengal, and General Clavering, as senior in Council, was in course to succeed to the office of Governor-General.

Mr. Hastings, to extricate himself from the difficulties into which this resignation had brought him, had recourse to one of those unlooked-for and hardy measures which characterize the whole of his administration. He came to a resolution of disowning his agent, denying his letter, and disavowing his friends. He insisted on continuing in the execution of his office, and supported himself by such reasons as could be furnished in such a cause. An open schism instantly divided the Council. General Clavering claimed the office to which he ought to succeed, and Mr. Francis adhered to him: Mr. Barwell stuck to Mr. Hastings. The two parties assembled separately, and everything was running fast into a confusion which suspended government, and might very probably have ended in a civil war, had not the judges of the Supreme Court, on a reference to them, settled the controversy by deciding that the resignation was an invalid act, and that Mr. Hastings was still in the legal possession of his place, which had been actually filled up in England. It was extraordinary that the nullity of this resignation should not have been discovered in England, where the act authorizing the resignation then was, where the agent was personally present, where the witnesses were examined, and where there was and could be no want of legal advice, either on the part of the Company or of the crown. The judges took no light matter upon them in superseding, and thereby condemning the legality of his Majesty's appointment: for such it became by the royal approbation.

On this determination, such as it was, the division in the meeting, but not in the minds of the Council, ceased. General Clavering uniformly opposed the conduct of Mr. Hastings to the end of his life. But Mr. Hastings showed more temper under much greater provocations. In disclaiming his agent, and in effect accusing him of an imposture the most deeply injurious to his character and fortune, and of the grossest forgery to support it, he was so very mild and indulgent as not to show any active resentment against his unfaithful agent, nor to complain to the Court of Directors. It was expected in Bengal that some strong measures would have immediately been taken to preserve the just rights of the king and of the Court of Directors; as this proceeding, unaccompanied with the severest animadversion, manifestly struck a decisive blow at the existence of the most essential powers of both. But your Committee do not find that any measures whatever, such as the case seemed to demand, were taken. The observations made by the Court of Directors on what they call "these extraordinary transactions" are just and well applied. They conclude with a declaration, "that the measures which it might be necessary for them to take, in order to retrieve the honor of the Company, and to prevent the like abuse from being practised in future, should have their most serious and earliest consideration"; and with this declaration they appear to have closed the account, and to have dismissed the subject forever.

A sanction was hereby given to all future defiance of every authority in this kingdom. Several other matters of complaint against Mr. Hastings, particularly the charge of peculation, fell to the ground at the same time. Opinions of counsel had been taken relative to a prosecution at law upon this charge, from the then Attorney and the then Solicitor-General and Mr. Dunning, (now the Lords Thurlow, Loughborough, and Ashburton,) together with Mr. Adair (now Recorder of London). None of them gave a positive opinion against the grounds of the prosecution. The Attorney-General doubted on the prudence of the proceedings, and censured (as it well deserved) the ill statement of the case. Three of them, Mr. Wedderburn, Mr. Dunning, and Mr. Adair, were clear in favor of the prosecution. No prosecution, however, was had, and the Directors contented themselves with censuring and admonishing Mr. Hastings.

With regard to the Supreme Council, the members who chose (for it was choice only) to attend to the orders which were issued from the languishing authority of the Directors continued to receive unprofitable applauses and no support. Their correspondence was always filled with complaints, the justice of which was always admitted by the Court of Directors; but this admission of the existence of the evil showed only the impotence of those who were to administer the remedy. The authority of the Court of Directors, resisted with success in so capital an instance as that of the resignation, was not likely to be respected in any other. What influence it really had on the conduct of the Company's servants may be collected from the facts that followed it.

The disobedience of Mr. Hastings has of late not only become uniform and systematical in practice, but has been in principle, also, supported by him, and by Mr. Barwell, late a member of the Supreme Council in Bengal, and now a member of this House.

In the Consultation of the 20th of July, 1778, Mr. Barwell gives it as his solemn and deliberate opinion, that, "while Mr. Hastings is in the government, the respect and dignity of his station should be supported. In these sentiments, I must decline an acquiescence in any order which has a tendency to bring the government into disrepute. As the Company have the means and power of forming their own administration in India, they may at pleasure place whom they please at the head; but in my opinion they are not authorized to treat a person in that post with indignity."

By treating them with indignity (in the particular cases wherein they have declined obedience to orders) they must mean those orders which imply a censure on any part of their conduct, a reversal of any of their proceedings, or, as Mr. Barwell expresses himself in words very significant, in any orders that have a tendency to bring their government into disrepute. The amplitude of this latter description, reserving to them the judgment of any orders which have so much as that tendency, puts them in possession of a complete independence, an independence including a despotic authority over the subordinates and the country. The very means taken by the Directors for enforcing their authority becomes, on this principle, a cause of further disobedience. It is observable, that their principles of disobedience do not refer to any local consideration, overlooked by the Directors, which might supersede their orders, or to any change of circumstances, which might render another course advisable, or even perhaps necessary,—but it relates solely to their own interior feelings in matters relative to themselves, and their opinion of their own dignity and reputation. It is plain that they have wholly forgotten who they are, and what the nature of their office is. Mr. Hastings and Mr. Barwell are servants of the Company, and as such, by the duty inherent in that relation, as well as by their special covenants, were obliged to yield obedience to the orders of their masters. They have, as far as they were able, cancelled all the bonds of this relation, and all the sanctions of these covenants.

But in thus throwing off the authority of the Court of Directors, Mr. Hastings and Mr. Barwell have thrown off the authority of the whole legislative power of Great Britain; for, by the Regulating Act of the thirteenth of his Majesty, they are expressly "directed and required to pay due obedience to all such orders as they shall receive from the Court of Directors of the said United Company." Such is the declaration of the law. But Mr. Barwell declares that he declines obedience to any orders which he shall interpret to be indignities on a Governor-General. To the clear injunctions of the legislature Mr. Hastings and Mr. Barwell have thought proper to oppose their pretended reputation and dignity; as if the chief honor of public ministers in every situation was not to yield a cheerful obedience to the laws of their country. Your Committee, to render evident to this House the general nature and tendency of this pretended dignity, and to illustrate the real principles upon which they appear to have acted, think it necessary to make observations on three or four of the cases, already reported, of marked disobedience to particular and special orders, on one of which the above extraordinary doctrine was maintained.

These are the cases of Mr. Fowke, Mr. Bristow, and Mahomed Reza Khan. In a few weeks after the death of Colonel Monson, Mr. Hastings having obtained a majority in Council by his casting vote, Mr. Fowke and Mr. Bristow were called from their respective offices of Residents at Benares and Oude, places which have become the scenes of other extraordinary operations under the conduct of Mr. Hastings in person. For the recall of Mr. Bristow no reason was assigned. The reason assigned for the proceeding with regard to Mr. Fowke was, that "the purposes for which he was appointed were then fully accomplished."

An account of the removal of Mr. Fowke was communicated to the Court of Directors in a letter of the 22d of December, 1776. On this notification the Court had nothing to conclude, but that Mr. Hastings, from a rigid pursuit of economy in the management of the Company's affairs, had recalled a useless officer. But, without alleging any variation whatsoever in the circumstances, in less than twenty days after the order for the recall of Mr. Fowke, and the very day after the dispatch containing an account of the transaction, Mr. Hastings recommended Mr. Graham to this very office, the end of which, he declared to the Directors but the day before, had been fully accomplished; and not thinking this sufficient, he appointed Mr. D. Barwell as his assistant, at a salary of about four hundred pounds a year. Against this extraordinary act General Clavering and Mr. Francis entered a protest.

So early as the 6th of the following January the appointment of these gentlemen was communicated in a letter to the Court of Directors, without any sort of color, apology, or explanation. That court found a servant removed from his station without complaint, contrary to the tenor of one of their standing injunctions. They allow, however, and with reason, that, "if it were possible to suppose that a saving, &c, had been his motive, they would have approved his proceeding. But that when immediately afterwards two persons, with two salaries, had been appointed to execute the office which had been filled with reputation by Mr. Fowke alone, and that Mr. Graham enjoys all the emoluments annexed to the office of Mr. Fowke,"—they properly conclude that Mr. Fowke was removed without just cause, to make way for Mr. Graham, and strictly enjoin that the former be reinstated in his office of Resident as Post-master of Benares. In the same letter they assert their rights in a tone of becoming firmness, and declare, that "on no account we can permit our orders to be disobeyed or our authority disregarded."

It was now to be seen which of the parties was to give way. The orders were clear and precise, and enforced by a strong declaration of the resolution of the Court to make itself obeyed. Mr. Hastings fairly joined issue upon this point with his masters, and, having disobeyed the general instructions of the Company, determined to pay no obedience to their special order.

On the 21st July, 1778, he moved, and succeeded in his proposition, that the execution of these orders should be suspended. The reason he assigned for this suspension lets in great light upon the true character of all these proceedings: "That his consent to the recall of Mr. Graham would be adequate to his own resignation of the service, as it would inflict such a wound on his authority and influence that he could not maintain it."

If that had been his opinion, he ought to have resigned, and not disobeyed: because it was not necessary that he should hold his office; but it was necessary, that, whilst he hold it, he should obey his superiors, and submit to the law. Much more truly was his conduct a virtual resignation of his lawful office, and at the same time an usurpation of a situation which did not belong to him, to hold a subordinate office, and to refuse to act according to its duties. Had his authority been self-originated, it would have been wounded by his submission; but in this case the true nature of his authority was affirmed, not injured, by his obedience, because it was a power derived from others, and, by its essence, to be executed according to their directions.

In this determined disobedience he was supported by Mr. Barwell, who on that occasion delivered the dangerous doctrine to which your Committee have lately adverted. Mr. Fowke, who had a most material interest in this determination, applied by letter to be informed concerning it. An answer was sent, acquainting him coldly, and without any reason assigned, of what had been resolved relative to his office. This communication was soon followed by another letter from Mr. Fowke, with great submission and remarkable decency asserting his right to his office under the authority of the Court of Directors, and for solid reasons, grounded on the Company's express orders, praying to be informed of the charge against him. This letter appears to have been received by Mr. Hastings and Mr. Barwell very loftily. Mr. Hastings said, "that such applications were irregular; that they are not accountable to Mr. Fowke for their resolution respecting him. The reasons for suspending the execution of the orders of the Court of Directors contain no charge, nor the slightest imputation of a charge, against Mr. Fowke; but I see no reason why the board should condescend to tell him so." Accordingly, the proposition of Mr. Francis and Mr. Wheler, to inform Mr. Fowke "that they had no reason to be dissatisfied with his conduct," on the previous question was rejected.

By this resolution Mr. Hastings and Mr. Barwell discovered another principle, and no less dangerous than the first: namely, that persons deriving a valuable interest under the Company's orders, so far from being heard in favor of their right, are not so much as to be informed of the grounds on which they are deprived of it.

The arrival soon after of Sir Eyre Coote giving another opportunity of trial, the question for obedience to the Company's orders was again[13] brought on by Mr. Francis, and again received a negative. Sir Eyre Coote, though present, and declaring, that, had he been at the original consultation, he should have voted for the immediate execution of the Company's orders, yet he was resolved to avoid what he called any kind of retrospect. His neutrality gained the question in favor of this, the third resolution for disobedience to orders.

The resolution in Bengal being thus decisively taken, it came to the turn of the Court of Directors to act their part. They did act their part exactly in their old manner: they had recourse to their old remedy of repeating orders which had been disobeyed. The Directors declare to Mr. Hastings and Mr. Barwell, though without any apparent reason, that "they have read with astonishment their formal resolution to suspend the execution of their orders; that they shall take such measures as appear necessary for preserving the authority of the Court of Directors, and for preventing such instances of direct and wilful disobedience in their servants in time to come." They then renew their directions concerning Mr. Fowke. The event of this sole measure taken to preserve their authority, and to prevent instances of direct and wilful disobedience, your Committee will state in its proper place,—taking into consideration, for the present, the proceedings relative to Mr. Bristow, and to Mahomed Reza Khan, which were altogether in the same spirit; but as they were diversified in the circumstances of disobedience, as well from the case of Mr. Fowke as from one another, and as these circumstances tend to discover other dangerous principles of abuse, and the general prostrate condition of the authority of Parliament in Bengal, your Committee proceed first to make some observations upon them.

The province of Oude, enlarged by the accession of several extensive and once flourishing territories, that is, by the country of the Rohillas, the district of Corah and Allahabad, and other provinces betwixt the Ganges and Jumna, is under the nominal dominion of one of the princes of the country, called Asoph ul Dowlah. But a body of English troops is kept up in his country; and the greatest part of his revenues are, by one description or another, substantially under the administration of English subjects. He is to all purposes a dependent prince. The person to be employed in his dominions to act for the Committee [Company?] was therefore of little consequence in his capacity of negotiator; but he was vested with a trust, great and critical, in all pecuniary affairs. These provinces of dependence lie out of the system of the Company's ordinary administration, and transactions there cannot be so readily brought under the cognizance of the Court of Directors. This renders it the more necessary that the Residents in such places should be persons not disapproved of by the Court of Directors. They are to manage a permanent interest, which is not, like a matter of political negotiation, variable, and which, from circumstances, might possibly excuse some degree of discretionary latitude in construing their orders. During the lifetime of General Clavering and Colonel Monson, Mr. Bristow was appointed to this Presidency, and that appointment, being approved and confirmed by the Court of Directors, became in effect their own. Mr. Bristow appears to have shown himself a man of talents and activity. He had been principally concerned in the negotiations by which the Company's interest in the higher provinces had been established; and those services were considered by the Presidency of Calcutta as so meritorious, that they voted him ten thousand pounds as a reward, with many expressions of esteem and honor.

Mr. Bristow, however, was recalled by Mr. Hastings and Mr. Barwell, who had then acquired the majority, without any complaint having been assigned as the cause of his removal, and Mr. Middleton was sent in his stead to reside at the capital of Oude. The Court of Directors, as soon as they could be apprised of this extraordinary step, in their letter of the 4th of July, 1777, express their strongest disapprobation of it: they order Mr. Middleton to be recalled, and Mr. Bristow to be reinstated in his office. In December, 1778, they repeat their order. Of these repeated orders no notice was taken. Mr. Bristow, fatigued with unsuccessful private applications, which met with a constant refusal, did at length, on the 1st of May, 1780, address a letter to the board, making his claim of right, entitling himself to his offices [office?] under the authority of the Court of Directors, and complaining of the hardships which he suffered by the delay in admitting him to the exercise of it. This letter your Committee have inserted at large in the Fifth Report, having found nothing whatsoever exceptionable in it, although it seems to have excited the warmest resentment in Mr. Hastings.

This claim of the party gave no new force to the order of the Directors, which remained without any attention from the board from Mr. Bristow's arrival until the 1st of May, and with as little from the 1st of May to the 2nd of October following. On that day, Mr. Francis, after having caused the repeated orders of the Court of Directors to be first read, moved that Mr. Bristow should be reinstated in his office. This motion, in itself just and proper in the highest degree, and in which no fault could be found, but that it was not made more early, was received by Mr. Hastings with the greatest marks of resentment and indignation. He declares in his minute, that, "were the most determined adversary of the British nation to possess, by whatever means, a share in the administration, he could not devise a measure in itself so pernicious, or time it so effectually for the ruin of the British interests in India." Then turning to the object of the motion, he says, "I will ask, Who is Mr. Bristow, that a member of the administration should, at such a time, hold him forth, as an instrument for the degradation of the first executive member of this government? What are the professed objects of his appointment? What are the merits and services, or what the qualifications, which entitle him to such uncommon distinction? Is it for his superior integrity, or from his eminent abilities, that he is to be dignified at such hazard of every consideration that ought to influence the members of this administration? Of the former (his integrity) I know no proofs; I am sure it is not an evidence of it, that he has been enabled to make himself the principal in such a competition: and for the test of his abilities I appeal to the letter which he has dared to write to this board, and which I am ashamed to say we have suffered. I desire that a copy of it may be inserted in this day's proceedings, that it may stand before the eyes of every member of the board, when he shall give his vote upon a question for giving their confidence to a man, their servant, who has publicly insulted them, his masters, and the members of the government to whom he owes his obedience,—who, assuming an association with the Court of Directors, and erecting himself into a tribunal, has arraigned them for disobedience of orders, passed judgment upon them, and condemned or acquitted them, as their magistrate or superior. Let the board consider, whether a man possessed of so independent a spirit, who has already shown a contempt of their authority, who has shown himself so wretched an advocate for his own cause and negotiator for his own interest, is fit to be trusted with the guardianship of their honor, the execution of their measures, and as their confidential manager and negotiator with the princes of India. As the motion has been unaccompanied by any reasons which should induce the board to pass their acquiescence in it, I presume the motion which preceded it, for reading the orders of the Court of Directors, was intended to serve as an argument for it, as well as an introduction to it. The last of those was dictated the 23rd December, 1778, almost two years past. They were dictated at a time when, I am sorry to say, the Court of Directors were in the habit of casting reproach upon my conduct and heaping indignities upon my station."

Had the language and opinions which prevail throughout this part of the minute, as well as in all the others to which your Committee refer, been uttered suddenly and in a passion, however unprovoked, some sort of apology might be made for the Governor-General. But when it was produced five months after the supposed offence, and then delivered in writing, which always implies the power of a greater degree of recollection and self-command, it shows how deeply the principles of disobedience had taken root in his mind, and of an assumption to himself of exorbitant powers, which he chooses to distinguish by the title of "his prerogative." In this also will be found an obscure hint of the cause of his disobedience, which your Committee conceive to allude to the main cause of the disorders in the government of India,—namely, an underhand communication with Europe.

Mr. Hastings, by his confidence in the support derived from this source, or from the habits of independent power, is carried to such a length as to consider a motion to obey the Court of Directors as a degradation of the executive government in his person. He looks upon a claim under that authority, and a complaint that it has produced no effect, as a piece of daring insolence which he is ashamed that the board has suffered. The behavior which your Committee consider as so intemperate and despotic he regards as a culpable degree of patience and forbearance. Major Scott, his agent, enters so much into the principles of Mr. Hastings's conduct as to tell your Committee that in his opinion Lord Clive would have sent home Mr. Bristow a prisoner upon such an occasion. It is worthy of remark, that, in the very same breath that Mr. Hastings so heavily condemns a junior officer in the Company's service (not a servant of the Council, as he hazards to call him, but their fellow-servant) for merely complaining of a supposed injury and requiring redress, he so far forgets his own subordination as to reject the orders of the Court of Directors even as an argument in favor of appointing a person to an office, to presume to censure his undoubted masters, and to accuse them of having been "in a habit of casting reproaches upon him, and heaping indignities on his station." And it is to be observed, that this censure was not for the purpose of seeking or obtaining redress for any injury, but appeared rather as a reason for refusing to obey their lawful commands. It is plainly implied in that minute, that no servant of the Company, in Mr. Bristow's rank, would dare to act in such a manner, if he had not by indirect means obtained a premature fortune. This alone is sufficient to show the situation of the Company's servants in the subordinate situations, when the mere claim of a right, derived from the sovereign legal power, becomes fatal not only to the objects which they pursue, but deeply wounds that reputation both for ability and integrity by which alone they are to be qualified for any other.

If anything could add to the disagreeable situation of those who are submitted to an authority conducted on such principles, it is this: The Company has ordered that no complaint shall be made in Europe against any of the Council without being previously communicated to them: a regulation formed upon grave reasons; and it was certainly made in favor of that board. But if a person, having ground of complaint against the Council, by making use of the mode prescribed in favor of that very Council, and by complaining to themselves, commits an offence for which he may be justly punished, the Directors have not regulated the mode of complaint, they have actually forbidden it; they have, on that supposition, renounced their authority; and the whole system of their officers is delivered over to the arbitrary will of a few of their chief servants.

During the whole day of that deliberation things wore a decided face. Mr. Hastings stood to his principles in their full extent, and seemed resolved upon unqualified disobedience. But as the debate was adjourned to the day following, time was given for expedients; and such an expedient was hit upon by Mr. Hastings as will, no doubt, be unexpected by the House; but it serves to throw new lights upon the motives of all his struggles with the authority of the legislature.

The next day the Council met upon the adjournment. Then Mr. Hastings proposed, as a compromise, a division of the object in question. One half was to be surrendered to the authority of the Court of Directors, the other was reserved for his dignity. But the choice he made of his own share in this partition is very worthy of notice. He had taken his sole ground of objection against Mr. Bristow on the supposed ill effect that such an appointment would have on the minds of the Indian powers. He said, "that these powers could have no dependence on his fulfilling his engagements, or maintaining the faith of treaties which he might offer for their acceptance, if they saw him treated with such contempt." Mr. Bristow's appearing in a political character was the whole of his complaint; yet, when he comes to a voluntary distribution of the duties of the office, he gives Mr. Bristow those very political negotiations of which but the day before he had in such strong terms declared him personally incapable, whose appointment he considered to be fatal to those negotiations, and which he then spoke of as a measure in itself such as the bitterest adversary to Great Britain would have proposed. But having thus yielded his whole ground of ostensible objection, he reserved to his own appointment the entire management of the pecuniary trust. Accordingly he named Mr. Bristow for the former, and Mr. Middleton for the latter. On his own principles he ought to have done the very reverse. On every justifiable principle he ought to have done so; for a servant who for a long time resists the orders of his masters, and when he reluctantly gives way obeys them by halves, ought to be remarkably careful to make his actions correspond with his words, and to put himself out of all suspicion with regard to the purity of his motives. It was possible that the political reasons, which were solely assigned against Mr. Bristow's appointment, might have been the real motives of Mr. Hastings's opposition. But these he totally abandons, and holds fast to the pecuniary department. Now, as it is notorious that most of the abuses of India grow out of money-dealing, it was peculiarly unfit for a servant, delicate with regard to his reputation, to require a personal and confidential agent in a situation merely official, in which secrecy and personal connections could be of no possible use, and could only serve to excite distrust. Matters of account cannot be made too public; and it is not the most confidential agent, but the most responsible, who is the fittest for the management of pecuniary trusts. That man was the fittest at once to do the duty, and to remove all suspicions from the Governor-General's character, whom, by not being of his appointment, he could not be supposed to favor for private purposes, who must naturally stand in awe of his inspection, and whose misconduct could not possibly be imputable to him. Such an agency in a pecuniary trust was the very last on which Mr. Hastings ought to have risked his disobedience to the orders of the Direction,—or, what is even worse for his motives, a direct contradiction to all the principles upon which he had attempted to justify that bold measure.

The conduct of Mr. Hastings in the affair of Mahomed Reza Khan was an act of disobedience of the same character, but wrought by other instruments. When the Duanne (or universal perception, and management of the revenues) of Bengal was acquired to the Company, together with the command of the army, the Nabob, or governor, naturally fell into the rank rather of a subject than that even of a dependent prince. Yet the preservation of such a power in such a degree of subordination, with the criminal jurisdiction, and the care of the public order annexed to it, was a wise and laudable policy. It preserved a portion of the government in the hands of the natives; it kept them in respect; it rendered them quiet on the change; and it prevented that vast kingdom from wearing the dangerous appearance, and still more from sinking into the terrible state, of a country of conquest. Your Committee has already reported the manner in which the Company (it must be allowed, upon pretences that will not bear the slightest examination) diverted from its purposes a great part of the revenues appropriated to the country government; but they were very properly anxious that what remained should be well administered. In the lifetime of General Clavering and Colonel Monson, Mahomed Reza Khan, a man of rank among the natives, was judged by them the fittest person to conduct the affairs of the Nabob, as his Naib, or deputy: an office well known in the ancient constitution of these provinces, at a time when the principal magistrates, by nature and situation, were more efficient. This appointment was highly approved, and in consequence confirmed, by the Court of Directors. Mr. Hastings and Mr. Barwell, however, thought proper to remove him. To the authority of the Court of Directors they opposed the request of the Nabob, stating that he was arrived at the common age of maturity, and stood in no need of a deputy to manage his affairs. On former occasions Mr. Hastings conceived a very low opinion of the condition of the person whom he thus set up against the authority of his masters. "On a former occasion," as the Directors tell him, "and to serve a very different purpose, he had not scrupled to declare it as visible as the sun that the Nabob was a mere pageant, without even the shadow of authority." But on this occasion he became more substantial. Mr. Hastings and Mr. Barwell yielded to his representation that a deputy was not necessary, and accordingly Mahomed Reza Khan was removed from his office.

However, lest any one should so far mistrust their understanding as to conceive them the dupes of this pretext, they who had disobeyed the Company's orders under color that no deputy was necessary immediately appoint another deputy. This independent prince, who, as Mr. Hastings said, "had an incontestable right to his situation, and that it was his by inheritance," suddenly shrunk into his old state of insignificance, and was even looked upon in so low a light as to receive a severe reprimand from Mr. Hastings for interposing in the duties of his (the deputy's) office.

The Company's orders, censuring this transaction in the strongest terms, and ordering Mahomed Reza Khan to be immediately restored to the office of Naib Subahdar, were received in Calcutta in November, 1779. Mr. Hastings acted on this with the firmness which he had shown on other occasions; but in his principles he went further. Thinking himself assured of some extraordinary support, suitable to the open and determined defiance with which he was resolved to oppose the lawful authority of his superiors, and to exercise a despotic power, he no longer adhered to Mr. Barwell's distinction of the orders which had a tendency to bring his government into disrepute. This distinction afforded sufficient latitude to disobedience; but here he disdained all sorts of colors and distinctions. He directly set up an independent right to administer the government according to his pleasure; and he went so far as to bottom his claim to act independently of the Court of Directors on the very statute which commanded his obedience to them.

He declared roundly, "that he should not yield to the authority of the Court of Directors in any instance in which it should require his concession of the rights which he held under an act of Parliament." It is too clear to stand in need of proof, that he neither did or could hold any authority that was not subject, in every particle of it, and in every instance in which it could be exercised, to the orders of the Court of Directors.

He therefore refused to back the Company's orders with any requisition from himself to the Nabob, but merely suffered them to be transmitted to him, leaving it to him to do just as he thought proper. The Nabob, who called Mr. Hastings "his patron, and declared he would never do anything without his consent and approbation," perfectly understood this kind of signification. For the second time the Nabob recovered from his trance of pageantry and insignificance, and collected courage enough to write to the Council in these terms: "I administer the affairs of the Nizamut, (the government,) which are the affairs of my own family, by my own authority, and shall do so; and I never can on any account agree to the appointment of the Nabob Mahomed Reza Khan to the Naib Subahship." Here was a second independent power in Bengal. This answer from that power proved as satisfactory as it was resolute. No further notice was taken of the orders of the Court of Directors, and Mahomed Reza Khan found their protection much more of a shadow than the pageant of power of which he aspired to be the representative.

This act of disobedience differs from the others in one particular which, in the opinion of your Committee, rather aggravates than extenuates the offence. In the others, Messrs. Hastings and Barwell took the responsibility on themselves; here they held up the pretext of the country government. However, they obtained thereby one of the objects which they appear to have systematically pursued. As they had in the other instances shown to the British servants of the Company that the Directors were not able to protect them, here the same lesson was taught to the natives. Whilst the matter lay between the native power and the servants, the former was considered by Mr. Hastings in the most contemptible light. When the question was between the servants and the Court of Directors, the native power was asserted to be a self-derived, hereditary, uncontrollable authority, and encouraged to act as such.

In this manner the authority of the British legislature was at that time treated with every mark of reprobation and contempt. But soon after a most unexpected change took place, by which the persons in whose favor the Court of Directors had in vain interposed obtained specific objects which had been refused to them; things were, however, so well contrived, that legal authority was nearly as much affronted by the apparent compliance with their orders as by the real resistance they had before met with. After long and violent controversies, an agreement took place between Mr. Hastings and Mr. Francis. It appears that Mr. Hastings, embarrassed with the complicated wars and ruinous expenses into which his measures had brought him, began to think of procuring peace at home. The agreement originated in a conversation held on Christmas-Day, 1779, between Major Scott, then aide-de-camp, and now agent, to Mr. Hastings, and Mr. Ducarrel, a gentleman high in the Company's service at Calcutta. Mr. Scott, in consequence of this conversation, was authorized to make overtures to Mr. Francis through Mr. Ducarrel: to declare Mr. Hastings tired of controversy; expressing his wish to have the Mahratta war entirely left to him; that there were certain points he could not give up; that he could not (for reasons he then assigned) submit to the restoration of Mr. Fowke, Mahomed Reza Khan, and Mr. Bristow; that he had not the smallest personal objection to them, and would willingly provide for them in any other line. Mr. Francis in this treaty insisted on those very points which Mr. Hastings declared he could never give up, and that his conditions were the Company's orders,—that is, the restoration of the persons whom they had directed to be restored. The event of this negotiation was, that Mr. Hastings at length submitted to Mr. Francis, and that Mr. Fowke and Mahomed Reza Khan were reinstated in their situations.

Your Committee observe on this part of the transaction of Mr. Hastings, that as long as the question stood upon his obedience to his lawful superiors, so long he considered the restoration of these persons as a gross indignity, the submitting to which would destroy all his credit and influence in the country; but when it was to accommodate his own occasions in a treaty with a fellow-servant, all these difficulties instantly vanish, and he finds it perfectly consistent with his dignity, credit, and influence, to do for Mr. Francis what he had refused to the strict and reiterated injunctions of the Court of Directors. Tranquillity was, however, for a time restored by this measure, though it did not continue long. In about three months an occasion occurred in which Mr. Francis gave some opposition to a measure proposed by Mr. Hastings, which brought on a duel, upon the mischievous effects of which your Committee have already made their observations.

The departure of Mr. Francis soon after for Europe opened a new scene, and gave rise to a third revolution. Lest the arrangement with the servants of the Company should have the least appearance of being mistaken for obedience to their superiors, Mr. Francis was little more than a month gone, when Mr. Fowke was again recalled from Benares, and Mr. Bristow soon after from Oude. In these measures Mr. Hastings has combined the principles of disobedience which he had used in all the cases hitherto stated. In his Minute of Consultation on this recall he refers to his former Minutes; and he adds, that he has "a recent motive in the necessity of removing any circumstance which may contribute to lessen his influence in the effect of any negotiations in which he may be engaged in the prosecution of his intended visit to Lucknow." He here reverts to his old plea of preserving his influence; not content with this, as in the case of Mahomed Reza Khan he had called in the aid of the Nabob of Bengal, he here calls in the aid of the Nabob of Oude, who, on reasons exactly tallying with those given by Mr. Hastings, desires that Mr. Bristow may be removed. The true weight of these requisitions will appear, if not sufficiently apparent from the known situation of the parties, by the following extract of a letter from this Nabob of Oude to his agent at Calcutta, desiring him to acquaint Mr. Hastings, that, "if it is proper, I will write to the king [of Great Britain], and the vizier [one of his Majesty's ministers], and the chief of the Company, in such a manner as he shall direct, and in the words that he shall order, that Mr. Bristow's views may be thwarted there." There is no doubt of the entire cooeperation of the Nabob Asoph ul Dowlah in all the designs of Mr. Hastings, and in thwarting the views of any persons who place their reliance on the authority of this kingdom.

As usual, the Court of Directors appear in their proper order in the procession. After this third act of disobedience with regard to the same person and the same office, and after calling the proceedings unwarrantable, "in order to vindicate and uphold their own authority, and thinking it a duty incumbent on them to maintain the authority of the Court of Directors," they again order Mr. Bristow to be reinstated, and Mr. Middleton to be recalled: in this circle the whole moves with great regularity.

The extraordinary operations of Mr. Hastings, that soon after followed in every department which was the subject of all these acts of disobedience, have made them appear in a light peculiarly unpropitious to his cause. It is but too probable, from his own accounts, that he meditated some strong measure, both at Benares and at Oude, at the very time of the removal of those officers. He declares he knew that his conduct in those places was such as to lie very open to malicious representations; he must have been sensible that he was open to such representations from the beginning; he was therefore impelled by every motive which ought to influence a man of sense by no means to disturb the order which he had last established.

Of this, however, he took no care; but he was not so inattentive to the satisfaction of the sufferers, either in point of honor or of interest. This was most strongly marked in the case of Mr. Fowke. His reparation to that gentleman, in point of honor, is as full as possible. Mr. Hastings "declared, that he approved his character and his conduct in office, and believed that he might depend upon his exact and literal obedience and fidelity in the execution of the functions annexed to it." Such is the character of the man whom Mr. Hastings a second time removed from the office to which he told the Court of Directors, in his letter of the 3rd of March, 1780, he had appointed him in conformity to their orders. On the 14th of January, 1781, he again finds it an indispensable obligation in him to exercise powers "inherent in the constitution of his government." On this principle he claimed "the right of nominating the agent of his own choice to the Residence of Benares; that it is a representative situation: that, speaking for myself alone, it may be sufficient to say, that Mr. Francis Fowke is not my agent; that I cannot give him my confidence; that, while he continues at Benares, he stands as a screen between the Rajah and this government, instead of an instrument of control; that the Rajah himself, and every chief in Hindostan, will regard it as the pledge and foundation of his independence." Here Mr. Hastings has got back to his old principles, where he takes post as on strong ground. This he declares "to be his objection to Mr. Fowke, and that it is insuperable." The very line before this paragraph he writes of this person, to whom he could not give his confidence, that "he believed he might depend upon his fidelity, and his exact and literal obedience." Mr. Scott, who is authorized to defend Mr. Hastings, supported the same principles before your Committee by a comparison that avowedly reduces the Court of Directors to the state of a party against their servants. He declared, that, in his opinion, "it would be just as absurd to deprive him of the power of nominating his ambassador at Benares as it would be to force on the ministry of this country an ambassador from the opposition." Such is the opinion entertained in Bengal, and that but too effectually realized, of the relation between the principal servants of the Company and the Court of Directors.

So far the reparation, in point of honor, to Mr. Fowke was complete. The reparation in point of interest your Committee do not find to have been equally satisfactory; but they do find it to be of the most extraordinary nature, and of the most mischievous example. Mr. Fowke had been deprived of a place of rank and honor,—the place of a public Vackeel, or representative. The recompense provided for him is a succession to a contract. Mr. Hastings moved, that, on the expiration of Colonel Morgan's contract, he should be appointed agent to all the boats employed for the military service of that establishment, with a commission of fifteen per cent on all disbursements in that office,—permitting Mr. Fowke, at the same time, to draw his allowance of an hundred pounds a month, as Resident, until the expiration of the contract, and for three months after.

Mr. Hastings is himself struck, as every one must be, with so extraordinary a proceeding, the principle of which, he observes, "is liable to one material objection." That one is material indeed; for, no limit being laid down for the expense in which the percentage is to arise, it is the direct interest of the person employed to make his department as expensive as possible. To this Mr. Hastings answers, that "he is convinced by experience it will be better performed"; and yet he immediately after subjoins, "This defect can only be corrected by the probity of the person intrusted with so important a charge; and I am willing to have it understood, as a proof of the confidence I repose in Mr. Fowke, that I have proposed his appointment, in opposition to a general principle, to a trust so constituted."

In the beginning of this very Minute of Consultation, Mr. Hastings removes Mr. Fowke from the Residency of Benares because "he cannot give him his confidence"; and yet, before the pen is out of his hand, he violates one of the soundest general principles in the whole system of dealing, in order to give a proof of the confidence he reposes in that gentleman. This apparent gross contradiction is to be reconciled but by one way,—which is, that confidence with Mr. Hastings comes and goes with his opposition to legal authority. Where that authority recommends any person, his confidence in him vanishes; but to show that it is the authority, and not the person, he opposes, when that is out of sight, there is no rule so sacred which is not to be violated to manifest his real esteem and perfect trust in the person whom he has rejected. However, by overturning general principles to compliment Mr. Fowke's integrity, he does all in his power to corrupt it; at the same time he establishes an example that must either subject all future dealings to the same pernicious clause, or which, being omitted, must become a strong implied charge on the integrity of those who shall hereafter be excluded from a trust so constituted.

It is not foreign to the object of your Committee, in this part of their observations, which relates to the obedience to orders, to remark upon the manner in which the orders of the Court of Directors with regard to this kind of dealing in contracts are observed. These orders relate to contracts; and they contain two standing regulations.

1st, That all contracts shall be publicly advertised, and that the most reasonable proposals shall be accepted.

2ndly, That two contracts, those of provisions and for carriage bullocks, shall be only annual.

These orders are undoubtedly some correctives to the abuses which may arise in this very critical article of public dealing. But the House will remark, that, if the business usually carried on by contracts can be converted at pleasure into agencies, like that of Mr. Fowke, all these regulations perish of course, and there is no direction whatsoever for restraining the most prodigal and corrupt bargains for the public.

Your Committee have inquired into the observance of these necessary regulations, and they find that they have, like the rest, been entirely contemned, and contemned with entire impunity. After the period of Colonel Monson's death, and Mr. Hastings and Mr. Barwell obtaining the lead in the Council, the contracts were disposed of without at all advertising for proposals. Those in 1777 were given for three years; and the gentlemen in question growing by habit and encouragement into more boldness, in 1779 the contracts were disposed of for five years: and this they did at the eve of the expiration of their own appointment to the government. This increase in the length of the contracts, though contrary to orders, might have admitted some excuse, if it had been made, even in appearance, the means of lessening the expense. But the advantages allowed to the contractors, instead of being diminished, were enlarged, and in a manner far beyond the proportion of the enlargement of terms. Of this abuse and contempt of orders a judgment may be formed by the single contract for supplying the army with draught and carriage bullocks. As it stood at the expiration of the contract in 1779, the expense of that service was about one thousand three hundred pounds a month. By the new contract, given away in September of that year, the service was raised to the enormous sum of near six thousand pounds a month. The monthly increase, therefore, being four thousand seven hundred pounds, it constitutes a total increase of charges for the Company, in the five years of the contract, of no less a sum than two hundred and thirty-five thousand pounds. Now, as the former contract was, without doubt, sufficiently advantageous, a judgment may be formed of the extravagance of the present. The terms, indeed, pass the bounds of all allowance for negligence and ignorance of office.

The case of Mr. Belli's contract for supplying provisions to the Fort is of the same description; and what exceedingly increases the suspicion against this profusion, in contracts made in direct violation of orders, is, that they are always found to be given in favor of persons closely connected with Mr. Hastings in his family, or even in his actual service.

The principles upon which Mr. Hastings and Mr. Barwell justify this disobedience, if admitted, reduce the Company's government, so far as it regards the Supreme Council, to a mere patronage,—to a mere power of nominating persons to or removing them from an authority which, is not only despotic with regard to those who are subordinate to it, but in all its acts entirely independent of the legal power which is nominally superior. These are principles directly leading to the destruction of the Company's government. A correspondent practice being established, (as in this case of contracts, as well as others, it has been,) the means are furnished of effectuating this purpose: for the common superior, the Company, having no power to regulate or to support their own appointments, nor to remove those whom they wish to remove, nor to prevent the contracts from being made use of against their interest, all the English in Bengal must naturally look to the next in authority; they must depend upon, follow, and attach themselves to him solely; and thus a party may be formed of the whole system of civil and military servants for the support of the subordinate, and defiance of the supreme power.

Your Committee being led to attend to the abuse of contracts, which are given upon principles fatal to the subordination of the service, and in defiance of orders, revert to the disobedience of orders in the case of Mahomed Reza Khan.

This transaction is of a piece with those that preceded it. On the 6th of July, 1781, Mr. Hastings announced to the board the arrival of a messenger and introduced a requisition from the young Nabob Mobarek ul Dowlah, "that he might be permitted to dispose of his own stipend, without being made to depend on the will of another." In favor of this requisition Mr. Hastings urged various arguments:—that the Nabob could no longer be deemed a minor;—that he was twenty-six years of age, and father of many children;—that his understanding was much improved of late by an attention to his education;—that these circumstances gave him a claim to the uncontrolled exercise of domestic authority; and it might reasonably be supposed that he would pay a greater regard to a just economy in his own family than had been observed by those who were aliens to it. For these reasons Mr. Hastings recommended to the board that Mahomed Reza Khan should be immediately divested of the office of superintendent of the Nabob's household, and that the Nabob Mobarek ul Dowlah should be intrusted with the exclusive and entire receipts and disbursements of his stipend, and the uncontrolled management and regulation of his household. Thus far your Committee are of opinion, that the conclusion corresponds with the premises; for, supposing the fact to be established or admitted, that the Nabob, in point of age, capacity, and judgment, was qualified to act for himself, it seems reasonable that the management of his domestic affairs should not be withheld from him. On this part of the proceeding your Committee will only observe, that, if it were strictly true that the Nabob's understanding had been much improved of late by an attention to his education, (which seems an extraordinary way of describing the qualifications of a man of six-and-twenty, the father of many children,) the merit of such improvement must be attributed to Mahomed Reza Khan, who was the only person of rank and character connected with him, or who could be supposed to have any influence over him. Mr. Hastings himself reproaches the Nabob with raising mean men to be his companions, and tells him plainly, that some persons, both of bad character and base origin, had found the means of insinuating themselves into his company and constant fellowship. In such society it is not likely that either the Nabob's morals or his understanding could have been much improved; nor could it be deemed prudent to leave him without any check upon his conduct. Mr. Hastings's opinion on this point may be collected from what he did, but by no means from what he said, on the occasion.

The House will naturally expect to find that the Nabob's request was granted, and that the resolution of the board was conformable to the terms of Mr. Hastings's recommendation. Yet the fact is directly the reverse. Mr. Hastings, after advising that the Nabob should be intrusted with the exclusive and entire receipts and disbursements of his stipend, immediately corrects that advice, being aware that so sudden and unlimited a disposal of a large revenue might at first encourage a spirit of dissipation in the Nabob,—and reserves to himself a power of establishing, with the Nabob's consent, such a plan for the regulation and equal distribution of the Nabob's expenses as should be adapted to the dissimilar appearances of preserving his interests and his independence at the same time. On the same complicated principles the subsequent resolution of the board professes to allow the Nabob the management of his stipend and expenses,—with an hope, however, (which, considering the relative situation of the parties, could be nothing less than an injunction,) that he would submit to such a plan as should be agreed on between him and the Governor-General.

The drift of these contradictions is sufficiently apparent. Mahomed Reza Khan was to be divested of his office at all events, and the management of the Nabob's stipend committed to other hands. To accomplish the first, the Nabob is said to be "now arrived at that time of life when a man may be supposed capable, if ever, of managing his own concerns." When this principle has answered the momentary purpose for which it was produced, we find it immediately discarded, and an opposite resolution formed on an opposite principle, viz., that he shall not have the management of his own concerns, in consideration of his want of experience.

Mr. Hastings, on his arrival at Moorshedabad, gives Mr. Wheler an account of his interview with the Nabob, and of the Nabob's implicit submission to his advice. The principal, if not the sole, object of the whole operation appears from the result of it. Sir John D'Oyly, a gentleman in whom Mr. Hastings places particular confidence, succeeds to the office of Mahomed Reza Khan, and to the same control over the Nabob's expenses. Into the hands of this gentleman the Nabob's stipend was to be immediately paid, as every intermediate channel would be an unavoidable cause of delay; and to his advice the Nabob was required to give the same attention as if it were given by Mr. Hastings himself. One of the conditions prescribed to the Nabob was, that he should admit no Englishman to his presence without previously consulting Sir John D'Oyly; and he must forbid any person of that nation to be intruded without his introduction. On these arrangements it need only be observed, that a measure which sets out with professing to relieve the Nabob from a state of perpetual pupilage concludes with delivering not only his fortune, but his person, to the custody of a particular friend of Mr. Hastings.

The instructions given to the Nabob contain other passages that merit attention. In one place Mr. Hastings tells him, "You have offered to give up the sum of four lacs of rupees to be allowed the free use of the remainder; but this we have refused." In another he says, that, "as many matters will occur which cannot be so easily explained by letter as by conversation, I desire that you will on such occasions give your orders to Sir John D'Oyly respecting such points as you may desire to have imparted to me." The offer alluded to in the first passage does not appear in the Nabob's letters, therefore must have been in conversation, and declined by Mr. Hastings without consulting his colleague. A refusal of it might have been proper; but it supposes a degree of incapacity in the Nabob not to be reconciled to the principles on which Mahomed Reza Khan was removed from the management of his affairs. Of the matters alluded to in the second, and which, it is said, could not be so easily explained by letters as in conversation, no explanation is given. Your Committee will therefore leave them, as Mr. Hastings has done, to the opinion of the House.

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