The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol. VIII. (of 12)
by Edmund Burke
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That was charged by the majority of Council to have happened which might be expected inevitably to happen: the care of the Nabob's education was grossly neglected, and his fortune as grossly mismanaged and embezzled. What connection this waste and embezzlement had with the subsequent events the House will judge.

On the 2d of May, 1775, Mr. James Grant, accountant to the Provincial Council of Moorshedabad, produced to the Governor-General and Council certain Persian papers which stated nine lacs of rupees (upwards of ninety thousand pounds sterling) received by Munny Begum, on her appointment to the management of the Nabob's household, over and above the balance due at that time, and not accounted for by her. These Grant had received from Nuned Roy, who had been a writer in the Begum's Treasury Office. Both Mr. Grant and Nuned Roy were called before the board, and examined respecting the authenticity of the papers. Among other circumstances tending to establish the credit of these papers, it appears that Mr. Grant offered to make oath that the chief eunuch of the Begum had come to him on purpose to prevail on him not to send the papers, and had declared that the accounts were not to be disputed.

On the 9th of May it was resolved by a majority of the board, against the opinion and solemn protest of the Governor-General, that a gentleman should be sent up to the city of Moorshedabad to demand of Munny Begum the accounts of the nizamut and household, from April, 1764, to the latest period to which they could be closed, and to divest the Begum of the office of guardian to the Nabob; and Mr. Charles Goring was appointed for this purpose.

The preceding facts are stated to the House, not as the foundation of an inquiry into the conduct of the Begum, but as they lead to and are therefore necessary to explain by what means a discovery was made of a sum of money given by her to Mr. Hastings.

Mr. Goring's first letter from the city, dated 17th May, 1775, mentions, among other particulars, the young Nabob's joy at being delivered out of the hands of Munny Begum, of the mean and indigent state of confinement in which he was kept by her, of the distress of his mother, and that he had told Mr. Goring that the "Begum's eunuch had instructed the servants not to suffer him to learn anything by which he might make himself acquainted with business": and he adds, "Indeed, I believe there is great truth in it, as his Excellency seems to be ignorant of almost everything a man of his rank ought to know,—not from a want of understanding, but of being properly educated."

On the 21st of May, Mr. Goring transmitted to the Governor-General and Council an account of sums given by the Begum under her seal, delivered to Mr. Goring by the Nabob in her apartments. The account is as follows.

Memorandum of Disbursements to English Gentlemen, from the Nabob's Sircar, in the Bengal Year 1179.

Seal of Munny Begum, Mother of the Nabob Nudjuf ul Dowlah, deceased.

To the Governor, Mr. Hastings, for an entertainment 1,50,000

To Mr. Middleton, on account of an agreement entered into by Baboo Begum 1,50,000 ———— Rupees 3,00,000

When this paper was delivered, the Governor-General moved that Mr. Goring might be asked how he came by it, and on what account this partial selection was made by him; also, that the Begum should be desired to explain the sum laid to his charge, and that he should ask the Nabob or the Begum their reasons for delivering this separate account.

The substance of the Governor's proposal was agreed to.

Mr. Goring's answer to this requisition of the board is as follows.

"In compliance with your orders to explain the delivery of the paper containing an account of three lacs of rupees, I am to inform you, it took its rise from a message sent me by the Begum, requesting I would interest myself with the Nabob to have Akbar Ali Khan released to her for a few hours, having something of importance to communicate to me, on which she wished to consult him. Thinking the service might be benefited by it, I accordingly desired the Nabob would be pleased to deliver him to my charge, engaging to return him the same night,—which I did. I heard no more till next day, when the Begum requested to see his Excellency and myself, desiring Akbar Ali might attend.

"On our first meeting, she entered into a long detail of her administration, endeavoring to represent it in the fairest light; at last she came to the point, and told me, my urgent and repeated remonstrances to her to be informed how the balance arose of which I was to inquire induced her from memory to say what she had herself given,—then mentioning the sum of a lac and a half to the Governor to feast him whilst he stayed there, and a lac and a half to Mr. Middleton by the hands of Baboo Begum. As I looked on this no more than a matter of conversation, I arose to depart, but was detained by the Begum's requesting the Nabob to come to her. A scene of weeping and complaint then began, which made me still more impatient to be gone, and I repeatedly sent to his Excellency for that purpose: he at last came out and delivered me the paper I sent you, declaring it was given him by the Begum to be delivered me."

Munny Begum also wrote a letter to General Clavering, in which she directly asserts the same. "Mr. Goring has pressed me on the subject of the balances; in answer to which I informed him, that all the particulars, being on record, would in the course of the inquiry appear from the papers. He accordingly received from the Nabob Mobarek ul Dowlah a list of three lacs of rupees given to the Governor and Mr. Middleton. I now send you inclosed a list of the dates when it was presented, and through whose means, which you will receive."

The Governor-General then desired that the following questions might be proposed to the Begum by Mr. Martin, then Resident at the Durbar.

1st. Was any application made to you for the account which you have delivered, of three lacs of rupees said to have been paid to the Governor and Mr. Middleton, or did you deliver the account of your own free will, and unsolicited?

2d. In what manner was the application made to you, and by whom?

3d. On what account was the sum of one and half lacs given to the Governor-General, which you have laid to his account? Was it in consequence of any requisition from him, or of any previous agreement, or of any established usage?

The Governor-General objected strongly to Mr. Goring's being present when the questions were put to the Begum; but it was insisted on by the majority, and it was resolved accordingly, that he ought to be present. The reasons on both sides will best appear by the copy of the debate, inserted in the Appendix.

The Begum's answer to the preceding questions, addressed to the Governor-General and Council, where it touched the substance, was as follows.

"The case is this. Mr. Goring, on his arrival here, seized all the papers, and secured them under his seal; and all the mutsuddies [clerks or accountants] attended him, and explained to him all the particulars of them. Mr. Goring inquired of me concerning the arrears due to the sepoys, &c., observing, that the nizamut and bhela money [Nabob's allowance] was received from the Company; from whence, then, could the balance arise? I made answer, that the sum was not adequate to the expenses. Mr. Goring then asked, What are those expenses which exceed the sum received from the Company? I replied, All the particulars will be found in the papers. The affair of the three lacs of rupees, on account of entertainment for the Governor and Mr. Middleton, has been, I am told, related to you by Rajah Gourdas; besides which there are many other expenses, which will appear from the papers. As the custom of entertainment is of long standing, and accordingly every Governor of Calcutta who came to Moorshedabad received a daily sum of two thousand rupees for entertainment, which, was in fact instead of provisions; and the lac and an half of rupees laid to Mr. Middleton's charge was a present on account of an agreement entered into by the Bhow Begum. I therefore affixed my seal to the account, and forwarded it to Mr. Goring by means of the Nabob."

In this answer, the accounts given to Mr. Goring she asserts to be genuine. They are explained, in all the particulars, by all the secretaries and clerks in office. They are secured under Mr. Goring's seal. To them she refers for everything; to them she refers for the three lacs of rupees given to Mr. Hastings and Mr. Middleton. It is impossible to combine together a clearer body of proof, composed of record of office and verbal testimony mutually supporting and illustrating each other.

The House will observe that the receipt of the money is indirectly admitted by one of the Governor's own questions to Munny Begum.

If the money was not received, it would have been absurd to ask on what account it was given. Both the question and the answer relate to some established usage, the appeal to which might possibly be used to justify the acceptance of the money, if it was accepted, but would be superfluous, and no way applicable to the charge, if the money was never given.

On this point your Committee will only add, that, in all the controversy between Mr. Hastings and the majority of the Council, he nowhere denies the receipt of this money. In his letter to the Court of Directors of the 31st of July, 1775, he says that the Begum was compelled by the ill treatment of one of her servants, which he calls a species of torture, to deliver the paper to Mr. Goring; but he nowhere affirms that the contents of the paper were false.

On this conduct the majority remark, "We confess it appears very extraordinary that Mr. Hastings should employ so much time and labor to show that the discoveries against him have been obtained by improper means, but that he should take no step whatsoever to invalidate the truth of them. He does not deny the receipt of the money: the Begum's answers to the questions put to her at his own desire make it impossible that he should deny it. It seems, he has formed some plan of defence against this and similar charges, which he thinks will avail him in a court of justice, and which it would be imprudent in him to anticipate at this time. If he has not received the money, we see no reason for such a guarded and cautious method of proceeding. An innocent man would take a shorter and easier course. He would voluntarily exculpate himself by his oath."

Your Committee entertain doubts whether the refusal to exculpate by oath can be used as a circumstance to infer any presumption of guilt. But where the charge is direct, specific, circumstantial, supported by papers and verbal testimony, made before his lawful superiors, to whom he was accountable, by persons competent to charge, if innocent, he was obliged at least to oppose to it a clear and formal denial of the fact, and to make a demand for inquiry. But if he does not deny the fact, and eludes inquiry, just presumptions will be raised against him.

Your Committee, willing to go to the bottom of a mode of corruption deep and dangerous in the act and the example, being informed that Mr. Goring was in London, resolved to examine him upon the subject. Mr. Goring not only agreed with all the foregoing particulars, but even produced to your Committee what he declared to be the original Persian papers in his hands, delivered from behind the curtain through the Nabob himself, who, having privilege, as a son-in-law, to enter the women's apartment, received them from Munny Begum as authentic,—the woman all the while lamenting the loss of her power with many tears and much vociferation. She appears to have been induced to make discovery of the above practices in order to clear herself of the notorious embezzlement of the Nabob's effects.

Your Committee examining Mr. Scott and Mr. Baber on this subject, they also produced a Persian paper, which Mr. Baber said he had received from the hands of a servant of Munny Begum,—and along with it a paper purporting to be a translation into English of the Persian original. In the paper given as the translation, Munny Begum is made to allege many matters of hardship and cruelty against Mr. Goring, and an attempt to compel her to make out a false account, but does not at all deny the giving the money: very far from it. She is made to assert, indeed, "that Mr. Goring desired her to put down three lacs of rupees, as divided between Mr. Hastings and Mr. Middleton. I begged to be excused, observing to him that this money had neither been tendered or accepted with any criminal or improper view." After some lively expressions in the European manner, she says, "that it had been customary to furnish a table for the Governor and his attendants, during their stay at court. With respect to the sum mentioned to Mr. Middleton, it was a free gift from my own privy purse. Purburam replied, he understood this money to be paid to these gentlemen as a gratuity for secret services; and as such he should assuredly represent it." Here the payments to Mr. Hastings are fully admitted, and excused as agreeable to usage, and for keeping a table. The present to Mr. Middleton is justified as a free gift. The paper produced by Mr. Scott is not referred to by your Committee as of any weight, but to show that it does not prove what it is produced to prove.

Your Committee, on reading the paper delivered in by Mr. Scott as a translation, perceive it to be written in a style which they conceived was little to be expected in a faithful translation from a Persian original, being full of quaint terms and idiomatic phrases, which strongly bespeak English habits in the way of thinking, and of English peculiarities and affectations in the expression. Struck with these strong internal marks of a suspicious piece, they turned to the Persian manuscript produced by Mr. Scott and Mr. Baber, and comparing it with Mr. Goring's papers, they found the latter carefully sealed upon every leaf, as they believe is the practice universal in all authentic pieces. They found on the former no seal or signature whatsoever, either at the top or bottom of the scroll. This circumstance of a want of signature not only takes away all authority from the piece as evidence, but strongly confirmed the suspicions entertained by your Committee, on reading the translation, of unwarrantable practices in the whole conduct of this business, even if the translation should be found substantially to agree with the original, such an original as it is. The Persian roll is in the custody of the clerk of your Committee for further examination.

Mr. Baber and Mr. Scott, being examined on these material defects in the authentication of a paper produced by them as authentic, could give no sort of account how it happened to be without a signature; nor did Mr. Baber explain how he came to accept and use it in that condition.

On the whole, your Committee conceive that all the parts of the transaction, as they appear in the Company's records, are consistent, and mutually throw light on each other.

The Court of Directors order the President and Council to appoint a minister to transact the political affairs of the government, and to select for that purpose some person well qualified for the affairs of government, and to be the minister of government. Mr. Hastings selects for the minister so described and so qualified a woman locked up in a seraglio. He is ordered to appoint a guardian to the Nabob's minority. Mr. Hastings passes by his natural parent, and appoints another woman. These acts would of themselves have been liable to suspicion. But a great deficiency or embezzlement soon appears in this woman's account. To exculpate herself, she voluntarily declares that she gave a considerable sum to Mr. Hastings, who never once denies the receipt. The account given by the principal living witness of the transaction in his evidence is perfectly coherent, and consistent with the recorded part. The original accounts, alleged to be delivered by the lady in question, were produced by him, properly sealed and authenticated. Nothing is opposed to all this but a paper without signature, and therefore of no authority, attended with a translation of a very extraordinary appearance; and this paper, in apologizing for it, confirms the facts beyond a doubt.

Finally, your Committee examined the principal living witness of the transaction, and find his evidence consistent with the record. Your Committee received the original accounts, alleged to be delivered by the lady in question, properly sealed and authenticated, and find opposed to them nothing but a paper without signature, and therefore of no authority, attended with a translation of a very extraordinary appearance.

In Europe the Directors ordered opinions to be taken on a prosecution: they received one doubtful, and three positively for it.

They write, in their letter of 5th February, 1777, paragraphs 32 and 33:—

"Although it is rather our wish to prevent evils in future than to enter into a severe retrospection of the past, and, where facts are doubtful, or attended with alleviating circumstances, to proceed with lenity, rather than to prosecute with rigor,—yet some of the cases 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. The principal facts[56] have been communicated to our solicitor, whose report, confirmed by our standing counsel, we send you by the present conveyance,—authorizing you, at the same time, to take such steps as shall appear proper to be pursued.

"If we find it necessary, we shall return you the original covenants of such of our servants as remain in India, and have been anyways concerned in the undue receipt of money, in order to enable you to recover the same for the use of the Company by a suit or suits at law, to be instituted in the Supreme Court of Judicature in Bengal."

Your Committee do not find that the covenants have been sent, or that any prosecution has been begun.

A vast scene of further peculation and corruption, as well in this business as in several other instances, appears in the evidence of the Rajah Nundcomar. That evidence, and all the proceedings relating to it, are entered in the Appendix. It was the last evidence of the kind. The informant was hanged. An attempt was made by Mr. Hastings to indict him for a conspiracy; this failing of effect, another prosecutor appeared for an offence not connected with these charges. Nundcomar, the object of that charge, was executed, at the very crisis of the inquiry, for an offence of another nature, not capital by the laws of the country. As long as it appeared safe, several charges were made (which are inserted at large in the Appendix); and Mr. Hastings and Mr. Barwell seemed apprehensive of many more. General Clavering, Colonel Monson, and Mr. Francis declared, in a minute entered on the Consultations of the 5th May, 1775, that, "in the late proceedings of the Revenue Board, it will appear that there is no species of peculation from which the Honorable Governor-General has thought proper to abstain." A charge of offences of so heinous a nature, so very extensive, so very deliberate, made on record by persons of great weight, appointed by act of Parliament his associates in the highest trust,—a charge made at his own board, to his own face, and transmitted to their common superiors, to whom they were jointly and severally accountable, this was not a thing to be passed over by Mr. Hastings; still less ought it to have perished in other hands. It ought to have been brought to an immediate and strict discussion. General Clavering, Colonel Monson, and Mr. Francis ought to have been punished for a groundless accusation, if such it had been. If the accusation were founded, Mr. Hastings was very unfit for the high office of Governor-General, or for any office.

After this comprehensive account by his colleagues of the Governor-General's conduct, these gentlemen proceeded to the particulars, and they produced the case of a corrupt bargain of Mr. Hastings concerning the disposition of office. This transaction is here stated by your Committee in a very concise manner, being on this occasion merely intended to point out to the House the absolute necessity which, in their opinion, exists for another sort of inquiry into the corruptions of men in power in India than hitherto has been pursued. The proceedings may be found at large in the Appendix.

A complaint was made that Mr. Hastings had sold the office of Phousdar of Hoogly to a person called Khan Jehan Khan on a corrupt agreement,—which was, that from his emoluments of seventy-two thousand rupees a year he was to pay to the Governor-General thirty-six thousand rupees annually, and to his banian, Cantoo Baboo, four thousand more. The complainant offers to pay to the Company the forty thousand rupees which were corruptly paid to these gentlemen, and to content himself with the allowance of thirty-two thousand. Mr. Hastings was, if on any occasion of his life, strongly called upon to bring this matter to the most distinct issue; and Mr. Barwell, who supported his administration, and as such ought to have been tender for his honor, was bound to help him to get to the bottom of it, if his enemies should be ungenerous enough to countenance such an accusation, without permitting it to be detected and exposed. But the course they held was directly contrary. They began by an objection to receive the complaint, in which they obstinately persevered as far as their power went. Mr. Barwell was of opinion that the Company's instructions to inquire into peculation were intended for the public interests,—that it could not forward the public interests to enter into these inquiries,—and that "he never would be a channel of aspersing any character, while it cannot conduce to the good of government." Here was a new mode of reasoning found out by Mr. Barwell, which might subject all inquiry into peculation to the discretion of the very persons charged with it. By that reasoning all orders of his superiors were at his mercy; and he actually undertook to set aside those commands which by an express act of Parliament he was bound to obey, on his opinion of what would or would not conduce to the good of government. On his principles, he either totally annihilates the authority of the act of Parliament, or he entertains so extravagant a supposition as that the Court of Directors possessed a more absolute authority, when their orders were not intended for the public good, than when they were.

General Clavering was of a different opinion. He thought "he should be wanting to the legislature, and to the Court of Directors, if he was not to receive the complaints of the inhabitants, when properly authenticated, and to prefer them to the board for investigation, as the only means by which these grievances can be redressed, and the Company informed of the conduct of their servants."

To these sentiments Colonel Monson and Mr. Francis adhered. Mr. Hastings thought it more safe, on principles similar to those assumed by Mr. Barwell, to refuse to hear the charge; but he reserved his remarks on this transaction, because they will be equally applicable to many others which in the course of this business are likely to be brought before the board. There appeared, therefore, to him a probability that the charge about the corrupt bargain was no more than the commencement of a whole class of such accusations; since he was of opinion (and what is very extraordinary, previous to any examination) that the same remarks would be applicable to several of those which were to follow. He must suppose this class of charges very uniform, as well as very extensive.

The majority, however, pressed their point; and notwithstanding his opposition to all inquiry, as he was supported only by Mr. Barwell, the question for it was carried. He was then desired to name a day for the appearance of the accuser, and the institution of the inquiry. Though baffled in his attempt to stop the inquiry in the first stage, Mr. Hastings made a second stand. He seems here to have recollected something inherent in his own office, that put the matter more in his power than at first he had imagined; for he speaks in a positive and commanding tone: "I will not," says his minute, "name a day for Mir Zin ul ab Dien to appear before the board; nor will I suffer him to appear before the board."

The question for the inquiry had been carried; it was declared fit to inquire; but there was, according to him, a power which might prevent the appearance of witnesses. On the general policy of obstructing such inquiries, Mr. Francis, on a motion to that effect, made a sound remark, which cannot fail of giving rise to very serious thoughts: "That, supposing it agreed among ourselves that the board shall not hear any charges or complaints against a member of it, a case or cases may hereafter happen, in which, by a reciprocal complaisance to each other, our respective misconduct may be effectually screened from inquiry; and the Company, whose interest is concerned, or the parties who may have reason to complain of any one member individually, may be left without remedy."

Mr. Barwell was not of the opinion of that gentleman, nor of the maker of the motion, General Clavering, nor of Mr. Monson, who supported it. He entertains sentiments with regard to the orders of the Directors in this particular perfectly correspondent with those which he had given against the original inquiry. He says, "Though it may in some little degree save the Governor-General from personal insult, where there is no judicial power lodged, that of inquisition can never answer any good purpose." This is doctrine of a most extraordinary nature and tendency, and, as your Committee conceive, contrary to every sound principle to be observed in the constitution of judicatures and inquisitions. The power of inquisition ought rather to be wholly separated from the judicial, the former being a previous step to the latter, which requires other rules and methods, and ought not, if possible, to be lodged in the same hands. The rest of his minute (contained in the Appendix) is filled with a censure on the native inhabitants, with reflections on the ill consequences which would arise from an attention to their complaints, and with an assertion of the authority of the Supreme Court, as superseding the necessity and propriety of such inquiries in Council. With regard to his principles relative to the natives and their complaints, if they are admitted, they are of a tendency to cut off the very principle of redress. The existence of the Supreme Court, as a means of relief to the natives under all oppressions, is held out to qualify a refusal to hear in the Council. On the same pretence, Mr. Hastings holds up the authority of the same tribunal. But this and other proceedings show abundantly of what efficacy that court has been for the relief of the unhappy people of Bengal. A person in delegated authority refuses a satisfaction to his superiors, throwing himself on a court of justice, and supposes that nothing but what judicially appears against him is a fit subject of inquiry. But even in this Mr. Hastings fails in his application of his principle; for the majority of the Council were undoubtedly competent to order a prosecution against him in the Supreme Court, which they had no ground for without a previous inquiry. But their inquiry had other objects. No private accuser might choose to appear. The party who was the subject of the peculation might be (as here is stated) the accomplice in it. No popular action or popular suit was provided by the charter under whose authority the court was instituted. In any event, a suit might fail in the court for the punishment of an actor in an abuse for want of the strictest legal proof, which might yet furnish matter for the correction of the abuse, and even reasons strong enough not only to justify, but to require, the Directors instantly to address for the removal of a Governor-General.—The opposition of Mr. Hastings and Mr. Barwell proved as ineffectual in this stage as the former; and a day was named by the majority for the attendance of the party.

The day following this deliberation, on the assembling of the Council, the Governor-General, Mr. Hastings, said, "he would not sit to be confronted by such accusers, nor to suffer a judicial inquiry into his conduct at the board of which he is the president." As on the former occasions, he declares the board dissolved. As on the former occasions, the majority did not admit his claim to this power; they proceeded in his absence to examine the accuser and witnesses. Their proceedings are in Appendix K.

It is remarkable, that, during this transaction, Khan Jehan Khan, the party with whom the corrupt agreement was made, declined an attendance under excuses which the majority thought pretences for delay, though they used no compulsory methods towards his appearance. At length, however, he did appear, and then a step was taken by Mr. Hastings of a very extraordinary nature, after the steps which he had taken before, and the declarations with which those steps had been accompanied. Mr. Hastings, who had absolutely refused to be present in the foregoing part of the proceeding, appeared with Khan Jehan Khan. And now the affair took another turn; other obstructions were raised. General Clavering said that the informations hitherto taken had proceeded upon oath. Khan Jehan Khan had previously declared to General Clavering his readiness to be so examined; but when called upon by the board, he changed his mind, and alleged a delicacy, relative to his rank, with regard to the oath. In this scruple he was strongly supported by Mr. Hastings. He and Mr. Barwell went further: they contended that the Council had no right to administer an oath. They must have been very clear in that opinion, when they resisted the examination on oath of the very person who, if he could safely swear to Mr. Hastings's innocence, owed it as a debt to his patron not to refuse it; and of the payment of this debt it was extraordinary in the patron not only to enforce, but to support, the absolute refusal.

Although the majority did not acquiesce in this doctrine, they appeared to have doubts of the prudence of enforcing it by violent means; but, construing his refusal into a disposition to screen the peculations of the Governor-General, they treated him as guilty of a contempt of their board, dismissed him from the service, and recommended another (not the accuser) to his office.

The reasons on both sides appear in the Appendix. Mr. Hastings accuses them bitterly of injustice to himself in considering the refusal of this person to swear as a charge proved. How far they did so, and under what qualifications, will appear by reference to the papers in the Appendix. But Mr. Hastings "thanks God that they are not his judges." His great hold, and not without reason, is the Supreme Court; and he "blesses the wisdom of Parliament, that constituted a court of judicature at so seasonable a time, to check the despotism of the new Council." It was thought in England that the court had other objects than the protection of the Governor-General against the examinations of those sent out with instructions to inquire into the peculations of men in power.

Though Mr. Hastings did at that time, and avowedly did, everything to prevent any inquiry that was instituted merely for the information of the Court of Directors, yet he did not feel himself thoroughly satisfied with his own proceedings. It was evident that to them his and Mr. Barwell's reasonings would not appear very respectful or satisfactory; he therefore promises to give them full satisfaction at some future time. In his letter of the 14th of September, 1775, he reiterates a former declaration, and assures them of his resolution to this purpose in the strongest terms. "I now again recur to the declaration which I have before made, that it is my fixed determination to carry literally into execution, and most fully and liberally explain every circumstance of my conduct on the points upon which I have been injuriously arraigned,—and to afford you the clearest conviction of my own integrity, and of the propriety of my motives for my declining a present defence of it."

These motives, as far as they can be discovered, were the violence of his adversaries, the interested character and views of the accuser, and the danger of a prosecution in the Supreme Court, which made it prudent to reserve his defence. These arguments are applicable to any charge. Notwithstanding these reasons, it is plain by the above letter that he thought himself bound at some time or other to give satisfaction to his masters: till he should do this, in his own opinion, he remained in an unpleasant situation. But he bore his misfortune, it seems, patiently, with a confidence in their justice for his future relief. He says, "Whatever evil may fill the long interval which may precede it." That interval he has taken care to make long enough; for near eight years are now elapsed, and he has not yet taken the smallest step towards giving to the Court of Directors any explanation whatever, much less that full and liberal explanation which he had so repeatedly and solemnly promised.

It is to be observed, that, though Mr. Hastings talks in these letters much of his integrity, and of the purity of his motives, and of full explanations, he nowhere denies the fact of this corrupt traffic of office. Though he had adjourned his defence, with so much pain to himself, to so very long a day, he was not so inattentive to the ease of Khan Jehan Khan as he has shown himself to his own. He had been accused of corruptly reserving to himself a part of the emoluments of this man's office; it was a delicate business to handle, whilst his defence stood adjourned; yet, in a very short time after a majority came into his hands, he turned out the person appointed by General Clavering, &c, and replaced the very man with whom he stood accused of the corrupt bargain; what was worse, he had been charged with originally turning out another, to make room for this man. The whole is put in strong terms by the then majority of the Council, where, after charging him with every species of peculation, they add, "We believe the proofs of his appropriating four parts in seven of the salary with which the Company is charged for the Phousdar of Hoogly are such as, whether sufficient or not to convict him in a court of justice, will not leave the shadow of a doubt concerning his guilt in the mind of any unprejudiced person. The salary is seventy-two thousand rupees a year; the Governor takes thirty-six thousand, and allows Cantoo Baboo four thousand more for the trouble he submits to in conducting the negotiation with the Phousdar. This also is the common subject of conversation and derision through the whole settlement. It is our firm opinion and belief, that the late Phousdar of Hoogly, a relation of Mahomed Reza Khan, was turned out of this office merely because his terms were not so favorable as those which the Honorable Governor-General has obtained from the present Phousdar. The Honorable Governor-General is pleased to assert, with a confidential spirit peculiar to himself, that his measures hitherto stand unimpeached, except by us. We know not how this assertion is to be made good, unless the most daring and flagrant prostitution in every branch be deemed an honor to his administration."

The whole style and tenor of these accusations, as well as the nature of them, rendered Mr. Hastings's first postponing, and afterwards totally declining, all denial, or even defence or explanation, very extraordinary. No Governor ought to hear in silence such charges; and no Court of Directors ought to have slept upon them.

The Court of Directors were not wholly inattentive to this business. They condemned his act as it deserved, and they went into the business of his legal right to dissolve the Council. Their opinions seemed against it, and they gave precise orders against the use of any such power in future. On consulting Mr. Sayer, the Company's counsel, he was of a different opinion with regard to the legal right; but he thought, very properly, that the use of a right, and the manner and purposes for which it was used, ought not to have been separated. What he thought on this occasion appears in his opinion transmitted by the Court of Directors to Mr. Hastings and the Council-General. "But it was as great a crime to dissolve the Council upon base and sinister motives as it would be to assume the power of dissolving, if he had it not. I believe he is the first governor that ever dissolved a council inquiring into his behavior, when he was innocent. Before he could summon three councils and dissolve them, he had time fully to consider what would be the result of such conduct, to convince everybody, beyond a doubt, of his conscious guilt."

It was a matter but of small consolation to Mr. Hastings, during the painful interval he describes, to find that the Company's learned counsel admitted that he had legal powers of which he made an use that raised an universal presumption of his guilt.

Other counsel did not think so favorably of the powers themselves. But this matter was of less consequence, because a great difference of opinion may arise concerning the extent of official powers, even among men professionally educated, (as in this case such a difference did arise,) and well-intentioned men may take either part. But the use that was made of it, in systematical contradiction to the Company's orders, has been stated in the Ninth Report, as well as in many of the others made by two of your committees.


[14] Appendix B. No. 1.

[15] Vide Supplement to the Second Report, page 7.

[16] Appendix. B. No. 2.

[17] Vide Appendix B. No. 1.

[18] Appendix B. No. 7.

[19] Appendix B. No. 3 and No. 5.

[20] Appendix B. No 6.

[21] Vide Larkins's Affidavit, Appendix B. No. 5.

[22] Vide Appendix B. No. 1.

[23] Vide Appendix B. No. 1.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid., No. 8.

[26] Ibid., No. 1.

[27] Ibid., No. 4.

[28] Appendix B. No. 8.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid., No. 9.

[31] Appendix B. No. 1.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ibid., No. 8.

[34] Appendix B. No. 4: The Governor-General's Account of Moneys received, dated 22d May, 1782. Also, Appendix B. No. 9: The Auditor's Account of Bonds granted to the Governor-General.

[35] Vide Appendix B. No. 4.

[36] Vide Mr. Hastings's Account, in Appendix B. No. 4.

[37] Vide Hastings's Account, dated 22d May, 1782, in Appendix B. No. 4.

[38] Vide above Appendix, and B. No. 2.

[39] Vide above Appendix.

[40] Vide Appendix B. No. 4.

[41] Vide Appendix B. No. 6.

[42] Ibid., No. 7.

[43] Vide Appendix B. No. 6.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Act 13 Geo. III. cap 63.

[46] Vide Mr. Hastings's Letter of 16 December, 1782, in Appendix B. No. 6.

[47] Vide Appendix B. No. 6.

[48] Vide Appendix B. No. 3.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Vide Appendix B. No. 3.

[52] Vide Appendix B. No. 3.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Ibid., No. 6.

[55] Vide Appendix B. No. 6.

[56] Relative to salt farms, charges of the Ranny of Burdwan, and the charges of Nundcomar and Munny Begum.


B. No. 1.[57]

Copy of a Letter from the Governor-General to the Court of Directors.

To the Honorable the Court of Directors of the Honorable United East India Company.

FORT WILLIAM, 29th November, 1780.


You will be informed by our Consultations of the 26th of June of a very unusual tender which was made by me to the board on that day, for the purpose of indemnifying the Company for the extraordinary expense which might be incurred by supplying the detachment under the command of Major Camac in the invasion of the Mahratta dominions, which lay beyond the district of Gohud, and drawing the attention of Mahdajee Sindia, to whom that country immediately appertained, from General Goddard, while his was employed in the reduction of Bassein, and in securing the conquests made by your arms in Guzerat. I was desirous to remove the only objection which has been or could be ostensibly made to the measure, which I had very much at heart, as may be easily conceived from the means which I took to effect it. For the reasons at large which induced me to propose that diversion, it will be sufficient to refer to my minute recommending it, and to the letters received from General Goddard near the same period of time. The subject is now become obsolete, and all the fair hopes which I had built upon the prosecution of the Mahratta war, of its termination in a speedy, honorable, and advantageous peace, have been blasted by the dreadful calamities which have befallen your arms in the dependencies of your Presidency of Fort St. George, and changed the object of our pursuit from the aggrandizement of your power to its preservation. My present reason for reverting to my own conduct on the occasion which I have mentioned is to obviate the false conclusions or purposed misrepresentations which may be made of it, either as an artifice of ostentation or as the effect of corrupt influence, by assuring you that the money, by whatever means it came into your possession, was not my own,—that I had myself no right to it, nor would or could have received it, but for the occasion which prompted me to avail myself of the accidental means which were at that instant afforded me of accepting and converting it to the property and use of the Company; and with this brief apology I shall dismiss the subject.

Something of affinity to this anecdote may appear in the first aspect of another transaction, which I shall proceed to relate, and of which it is more immediately my duty to inform you.

You will have been advised, by repeated addresses of this government, of the arrival of an army at Cuttack, under the command of Chimnajee Boosla, the second son of Moodajee Boosla, the Rajah of Berar. The origin and destination of this force have been largely explained and detailed in the correspondence of the government of Berar, and in various parts of our Consultations. The minute relation of these would exceed the bounds of a letter; I shall therefore confine myself to the principal fact.

About the middle of the last year, a plan of confederacy was formed by the Nabob Nizam Ali Khan, by which it was proposed, that, while the army of the Mahrattas, under the command of Mahdajee Sindia and Tuckoojee Hoolkar, was employed to check the operations of General Goddard in the West of India, Hyder Ali Khan should invade the Carnatic, Moodajee Boosla the provinces of Bengal, and he himself the Circars of Rajamundry and Chicacole.

The government of Berar was required to accept the part assigned it in this combination, and to march a large body of troops immediately into Bengal. To enforce the request on the part of the ruling member of the Mahratta state, menaces of instant hostility by the combined forces were added by Mahdajee Sindia, Tuckoojee Hoolkar, and Nizam Ali Khan, in letters written by them to Moodajee Boosla on the occasion. He was not in a state to sustain the brunt of so formidable a league, and ostensibly yielded. Such at least was the turn which he gave to his acquiescence, in his letters to me; and his subsequent conduct has justified his professions. I was early and progressively acquainted by him with the requisition, and with the measures which were intended to be taken, and which were taken, by him upon it. The army professedly destined for Bengal marched on the Dusserra of the last year, corresponding with the 7th of October. Instead of taking the direct course to Bahar, which had been prescribed, it proceeded by varied deviations and studied delays to Cuttack, where it arrived late in May last, having performed a practicable journey of three mouths in seven, and concluded it at the instant commencement of the rains, which of course would preclude its operations, and afford the government of Berar a further interval of five months to provide for the part which it would then be compelled to choose.

In the mean time letters were continually written by the Rajah and his minister to this government, explanatory of their situation and motives, proposing their mediation and guaranty for a peace and alliance with the Peshwa, and professing, without solicitation on our part, the most friendly disposition towards us, and the most determined resolution to maintain it. Conformably to these assurances, and the acceptance of a proposal made by Moodajee Boosla to depute his minister to Bengal for the purpose of negotiating and concluding the proposed treaty of peace, application had been made to the Peshwa for credentials to the same effect.

In the mean time the fatal news arrived of the defeat of your army at Conjeveram. It now became necessary that every other object should give place or be made subservient to the preservation of the Carnatic; nor would the measures requisite for that end admit an instant of delay. Peace with the Mahrattas was the first object; to conciliate their alliance, and that of every other power in natural enmity with Hyder Ali, the next. Instant measures were taken (as our general advices will inform you) to secure both these points, and to employ the government of Berar as the channel and instrument of accomplishing them. Its army still lay on our borders, and in distress for a long arrear of pay, not less occasioned by the want of pecuniary funds than a stoppage of communication. An application had been made to us for a supply of money; and the sum specified for the complete relief of the army was sixteen lacs. We had neither money to spare, nor, in the apparent state of that government in its relation to ours, would it have been either prudent or consistent with our public credit to have afforded it. It was nevertheless my decided opinion that some aid should be given,—not less as a necessary relief than as an indication of confidence, and a return for the many instances of substantial kindness which we had within the course of the last two years experienced from the government of Berar. I had an assurance that such a proposal would receive the acquiescence of the board; but I knew that it would not pass without opposition, and it would have become public, which might have defeated its purpose. Convinced of the necessity of the expedient, and assured of the sincerity of the government of Berar, from evidences of stronger proof to me than I could make them appear to the other members of the board, I resolved to adopt it, and take the entire responsibility of it upon myself. In this mode a less considerable sum would suffice. I accordingly caused three lacs of rupees to be delivered to the minister of the Rajah of Berar, resident in Calcutta: he has transmitted it to Cuttack. Two thirds of this sum I have raised by my own credit, and shall charge it in my official accounts; the other third I have supplied from the cash in my hands belonging to the Honorable Company. I have given due notice to Moodajee Boosla of this transaction, and explained it to have been a private act of my own, unknown to the other members of the Council. I have given him expectations of the remainder of the amount required for the arrears of his army, proportioned to the extent to which he may put it in my power to propose it as a public gratuity by his effectual orders for the recall of these troops, or for their junction with ours.

I hope I shall receive your approbation of what I have done for your service, and your indulgence for the length of this narrative, which I could not comprise within a narrower compass.

I have the honor to be, Honorable Sirs, Your most faithful, obedient, and humble servant,


B. No. 2.

An Account of Money paid into the Company's Treasury by the Governor-General, since the Year 1773.

May April CRs. CRs. 1774 to 1775. For interest bonds 2,175[58] For bills of exchange on the Court 1,43,937 For money refunded by order of Court, account General Coote's commission 8,418 1,54,530 1775-1776. For bills of exchange on the Court 1,80,480 1776-1777. Do. do. do. 1,96,800 1777-1778. Do. do. do. 1,08,000 1778-1779. Do. do. do. 1,43,000 1779-1780. Do. do. do. 1,21,600 1780-1781. For bills of exchange 43,000 For deposits 2,38,715 For interest bonds, at 8 per cent 4,75,600 For do. 4 per cent 1,66,000 For Durbar charges 2,32,000 11,55,315 May, 1782. For interest bonds 35,000 - 20,94,725 (Errors excepted.)

JOHN ANNIS, Auditor of Indian Accounts. EAST INDIA HOUSE, 11th June, 1783.

B. No. 3.

To the Honorable the Secret Committee of the Honorable Court of Directors.

FORT WILLIAM, 22d May, 1782.


In a letter which I have had the honor to address you in duplicate, and of which a triplicate accompanies this, dated 20th January, 1782, I informed you that I had received the offer of a sum of money from the Nabob Vizier and his ministers to the nominal amount of ten lacs of Lucknow siccas, and that bills on the house of Gopaul Doss had been actually given me for the amount, which I had accepted for the use of the Honorable Company; and I promised to account with you for the same as soon as it should be in my power, after the whole sum had come into my possession. This promise I now perform; and deeming it consistent with the spirit of it, I have added such other sums as have been occasionally converted to the Company's property through my means, and in consequence of the like original destination. Of the second of these you have been already advised in a letter which I had the honor to address the Honorable Court of Directors, dated 29th November, 1780. Both this and the third article were paid immediately to the Treasury, by my order to the sub-treasurer to receive them on the Company's account, but never passed through my hands. The three sums for which bonds were granted were in like manner paid to the Company's Treasury without passing through my hands; but their appropriation was not specified. The sum of 58,000 current rupees was received while I was on my journey to Benares, and applied as expressed in the account.

As to the manner in which these sums have been expended, the reference which I have made of it, in the accompanying account, to the several accounts in which they are credited, renders any other specification of it unnecessary; besides that those accounts either have or will have received a much stronger authentication than any that I could give to mine.

Why these sums were taken by me,—why they were, except the second, quietly transferred to the Company's use,—why bonds were taken for the first, and not for the rest,—might, were this matter to be exposed to the view of the public, furnish a variety of conjectures, to which it would be of little use to reply. Were your Honorable Court to question me upon these points, I would answer, that the sums were taken for the Company's benefit at times in which the Company very much needed them,—that I either chose to conceal the first receipts from public curiosity by receiving bonds for the amount, or possibly acted without any studied design which my memory could at this distance of time verify, and that I did not think it worth my care to observe the same means with the rest. I trust, Honorable Sirs, to your breasts for a candid interpretation of my actions, and assume the freedom to add, that I think myself, on such a subject, and on such an occasion, entitled to it.

I have the honor to be, Honorable Sirs, Your most faithful, most obedient, and most humble servant,


B. No. 4.

An Account of Sums received on the Account of the Honorable Company of the Governor-General, or paid to their Treasury by his Order, and applied to their Service.

-+ 1780. October. The following sums were paid into the Treasury, and bonds granted for the same, in the name of the Governor-General, in whose possession the bonds remain, with a declaration upon each indorsed and signed by him, that he has no claim on the Company for the amount either of principal or interest, no part of the latter having been received: One bond, dated the 1st October, 1780, No. 1539 1,16,000 0 0 One bond, dated the 2d October, 1780, No. 1540 1,16,000 0 0 One bond, dated the 23d November, 1780, No. 1354 1,74,000 0 0 4,06,000 0 0 November. Paid into the Treasury, and carried to the Governor-General's credit in the 12th page of the Deposits Journal of 1780-81, mohurs of sorts which had been coined in the Mint, and produced, as per 358 and 359 pages of the Company's General Journal of 1780-81: Gold mohurs, 12,861 12 11, or Calcutta siccas 2,05,788 14 9 Batta, 16 per cent 32,926 3 6 2,38,715 2 3 1781. 30 April. Paid into the Treasury, and credited in the 637th page of the Company's General Journal, as money received from the Governor-General on account of Durbar charges: Sicca rupees 2,00,000 0 0 Batta, 16 per cent 32,000 0 0 2,32,000 0 0 Carried forward 8,76,715 2 3

Brought forward 8,76,715 2 3 August. Received in cash, and employed in defraying my public disbursements, and credited in the Governor-General's account of Durbar charges for April, 1782 58,000 0 0

Produce of the sum mentioned in the Governor-General's letter to the Honorable Secret Committee, dated 20th January, 1782, and credited in the Governor-General's account of Durbar charges for April, 1782 10,30,275 1 3 Current rupees 19,64,990 3 6 ( Errors excepted.)


B. No. 5.

I, William Larkins, do make oath and say, that the letter and account to which this affidavit is affixed were written by me at the request of the Honorable Warren Hastings, Esquire, on the 22d May, 1782, from rough draughts written by himself in my presence; that the cover of the letter was sealed up by him in my presence, and was then intended to have been transmitted to England by the "Lively," when that vessel was first ordered for dispatch; and that it has remained closed until this day, when it was opened for the express purpose of being accompanied by this affidavit.

So help me God. WILLIAM LARKINS.

CALCUTTA, 16th December 1782.

Sworn this 16th day of December, 1782, before me, J. HYDE.

B. No. 6.

To the Honorable the Secret Committee of the Honorable Court of Directors.

FORT WILLIAM, 16 December, 1782.


The dispatch of the "Lively" having been protracted by various causes from time to time, the accompanying address, which was originally designed and prepared for that dispatch, (no other conveyance since occurring,) has of course been thus long detained. The delay is of no public consequence; but it has produced a situation which with respect to myself I regard as unfortunate, because it exposes me to the meanest imputation from the occasion which the late Parliamentary Inquiries have since furnished, but which were unknown when my letter was written, and written in the necessary consequence of a promise made to that effect in a former letter to your Honorable Committee, dated 20th January last. However, to preclude the possibility of such reflections from affecting me, I have desired Mr. Larkins, who was privy to the whole transaction, to affix to the letter his affidavit of the date in which it was written. I own I feel most sensibly the mortification of being reduced to the necessity of using such precautions to guard my reputation from dishonor. If I had at any time possessed that degree of confidence from my immediate employers which they never withheld from the meanest of my predecessors, I should have disdained to use these attentions. How I have drawn on me a different treatment I know not; it is sufficient that I have not merited it: and in the course of a service of thirty-two years, and ten of these employed in maintaining the powers and discharging the duties of the first office of the British government in India, that Honorable Court ought to know whether I possess the integrity and honor which are the first requisites of such a station. If I wanted these, they have afforded me but too powerful incentives to suppress the information which I now convey to them through you, and to appropriate to my own use the sums which I have already passed to their credit, by the unworthy, and, pardon me if I add, dangerous, reflections which they have passed upon me for the first communication of this kind: and your own experience will suggest to you, that there are persons who would profit by such a warning.

Upon the whole of these transactions, which to you, who are accustomed to view business in an official and regular light, may appear unprecedented, if not improper, I have but a few short remarks to suggest to your consideration.

If I appear in any unfavorable light by these transactions, I resign the common and legal security of those who commit crimes or errors. I am ready to answer every particular question that may be put against myself, upon honor or upon oath.

The sources from which these reliefs to the public service have come would never have yielded them to the Company publicly; and the exigencies of your service (exigencies created by the exposition of your affairs, and faction in your councils) required those supplies.

I could have concealed them, had I had a wrong motive, from yours and the public eye forever; and I know that the difficulties to which a spirit of injustice may subject me for my candor and avowal are greater than any possible inconvenience that could have attended the concealment, except the dissatisfaction of my own mind. These difficulties are but a few of those which I have suffered in your service. The applause of my own breast is my surest reward, and was the support of my mind in meeting them: your applause, and that of my country, are my next wish in life.

I have the honor to be, Honorable Sirs, Your most faithful, most obedient, and most humble servant,


B. No. 7.

Extract of the Company's General Letter to Bengal, dated the 25th January, 1782.

Par. 127. We have received a letter from our Governor-General, dated the 29th of November, 1780, relative to an unusual tender and advance of money made by him to the Council, as entered on your Consultation of the 26th of June, for the purpose of indemnifying the Company from the extraordinary charge which might be incurred by supplying the detachment under the command of Major Camac in the invasion of the Mahratta dominions, which lay beyond the district of Gohud, and thereby drawing the attention of Mahdajee Sindia (to whom the country appertained) from General Goddard, while the General was employed in the reduction of Bassein, and in securing the conquests made in the Guzerat country; and also respecting the sum of three lacs of rupees advanced by the Governor-General for the use of the army under the command of Chimnajee Boosla without the authority or knowledge of the Council; with the reasons for taking these extraordinary steps under the circumstances stated in his letter.

128. In regard to the first of these transactions, we readily conceive, that, in the then state of the Council, the Governor-General might be induced to temporary secrecy respecting the members of the board, not only because he might be apprehensive of opposition to the proposed application of the money, but, perhaps, because doubts might have arisen concerning the propriety of appropriating it to the Company's use on any account; but it does not appear to us that there could be any real necessity for delaying to communicate to us immediate information of the channel by which the money came into his possession, with a complete illustration of the cause or causes of so extraordinary an event.

129. Circumstanced as affairs were at the moment, it appears that the Governor-General had the measure much at heart, and judged it absolutely necessary. The means proposed of defraying the extra expense were very extraordinary; and the money, as we conceive, must have come into his hands by an unusual channel: and when more complete information comes before us, we shall give our sentiments fully upon the whole transaction.

130. In regard to the application of the Company's money to the army of Chimnajee Boosla by the sole authority of the Governor-General, he knew that it was entirely at his own risk, and he has taken the responsibility upon himself; nothing but the most urgent necessity could warrant the measure; nor can anything short of full proof of such necessity, and of the propriety and utility of the extraordinary step taken on the occasion, entitle the Governor-General to the approbation of the Court of Directors; and therefore, as in the former instance relative to the sum advanced and paid into our Treasury, we must also for the present suspend our judgment respecting the money sent to the Berar army, without approving it in the least degree, or proceeding to censure our Governor-General for this transaction.

B. No. 8.

Extract of Bengal Secret Consultations, the 9th January, 1781.

The following letter from the Governor-General having been circulated, and the request therein made complied with, an order on the Treasury passed accordingly.


Having had occasion to disburse the sum of three lacs of sicca rupees on account of secret services, which having been advanced from my own private cash, I request that the same may be repaid to me in the following manner:—A bond to be granted me upon the terms of the second loan, bearing date from the 1st October, for one lac of sicca rupees; a bond to be granted me upon the terms of the first loan, bearing date from the 1st October, for one lac of sicca rupees; a bond to be granted me upon the terms of the first loan, bearing date from the 2d October, for one lac of sicca rupees.

I have the honor to be, &c., &c.,


Fort William, 5th January, 1781.

B. No. 9.

An Account of Bonds granted to the Governor-General, from 1st January, 1779, to 31st May, 1782, with Interest paid or credited thereon.

- When paid into the Sum. Date of Bond. Rate of Interest. Treasury. - CRs. 23d Nov., 1780 1,74,000 23d Nov., 1780 at 8 per cent. 15th Dec. 69,600 15th Dec. Do. 15th Jan., 1781 1,16,000 1st Oct., 1780 Do. Do. 1,16,000 2d Do. Do. Do. 1,16,000 1st Do. 4 per cent. 17th March 50,000 17th Mar., 1781 Do. 8th May, 1782 20,000 15th Sept., 1781 8 per cent. Do. 15,000 8th Dec., 1781 Do. 6,76,600

There does not appear to have been any interest paid on the above bonds to 31st May, 1782, the last accounts received. In the Interest Books, 1780-81, the last received, the Governor-General has credit for interest on the first six to April, 1781, to the amount of CRs. 21,964 12 8.

(Errors excepted.)

JOHN ANNIS, Auditor of Indian Accounts. EAST INDIA HOUSE, 5th June, 1783.


[57] As the Appendixes originally printed with the foregoing Reports, and which consist chiefly of official documents, would have swelled this volume to an enormous size, it has been thought proper to omit them, with the exception of the first nine numbers of the Appendix B. to the Eleventh Report, the insertion of which has been judged necessary for the elucidation of the subject-matter of that Report.

[58] {Received 19th May, {Cancelled 30th July, 1774.















That the Court of Directors of the East India Company, from a just sense of the danger and odium incident to the extension of their conquests in the East Indies, and from an experience of the disorders and corrupt practices which intrigues and negotiations to bring about revolutions among the country powers had produced, did positively and repeatedly direct their servants in Bengal not to engage in any offensive war whatsoever. That the said Court laid it down as an invariable maxim, which ought ever to be maintained, that they were to avoid taking part in the political schemes of any of the country princes,—and did, in particular, order and direct that they should not engage with a certain prince called Sujah ul Dowlah, Nabob of Oude, and Vizier of the Empire, in any operations beyond certain limits in the said orders specially described.

That Warren Hastings, Esquire, then Governor of Fort William in Bengal, did, with other members of the Council, declare his clear understanding of the true intent and meaning of the said positive and repeated orders and injunctions,—did express to the Court of Directors his approbation of the policy thereof,—did declare that he adopted the same with sincerity and satisfaction, and that he was too well aware of the ruinous tendency of all schemes of conquest ever to adopt them, or ever to depart from the absolute line of self-defence, unless impelled to it by the most obvious necessity,—did signify to the Nabob of Oude the said orders, and his obligation to yield punctual obedience thereto,—and did solemnly engage and promise to the Court of Directors, with the unanimous concurrence of the whole Council, "that no object or consideration should either tempt or compel him to pass the political line which they [the Directors] had laid down for his operations with the Vizier," assuring the Court of Directors that he "scarce saw a possible advantage which could compensate the hazard and expense to be incurred by a contrary conduct,"—that he did frequently repeat the same declarations, or declarations to the same effect, particularly in a letter to the Nabob himself, of the 22d of November, 1773, in the following words: "The commands of my superiors are, as I have repeatedly informed you, peremptory, that I shall not suffer their arms to be carried beyond the line of their own boundaries, and those of your Excellency, their ally."

That the said Warren Hastings, in direct contradiction to the said orders, and to his own sense of their propriety and coercive authority, and in breach of his express promises and engagements, did, in September, 1773, enter into a private engagement with the said Nabob of Oude, who was the special object of the prohibition, to furnish him, for a stipulated sum of money to be paid to the East India Company, with a body of troops for the declared purpose of "thoroughly extirpating the nation of the Rohillas": a nation from whom the Company had never received, or pretended to receive or apprehend, any injury whatsoever; whose country, in the month of February, 1773, by an unanimous resolution of the said Warren Hastings and his Council, was included in the line of defence against the Mahrattas; and from whom the Nabob never complained of an aggression or act of hostility, nor pretended a distinct cause of quarrel, other than the non-payment of a sum of money in dispute between him and that people.

That, supposing the sum of money in question to have been strictly due to the said Nabob by virtue of any engagement between him and the Rohilla chiefs, the East India Company, or their representatives, were not parties to that engagement, or guaranties thereof, nor bound by any obligation whatever to enforce the execution of it.

That, previous to the said Warren Hastings's entering into the agreement or bargain aforesaid to extirpate the said nation, he did not make, or cause to be made, a due inquiry into the validity of the sole pretext used by the said Nabob; nor did he give notice of the said claims of debt to the nation of the Rohillas, in order to receive an explanation on their part of the matter in litigation; nor did he offer any mediation, nor propose, nor afford an opportunity of proposing, an agreement or submission by which the calamities of war might be avoided, as, by the high state in which the East India Company stood as a sovereign power in the East, and the honor and character it ought to maintain, as well as by the principles of equity and humanity, and by the true and obvious policy of uniting the power of the Mahometan princes against the Mahrattas, he was bound to do. That, instead of such previous inquiry, or tender of good offices, the said Warren Hastings did stimulate the ambition and ferocity of the Nabob of Oude to the full completion of the inhuman end of the said unjustifiable enterprise, by informing him "that it would be absolutely necessary to persevere in it until it should be accomplished"; pretending that a fear of the Company's displeasure was his motive for annexing the accomplishment of the enterprise as a condition of his assistance, and asserting "that he could not hazard or answer for the displeasure of the Company, his masters, if they should find themselves involved in a fruitless war, or in an expense for prosecuting it,"—a pretence tending to the high dishonor of the East India Company, as if the gain to be acquired was to reconcile that body to the breach of their own orders prohibiting all such enterprises;—and in order further to involve the said Nabob beyond the power of retreating, he did, in the course of the proceeding, purposely put the said Nabob under difficulties in case he should decline that war, and did oblige him to accept even the permission to relinquish the execution of this unjust project as a favor, and to make concessions for it; thereby acting as if the Company were principals in the hostility; and employing for this purpose much double dealing and divers unworthy artifices to entangle and perplex the said Nabob, but by means of which he found himself (as he has entered it on record) hampered and embarrassed in a particular manner.

That the said compact for offensive alliance in favor of a great prince against a considerable nation was not carried on by projects and counter-projects in writing; nor were the articles and conditions thereof formed into any regular written instrument, signed and sealed by the parties; but the whole (both the negotiation and the compact of offensive alliance against the Rohillas) was a mere verbal engagement, the purport and conventions whereof nowhere appeared, except in subsequent correspondence, in which certain of the articles, as they were stated by the several parties, did materially differ: a proceeding new and unprecedented, and directly leading to mutual misconstruction, evasion, and ill faith, and tending to encourage and protect every species of corrupt, clandestine practice. That, at the time when this private verbal agreement was made by the said Warren Hastings with the Nabob of Oude, a public ostensible treaty was concluded by him with the said Nabob, in which there is no mention whatever of such agreement, or reference whatever to it: in defence of which omission, it is asserted by the said Warren Hastings, that the multiplication of treaties weakens their efficacy, and therefore they should be reserved only for very important and permanent obligations; notwithstanding he had previously declared to the said Nabob, "that the points which he had proposed required much consideration, and the previous ratification of a formal agreement, before he could consent to them." That the whole of the said verbal agreement with the Nabob of Oude in his own person, without any assistance on his part, was carried on and concluded by the said Warren Hastings alone, without any person who might witness the same, without the intervention even of an interpreter, though he confesses that he spoke the Hindostan language imperfectly, and although he had with him at that time and place several persons high in the Company's service and confidence, namely, the commander-in-chief of their forces, two members of their Council, and the Secretary to the Council, who were not otherwise acquainted with the proceedings between him and the said Nabob than by such communications as he thought fit to make to them.

That the object avowed by the said Warren Hastings, and the motives urged by him for employing the British arms in the utter extirpation of the Rohilla nation, are stated by himself in the following terms:—"The acquisition of forty lacs of rupees to the Company, and of so much specie added to the exhausted currency of our provinces;—that it would give wealth to the Nabob of Oude, of which we should participate;—that the said Warren Hastings should always be ready to profess that he did reckon the probable acquisition of wealth among his reasons for taking up arms against his neighbors;—that it would ease the Company of a considerable part of their military expense, and preserve their troops from inaction and relaxation of discipline;—that the weak state of the Rohillas promised an easy conquest of them;—and, finally, that such was his idea of the Company's distress at home, added to his knowledge of their wants abroad, that he should have been glad of any occasion to employ their forces which saved so much of their pay and expenses."

That, in the private verbal agreement aforesaid for offensive war, the said Warren Hastings did transgress the bounds of the authority given him by his instructions from the Council of Fort William, which had limited his powers to such compacts "as were consistent with the spirit of the Company's orders"; which Council he afterwards persuaded, and with difficulty drew into an acquiescence in what he had done.

That the agreement to the effect aforesaid was settled in the said secret conferences before the 10th of September, 1773; but the said Warren Hastings, concealing from the Court of Directors a matter of which it was his duty to afford them the earliest and fullest information, did, on the said 10th of September, 1773, write to the Directors, and dispatched his letter over land, giving them an account of the public treaty, but taking not the least notice of his agreement for a mercenary war against the nation of the Rohillas.

That, in order to conceal the true purport of the said clandestine agreement the more effectually, and until he should find means of gaining over the rest of the Council to a concurrence in his disobedience of orders, he entered a minute in the Council books, giving a false account of the transaction; in which minute he represented that the Nabob had indeed proposed the design aforesaid, and that he, the said Warren Hastings, was pleased that he urged the scheme of this expedition no further, when in reality and truth he had absolutely consented to the said enterprise, and had engaged to assist him in it, which he afterwards admitted, and confessed that he did act in consequence of the same.

That the said Warren Hastings and his Council were sensible of the true nature of the enterprise in which they had engaged the Company's arms, and of the heavy responsibility to which it would subject himself and the Council,—"the personal hazard they, the Council, run, in undertaking so uncommon a measure without positive instructions, at their own risk, with the eyes of the whole nation on the affairs of the Company, and the passions and prejudices of almost every man in England inflamed against the conduct of the Company and the character of its servants"; yet they engaged in the very practice which had brought such odium on the Company, and on the character of its servants, though they further say that they had continually before their eyes the dread of forfeiting the favor of their employers, and becoming the "objects of popular invectives." The said Warren Hastings himself says, at the very time when he proposed the measure, "I must confess I entertain some doubts as to its expediency at this time, from the circumstances of the Company at home, exposed to popular clamor, and all its measures liable to be canvassed in Parliament, their charter drawing to a close, and his Majesty's ministers unquestionably ready to take advantage of every unfavorable circumstance in the negotiations of its renewal." All these considerations did not prevent the said Warren Hastings from making and carrying into execution the said mercenary agreement for a sum of money, the payment of which the Nabob endeavored to evade on a construction of the verbal treaty, and was so far from being insisted on, as it ought to have been, by the said Warren Hastings, that, when, after the completion of the service, the commander-in-chief was directed to make a demand of the money, the agent of the said Warren Hastings at the same time assured the Nabob "that the demand was nothing more than matter of form, common, and even necessary, in all public transactions, and that, although the board considered the claim of the government literally due, it was not the intention of administration to prescribe to his Excellency the mode, or even limits, of payment." Nor was any part of the money recovered, until the establishment of the Governor-General and Council by act of Parliament, and their determination to withdraw the brigade from the Nabob's service,—the Resident at his court, appointed by the said Warren Hastings, having written, that he had experienced much duplicity and deceit in most of his transactions with his Excellency; and the said Nabob and his successors falling back in other payments in the same or greater proportion as he advanced in the payment of this debt, the consideration of lucre to the Company, the declared motive to this shameful transaction, totally failed, and no money in effect and substance (as far as by any account to be depended on appears) has been obtained.

That the said Nabob of Oude did, in consequence of the said agreement, and with the assistance of British troops, which were ordered to march and subjected to his disposal by the said Warren Hastings and the Council, unjustly enter into and invade the country of the Rohillas, and did there make war in a barbarous and inhuman manner, "by an abuse of victory," "by the unnecessary destruction of the country," "by a wanton display of violence and oppression, of inhumanity and cruelty," and "by the sudden expulsion and casting down of an whole race of people, to whom the slightest benevolence was denied." When prayer was made not to dishonor the Begum (a princess of great rank, whose husband had been killed in battle) and other women, by dragging them about the country, to be loaded with the scoffs of the Nabob's rabble, and otherwise still worse used, the Nabob refused to listen to the entreaties of a British commander-in-chief in their favor; and the said women of high rank were exposed not only to the vilest personal indignities, but even to absolute want: and these transactions being by Colonel Champion communicated to the said Warren Hastings, instead of commendations for his intelligence, and orders to redress the said evils, and to prevent the like in future, by means which were suggested, and which appear to have been proper and feasible, he received a reprimand from the said Warren Hastings, who declared that we had no authority to control the conduct of the Vizier in the treatment of his subjects; and that Colonel Champion desisted from making further representations on this subject to the said Warren Hastings, being apprehensive of having already run some risk of displeasing by perhaps a too free communication of sentiments. That, in consequence of the said proceedings, not only the eminent families of the chiefs of the Rohilla nation were either cut off or banished, and their wives and offspring reduced to utter ruin, but the country itself, heretofore distinguished above all others for the extent of its cultivation as a garden, not having one spot in it of uncultivated ground, and from being in the most flourishing state that a country could be, was by the inhuman mode of carrying on the war, and the ill government during the consequent usurpation, reduced to a state of great decay and depopulation, in which it still remains.

That the East India Company, having had reason to conceive, that, for the purpose of concealing corrupt transactions, their servants in India had made unfair, mutilated, and garbled communications of correspondence, and sometimes had wholly withheld the same, made an order in their letter of the 23d of March, 1770, in the following tenor:—"The Governor singly shall correspond with the country powers; but all letters, before they shall be by him sent, must be communicated to the other members of the Select Committee, and receive their approbation; and also all letters whatsoever which may be received by the Governor, in answer to or in course of correspondence, shall likewise be laid before the said Select Committee for their information and consideration"; and that in their instructions to their Governor-General and Council, dated 30th March, 1774, they did repeat their orders to the same purpose and effect.

That the said Warren Hastings did not obey, as in duty he was bound to do, the said standing orders; nor did communicate all his correspondence with Mr. Middleton, the Company's agent at the court of the Subah of Oude, or with Colonel Champion, the commander-in-chief of the Company's forces in the Rohilla war, to the Select Committee: and when afterwards, that is to say, on the 25th of October, 1774, he was required by the majority of the Council appointed by the act of Parliament of 1773, whose opinion was by the said act directed to be taken as the act of the whole Council, to produce all his correspondence with Mr. Middleton and Colonel Champion for the direction of their future proceedings relative to the obscure, intricate, and critical transaction aforesaid, he did positively and pertinaciously refuse to deliver any other than such parts of the said correspondence as he thought convenient, covering his said illegal refusal under general vague pretences of secrecy and danger from the communication, although the said order and instruction of the Court of Directors above mentioned was urged to him, and although it was represented to him by the said Council, that they, as well as he, were bound by an oath of secrecy: which refusal to obey the orders of the Court of Directors (orders specially, and on weighty grounds of experience, pointed to cases of this very nature) gave rise to much jealousy, and excited great suspicions relative to the motives and grounds on which the Rohilla war had been undertaken.

That the said Warren Hastings, in the grounds alleged in his justification of his refusal to communicate to his colleagues in the Superior Council his correspondence with Mr. Middleton, the Company's Resident at Oude, was guilty of a new offence, arrogating to himself unprecedented and dangerous powers, on principles utterly subversive of all order and discipline in service, and introductory to corrupt confederacies and disobedience among the Company's servants; the said Warren Hastings insisting that Mr. Middleton, the Company's covenanted servant, the public Resident for transacting the Company's affairs at the court of the Subah of Oude, and as such receiving from the Company a salary for his service, was no other than the official agent of him, the said Warren Hastings, and that, being such, he was not obliged to communicate his correspondence.

That the Court of Directors, and afterwards a General Court of the Proprietors of the East India Company, (although the latter showed favorable dispositions towards the said Warren Hastings, and expressed, but without assigning any ground or reason, the highest opinion of his services and integrity,) did unanimously condemn, along with his conduct relative to the Rohilla treaty and war, his refusal to communicate his whole correspondence with Mr. Middleton to the Superior Council: yet the said Warren Hastings, in defiance of the opinion of the Directors, and the unanimous opinion of the General Court of the said East India Company, as well as the precedent positive orders of the Court of Directors, and the injunctions of an act of Parliament, has, from that time to the present, never made any communication of the whole of his correspondence to the Governor-General and Council, or to the Court of Directors.


That, in a solemn treaty of peace, concluded the 16th of August, 1765, between the East India Company and the late Nabob of Oude, Sujah ul Dowlah, and highly approved of, confirmed, and ratified by the said Company, it is agreed, "that the King Shah Allum shall remain in full possession of Corah, and such part of the province of Allahabad as he now possesses, which are ceded to his Majesty as a royal demesne for the support of his dignity and expenses." That, in a separate agreement, concluded at the same time, between the King Shah Allum and the then Subahdar of Bengal, under the immediate security and guaranty of the English Company, the faith of the Company was pledged to the said King for the annual payment of twenty-six lac of rupees for his support out of the revenues of Bengal; and that the said Company did then receive from the said King a grant of the duanne of the provinces of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, on the express condition of their being security for the annual payment above mentioned. That the East India Company have held, and continue to hold, the duanne so granted, and for some years have complied with the conditions on which they accepted of the grant thereof, and have at all times acknowledged that they held the duanne in virtue of the Mogul's grants. That the said Court of Directors, in their letter of the 30th June, 1769, to Bengal, declared, "that they esteemed themselves bound by treaty to protect the King's person, and to secure him the possession of the Corah and Allahabad districts"; and supposing an agreement should be made respecting these provinces between the King and Sujah ul Dowlah, the Directors then said, "that they should be subject to no further claim or requisition from the King, excepting for the stipulated tribute for Bengal, which they [the Governor and Council] were to pay to his agent, or remit to him in such manner as he might direct."

That, in the year 1772, the King Shah Allum, who had hitherto resided at Allahabad, trusting to engagements which he had entered into with the Mahrattas, quitted that place, and removed to Delhi; but, having soon quarrelled with those people, and afterwards being taken prisoner, had been treated by them with very great disrespect and cruelty. That, among other instances of their abuse of their immediate power over him, the Governor and Council of Bengal, in their letter of the 16th of August, 1773, inform the Court of Directors that he had been compelled, while a prisoner in their hands, to grant sunnuds for the surrender of Corah and Allahabad to them; and it appears from sundry other minutes of their own that the said Governor and Council did at all times consider the surrender above mentioned as extorted from the King, and unquestionably an act of violence, which could not alienate or impair his right to those provinces, and that, when they took possession thereof, it was at the request of the King's Naib, or viceroy, who put them under the Council's protection. That on this footing they were accepted by the said Warren Hastings and his Council, and for some time considered by them as a deposit committed to their care by a prince to whom the possession thereof was particularly guarantied by the East India Company. In their letter of the 1st of March, 1773, they (the said Warren Hastings and his Council) say, "In no shape can this compulsatory cession by the King release us from the obligation we are under to defend the provinces which we have so particularly guarantied to him." But it appears that they soon adopted other ideas and assumed other principles concerning this object. In the instructions, dated the 23d of June, 1773, which the Council of Fort William gave to the said Warren Hastings, previous to his interview with the Nabob Sujah ul Dowlah at Benares, they say, that, "while the King continued at Delhi, whither he proceeded in opposition to their most strenuous remonstrances, they should certainly consider the engagements between him and the Company as dissolved by his alienation from them and their interest; that the possession of so remote a country could never be expected to yield any profit to the Company, and the defence of it must require a perpetual aid of their forces": yet in the same instructions they declare their opinion, that, "if the King should make overtures to renew his former connection, his right to reclaim the districts of Corah and Allahabad could not with propriety be disputed," and they authorize the said Warren Hastings to restore them to him on condition that he should renounce his claim to the annual tribute of twenty-six lac of rupees, herein before mentioned, and to the arrears which might be due, thereby acknowledging the justice of a claim which they determined not to comply with but in return for the surrender of another equally valid;—that, nevertheless, in the treaty concluded by the said Warren Hastings with Sujah ul Dowlah on the 7th of September, 1773, it is asserted, that his Majesty, (meaning the King Shah Allum,) "having abandoned the districts of Corah and Allahabad, and given a sunnud for Corah and Currah to the Mahrattas, had thereby forfeited his right to the said districts," although it was well known to the said Warren Hastings, and had been so stated by him to the Court of Directors, that this surrender on the part of the King had been extorted from him by violence, while he was a prisoner in the hands of the Mahrattas, and although it was equally well known to the said Warren Hastings that there was nothing in the original treaty of 1765 which could restrain the King from changing the place of his residence, consequently that his removal to Delhi could not occasion a forfeiture of his right to the provinces secured to him by that treaty.

That the said Warren Hastings, in the report which he made of his interview and negotiations with Sujah ul Dowlah, dated the 4th of October, 1773, declared, "that the administration would have been culpable in the highest degree in retaining possession of Corah and Allahabad for any other purpose than that of making an advantage by the disposal of them," and therefore he had ceded them to the Vizier for fifty lac of rupees: a measure for which he had no authority whatever from the King Shah Allum, and in the execution of which no reserve whatever was made in favor of the rights of that prince, nor any care taken of his interests.

That the sale of these provinces to Sujah Dowlah involved the East India Company in a triple breach of justice; since by the same act they violated a treaty, they sold the property of another, and they alienated a deposit committed to their friendship and good faith, and as such accepted by them. That a measure of this nature is not to be defended on motives of policy and convenience, supposing such motives to have existed, without a total loss of public honor, and shaking all security in the faith of treaties; but that in reality the pretences urged by the said Warren Hastings for selling the King's country to Sujah Dowlah were false and invalid. It could not strengthen our alliance with Sujah ul Dowlah; since, paying a price for a purchase, he received no favor and incurred no obligation. It did not free the Company from all the dangers attending either a remote property or a remote connection; since, the moment the country in question became part of Sujah Dowlah's dominions, it was included in the Company's former guaranty of those dominions, and in case of invasion the Company were obliged to send part of their army to defend it at the requisition of the said Sujah Dowlah; and if the remote situation of those provinces made the defence of them difficult and dangerous, much more was it a difficult and dangerous enterprise to engage the Company's force in an attack and invasion of the Rohillas, whose country lay at a much greater distance from the Company's frontier,—which, nevertheless, the said Warren Hastings agreed to and undertook at the very time when, under pretence of the difficulty of defending Corah and Allahabad, he sold those provinces to Sujah Dowlah. It did not relieve the Company from the expense of defending the country; since the revenues thereof far exceeded the subsidy to be paid by Sujah Dowlah, and these revenues justly belonged to the Company as long as the country continued under their protection, and would have answered the expense of defending it. Finally, that the sum of fifty lac of rupees, stipulated with the said Sujah Dowlah, was inadequate to the value of the country, the annual revenues of which were stated at twenty-five lac of rupees, which General Sir Robert Barker, then commander-in-chief of the Company's forces, affirms was certain, and too generally known to admit of a doubt.

That the King Shah Allum received for some years the annual tribute of twenty-six lac of rupees above mentioned, and was entitled to continue to receive it by virtue of an engagement deliberately, and for an adequate consideration, entered into with him by the Company's servants, and approved of and ratified by the Company themselves;—that this engagement was absolute and unconditional, and did neither express nor suppose any case in which the said King should forfeit or the Company should have a right to resume the tribute;—that, nevertheless, the said Warren Hastings and his Council, immediately after selling the King's country to Sujah Dowlah, resolved to withhold, and actually withheld, the payment of the said tribute, of which the King Shah Allum has never since received any part;—that this resolution of the Council is not justified even by themselves on principles of right and justice, but by arguments of policy and convenience, by which the best founded claims of right and justice may at all times be set aside and defeated. "They judged it highly impolitic and unsafe to answer the drafts of the King, until they were satisfied of his amicable intentions, and those of his new allies." But neither had they any reason to question the King's amicable intentions, nor was he pledged to answer for those of the Mahrattas; his trusting to the good faith of that people, and relying on their assistance to reinstate him in the possession of his capital, might have been imprudent and impolitic, but these measures, however ruinous to himself, indicated no enmity to the English, nor were they productive of any effects injurious to the English interests. And it is plain that the said Warren Hastings and his Council were perfectly aware that their motives or pretences for withholding the tribute were too weak to justify their conduct, having principally insisted on the reduced state of their treasury, which, as they said, rendered it impracticable to comply with those payments. The right of a creditor does not depend on the circumstances of the debtor: on the contrary, the plea of inability includes a virtual acknowledgment of the debt; since, if the creditor's right were denied, the plea would be superfluous.

That the East India Company, having on their part violated the engagements and renounced the conditions on which they received and have hitherto held and enjoyed the duanne of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa from the King Shah Allum, have thereby forfeited all right and title to the said duanne arising from the said grant, and that it is free and open to the said King to resume such grant, and to transfer it to any other prince or state;—that, notwithstanding any distress or weakness to which he may be actually reduced, his lawful authority, as sovereign of the Mogul Empire, is still acknowledged in India, and that his grant of the duanne would sufficiently authorize and materially assist any prince or state that might attempt to dispossess the East India Company thereof, since it would convey a right which could not be disputed, and to which nothing but force could be opposed. Nor can these opinions be more strongly expressed than they have been lately by the said Warren Hastings himself, who, in a minute recorded the 1st of December, 1784, has declared, that, "fallen as the House of Timur is, it is yet the relic of the most illustrious line of the Eastern world; that its sovereignty is universally acknowledged, though the substance of it no longer exists; and that the Company itself derives its constitutional dominion from its ostensible bounty."

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