Page images



the detention of revenues of the province of Cola CHAP. Alla Habad: third, the proceedings respecting Cheyt Sing: fourth, the conduct towards the princeffes of Oude: fifth and fixth, the treatment of two rajahs: feventh, extravagant contracts made by Mr. Hastings in the name of the company: eighth, illegal prefents: ninth, difregard of the orders of the Eaft India company: tenth, eleventh, and twelfth, extravagant contracts on account of the company, and enormous falaries bestowed on officers of his own institution: thirteenth, ambaffadors fent to Arcot and the decan: fourteenth, the Mahratta treaty: fifteenth, the management of the revenues of Bengal: fixteenth, the ruin of the province of Oude: feventeenth, the difmiffal of Mahomed Khan from the internal management of Bengal: eighteenth, treatment of the Mogul: nineteenth, a libel upon the directors: twentieth, the Mahratta war: twenty-firft, the fuppreffion of correspondence: twenty-fecond, the treatment of Fizullakham. Of these articles, by far the most distinguished were the third and fourth: Mr. Burke employed the remainder of February and the whole of March in moving for papers and preparing his accufations. On the 4th of April he charged Warren Haftings efquire, late governorgeneral of Bengal, with fundry high crimes and misdemeanors; nine of his articles he then delivered, and the other thirteen the following week. Mr. Haftings petitioned the house that he might be heard in his defence, and that he might be allowed a copy of the accufation. The first request the profecutors

[ocr errors]



CHAP. profecutors granted: Mr. Burke objected to the last, at so early a stage of the profecution; he was, however, over-ruled. The month of May was chiefly occupied in examining evidence; and on the first of June Mr. Burke adduced his first charge, in the following terms: "That there are grounds fufficient to charge Warren Haftings efq. with high crimes and misdemeanours, upon the matter of the faid article." After a full difcuffion, it appeared to the house, that this war was unavoidable on the part of Mr. Haftings: this propofition was negatived by a majority of one hundred and nineteen to feventy-fix. On the 3d of June, Mr. Fox brought forward the charge refpecting Benares: he contended that Mr. Haftings had acted unjustly in his first demands; that his fubfequent conduct was a continuation and increase of injustice, but that his laft proceedings, when he arrived in that province, were flagrantly iniquitous and tyrannical, and had rendered the British name odious in India. On the other hand, it was argued that the demands of Mr. Haftings were agreeable to the established conduct of fuperiors in India, from their tributary dependents, in fituations of danger and emergency the circumstances of affairs were extremely critical; the governor-general was reduced to the alternative of either requiring pecuniary fupplies, or wanting money to pay his troops, when their most ftrenuous efforts were neceffary for faving India against the confederacy of France, and the native powers; the rajah's refufal, combined with various parts of his conduct, manifefted difaffection to the British establishment, when Mr.




Haftings went to Benares; Cheyt Sing was alfo in CHAP. actual rebellion, and intimately connected with the allied enemies of British India. His conduct was therefore justified by neceffity, as part of that general system of wife and comprehenfive policy which preserved our important interests in Indoftan. Mr. Pitt admitted that the fituation of affairs at that period was extremely critical, but confidered the proceedings at Benares beyond the exigence of the cafe, and neceffity of the fervice. It was carried by a majority of one hundred and nineteen to seventynine, that there was a matter of impeachment in the charge in question.

During these proceedings concerning part of the . tranfactions in India, Mr. Dundas introduced a bill for the improvement of its government in future. Its principal object was to enlarge the powers of the governor-general; firft, by vefting in him the nomination of the vacant feats in the council; fecondly, by limiting the officers of the governorgeneral and commander in chief of the forces; and thirdly, by authorifing him to decide upon every measure, even though not agreeable to the council. The propofition was oppofed by Mr. Burke, as tending to introduce defpotic government into India; but its framer infifted, that the responsibility of the governor-general was in proportion to his power, and that abuse of his trust was punishable by a fair and established judicature: he was himself fatisfied, after long and attentive enquiry into the affairs of India, that all the recent mischiefs in that country had arifen from the parties formed in the


A majority, including Mr. Pitt, finds ground of impeach ment in the proceedings

againft Cheyt Sing.

Mr. Dunfor improv ing the goBritish In

das's bill

vernment of




CHAP. different councils, and the factious spirit which had almost uniformly pervaded these bodies. By his fyftem, the governor-general, on the one hand, would no longer be reftrained by perfonal pique and factious oppofition, from forming and executing fuch plans as he thought moft conducive to the public good; yet, on the other hand, he was amenable to the laws of his country for any unjust, tyrannical, or injurious exercife of his power. The authority allowed to the officer in question, was founded on the fame general principle, as that conferred on the feveral members of the British state, fufficiently extenfive to effect the useful purposes required, and fo clearly bounded as to prevent pernicious exercise.


The feffion terminates.

The fupplies of this feffion were eighteen thou fand feamen, and about thirty thoufand foldiers. A loan was wanted, 2,500,000l. were to be raised by exchequer bills, paid as ufual, from the first aids of the following year; about 200,000l. were to be raised by a lottery. There were no new taxes, but a duty of a penny per gallon on spirits, on deals, and battens, on hair-powder and pomatum, the whole being intended to make up the fum stated to be wanted; that the furplus of income might be the annual million appropriated to the liquidation of the national debt.

On the 11th of July his majefty closed the feffion by a speech from the throne, in which he testified the highest fatisfaction with the measures adopted for improving the refources of the country, and reducing the national debt. He continued to




receive affurances that the peace was likely to re- CHAP. main undisturbed; the happy effects of general tranquillity appeared in the extenfion of the national commerce, and he should adopt every meafure tending to confirm these advantages, and to give additional encouragement to the manufactures and industry of his people.


« PreviousContinue »