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Led by Mr Pitt, a majority of the House of Commons subsequently voted, on the motion of the Marquis of Graham, that these words ought not to have been spoken; but Fox, Windham, and Sheridan defiantly adopted them, and declared that the Managers would make them good. The resolution of censure remains to this day unexpunged; but history has reversed the vote, and the memory of the great international Tribune needs no vindication.
BENARES AND OUDE.
“ It had been said of the Company that there was something in their operations
which combined the meanness of a pedlar with the profligacy of a pirate. Alike in the military and the political line could be observed auctioneering ambassadors and trading generals; and thus we saw a revolution brought about by affidavits, an army employed in executing an arrest, a town besieged on il note of hand, a prince dethroned for the balance of an account. Thus it was they united the mock majesty of a bloody sceptre and the little traffic of a merchant's counting-house, wielding a truncheon with one hand, and picking a pocket with the other."
-R. B. SHERIDAN.1
FROM the reports sent home by the battled triumvirate,
Ministers learned enough to justify them in desiring the recall of Hastings. The Regulating Act enabled the Crown to supersede him only on an address to that effect from the Company; and that body was so nearly balanced in opinion that he only escaped a resolution for his dismissal by a few votes.
Lord North, though the most good-natured of men, was much incensed, and threatened to summon Parliament earlier than usual in order to put an end to a state of things that had become scandalous, and to reduce the privileges of the Company to those which gave them a monopoly of trade in the Indian Seas. Colonel Macleane, alarmed at
Speech on the Begums of Oude, 7th February 1787— Parliamentary History, vol. xxv. col. 287.
what might happen, acted on a discretion given him, and tendered the Viceroy's resignation. Wheler was at once appointed in his stead, and Clavering named to act as locum tenens until he should arrive. But ere the news could reach Calcutta, Colonel Monson died. By virtue of his casting vote, Hastings regained his ascendancy in the Council, and at once resumed the exercise of unlimited authority with respect both to measures and to men. Clavering vainly attempted to assert the temporary power assigned to him. He sent for the keys of office, and they were refused ; he issued orders to the troops, but they were disobeyed. The question of who should govern was referred to the Supreme Court. Hastings repudiated his resignation ; declared he had kept no copy, or that, if he had, he could not find it. Not having resigned, there was no vacancy
in point of law, and all the proceedings founded on the supposition were consequently null and void. The Judges ruled in his favour; and when Wheler arrived; he had to content himself with taking a subordinate seat in the Council. The ascendancy of superior intellect and audacity combined was shown in a personal incident about this time. Baron Imhoff, under Viceregal patronage, had continued to practise his art at Calcutta; but after long delay the decree of divorce arrived from Germany, and the superseded husband thereupon departed with his share of Indian riches. The Church at last bestowed its benediction on Mrs Hastings, and the exculpatory rite was solemnised with courtly splendour. Clavering excused his absence on the ground of illness, but the cup of triumph would not have been full without his presence, and the Viceroy, to ensure it, paid him a visit, and carried him to the wedding-feast.
Francis was a man made of different stuff. When he hated he hated with his whole heart; and he hated nobody
so much as Hastings. He had, by the help of Clavering and Monson, succeeded in deposing him for a time; and with the help of Fowke and Bristowe as witnesses to his corruption, he had branded him with administrative reproach. The tide of fortune had turned, and Hastings, once more in the ascendancy, was all but absolute lord of the East. There were few things probably Francis would not have done to redress the balance of power thus overset. While he brooded in bitterness and discontent, overtures of peace came from the enemy. The Governor-General had learned to respect, if not to fear, the tenacity of his rival's purpose and the inveteracy of his aversion. The day must come when, returning to England, Francis, unappeased and unforgiving, might be a serious impediment in the way of his ambition. Better win him over, and commit him if possible to concurrence in the general policy of Indian administration while there was time, than run the risk of having to defend the measures of to-day and to-morrow, as well as those of yesterday, in a Court of Proprietors, in the press, and in Parliament. Might not Francis be tempted, by one or two triumphs in hand, to relinquish the hope of half a dozen in the bush fifteen thousand miles away? The result justified the experiment of reconciliation. Francis, overreached and over-matched, chafing with disappointment, half-forgotten in England, and conscious that he was regarded by his countrymen in Calcutta as one who, with all his talents, had been baffled, might well apply to himself the terrible words of Swift, that after all his fame his fate seemed to be—“ To die of rage, like a poisoned rat in a hole.” Unexpectedly the door of his chamber opened, and an emissary charged with offers of accommodation entered. If his own pen has not depicted his amazement and delight, how should another’s. It was one of those exquisite moments that compensate ambitious men for years of embitterment and chagrin. He agreed to the general basis of arrangement, and promised not to thwart certain measures then about to be taken against the Mahrattas. He insisted for the public restoration to all their dignities and emoluments of Fowke and Bristowe, whom he felt bound in honour to see righted for the part they had taken, and for the sacrifices they had endured. This was a bitter dose, but Junius was inexorable, and with a shrug Hastings gulped it. It was an ineffaceable admission that these men were not perjurers, as they had been called ; if not, their testimony remained ; and Hastings, by the fact of their reappointment to the Residencies of Lucknow and Benares, confessed himself to have been corrupt, calumnious, and cruel.
For two years peace was maintained in Fort William, but at length the old antagonism broke out afresh. In dealing with the Mahrattas, incidents arose which drew forth differences of opinion. Francis was on the side of nonintervention, Hastings was for taking the high-handed line. Unable to persuade, he tried to silence his opponent by alleging that acquiescence in his views of external policy was one of the terms of the accommodation between them. This Francis stoutly denied ; he said it had been proposed, but refused by him, and that in an unlimited sense it would manifestly be incompatible with his sworn duty as a member of the Executive. A minute of Hastings pronouncing him incapable of candour and unworthy of credit provoked him to send a challenge, which the Viceroy did not hesitate to accept. A duel took place next day ; Francis was wounded, but not dangerously, and he soon recovered. Two years before, Lord Townshend, then Viceroy of Ireland, was challenged by Lord Bellamont for having turned his back upon him at levée. They fought with swords, and