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He had found

he restored the

words of haughty triumph broke from him. the treasury empty, and the Executive infirm; finances and invigorated every department. "I was a man unknown, unprotected, and unconnected at home, and possessed of no other influence abroad than that which I had acquired by my own knowledge and practice, in the credit which the success of my measures impressed on the people of Hindustan, and in the attachment of my fellow-servants and citizens. For six years I was thwarted and insulted openly by the rest of the Council. But even during that time they never tried to take the current of business out of my hands; while I was sustained by consciousness of greater ability and merit. I suffered in patience; I did my duty when I could; I waited for better and more lasting means; no act or word escaped me; no meanness of submission ever afforded my assailants the triumph of a moment over me; my antagonists sickened, died, and fled. I maintained my ground unchanged; neither the health of my body nor the vigour of my mind for a moment deserted me.' Well might Burke declare that this was no ordinary offender, but in every sense "a Captain-General of iniquity."

" 1

As President and Governor-General, Hastings had borne locally irresponsible rule in India for twelve years. Everywhere he had changed the ancient landmarks and added field to field. He had slain and taken possession, and he could point alike to the spoils of war, the triumphs of diplomacy, and the augmentation of revenue as the proofs of his vigour and success in administration. Beggared princes, impoverished towns, and a starving peasantry might curse his name, but the Board of Directors and the Board of Control found no fault at all in him; and if he had enriched himself, had he not added tenfold to the riches of

1 Letter to Anderson, 13th September 1786.

his masters?

Great merchants in the city and high Ministers of State applauded him, and he had smiles of approval from the Woolsack, York Minster, and the Throne. All hailed his return as that of a conqueror who had won for his country a new empire to compensate for the old one lately lost. Who should gainsay such testimony?

Nevertheless, the clerks in the finance department of Leadenhall Street were much exercised in spirit by the question-Did conquest pay? The financial results of his administration are thus summed up by one who had the privilege of access to every detail of the accounts. In 1772 the Government receipts were £2,373,650, and the expenditure £1,705,279, leaving £668,371 to be divided between shareholders, bondholders, and holders of office at home. In 1785 the income was £5,315,197, and the expenditure £4,312,519, leaving a balance of £1,002,678. On the other hand, the debt in India was augmented from £1,850,866 to £10,464,955, while a large increase of liabilities to the Home Government and to private creditors had accumulated. "The administration of Hastings added £12,500,000 to the total debt of the Company; and the interest, at 5 per cent., of this additional debt was more than the amount of the increased revenue."1

These nett results were not indeed disclosed at the time in such a form as that the public at large might understand them. According to the established custom in such matters, they were permitted only to see the light piecemeal, and then enveloped in so many disguises and swathed in so many deceptive folds of extenuation, that no one could feel sure that he knew what they were. It would never have done to let the naked truth be seen. Othello's

Hundreds and thousands who

occupation had been gone.

1 Mill's History of British India, vol. iv. p. 442.

had benefited largely by the process of absorption and exaction were ready to testify how profitable was the work. It was not the field or the owners of the field that were benefited, but those who drove the ploughshare through its bosom, and made away with such gleanings with such gleanings as each could secure of its fruit.

Mrs Hastings was sent home to prepare good society for her husband's appearance in its circles. Whig duchesses refused to know her as a divorcé, but Queen Charlotte received her at court with every mark of distinction, and great ladies without number crowded her salons and boasted of the curious and precious gifts which she bestowed. Royalty itself did not refuse to accept the unique present of an ivory bedstead, elaborately carved; and the wits of Brooke's had no end of stories about the gems and pearls which fell from Marion's hair, or dropped from her gorgeous train. This indiscreet ostentation, and the still more unwise audacity of Scott, was not without its effect, perhaps, in rekindling the embers of Burke's indignation, and fanning into flame the resentment of Francis.

On the 30th of June, Hastings returned to England, and he was received by King, Ministers, and nobles with every demonstration of respect. Burke lost no time in giving notice that, as the session was then so far advanced, he would, when the House re-assembled, redeem his pledge of demanding that strict inquisition be made into recent viceregal acts. He spent the autumn at Beaconsfield in further study and contemplation of his task, exchanging confidences by letter with Fox and Francis, the first of whom would gladly have dissuaded him from an undertaking of success in which he himself had little hope, but the duty of which Junius concurred with him in thinking imperative. In the dark chambers of his imagery, the

scenes of daring spoliation, and harrowing injustice which had been sketched by Francis were filled in with every detail of oriental life, and coloured with all its glow. In the solitude of his study, and of his rambles in the woods, he began to paint those marvellous historic pictures, the like of which has never been seen in our day, and the effect of which upon the mind of Parliament and the nation he did not at the time venture to estimate. He knew that the Whig party was utterly broken by the late general election; that of those who had retained their seats, very few cared a jot for India; and only recalled with bitterness the fact that it was to the India Bill the ruin of their party was ostensibly if not altogether due. On the eve of the session, at a meeting of the opposition chiefs at Burlington House, the preponderant feeling unmistakably was against risking further battle on this ill-fated ground. But Burke was inflexible. It was the great occasion of his life; and though all the men of fashion and fortune around the Duke of Portland should desert the cause, he told them plainly that he had made up his mind to go on. Seeing him thus firm, Fox remained faithful; and a young countryman of his own, who had already made his mark in debate as a man of surpassing eloquence and wit, volunteered his service as a subaltern, as little dreaming as his leader that by him, in the great struggle, the highest honours of the fight would be borne away. This was Richard Brinsley Sheridan.




"The business of this day is not the business of this man. It is not solely whether the prisoner at the bar be found innocent or guilty, but whether millions of mankind shall be made miserable or happy. Exiled and undone princes, extensive tribes, suffering nations, differing in language, manners, and in rites, by the providence of God are blended in one common cause, and are now become suppliants at your bar." -EDMUND BURKE,1


the 4th April 1787, Burke brought forward eleven accusations against Hastings.

The first count of the indictment charged him with injustice, cruelty, and treachery in hiring British soldiers to extirpate the Rohillas:

2. With cruelty to the Emperor Shah Alum, in withholding his tribute:

3. With extortion and oppression in the case of the Rajah of Benares:

4. With ill-treatment of the family of the Vizier of Oude: 5. With improvidence and injustice in his policy towards Faruckabad:.

6. With reducing Oude from a garden to a desert:

7. With sanctioning extravagant contracts and inordinate salaries :

8. With receiving money against the orders of the Com

1 Speech on the Impeachment, 23d February 1788.

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