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Book V. attracted the principal attention of the new counsellors; and, unhappily for the Governor-General, presented too many appearances of a doubtful complexion not communicate to excite the desire of elucidation in the minds of the most candid judges. An mponde"ce'" ouvious objection was, its direct opposition to the frequent and urgent commands at1Oude fi86"1 of ^e ^ourt of Directors, not to engage in offensive wars of any description, the attention and to confine the line of defensive operations to the territorial limits of them* Councillors- selves and allies. The reasons, too, upon which the war was grounded; a dispute about the payment of an inconsiderable sum of money, and the benefit of conquest, to which that dispute afforded the only pretext; might well appear a suspicious foundation. When the new government began the exercise of its authority, the intelligence had not arrived of the treaty with Fyzoolla Khan; and an existing war appeared to demand its earliest determinations. To throw light upon the field of deliberation, the new Councillors required that the correspondence should be laid before them, which had passed between the GovernorGeneral (such is the title by which the President was now distinguished), and the two functionaries, the commander of the troops, and the agent residing with the Vizir. And when they were informed that a part indeed of this correspondence should be submitted to their inspection, but that a part of it would also be withheld, their surprise and dissatisfaction were loudly testified, their indignation and suspicions but little concealed. Reasons of As reasons for suppressing a part of the letters Mr. Hastings alleged, that fcrsuppressfng they rckited not to public business, that they were private, confidential comthe corre- munications, and not fit to become public.
spondence. . „
It is plain that this declaration could satisfy none but men who had the most unbounded confidence in the probity and wisdom of Mr. Hastings; and as the new Councillors neither had that confidence, nor had been in circumstances in which they could possibly have acquired it on satisfactory grounds, they were not only justified in demanding, but their duty called upon them to demand a full disclosure. The pretension erected by Mr. Hastings, if extended into a general rule, would destroy one great source of the evidence by which the guilt of public men can be proved: And it was calculated to rouse a suspicion of his improbity in any breast not fortified against it by the strongest evidence of his habitual virtue.* Nothing could be more unfortunate for Mr. Hastings than
* The Directors not only condemned the retention of the correspondence, and sent repeated orders for its disclosure, which were never obeyed; but arraigned the very principle of a private agent. "The conduct of our late Council," say they, "in empowering the President to prepare instructions for Mr. Middleton as agent at the court of Sujah Dowla, without ordering them to be his war against the Rohillas, and the suppression of his correspondence with Mr. Chap. II. Middleton. The first branded the spirit of his administration with a mark, v which its many virtues were never able to obliterate, of cruel and unprincipled aggression; and the second stained him with a natural suspicion of personal impurity. Both together gave his rivals those advantages over him which rendered his subsequent administration a source of contention and misery, and involved him in so great a storm of difficulties and dangers at its close.
Of the Council, now composed of five Members, the three who had recently The new Councome from England joined together in opposing the Governor-General, who was op^sitioTto" supported by Mr. Barwell alone. This party constituted, therefore, a majority GeneralV,anda of the Council, and the powers of government passed in consequence into their majority, hands. The precipitation of their measures called for, and justified the animad- governing versions of their opponents. Having protested against the suppression of any Council, part of Middleton's correspondence, they were not contented with commanding
Orders, harsh that, as at least a temporary expedient, his letters should be wholly addressed to with respect to themselves; they voted his immediate recall; though Hastings declared that fifing'°r such a measure would dangerously proclaim to the natives the distractions of TMoney If°1?.
° J r turn, and with*
the government, and confound the imagination of the Vizir, who had no con- drawing the ception of power except in the head of the government, and who would consider' P the annihilation of that power as a revolution in the state. The governing party, notwithstanding their persuasion of the injustice and cruelty of the Rohilla war, and notwithstanding their ignorance whether or not it was brought to a close, directed the Commander-in-Chief, in the first place, immediately upon the receipt of their letter, to demand payment from the Vizir of the forty lacs of rupees promised for the extirpation of the Rohillas,* and of all other sums
submitted to the Board for their inspection and approbation, was very improper. And it is our express direction, that no such independent or separate authority be ever delegated, to any Governor, or Member of Council, or to any other person whatsoever; but that all instructions to public agents be laid before the Council, and signed by a majority of the Members, before they be carried into execution." Letter to Bengal, 15th December, 1775, Fifth Report, ut supra, Appendix, No. 46.
* On the supposition of the injustice of the Rohilla war, these forty lacs ought to have been paid not to the Company, but to the sufferers: Sujah Dowla ought to have been compelled to restore the unhappy refugees to their homes; and to make compensation. But neither the party, who now possessed all the powers of government, though they reprobated the Rohilla war, nor the Court of Directors, though they solemnly condemned it, ever uttered a wish for the restoration of the expatriated and plundered Rohillas; for a farthing of compensation for their loss, or alleviation to their miseries, either out of their own revenues, or those of the Vizir. The cry about justice, therefore, was a cheap virtue to them; and they were so much the less excusable
Book V. which might be due upon his other engagements. Provided a real inability was Jt^~^ apparent, he might accept not less than twenty lacs, in partial payment, and securities for the remainder, in twelve months. And they directed him in the second place, to conduct the troops within fourteen days out of the Rohilla country, into the ancient territory of Oude; and in case the Vizir should refuse compliance with the prescribed demands, to withdraw the troops entirely from his service, and retire within the limits of the Company's dominions. Before the dispatch of these instructions, intelligence arrived of the treaty with Fyzoolla Khan; of the payment of fifteen lacs by the Vizir, from the share of Fyzoolla Khan's effects; of his return to his capital, for the declared purpose of expediting payment to the Company of the sums which he owed; and of the intention of the English army to march back to Ramgaut, a Rohilla town near the borders of Oude. In consideration of these events the Governor-General proposed to suspend the peremptory demands of money, and the order for the recall of the troops; and to proceed with more leisure and forbearance. But every motion from that quarter in favour of the Vizir was exposed to the suspicion of corrupt and interested motives; and the proposal was rejected. The directions to the Commander were no further modified, than by desiring him to wait upon the Vizir at his capital, and to count the fourteen days from the date of his interview. The Governor-General condemned the precipitation of the pecuniary demand; as harsh, impolitic, and contrary to those rules of delicacy, which were prescribed by the Directors for their transaction with the native princes, and which prudence and right feeling prescribed in all transactions: And he arraigned the sudden recall of the troops as a breach of treaty, a violation of the Company's faith, tantamount to a declaration that all engagements with the Vizir were annulled, and affording to him a motive and pretence for eluding payment of the debts, which, if his alliance with the Company continued, it would be his interest to discharge. Both parties wrote the strongest representations of their separate views of these circumstances to the Directors; and the observations of one party called forth replies from the other, to a mischievous consumption of the time and attention, both in England and in India, of those on whose undivided exertions the right conducting of the government depended.*
than the Vizir and Mr. Hastings, that these actors in the scene denied its injustice, and were consistent: the Directors, and the condemning party, were inconsistent: if conscious of that inconsistence, hypocritical; if not conscious, blind.
* See the Documents in the Appendix, Nos. 44, 45, and 46 of the Fifth Report, ut supra. They are also to be found in the Minutes of Evidence, exhibited to the House of Commons on Shortly after his return from the expedition against the Rohillas, Sujah Dowla, Chap. II. the Vizir, whose health was already broken, began to show symptoms of a rapid ^ 2775"""^
decay, and expired in the beginning of 1775, when his only legitimate son, Death of who assumed the title of Asoff ul Dowla, succeeded without opposition to the ^"arrange!*
Subahdaree of Oude. Mr. Middleton had already returned, and Mr. Bristow me,lt wittl h1»
was now sent to supply his place at the residence of the new Nabob. The majority in Council resolved to obtain from the son, with all possible dispatch, the sums of money due by the father; but to consider all engagements by which they were bound to the late Nabob as dissolved by his death; and to make any assistance, which they might hereafter afford his successor, the result of new purchases and payments. A treaty was at last arranged on the 21st of May, by which it was agreed, that the Company should guarantee to Asoff ul Dowla, the provinces of Corah and Allahabad, which had been sold to his father; but that the Nabob in return should cede to the Company the territory of the Rajah Cheyte Sing, Zemindar of Benares, yielding a revenue of 22,10,000 rupees; that he should raise the allowance for the service of the Company's brigade to 2,60,000 rupees per month; and should pay, as they fell due, the pecuniary balances upon the engagements of the late Vizir. Mr. Hastings refused his sanction to the imposition of these terms, as inconsistent with any equitable construction of the treaty with the late Vizir, extorted from the mere necessities of the young Nabob, and beyond his power to fulfil. The conduct of the Directors was peculiar. In their letter of the 15th December, 1775, remarking upon the resolution of the Council to disregard the treaties concluded with the late Nabob of Oude, they say, "Although the death of Sujah Dowla may render it necessary to make new arrangements with his successor, we cannot agree with our Council, that our treaties with the State of Oude expired with the death of that Nabob." When they were made acquainted however with the new grant of revenue, and the new allowance on account of the troops, they say, in their letter of the 24th of December, 1776, "It is with singular satisfaction we observe at any time the attention paid by our servants to the great interests of their employers; and it is with particular pleasure we here signify our entire approbation of the late treaty concluded with Asoff ul Dowla, successor of Sujah Dowla, by which such terms are procured as seem to promise us solid and permanent advantages." *
the Oude Charge; and once more in the Minutes of the Evidence exhibited on the trial of Mr. Hastings in Westminster Hall. . ...
• Fifth Report, ut supra, with Appendix, No. 44' and 45. VOL. II. 2 z
Book V. The new Board of Administration had early announced to the distant Presi'dencies, that it had assumed the reins of government, and was vested with Represents- controuling power over all the British authorities in India. It had also o£nesrft^siTe required from each of the Presidencies a representation of its political, financial, dencies to the and commercial situation; and found a scene opened at Bombay, which it
Council. requires a notice of some preceding circumstances rightly to unfold. Relations with The Mahratta Sovereigns, or Rajahs, were assisted, according to the Hindu
the Mahratta ° ° .
powers. institution, by a council of eight Brahmens, who shared among them the principal offices of the state. The official name of the chief of this council was Peshwa, upon. whom the most important parts of the business of government devolved^ According as the pleasures, the indolence, or the incapacity of the sovereign withdrew him from the management of affairs, the importance of this principal servant was increased; and a proportionable share of the dignity and power of the sovereign passed into his hands. In a rude state of society it appears not to be difficult for the influence and dignity of the servant to outgrow that of the master, who becomes too weak to resume the power which he has imprudently devolved. The minister leaves his office and ascendancy to his son; the son makes it hereditary; and the sovereign, divested of all but the name of king, sinks into an empty pageant. Such was the course of events in the case of the mayor of the palace in France, in that of the Chu-vua in Tunquin,* and such it was, besides other cases, in that of the Peshwa, among the Mahrattas. In the reign of the Rajah Sahoo, who was but third in succession from Sevagee, Kishwanath Balajee had raised himself from a low situation in life to the rank of Peshwa. Sahoo was a prince devoted to ease and to pleasure; and the supreme powers were wielded, with little check or limitation, by Kishwanath Balajee. He assumed the name of Row Pundit, that is chief of the Pundits, or learned Brahmens, and made the Rajah invest him with a sirpah, or robe of office, a ceremony which ever since has marked the succession of the Peshwas, and appeared to confer the title. Kishwanath was able to leave his office and power to his son Bajerow, who still further diminished the power of the sovereign; and finally allowed him not so much as liberty. The Rajah was confined to Satarah, a species of state prisoner; while the Peshwa established his own residence at Poona, which henceforth became the seat of government. The brother of Bajerow, Jumnajee Anna, though a Brahmen, led the forces of the state; he attacked the Portuguese settlements in the neighbourhood of Bombay; and
* See the Expose Statistique du Tunkin, published in London, in 1811, from the papers of Side la Bissachere, a French.Missionary, who had spent twenty-six years in the country.