Графични страници
PDF файл

far below it, while the rate of taxation was increased, and the country exhibited Chap. VIII. every mark of oppressive exaction. 1781~*>'

By the treaty of Fyzabad, formed with the late Nabob, at the conclusion of Progress of the the Rohilla war, it was agreed, that a regular brigade of the Company's troops upon the Nashould, at the expense of the Nabob, be kept within the dominions of Oude. ^ k-yhthe Even this burthen was optional, not compulsory; and the Court of Directors gave their sanction to the measure, "provided it was done with the free consent of the Subah, and by no means without it." *

To the first was added, in the year 1777, a second, called the temporary brigade, because the express condition of it was, that the expense should be charged on the Nabob "for so long a time only as he should require the corps for his service." The Court of Directors were still more anxious, in this case than in the former, to determine, that the burthen should not be fastened upon the Nabob, contrary to his will: "If you intend" (say they, addressing the Governor-General and Council) "to exert your influence, first, to induce the Vizir to acquiesce in your proposal; and afterwards to compel him to keep the troops in his pay during your pleasure, your intents are unjust, and a correspondent conduct would reflect great dishonour on the Company." ■'

Even the temporary brigade did not put a limit to the expense for English soldiers whom the Nabob was drawn to maintain. Several detached corps, in the Company's service, were also placed in his pay; and a great part of his own native troops were put under the command of British officers.

In the year 1779, the expense of the temporary brigade, and that of the country troops under British officers, increased, the one to the amount of more than eighty, the other of more than forty thousand pounds sterling, above the estimate. These particulars, however, constitued only the military part of his English expense. The civil expense resulted from an establishment under the resident, which, without any authority from the Court of Directors, or any record in the books of the Council, had gradually and secretly swelled to a great amount; along with this, from another establishment for another agent of the Company; and from pensions, allowances, and large occasional gifts, to various persons in the Company's service.

In that year, viz. 1779, the Nabob complained that the pressure was more The Nabob than he was able to endure. "During three years past," said he, "the expense opp°rMsion.°' occasioned by the troops in brigade, and others commanded by European officers,

* Letter of Directors to the Governor-General and Council, dated 15th December, 1775. VOL. II. 4 L

Book V. has much distressed the support of my household: insomuch, that the allowances 1?gj made to the seraglio and children of the deceased Nabob have been reduced to one fourth of what it had been, upon which they have subsisted in a very distressed manner for two years past. The attendants, writers, and servants, &c. of my court, have received no pay for two years past; and there is at present no part of the country that can be allotted to the payment of my father's private creditors, whose applications are daily pressing upon me. All these difficulties I have for these three years past struggled through, and found this consolation therein, that it was complying with the pleasure of the Honourable Company, and in the hope that the Supreme Council would make inquiry from impartial persons into my distressed situation; but I am now forced to a representation. From the great increase of expense, the revenues were necessarily farmed out at a high rate; and deficiences followed yearly. The country and cultivation is abandoned. And this year, in particular, from the excessive drought, deductions of many lacs * have been allowed the farmers, who are still unsatisfied.—I have received but just sufficient to support my absolute necessities, the revenues being deficient, to the amount of fifteen lacs;f and for this reason, many of the old chieftains, with their troops, and the useful attendants of the court, were forced to leave it, and there is now only a few foot and horse for the collection of my revenues: and should the Zemindars be refractory, there is not left a sufficient number to reduce them to obedience." In consequence of these distressing circumstances, the Nabob prayed, that the assignments for the new brigade, and the other detached bodies of the Company's troops, might not be required, declaring that these troops were "not only quite useless to his government, but, moreover, the cause of much loss, both in the revenues and customs; and that the detached bodies of troops, under their European officers, brought nothing but confusion into the affairs of his government, and were entirely their own masters."!

The complaint This representation, which events proved to be hardly an exaggeration, and i^gnatTon!1 tne prayer by which it was followed, the Governor-General received, with tokens of the highest indignation and resentment. "These demands," he said, "the tone in which they are asserted, and the season in which they are made, are all equally alarming." In the letter which was dispatched in his words to the resident, the grounds on which the Nabob petitioned for relief are declared to

* Stated by the resident, in his letter, dated 13th December, 1779, to amount to twenty-five lacs, 250,000/. t 150,000/. % Tenth Report, ut supra, Appendix, No. 7.

be "totally inadmissible.—He stands engaged," it is added, "to our govern- Chap. VIII. ment, to maintain the English armies which, at his own request, have been" ^J"-"^ formed for the protection of his dominions; and it is our part, not his, to judge and to determine, in what manner, and at what time, these shall be reduced or withdrawn." In his minute, in consultation, upon the subject, he says, that, by the treaty made with Asoph ul Dowla, upon the death of his father, "he became, eventually, and necessarily, a vassal of the Company." He affirmed that "the disorders of his state, and the dissipation of his revenues, were the effects of his own conduct, which had failed, not so much from the casual effects of incapacity, as from the detestable choice which he has made of the ministers of his power, and the participators of his confidence."* And to the Nabob himself he declared, "Your engagements with the Company are of such a nature as to oblige me to require and insist on your granting tuncaws for the full amount of their demands upon you for the current year, and on your reserving funds sufficient to answer them, even should the deficiency of your revenues compel you to leave your own troops unprovided for, or to disband a part of them to enable you to effect it." f The difficulties, under which the Governor-General was placed, were severe Reasons of the and distressing. It is true, that the protection of the Nabob's dominions rested compeUbgthe solely upon the British troops, and that without loss of time they would have ^J^^,,TMS" been over-run by the Mahrattas, had these troops been withdrawn; it is true, then, that the debt due to the Company would, in that case, have been lost; that a dangerous people would have been placed upon the Company's frontier; that the Company's finances, always in distress, and then suffering intensely by war, could not maintain the same number of troops, if their pay was stopped by the Vizir. And the law of self-preservation supersedes that of justice. On the other hand, from the documents adduced, it is evident that the English had no right to compel the Nabob, if not agreeable to him, to maintain any part of those their troops; and the Governor-General was not entitled, as he did, to plead both, at once, the law of self-preservation, and the law of right. The truth also is, that * The words which follow sufficiently indicate the species of companions which he meant: "I forbear to expatiate further on his character; it is sufficient that I am understood by the Members of the Board, who must know the truth of my allusions." Lord Thurlow, his friend, and the fierce defender of him, on his trial, speaks out more plainly, and calls them, without reserve, the instruments of an unnatural passion. See "Debates in the House of Lords, on the Evidence delivered at the Trial of Warren Hastings," &c.; a quarto volume got up by Mr. Hastings, and distributed to his friends, but never published. t Tenth Report, ut supra, Appendix, No. 7.

Book V. his law of self-preservation, when examined, and brought into conformity with' the facts, implies a strong convenience, and nothing more. It was very convenient for the English, at that time, to have a large body of troops maintained by a different treasury from their own. But it will hardly be maintained, at any rate by the friends of Mr. Hastings, that in his hands the British empire in India must have been destroyed, had it been compelled to rely upon its own resources. It was for a great convenience, then, and for nothing else, that the English, without any claim of right, compelled the Nabob Vizir to maintain their troops; that is, treated him as the vassal which Mr. Hastings described him, and substantially seized and exercised the rights of sovereign and master over both him and his country.

Another point well deserves to be considered; whether the original brigade of the Company's troops was not a force sufficient to protect the Nabob's country, against all the dangers with which it was threatened. If the English, who included in their own line of defence the boundaries of Oude, did not provide their due proportion, but impose the whole upon the Nabob, they defended themselves at his expense; they delivered themselves from a burthen, which was their own, by compelling the Nabob to bear it; and violated the laws of justice. It is also a question, whether the troops quartered upon him in addition to that brigade, as they were kept in idleness in his dominions, were not, with all their expense, of little use either to him or the Company. As they were not employed against the enemies of the Company, they could be of little use in repelling them; and the complaint of the Vizir that they and their officers acted as the masters in his country, and as a source both of expense and of disorder, is confirmed by Mr. Francis, who, in Council, pronounced it "notorious, that the English army had devoured his revenues, and his country, under colour of defending it." *

The Governor-General, when pressed for argument, made the following avowal: That ambiguities had been left in the treaty: And that it was the part of the strongest to affix to these ambiguities that meaning which he pleased, f

* Extract of Bengal Consultations, 15th December, 1779; Tenth Report, ut supra, Appendix, No. 7.

t His words are these, "As no period was stipulated for the continuance of the temporary brigade, or of the troops which are to supply their place in his service, nor any mode prescribed for withdrawing them; the time and mode of withdrawing them must be guided by such rules, as necessity, and the common interests of both parties, shall dictate. These, either he must prescribe, or ourselves. If we cannot agree upon them, in such a division, the strongest must decide." Ibid.

That this is a very common political procedure, every one knows. The trans- Chap. VIII. action, however, in its essence, is, it is evident, only a varnish placed upon ^ —'

injustice by fraud. In the present case, besides, it happened, by a singular chance, that ambiguity had not existence, and the allegation of it was false."So long only as the Nabob pleased," was the express condition of the compact;and the moment at which the Nabob desired relief, the most exact definition was applied. .'

The Governor-General surmised a circumstance, which always seems to have animated him to peculiar severity; that the idea of the instability of the existing government was among the causes which emboldened the Nabob to complain. "I, for my own part," said he, "do not attribute * the demand of the Nabob to any conviction impressed on his mind by the necessity of his affairs; but to the knowledge which his advisers have acquired, of the weakness and divisions of our own government. This is a powerful motive with me, however inclined I might be, upon any other occasion, to yield to some part of his demands, to give them an absolute and unconditional refusal in the present; and even to bring to punishment, if my influence can produce that effect, those incendiaries who have endeavoured to make themselves the instruments of division between

Under the enormous demands of the English, and the Nabob's inability to Nabob's debts meet them, the debt with which he stood charged in 1780 amounted to the sum PBre9Slve' of 1,400,000/. The Supreme Council continued pressing their demands. The Nabob, protesting that he had given up every thing, that "in the country no further resources remained, and that he was without a subsistence," continued sinking more deeply in arrear: Till the time when the resolution of Mr. Hastings was adopted, to proceed to make with him a new arrangement upon the spot.

As a step preliminary to the affairs which the Governor-General meant to Previous to the transact with the Nabob, he withdrew the resident, Mr. Bristow. This gentle- neraiTtra^

man had been appointed by the party of General Clavering, when they removed viziT1 Mr

Middleton, the private agent of Mr. Hastings: The Governor-General had Bristow is removed.

removed him soon after the time when he recovered his superiority in the

* It would be very curious, if the Governor-General, at the commencement of the year 1780, was totally ignorant of the ruin of the Nabob's finances; and in eighteen months afterwards, viz. at the time of his journey to the upper provinces, was so convinced of that ruin, as to make it the principal ground of the extraordinary procedure which he adopted, and, allowing the inability to be real, to remove the brigade and other objects of complaint.

f Extract of Bengal Consultations, 15th December, 1779; Tenth Report, ut supra, Appendix, No. 7.

« ПредишнаНапред »