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Book V. Bristow, the proposition for the removal of the residency, and the appointment ^■""~v——of Hyder Beg Khan to the entire management of the country, was renewed;and made Mr. Stables, in his Minute in Council on the 19th of May, 1783, declare, that this was the "great object which the minister, and" (the cypher in his hands) "his master, had in view, in preferring their complaints against the resident." Mr. Stables added, "In justice and candour to the Nawab Vizir and his minister, I think the Board ought explicitly to declare, that they cannot, on any account, comply with the Vizir's request, to grant him discretional powers over his country, while such heavy debts remain due to the Company." In the debate, too, in Council, of the 31st of July, after the proposition was formally moved by the Governor-General, it met with the opposition of all the other Members of the Board. The tone of the Governor-General, however, after the opposition had lasted for a little time, grew so high, as to intimidate his colleagues; threatening them with the inconveniences of a divided administration, and the loss of his authority in the difficulties which attended the government of Oude. They were, therefore, induced to offer on the 31st of December to acquiesce in his proposal, provided he would take the whole responsibility of the consequences upon himself. This, however, was a load which the GovernorGeneral declined. It was afterwards explained, that responsibility with his fortune, or a pecuniary responsibility, was not understood. Responsibility, thus limited, which, in fact, was no responsibility at all, leaving nothing to be affected but his reputation, which it was impossible to exempt, he had no objection to undergo. On the 31st of December, it was determined, that the residency should be withdrawn; on receiving the security of creditable bankers for the balance which the Nabob owed to the Company, and for the accruing demands of the current year. The practice Many grounds of suspicion are laid in this transaction. From one remarkable w^tosuborn ^act, they derive the greatest corroboration. There is great reason to believe, leurer9rt °whicStnat tne letters which were written in the name of the Nabob, complaining of L happened Bristow, were in fact suborned by the Governor-General, written in consequence
to require. ....
of instructions, that is, commands, secretly conveyed.
When Mr. Bristow was removed, just before the first journey of the GovernorGeneral towards Oude, the removal was in like manner preceded by violent complaints from the Nabob. These complaints were suborned. Mr. Hastings himself, when proposing the return of Mr. Bristow in 1782, informs the Nabob's Vakeel, that "His Highness," meaning the Nabob, "had been well pleased with Mr. Bristow, and that he knew what the Nabob had written formerly was at the instigation of Mr. Middleton." * The instigation of Mr. Middleton was the Chap. VIII. instigation of Mr. Hastings. ^1783^'
Besides, it is in evidence, that this was not a singular case. It was the ordinary mode of procedure, established between Mr. Hastings and the Nabob. There was, it appears, a regular concert, that the Nabob should never write a public letter respecting the residents or their proceedings, till he had first learned privately what Mr. Hastings wished that he should express, and that he then wrote accordingly. This appeared most fully, after the departure of Mr. Hastings, when the Nabob proposed to carry on the same practice with his successor. In a letter, received on the 21st of April, 1785, "I desire," says the Vizir, "nothing but your satisfaction: And hope, that such orders as relate to the friendship between the Company and me, and as may be your pleasure, may be written in your private letters to me through Major Palmer, in your letters to the Major, that he may in obedience to your orders properly explain them tome, and whatever may be settled he may first, in secret, inform you of it, and afterwards I may write to you, having learnt your pleasure—in this way, the secrets will be known to your mind alone, and the advice upon all the concerns will be given in a proper manner." The same thing is still more clearly expressed by the minister Hyder Beg Khan, on the same occasion. "I hope that such orders and commands as relate to the friendship between his Highness's and the Company's governments, and to your will, may be sent through Major Palmer in your own private letters, or in your letters to the Major, who is appointed from you at the presence of his Highness, that, in obedience to your orders, he may properly explain your commands, and whatever affair may be settled, he may first secretly inform you of it, and afterward his Highness may, conformably thereto, write an answer, and I also may represent it. By this system, your pleasure will always be fully made known to his Highness, and his Highness and me will execute whatever may be your orders, without deviating a hair's breadth." When it was the intention of Mr. Hastings that Mr. Bristow, who had been withdrawn upon complaints, which, without any dislike to Mr. Bristow, the Nabob through Middleton had been instructed to prefer, that obedient sovereign was instructed to make an application of a very different description. "The Governor," said the Nabob's Vakeel in the Arzee already quoted, "directed me to forward to the presence, that it was his wish,
* Extract of an Arzee, written (27th August, 1782) from Rajah Gobind Ram to the Vizir, by the Governor-General's directions. Minutes of Evidence, ut supra, p. 795
Book V. that your Highness would write a letter to him; and, as from yourself, request
s v——^ 0f him that Mr. Bristow may be appointed to Lucknow." In his answer to the Vakeel the Nabob curiously says, "As to the wishes of Mr. Hastings, that I should write for him to send Mr. John Bristow, it would have been proper, and necessary, for you, privately to have understood what were Mr. Hastings' real intentions: Whether the choice of sending Mr. John Bristow was his own desire: Or, whether it was in compliance with Mr. Macpherson's—that I might then have written conformably thereto.—Writings are now sent to you for both cases. Having privately understood the wishes of Mr. Hastings, deliver whichever of the writings he shall order you." *—After all this, and after the threats of Mr. Hastings against all letters from the Nabob which he might dislike, the meaning of the letters complaining of Bristow, cannot be misunderstood. It was a shrewd surmise of the Nabob, respecting Macpherson: who had become recently a Member of the Supreme Council, and whose support Mr. Hastings might require. The accusations, which the Governor-General afterwards aimed at Mr. Macpherson for supporting Bristow, fall in, at least, with the conjecture.
The cause which prompted so violent a desire for his recall is involved in comparative mystery. We can trace a kind of analogy. As the preceding removal of Mr. Bristow was immediately followed by the first visit of the Governor-General to the Nabob; so the present removal was immediately followed by another. This, undoubtedly, proves nothing against Mr. Hastings: But if there be any other grounds for suspicion, this tends to confirm them. If these visits were intended for any unjustifiable transactions between the Governor and Nabob, the removal of a witness, whose compliance could not be depended upon, was just the proceeding which in such circumstances every man would have adopted. The Governor- Before the removal of the residency was finally settled, the Governor-General peTtThis^visithad represented, that a great demand existed for his presence in Oude, to aid in to Oude. settling the disorders of the country, and in making such arrangements as would enable the Vizir to fulfil his engagements. His journey was opposed by the other Members of the Board. Upon it, however, for some reason or another, the Governor-General had set his heart. A letter was procured from Major Palmer, representing the state of the country as alarming, and urgently requiring the immediate presence of Mr. Hastings; with other letters from the Vizir, and his minister, earnestly requesting to see the Governor-General at Lucknow. The consent of a majority of the Council was at last obtained; and Mr. Hastings was
* Minutes of Evidence, ut supra, p. 798, 799, 796.
authorized to proceed to Lucknow, vested with all the powers of the Board, to Chap. VIII.
resrulate and determine the affairs both internal and external of the state, and'
.. T, 1784.
for that purpose to command even the military resources of the English government without control. The proposition of the Governor-General was introduced on the 20th of January, 1784; the consultation was closed, and the authority of the Board conferred on the 16th of February; and on the following day, the 17th, the journey of the Governor-General began.
In proceeding to Lucknow, he passed through the province of Benares, which, in the time of Cheyte Sing and his father, manifested so great a degree of prosperity; and, there, witnessed the effects of his late proceedings. The first deputy whom he had appointed for the Rajah was dismissed for the offence of not making up his payments to the exacted amount. The second, as might well be expected, acted upon the "avowed principle, that the sum fixed for the revenue must be collected." The consequence was, that the population were plunged into misery; and desolation pervaded the country. "From the confines of Buxar," says Mr. Hastings, "to Benares, I was followed and fatigued by the clamours of the discontented inhabitants. The distresses which were produced by the Jong-continued drought unavoidably tended to heighten the general discontent. Yet, I have reason to fear, that the cause existed principally, in a defective, if not a corrupt and oppressive administration." "I am sorry to add, that from Buxar to the opposite boundary, I have seen nothing but traces of complete devastation in every village." "I cannot help remarking, that except the city of Benares, the province is in effect without a government. The administration of the province is misconducted, and the people oppressed; trade discouraged, and the revenue in danger of a rapid decline from the violent appropriation of its means." * It is remarkable, how few of the political arrangements of Mr. Hastings produced the effects which he expected from them; and how much his administration consisted in a perpetual change of ill-concerted measures. The arrangements for the government of Benares were his own; and for the effects of them he was responsible; but he enjoyed a happy faculty of laying the blame at any door rather than his own. He ascribed the existing evils to the deputy solely; and with the approbation of the Council removed him. The predecessor of that deputy, who transgressed in nothing but the extent of his exactions, met with a severer fate. To procure some redress of his grievances, he had even repaired in person to Calcutta, where, so far from receiving any attention, hQ
* Letter from the Governor-Genera110 the Council Board, dated Lucknow, 2d April, 1784. VOL. II. 4 R
Book V. received two peremptory orders from the Supreme Council to quit the city, and v v—^ return. Nor was this all. Upon the arrival of Mr. Hastings at Benares, he ordered him into prison again; after which his vexations and hardships soon put a period to his life. His poverty was real, and he died insolvent.
The Governor-General arrived at Lucknow on the 27th of March. He had some success in obtaining money from the minister into whose hands the government was transferred. In order still more to disburthen the revenues of the Vizir, he agreed to withdraw the English detachment commanded by Colonel Sir John Cummings, which still was stationed on the frontiers of Oude at the Nabob's expense; and upon this consideration, "That the Company would gain nothing by its continuance, since the Nabob had not the means of defraying the expense; and whether it remains," he added, "on account of the Company, or be continued to swell the Nabob's with an accumulating debt which he cannot pay, its effects on the Company's funds will prove the same, while it holds out a deception to the public." Mr. Hastings had eluded inquiry into the truth of the allegations on which the confiscation of the estates and treasures of the Begums, and others, had been ordered; and the commands of the Court of Directors had till this time remained without effect. The time, however, was now come, when at least a partial obedience was deemed expedient; and Mr. Hastings reported to the Board, that the jaghires of the Begums, and of the Nabob Salar Jung, the uncle of the Vizir, had been "restored, conformably to the Company's orders, and more so to the inclinations of the Nabob Vizir, who went to Fyzabad for the express purpose of making a respectful tender of them in person to the Begums." The restoration, however, tardy as it was, fell greatly short of completeness; for Mr. Hastings reported that the personages, in question, had made a voluntary concession of a large portion of their respective shares." The Governor-General was now so far from expressing any apprehension of disorder from the possession of jaghires by the Princesses and other principal persons of the Nabob's family, that he declared his expectation of their influence in supporting the arrangements which had taken place with the Vizir.* Mr. Hastings The Governor-General departed from Lucknow on the 27th of August. He
resigns the go
vemment. arrived at the Presidency on the 4th of November, resumed his seat at the Council Board on the 11th, and on the 22d reminded the Directors of his request, addressed to them on the 20th of March in the year 1783, to nominate
* Letter from the Governor-General to the Council Board, dated Benares, 20th September,