Графични страници
PDF файл

his successor. He now began to prepare for his departure. On the 8th of Chap. VIII. February, 1785, he resigned his office, and embarked for England.* \785~"'

In India, the true test of the government, as affecting the interest of the Financial reEnglish nation, is found in its financial results. In 1772, when the administra- min'stra^on!1" tion of Mr. Hastings began, the net revenues of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, which being*the principal branch of receipt will suffice for that general conception which I can attempt to convey, were 2,373,650/.; the civil and military changes of the government of Bengal were 1,705,279/.; difference 668,371/.; the whole of the bond and other debts in India were 1,850,166/.; and the debt in England, including capital-stock, and the sums due to the annuitants was 12,850,166/. In 1785, the revenues of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, including the new revenue of Benares, and the subsidies from Oude, amounted to 5,315,197/.; the charges, deducting Clive's jaghire, 30,000/. per annum, which ceased in 1784, one half of the allowance to the Nabob of Bengal, and the tribute to the Mogul, amounted to 4,312,519/., the difference 1,002,678/., which is an improvement upon that of 1772 of 334,307/.; but, on the other hand, the debt in 1786, when the whole of the arrears of Mr. Hastings* administration were brought to account, was raised to 15,443,349/. in England; and in India, including China, to 10,464,955/.; a sum of 25,908,834*.; to which should be joined 1,240,000/. the sum which was yielded by the subscription, at 155 per cent. of 800,000/. added this year to the capital-stock. The administration of Mr. Hastings therefore added about twelve and a half millions to the debt of the East India Company; and the interest at five per cent. of this additional debt, is more than the amount of the additional revenue.f Nor is this the only unhappy result in the financial administration of Mr. Hastings. The net territorial revenues of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, instead of increasing, had actually declined. In the year ending the 1st of May, 1772, they amounted to the sum of 2,126,766/., and in the year ending on the same * For the preceding train of measures, the reader is referred to the Papers, relating to the province of Oude, presented to the House of Commons in the year 1786; to the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixteenth, and Twenty-second Articles of Charge, presented by Burke, with the Answers of Mr. Hastings, and the Appendix of Documents printed along with them; also to the Minutes of Evidence on the Trial, in which the Documents were printed again.

f For these statements see the accounts exhibited in the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Reports of the Committee of Secrecy in 1781; and the accounts presented to parliament for the several years. See also Bruce's Plans for British India, p. 323.

day in 1785, to that of 2,072, 963/. * In Lord Cornwallis's celebrated revenue
letter, dated 16th November, 1786, it is allowed, that the state of the accounts
exhibits a debt in India of 8,91,25,518 rupees, and assets valued at 5,81,24,567,
with a balance against the Company of 3,10,00,950. But Lord Cornwallis
observes, that the account of assets is so much made up for the sake of show,
that is, delusion, that it presents a result widely distant from the truth; and
that the balance between the debts, and such assets as are applicable to their
extinction, would not, in his opinion, fall short of 7,50,00,000 rupees. "Of
this debt something more than a crore of rupees was subscribed for transference

* An account presented to the House of Commons, March 30th, 1786. See also the following
statement of the Bengal Revenues, taken from the printed Minutes of Evidence on Mr. Hastings'
Trial, p. 1275.


to England, leaving a debt of about 6i crore, "nearly the whole of which," he says, "is running at an average rate of interest of 8-f- per cent. per annum." "For the discharge of this," his Lordship adds, "your Bengal government alone can hereafter furnish a fund; which (under the limitations in the estimate), is stated at a gross sum of about 46,00,000 current rupees per annum. And the ordinary expenses of your different settlements, allowing for the provision of an European investment, at present exceed their resources." * That is to say; The revenue of the Indian government, at the close of the administration of Mr. Hastings, was not equal to its ordinary expense.

The incidents which had occurred under the Presidency of Madras, from the period of terminating the war with Tippoo, till the time when Mr. Hastings surrendered his office, remain to be produced.

The situation of the Nabob of Arcot, as it had long been, so continued to be, a source of uneasiness and of difficulty to the English rulers in the southern Presidency. The wretched government, which that Nabob maintained, and which his want of talents, his want of virtue, and the disadvantages of his situation, disqualified him for improving, not only sunk the people into the deepest wretchedness, but cut off the resources required for the defence of the country. The impossibility, which the Presidents had experienced, of obtaining, through his hands, the means which were necessary to provide for the security of the province; or their connivance, from unworthy motives, at his unwillingness to

Another View of the Collections under the Bengal Government.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Mr. Stuart's Minute on the Revenues of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa; Minutes of printed evidence of Hastings' Trial, Appendix, Art. vi. No. 157, p. 904.

* Extract from Revenue Letter, printed by order of the House of Commons, 1787.

Book V. provide them, had laid open the country to all the disasters, to which the weak ^ 'and unprotected state in which it was found by Hyder Ali exposed it. When the war began, the strongest necessity existed for rendering the resources of the country available to its defence. Supplies, in the highest degree defective, had been obtained from the Nabob; nor was there any rational prospect of improvement. For the payment of particular debts, both to the Company and to individuals, it had been usual with him, according to the custom of Indian princes, to grant assignments on the revenues of particular districts; and no inconsiderable portion of the whole was under this disposition. As the exigency was peculiarly violent; nothing less being immediately at stake, than the existence, in the Carnatic, of both the Nabob and the English; Lord Macartney regarded an extension of the same expedient, namely, an assignment of all his revenues, as the only feasible plan for meeting the present difficulties; and compliance with it, as no unreasonable condition imposed on the Nabob, seeing the proceeds were to be employed for his own defence, and that it was impossible he could, if defended at all, be so well defended, by any other means. Not without great difficulty the consent of the Nabob was obtained. It was an arrangement far from agreeable to that vanity and ambition, which formed a strong ingredient in his character. And there was no want of persons in his confidence who inflamed his discontent; and who excited him to employ every stratagem to obtain the surrender of the power he had given away. State of inte- It has already been observed, that the seat or durbar of the Nabob, who had intrigue, at the taken up his residence at Madras, was one of the most corrupt and active scenes g^ofthe of intrigue, that had ever been exhibited in India. The Nabob, who was totally incompetent to his own defence, was necessarily in a state of abject dependance upon the Company; but, receiving directly the revenues of the country, he endeavoured, as far as possible, by the application of money, to secure the gratification of his will. His policy was, to purchase friends among the English rulers; and to excite opposition to those whose acquiescence he failed in acquiring. The effects were mischievous, in a variety of ways. The servants of the Company were too frequently taught to look to the violation, rather than the performance of their duties, as their most certain source of reward; and the business of the Presidency was in general disturbed by a violent spirit of division and counteraction.

The mind of the Nabob was of that class of minds which must, by a kind of necessity, be always governed by somebody; and in the imbecility of age, and of a constitution worn with indulgence, he now leaned more absolutely on the accustomed support, than at an earlier period of his life. The persons who Chap. VIII. at this period had acquired the entire ascendancy over him were Ameer ul v Omrah, his second son, and Paul Benfield. The former is described as excelling in all the arts of eastern, the latter in all the arts of western, villainy. The passion of the former was power, the passion of the latter, money; and this much, at least, appears, that both pursued their ends with much ardour, with great talents for intrigue, with great audacity, and not much of moral restraint. The immediate object of the former was to get his elder brother disinherited, and to obtain the succession for himself. For this purpose the old Nabob, whose passions and those of his favourite were one, had employed all his arts to obtain from the Company an acknowledgment, that he had the right of naming his successor, without regard to the established order of inheritance. With a view, by obtaining favour with the English, to pave the way to this and other desirable objects, the Ameer ul Omrah had acted the part of a zealous instrument in obtaining the consent of his father to the assignment of the revenues. When he found that Lord Macartney was as little subservient to his purposes, after this event as before, his disappointment and his enmity were equally strong. His endeavour was to render the assignment useless; to annul, if possible, the transaction. As he had his father's mind compliant in all things, so he had it eager in the pursuit of an end, the hope of which served as a balm to the wound his pride had received, in ever relinquishing the management of the revenues. In Benfield he met with an able coadjutor. Benfield had been removed by Lord Macartney from some of the offices which he held as a servant of the Company. The liberalities and the views of the Nabob and his son pointed out a path to both fortune and revenge.

The first expedient was, by practising on the renters, and other persons in He endeavour* charge of the revenues, to render unproductive the collections. Disordered and effector the desolate as the country was, without a government, and ravaged by a destruc- ass,6ntnenttive foe, the realizing of any revenue was in itself a difficult task. Lord Macartney had appointed a committee, consisting of some of the most trustworthy of the Company's servants at the Presidency, for conducting the business which regarded the assigned revenues. They speedily discovered, that secret orders and suggestions, which counteracted all their proceedings, had been sent into the districts. The people had been taught to distrust the validity of the engagements formed with the English government; and hence to practise all the arts of delay and evasion. The greatest oppression was evidently exercised upon the unhappy cultivators; yet little could be obtained from the renters

« ПредишнаНапред »