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Book V. only when it was unattended with profit, but exercised a very constant forbear
v 'ance towards the greatest delinquency, as often as it was productive of a temporary gain. The speech was followed up by a number of propositions, which he moved in the shape of resolutions. Beside the reproaches which these resolutions cast upon the general strain of the Company's administration in India, they pronounced a condemnation, so strong, upon the measures of the Presidency of Madras, that nothing less than criminal proceedings against the authors of them could accord with so vehement a declaration of their guilt. The resolutions were solemnly voted; articles of charge against Sir Thomas Rumbold and other Members of the Madras Council were adopted; and a bill of pains and penalties, for breaches of public trust, and high crimes and misdemeanours, committed by Sir Thomas Rumbold, was introduced by Mr. Dundas. The bill was read a first time. Before the second reading, Sir Thomas Rumbold was heard in his defence. The session drew to a close, before a great progress was made. In the beginning of 1783, the state of the ministry was unsettled. And, as if, when ministry is unsettled, parliament were inadequate to its functions, the bill was neglected till the middle of the session. After the middle of the session, the members soon began to be remiss in their attendance.* And on the 19th of December, immediately after the dismission of Mr. Fox's coalition ministry, a motion was made and carried for adjourning the further consideration of the bill till the 24th day of June next, by which the prosecution was finally dropped. Sir Thomas consented to accept of impunity without acquittal; his judges refused to proceed in his trial, after they had solemnly affirmed the existence of guilt; and a black stain was attached to the character of both.
* On the 2d of May, 1783, "The Lord Advocate complained of the very thin attendance that he had hitherto found, whenever the bill of pains and penalties against Sir Thomas Rumbold became the subject of discussion. He wished to know whether it was seriously intended to pursue the business to the end or not? If it was the intention of the House to drop it, he wished to be made acquainted with that circumstance, and then he would not move for another hearing on the subject; for it was a mockery to go into the evidence on the bill, when there could not be kept together a sufficient number of members to make a house.—Mr. Fox declared, that, to drop the bill would be productive of the most fatal consequences; for it would convince the world, that the most atrocious misconduct in India would meet with impunity in parliament. And, therefore, he requested gentlemen would for the credit, honour, and interest of the country, attend to the evidence for and against the bill. If the bill should be lost for want of attendance, it would not clear the character of Sir. T. Rumbold. On the other hand, it would hold out this idea to the people of India, that it was in vain for them to expect redress of their grievances in England.—Mr. W. Pitt thought, that some mode might be devised to enforce attendance, as in the case of ballots for election committees." Cobbett's Parliamentary History, xxiil. 805.
Beside his prosecution of Sir Thomas Rumbold, Mr. Dundas proceeded to Chap. IX. urge the legislature to specific propositions against Mr. Hastings, and Mr. Hornby, K"~~y~~"' the presiding members of the other Presidencies. Against Mr. Hastings, in particular, he preferred a grievous accusation, grounded on the recent intelligence of the ruin brought upon the Rajah Cheyte Sing. On the 30th of May, 1782, he moved, and the House adopted, the following resolution, "That Warren Hastings, Esq. Governor-General of Bengal, and William Hornby, Esq. President of the Council of Bombay, having in sundry instances acted in a manner repugnant to the honour and policy of this nation, and thereby brought great calamities on India, and enormous expenses on the East India Company, it is the duty of the Directors of the said Company to pursue all legal and effectual means for the removal of the said Governor-General and President from their respective offices, and to recall them to Great Britain." The Marquis of Rockingham was still minister; and his party appeared to have firmly determined upon the recall of Mr. Hastings. The vote of the House of Commons was therefore followed by a similar proceeding on the part of the Directors. But the death of the Marquis, which happened at this critical period, gave courage and strength to the friends of that Governor, and in a Court of Proprietors of East India Stock on the 31st of October, 1782, the order of recall which had been made by the Court of Directors was rescinded by a large majority. On the 24th of April, 1782, the Chairman of the Select Committee presented Resolutions a series of resolutions, which referred to little more than two points. Mr. Sulli- chlirman of" van, who was Chairman of the East India Company, had mis-stated a conference held between him and certain Members of the House of Commons; and the consequence had been, that the relief intended to certain persons confined in the common gaol at Calcutta, had been considerably delayed: Mr. Sullivan had also postponed the transmission of the act of parliament for the remedy of the evils arising from the proceedings of the Supreme Court of Judicature: And Mr. Sullivan had, moreover, bound a clerk at the India House, peculiarly qualified to give information, by an oath of secrecy, from communicating evidence to the Select Committee. A series of resolutions were, therefore, moved and carried for the censure of Mr. Sullivan. This is the first of the points to which the resolutions moved on the part of the Select Committee referred. The second was the conjunct transaction of Mr. Hastings and Sir Elijah Impey, in making the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court head of the Sudder Duannee Adaulut. The purport of them on this point was, That the dependence of the Chief Justice, created by holding emoluments at the pleasure of the
Book V. executive government, was inconsistent with the faithful administration of justice: v—y~~~J That the Governor-General and Chief Justice were highly culpable in that transaction: And that the appointment should be immediately vacated and annulled. To these resolutions were added other two: The first, "That the powers given to the Governor-General and Council by the East India Act of 1773, ought to be more distinctly ascertained:" The second, "That it will be proper to reduce into one act the several acts of parliament made to regulate the East India Company, and further to explain and amend the same, and also to make new regulations and provisions to the same end." The whole of these resolutions were carried; and upon those which related to the dependence, in other words the corruption, of the Chief Justice, was founded a resolution voted on the 3d of May, for an address to the King that he would recall Sir Elijah Impey to answer for his conduct in that transaction.
The vote of the Court of Proprietors, in opposition to the recall of Mr. Hastings, was severely reprobated by Mr. Dundas, at the beginning of the next session of parliament; when he moved, that all the proceedings in relation to it should be laid before the House; and pronounced it an act both dangerous in principle, and insulting to the authority of parliament. Petition of the On the 5th of March, 1783, a petition from the United Company of Merest' f°rr<^ chants trading to the East Indies was presented to the House of Commons and referred to a Committee. It set forth, that having paid 300,000/. of the sum imposed upon them, for the benefit of the public, by the late act, they were unable to pay the 100,000/. which remained; that the advances which had already been received by the public "were made under mistaken ideas of the petitioners' pecuniary abilities;" that the aid necessary to carry on their affairs only to the 1st of March, 1784, would upon the most moderate calculation be 900,000/., even if excused the payment of the sum of 100,000/., due upon the late agreement; and they prayed, that, if re-imbursement be not made to them, they be allowed to increase their bond debt, without diminishing their dividend, which would affect their credit; that they be not required to share any thing with the public, till the increase thus made of their bond debts be again wholly reduced; that the term of their exclusive privileges, a short term being injurious to their credit, should be enlarged; and that the petitioners be relieved from that share of the expense attending the service of the King's troops and navy which according to the late act they were bound to afford. Two acts were passed for their relief; the first allowing more time for the payment of the taxes for which they were in arrear, and enabling them to borrow money on their bond, to the amount of 500,000/.; the second act, (the relief granted by the first Chap. IX. being found insufficient), accommodating them with a loan from the public to the' amount of 300,000/.; both acts permitting them to continue a dividend of eight per cent., though after paying necessary expences, their receipts fell short of that dividend by a sum of 255,813/.* They borrowed money, therefore, to divide among themselves to that amount; a singular way for a trader of keeping out of debt.
Upon the death of the Marquis of Rockingham, the Earl of Shelburne, afterwards Marquis of Lansdown, became minister, and continued in office from the 13th of July, 1782, till the 5th of April, 1783. At that time, the coalition of Lord North and Mr. Fox gave existence to the ministry which that circumstance has served to designate, and to characterize.
The former exertions of Mr. Dundas in the investigation and adjustment of Mr. Dundas's the nation's Indian affairs, were followed up by a bill, which he introduced to the blU* House on the 14th of April, 1783. Its principal provisions were these; That the King should have the power of recall over the principal servants of the Company: That the Governor-General and Council of Bengal should have a controling power over the other presidencies; and that the Governor-General should have a power of acting, on his own responsibility, in opposition to the opinion of his Council: That the Governors at the other presidencies should not have a power of originating any measure, contrary to their Councils, but a power of suspending their action by a negative till the opinion of the Controling Presidency should be known: That the displaced Zemindars should be replaced: That the Rajah of Tanjore should be secured in all his present possessions. In his speech he repeated his former arguments for the recall of Mr. Hastings; and then launched out into the numerous and extraordinary circumstances, which pointed out Lord Cornwallis as the fittest person in the world for the government of India. "Here there was no broken fortune to be mended! Here was no avarice to be gratified! Here was no beggarly, mushroom kindred to be provided for! No crew of hungry followers, gaping to be gorged !" f Leave was given to bring in the bill. But Mr. Dundas, who was now in opposition, and of course received no encouragement from the ministry, did not persevere.
On the 11th of November in the year 1783, a new parliament met. In the Treaties of speech from the throne they were informed that definitive treaties of peace had reT■^ed'the been signed, or preliminaries ratified, with the courts of France and Spain, with French settI«
• See the acts of 23 Geo. III. cap. 36 and 89; and Cobbett's Pari. Hist, xxiii. 571.
Book V. the United States of America, and the States General of the United Provinces.
They were also informed, that among the important objects, the urgency of ments and gave which had required their presence after so short a recess, the affairs and governTrincomaiee ment 0f jno<ja solicited the utmost exertions of their abilities, and that the fruit
to the Dutch.
was now expected of those important inquiries, which had been so long and diligently pursued.
By the treaty of peace with France, Pondicherry and Carical, to both of which some territory was added, also the whole of the possessions which France enjoyed in Bengal and Orissa at the commencement of the war, together with Mahe, and the power of restoring their factory at Surat, were conceded to the French. In the treaty with the Dutch, Trincomalee was restored; but Negapatnam was retained.
The opponents of the ministry, in both houses of parliament, proclaimed aloud the great demands which were presented by the state of affairs in India for instant and effectual reform. They enumerated the abuses which appeared to prevail; and they called upon the minister, stimulated and importuned him, to bring forward a scheme of improvement, and by avoiding delay to gratify the impatient expectation of the people. In these vehement calls the voice of Mr. William Pitt, as he was then called, was distinguished for its loudness and importunity. At that time it suited him, to desire not only reform, but complete reform; reform, co-extensive with the evil, possible to be removed; and the good, possible to be attained. He challenged and summoned the minister to bring forward a plan, "not of temporary palliation or timorous expedients, but vigorous and effectual; suited to the magnitude, the importance, and the alarming exigency of the case." Mr. Fox afforded them but little space to complain of delay; and within a few days he exhibited his plan. Mr. Fox's Its provisions were divided into two parts, and introduced in two separate bills; India bills. one havmg a reference to the governing power at home; the other to the administration in India. Provisions re- I. For constituting an organ of government at home, the two existing Courts otgan ofgo? of Directors, and Proprietors, of the East India Company, were abolished, as hornTM6111*t totally inadequate to the ends of their creation; and, in their room, seven commissioners were to be named in the act, that is, chosen by the legislature. These commissioners were to act as trustees for the Company; to be invested with full powers for ordering and administering the territories, revenues, and commerce of India; and to have the sole power of placing and displacing all persons in the service of the Company, whether in England or in India.