Imatges de pÓgina

tered upon him, and they were almost immediately restored to their former fituation: the nabob complained of our refident Mr. Middleton, and Mr. Briftow was fubftituted in his room; he again complained of Mr. Bristow, and Mr. Haftings fer out for Lucknow to examine the accufation. The wounds of this great and fertile province were fkinned over, and were never probed to the bottom. From the defolate and impoverished state of his dominions, the nabob ran in our debt for his annual fubfidy; and he was prompted to confilcate the jaghires, or fettlements, of his mother and grandmother, and to affefs a difproportionate fine upon Fizulla Khan, one of his dependents, in order to difcharge the arrears. These arrears were con fidered by many perfons in this country, as the abfurd claim of a nominal debt, fince the ruin and defolation of the foil, were, in all countries and in common reafon, a discharge in full for the rent: but it was fuppofed not to accord with the fituation of the East India company, to confider them in that light.

The mifgovernment of Oude is not to be attributed folely to the measures of Mr. Haftings. The fluctuating fituation of our prefidency, in which the governor general was at one time all powerful, and then for a longer time was left in a contemptible minority, the struggles to which he was reduced, in order to retain his authority and his influence, were undoubtedly the very natural fource of a temporifing conduct. The fubfidy paid by the nabob to the English, occafioned a confiderable drain of fpecie from his dominions, and he had no trade by which that fpecie could be replaced. Of confequence,

as Mr. Haftings juftly obferves, our fubfidy is a fource of impoverifhment to the province, and the prefent advantages we derive from it must fooner or later ceafe to exift. In his present journey to Lucknow, the governor general relieved the nabob from a confiderable part of the British troops, agreed ultimately to withdraw our refident from his capital, and our interference from his government, and appears to have put his fuppofed debt in a reasonable train of liquidation. Thefe meafures he obliged the fupreme council to engage to maintain, before he quitted Bengal, and the good or ill effects that shall refult from them remain to be feen.

While Mr. Haftings was at Lucknow, an extraordinary event occurred, which excited confiderable fpeculation. This was the flight of the prince Jehander Shah, the eldest fon of the Mogul, about thirty-fix years of age, from the capital of Delhi; and his refolution to throw himself upon the protection of the nabob and the governor general at Lucknow. We have feen in various inftances how common an event it is in India, for the minifters of the different princes to ufurp their entire authority, and to hold their masters in a kind of honourable imprisonment. was now the fituation of the Mogul. The minifter that fucceeded, upon the death of Nuzeph Khan, who had for feveral years held the reins of government, was Mirza Shuffch; but he did not long retain this enviable fituation. Towards the end of September 1783, when he had held his office about eighteen months, he was treacherously af faffinated in a public proceffion by Affrafiab Khan, a difcontented subject of the Mogul, with whom he A 4 had


had just concluded a treaty of ascommodation. Mirza Shuffch had probably been the minister of his fovereign's choice; but Affrafiab, who feized upon this opportunity, under the name of firft minifter, to wreit the conduct of government from the feeble hands of the Mogul, was undoubtedly unacceptable to his master. His treatment of his prince was conformable to the unprincipled treachery and ambition, which had appeared in his conduct towards Mirza. He allowed the Mogul no voice, no concern in the affairs of his government. Not contented with this, he went farther he deprived the monarch of the whole of his revenues, and dealt out to him a fcanty pittance with fo avaricious a hand, that the fucceffor of Aurungzebe and the nominal fovereign of all Indoftan, was reduced to the most unbecoming and mortifying extremities. Prince Jehander, pierced to the foul by the fituation of his father, embraced an opportunity of flight, in order to gain by his reprefentations fome relief from the authority and interference of the English government. But, though his purpofe appears to have been thus filial and virtuous, his father was obliged by his tyrannical minifier, to fend cireular orders to every quarter for his apprehenfion, and to demand of the neighbouring princes, that they fhould refuse him both countenance and protection. The Mogul however found the opportunity of speak ing privately to major Browne, the English refident, and affuring him, that this demand was the refult of compulfion.

Prince Jehander was accordingly honourably received by Mr. Haftings, who fpeaks of him, in his letter to the court of directors, in terms of high commendation, and

relates, that the pecuniary prefents he received from himself and the nabob, were faithfully fent by him to the Mogul, the prince obferving at the fame time, that, while he knew his father daily experienced the greateft diftreffes, he thought it unlawful for him to enjoy the luxuries of life." But this was all the relief, that Jehander was able to obtain. Upon the question, whether or not a military affiftance fhould be offered to the Mogul, Mr. Haftings again differed with his council, and was again in a minority. The prince withdrew from the English dependencies, and took refuge in the camp of Madagi Sindia. Affrafiab was affaffinated on the fecond of November 1784, and Madagi, who, either by chance or defign, was at that time near the fpot, embraced the opportunity, poffeffed hinfelf of the perfon of the Mogul, and obtained the ufual parents conftituting him first minister of the empire.

Mr. Hattings, having completed the purpofe for which he had travelled to Lucknow, returned to Calcutta on the feventh of November, fomewhat lefs than a month after the death of Mr. Wheler, in whofe hands he had intended, when he quitted the government, to leave the fupreme power. It appears, that he had originally formed the refolution to have failed for England in the beginning of the year 1784, unlefs fome material change were introduced by the legislature in the constitution of the province of Bengal, and unless he were permitted to poffefs the fupreme authority, without a continual, vexatious, and ineffectual fruggle with the other members of his council. The reprefentations of the nabob had induced him to exert himself for his relief and accommodation,


and of confequence to defer his departure for England to the fubfequent year. Having effected this purpofe, and finding no reafon to expect that his political authority would be increased by new pow. ers from England, he fpent the concluding weeks of the year 1784, in making fuch arrangements in the external and internal concerns of the province, as he conceived to be incumbent upon him previoufly to his departure, and as would cause the burthen of government to fit lighter upon the fhoulders of his fucceffor.

One of the most important of thefe arrangements related to the civil establishment of the province of Bengal. The falaries of perfons, conftituting certain boards, which had been inftituted by Mr. Haftings, were undoubtedly fuch, as in this country we are used to regard as enormous. Mr. John Anderfon, for example, a perfon of fome character in the fervice of the company, received a falary of 10,000l. per annum, as a member of a board of account at Calcutta, at the fame time that he actually filled the advantageous ftation of British refident at the court of Madagi Sindia. The appointments of the other members and of the presidents were equally lavish. The measure was defended by Mr. Haftings and his friends from the confideration, that emoluments, which might be adequate in Britain, might be much otherwife in India, where every perfon looked forward to the time, when he should return, and enjoy the fruits of his induftry in tranquillity at home. It was added, that the revenues, which the falt office and the other board were appointed to fuperintend, were created by Mr. Hattings, and that this was a just source of liberal

allowance and of fair difcretion to the governor general.

At length however it was thought, that a reform and reduction under thefe heads were indifpenfible. It was natural, that fo long and fo extenfive a war, as that from which we were juft liberated, fhould be a fource of anticipation and debt to the company's poffeffions; and this debt was confidered by fome perfons in fo ferious a light, as to be equivalent to a bankruptcy. In the mean time it did not amount to more than three crores of rupees, or three millions fterling; and the annual revenue of Bengal is computed by Mr. Haflings to amount to five crores and a half. But, trifling as the debt might feem, it was the fource of great and ferious embarraffment to the provincial government. The credit of the company was decried, the notes upon the treafury of Bengal were negociated at an immenfe difcount, the civil and the military establishments were left unpaid and difcontented. In this fituation Mr. Haftings believed, that no measure could be so effectual for the relief of the company as a reform; and he accordingly drew up a plan for this purpofe, which was fubmitted to the fupreme council on the twentieth of December 1781, and received their ultimate fanétion on the fourth of January 1785. The period, which was chofen for this meafure, was a fubject of animadverfion. By the enemies of Mr. Haftings it was faid, that, in the first place, the admiffion of the reform amounted to an explicit confeffion, that the former establishment had been un. neceffarily protufe. The retrenchment of eftablishments in itself indeed demanded great courage, firmnefs, and political virtue; in dividuals were difobliged, and only


the public was benefited: the refentment of individuals was acute; the gratitude of the public was fecble and inactive. But Mr. Haftings had contrived to get all the reputation of a reformer without any of its difadvantages. He merely, put his finger upon establishments, and he left it to others to bring home the principle to individuals. He carried away unfairly the applaufe of the measure, and left all its odium to his fucceffors.

Mr. Haflings defcribed his conduct in a very different light. In introducing the reform he had done all that was difcretionary, and what remained for his fucceflors, was what could not be avoided, and therefore might not be blamed. It was an argument of great political intrepidity, and of a high fenfe of confcious innocence, that Mr. Haftings fhould venture upon fuch a measure at fuch a period. He was just about to return home and to face his enemies. He knew that his conduct had loudly been arraigned, and that the fet of men who had accufed him, were refpectable in their influence, elevated in their ability, and tenacious of their refolutions. There never was a time, in which he ftood more in need of perfonal fupport, or had a ftronger private inducement to court it Yet he felt great fatiffaction in clofing his adminiftration with a meafure, neceflary in it'elf, peculiarly incumbent upon him, but which would give mortal offence to numbers both in India and England. He expected the worst effects from it to himfelf, and he was prepared to encounter them.

to a question, which has been a fubject of great difcuffion in Eng. land, and which has given rife to various opinions; we mean, the amount of his perfonal fortune at the time that he quitted his government. Undoubtedly we are unable to give complete fatisfaction to our readers upon this head, and we might leave it for that future elucidation, which a lapfe of years muft neceffarily afford. This elucidation will indeed be the torch, which will affift the pen of history. But, obliged as we are to collect our materials within a fhort period, we think, that it is proper to give the reader fuch information as we are able, and not to leave him entirely in the dark, merely because we cannot introduce him to meridian radiance. We will only bring together the facts that come before us, and leave the conclufion to be deduced by others.

By Mr. Haflings and his friends, his fortune has been faid to be extremely fmall. In a pamphlet, which he published foon after his arrival in England, he mentions the circumftance of Mrs. Haflings's having come over in one year, and himfelf in another, as compelling him to the "repetition of an expence, which his fortune could ill afford." In a letter, which he addreffed to the court of directors, and which is dated on the river Ganges, Feb. 21, 1784, he brings to account a number of items, the


aggregate of a contingent account of twelve years," which he confefles it was not his original intention to have charged upon the company, and which he "credits by a fum, privately received, and appropriated to their fervice." obferves, that his own "fortune is unequal to fo heavy a charge,” and he apologises for the mode he



Mr. Haftings failed from Bengal on the ninth of February 1785. Having brought down his adminiftration to a close, it may not be unnatural for us to fay one word

has adopted by remarking, that their intereft would futler infinitely lefs by the precedent, than by the example of a life, fpent in the accumulation of crores for their benefit, and doomed in its close to fuffer the extremities of private want and fink in obfcurity." Mr. Haftings and his friends have fince become more explicit. He has applied to the company to fettle upon him a penfion, and the fum of 500cl. per annum was mentioned. But this propofal has been fufpended on account of the impeachment now depending before the houfe of lords. Major Scott farther stated in the house of commons, during the last feffion, that the precife amount of the capital of Mr. Haftings's fortune was 60,000l.

It is undoubtedly natural in moft cafes, to take for granted the implications of one perfon, and the affertions of another, when they relate to a fubject, with which they might naturally be fuppofed to be well acquainted. In the cafe of a criminal charge indeed, the perfonal allegations of the individual who is accufed, are of course to be put out of the question. But with regard to major Scott, whatever improprieties he may be fuppofed to have incurred in the courfe of a long and obftinate controverfy, his veracity remains unimpeached and unfufpected; and thofe, who are difpofed to controvert his affertion, must be obliged to fuppofe, which certainly is not impoffible, that he fhould be ignorant of the real a mount of the fortune of his late principal. On the other hand, the fum itself is undoubtedly difproportionate, and it may be treated as incredible. The falary of the governor general, the great perquifites that have ufually been annexed to his office, the inftances we

have that Mr. Haftings did not always refufe fums of money privately tendered him, the frugality of his perfonal etablishment, and the long continuance of his govern ment, would have beforehand rendered it probable that he was rich. With respect to facts we know only one of any confiderable weight. Mrs. Haftings, as we have already intimated, arrived in England in the year 1784, and about twelve months before her hulband; and it has been faid, that the fum, which was appropriated for her expences previously to the return of Mr. Haftings, was 4cool. per annum, and that this fum was to be paid by certain gentlemen, who ufually had the tranfaction of Mr. Haitings's pecuniary affairs in England. Mrs. Haftings's expences were imagined fo far to have exceeded this allowance, that the gentlemen thought themfelves bound to remonitrate with her, obferving, that the fum in queftion would fcarcely do more than answer the apparent expences of one quarter, and that it was impoffible for them to advance more than the fum that was appropriated. To this Mrs. Haflings replied, that he was perfectly competent to the conduct of her own affairs, and that they might rest af fured, that he would not expofe them to any difficulty, refpecting the fum for which Mr. Haftings had rendered himself anfwerable.

The tranfactions of the government of Madras, during the period of which we treat, are not lefs important than thofe of the govern ment general at Bengal. The most confiderable affair of the administration of lord Macartney who prefided, related to the affignment of the revenues of the nabob of Arcot, which was made by a folemn act to that nobleman in the month of

« AnteriorContinua »