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their insatiable lust of plunder, that they never would have given ear to any terms of peace, if Hyder Ali had not broke through the Gauts, and rushing like a torrent into the Carnatic, swept away every thing in his career. This was in consequence of that confederacy, which by a sort of miracle united the most discordant powers for our destruction, as a nation in which no other could put any trust, and who were the declared enemies of the human species.
It is very remarkable, that the late controversy between the several presidencies, and between them and the court of directors, with relation to these wars and treaties, has not been, which of the parties might be defended for his share in them; but on which of the parties the guilt of all this load of perfidy should be fixed. But I
I am content to admit all these proceedings to be perfectly regular, to be full of honour and good faith; and wish to fix your attention solely to that single transaction which the advocates of this system select for so transcendent a merit as to cancel the guilt of all the rest of their proceedings; I mean the late treaties with the Marattas.
I make no observation on the total cession of territory, by which they surrendered all they had obtained by their unhappy successes in war, and almost all they had obtained under the treaty of Poorunder. The restitution was proper, if it had been voluntary and seasonable. I attach on the spirit of the treaty, the dispositions it showed, the provisions it made for a general peace, and the faith kept with allies and confederates ; in order that the House may form a judgment, from this chosen piece, of the use which has been made (and is likely to be made, if things continue in the same hand) of the trust of the federal powers of this country.
It was the wish of almost every Englishman, that the Maratta peace might lead to a general one; because the Maratta war was only a part of a general confederacy formed against us, on account of the universal abhorrence of our conduct which prevailed in every state, and almost in every house in India. Mr. Hastings was obliged to pretend some sort of acquiescence in this general and rational desire. He therefore consented, in order to satisfy the point of honour of the Marattas, that an article should be inserted to admit Hyder Ali to accede to the pacification. But observe, sir, the spirit of this man (which if it were not made manifest by a thousand things, and particularly by his proceedings with respect to Lord Macartney) would be sufficiently manifest by this—What sort of article, think you, does he require this essential head of a solemn treaty of general pacification to be? In his instruction to Mr. Anderson, he desires him to admit “a vague article” in favour of Hyder. Evasion and fraud were the declared basis of the treaty. These vague articles, intended for a more vague performance, are the things which have damned our reputation in India.
Hardly was this vague article inserted, than, without waiting for any act on the part of Hyder, Mr. Hastings enters into a negotiation with the Maratta chief, Scindia, for a partition of the territories of the prince who was one of the objects to be secured by the treaty. He was to be parcelled out in three parts-one to Scindia ; one to
; the peishwa of the Marattas; and the third to the East India Company, or to (the old dealer and chapman) Mahomet Ali.
During the formation of this project, Hyder dies ; and before his son could take any one step, either to conform to the tenor of the article, or to contravene it, the treaty of partition is renewed on the old footing, and an instruction is sent to Mr. Anderson to conclude it in form.
A circumstance intervened, during the pendency of this negotiation, to set off the good faith of the company with an additional brilliancy, and to make it sparkle and glow with a variety of splendid faces. General Matthews had reduced that most valuable part of Hyder's dominions called the Country of Biddenore. When the news reached Mr. Hastings he instructed Mr. Anderson to contend for an alteration in the treaty of partition, and to take the Biddenore country out of the common stock, which was to be divided, and to keep it for the company.
The first ground for this variation was its being a separate conquest made before the treaty had actually taken place. Here was a new proof given of the fairness, equity, and moderation of the company. But the second of Mr. Hastings' reasons for retaining the Biddenore as a separate portion, and his conduct on that second ground, is still more remarkable. He asserted that that country could not be put into the partition stock, because General Matthews had received it on the terms of some convention, which might be incompatible with the partition proposed. This was a reason in itself both honourable and solid ; and it showed a regard to faith somewhere, and with some persons. But in order to demonstrate his utter contempt of the plighted faith which was alleged on one part as a reason for departing from it on another, and to prove his impetuous desire for sowing a new war, even in the prepared soil of a general pacification, he directs Mr. Anderson, if he should find strong difficulties impeding the partition, on the score of the subtraction of Biddenore, wholly to abandon that claim, and to conclude the treaty on the original terms. General Matthew's convention was just brought forward sufficiently to demonstrate to the Marattas the slippery hold which they had on their new confederate; on the other hand, that convention being instantly abandoned, the people
of India were taught, that no terms on which they can surrender to the company are to be regarded when farther conquests are in view.
Next, sir, let me bring before you the pious care that was taken of our allies under that treaty which is the subject of the company's applauses. These allies were Ragonaut Row, for whom we had engaged to find a throne ; the Guickwar (one of the Guzerat princes), who was to be emancipated from the Maratta authority, and to grow great by several accessions of dominion; and lastly, the rana of Gohud, with whom we had entered into a treaty of partition for eleven-sixteenths of our joint conquests. Some of these inestimable securities, called vague articles, were inserted in favour of them all.
As to the first, the unhappy abdicated peishwa, and pretender to the Maratta throne, Ragonaut Row, was delivered up to his people, with an article for safety, and some provision. This man, knowing how little vague the hatred of his countrymen was towards him, and well apprized of what black crimes he stood accused (among which our invasion of his country would not appear the least), took a mortal alarm at the security we had provided for him. He was thunderstruck at the article in his favour, by which he was surrendered to his enemies. He never had the least notice of the treaty; and it was apprehended that he would fly to the protection of Hyder Ali, or some other, disposed or able to protect him. He was therefore not left without comfort; for Mr. Anderson did him the favour to send a special messenger, desiring him to be of good cheer and to fear nothing. And his old enemy, Scindia, at our request, sent him a message equally well calculated to quiet his apprehensions.
By the same treaty the Guickwar was to come again, with no better security, under the dominion of the Maratta state. As to the rana of Gohud, a long negotiation depended for giving him up. At first this was refused by Mr. Hastings with great indignation ; at another stage it was admitted as proper, because he had shown himself a most perfidious person. But at length a method of reconciling these extremes was found out, by contriving one of the usual articles in his favour. What I believe will appear beyond all belief, Mr. Anderson exchanged the final ratifications of that treaty by which the rana was nominally secured in his possessions, in the camp
of the Maratta chief, Scindia, whilst he was (really and not nominally) battering the castle of Gualior, which we had given, agreeably to treaty, to this deluded ally. Scindia had already reduced the town; and was at the very time, by various detachments, reducing, one after another the fortresses of our protected ally, as well as in the act of chastising all the rajahs who had assisted Colonel Carnac in his invasion. I have seen in a letter from Calcutta, that the rana of Gohud's agent would have represented these hostilities (which went hand in hand with the protecting treaty) to Mr. Hastings; but he was not admitted to his presence.
. In this manner the company has acted with their allies in the Maratta war.
But they did not rest here: the Marattas were fearful lest the persons delivered to them by that treaty should attempt to escape into the British territories, and thus might elude the punishment intended for them, and, by reclaiming the treaty, might stir up new disturbances. To prevent this, they desired an article to be inserted in the supplemental treaty, to which they had the ready consent of Mr. Hastings, and the rest of the company's representatives in Bengal. It was this, “ That the English and Maratta governments mutually agree not to afford refuge to any chiefs, merchants
, or other persons flying for protection to the territories of the other." This was readily assented to, and assented to without any exception whatever, in favour of our surrendered allies. On their part a reciprocity was stipulated which was not unnatural for a government like the company's to ask; a government conscious that many subjects had been, and would in future be, driven to fly from its jurisdiction.
To complete the system of pacific intention and public faith, which predominate in these treaties, Mr. Hastings fairly resolved to put all peace, except on the terms of absolute conquest, wholly out of his own power. For, by an article in this second treaty with Scindia, he binds the company not to make any peace with Tippo Saheb, without the consent of the peishwa of the Marattas; and binds Scindia to him by a reciprocal engagement. The treaty between France and England obliges us mutually to withdraw our forces, if our allies in India do not accede to the peace within four months ; Mr. Hastings's treaty obliges us to continue the war as long as the peishwa thinks fit. We are now in that happy situation, that the breach of the treaty with France, or the violation of that with the Marattas, is inevitable; and we have only to take our choice. My third assertion, relative to the abuse made of the right of
peace is, that there are none who have ever confided in us who have not been utterly ruined. The examples I have given of Ragonaut Row, of Guickwar, of the rana of Gohud, are recent. There is proof more than enough in the condition of the mogul ; in the slavery and indigence of the nabob of Oude; the exile of the rajah of Benares; the beggary of the nabob of Bengal; the undone and captive condition of the rajah and kingdom of Tanjore; the
destruction of the polygars; and, lastly, in the destruction of the nabob of Arcot himself, who, when his dominions were invaded, was found entirely destitute of troops, provisions, stores, and (as he asserts) of money, being a million in debt to the company, and four millions to others: the many millions which he had extorted from so many extirpated princes and their desolated countries having (as he has frequently hinted) been expended for the ground-rent of his mansion-house in an alley in the suburbs of Madras. Compare the condition of all these princes with the power and authority of all the Maratta states; with the independence and dignity of the soubah of the Decan; and the mighty strength, the resources, and the manly struggle of Hyder Ali; and then the House will discover the effects, on every power in India, of an easy confidence, or of a rooted distrust in the faith of the company.
These are some of my reasons, grounded on the abuse of the external political trust of that body, for thinking myself not only justified, but bound, to declare against those chartered rights which produce so many wrongs. I should deem myself the wickedest of men, if any vote of mine could contribute to the continuance of so great an evil.
Now, sir, according to the plan I proposed, I shall take notice of the company's internal government, as it is exercised first on the dependent provinces, and then as it affects those under the direct and immediate authority of that body. And here, sir, before I enter into the spirit of their interior government, permit me to observe to you, upon a few of the many lines of difference which are to be found between the vices of the company's government, and those of the conquerors who preceded us in India ; that we may be enabled a little the better to see our way in an attempt to the necessary reformation.
The several irruptions of Arabs, Tartars, and Persians, into India were, for the greater part, ferocious, bloody, and wasteful in the extreme: our entrance into the dominion of that country, was, as generally, with small comparative effusion of blood; being introduced by various frauds and delusions, and by taking advantage of the incurable, blind, and senseless animosity, which the several country powers bear towards each other, rather than by open force. But the difference in favour of the first conquerors is this ; the Asiatic conquerors very soon abated of their ferocity, because they made the conquered country their own. They rose or fell with the rise or fall of the territory they lived in. Fathers there deposited the hopes of their posterity; and children there beheld the monuments of their fathers. Here their lot was finally cast; and it is