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did more, it might be supposed, by my anxiety to clear myself, that I had imbibed the ideas, which, for obvious reasons, the right honourable gentleman wishes to have received concerning all attempts to plead the cause of the natives of India, as if it were a disreputable employment. If he had not forgot in his present occupation, every principle which ought to have guided him, and I hope did guide him, in his late profession, he would have known, that he who takes a fee for pleading the cause of distress against power, and manfully performs the duty he has assumed, receives an honourable recompense for a virtuous service. But if the right honourable gentleman will have no regard to fact in his insinuations, or to reason in his opinions, I wish him at least to consider, that if taking an earnest part with regard to the oppressions exercised in India, and with regard to this most oppressive case of Tanjore in particular, can ground a presumption of interested motives, he is himself the most mercenary man I know. His conduct, indeed, is such that he is on all occasions the standing testimony against himself. He it was that first called to that case the attention of the house: the reports of his own committee are ample and affecting upon that subject; and as many of us as have escaped his massacre, must remember the very pathetick picture he made of the sufferings of the Tanjore country, on the day when he moved the unwieldy code of his Indian resolutions. Has he not stated over and over again in his reports, the ill treatment of the rajah of Tanjore (a branch of the royal house of the Marattas, every injury to whom 'the Marattas felt as offered to themselves) as a main cause of the alienation of that people from the British power? And does he now think, that to betray his principles, to contradict his declarations, and to become himself an active instrument in those oppressions which he had so tragically lamented, is the way to clear himself of having been actuated by a pecuniary interest, at the time when he chose to appear full of tenderness to that ruined nation ?
The right honourable gentleman is fond of parading on the motives of others, and on his own. himself, he despises the imputations of those who suppose that any thing corrupt could influence him in this his unexampled liberality of the publick treasure. I I do not know that I am obliged to speak to the motives of ministry, in the arrangements they have made of the pretended debts of Arcot and Tanjore. If I prove fraud and collusion with regard to publick money on those right honourable gentlemen, I am not obliged to assign their motives; because no good motives can be pleaded in favour of their conduct. Upon that case I stand; we are at issue ; and I desire to go to trial. This, I am sure, is not loose railing, or mean insinuation, according to their low and degenerate fashion, when they make attacks on the measures of their adversaries. It is a regular and juridical course; and, unless I choose it, nothing can compel
me to go further.
But since these unhappy gentlemen have dared to hold a lofty tone about their motives, and affect to despise suspicion, instead of being careful not to give cause for it, I shall beg leave to lay before you some general observations on what I conceive was their duty in so delicate a business.
If I were worthy to suggest any line of prudence to that right honourable gentleman, I would tell him, that the way to avoid suspicion in the settlement of pecuniary transactions, in which great frauds have been very strongly presumed, is, to attend to these few plain principles :- First, to hear all parties equally, and not the managers for the suspected claimants only.-Not to proceed in the dark; but to act with as much publicity as possible.—Not to precipitate decision.—To be religious in following the rules prescribed in the commission under which we act. And, lastly, and above all, not to be fond of straining constructions, to force a jurisdiction, and to draw to ourselves the management of a trust in its nature invidious and obnoxious to suspicion, where the plainest letter of the law does not compel it. If
these few plain rules are observed, no corruption ought to be suspected; if any of them are violated, suspicion will attach in proportion. If all of them are violated, a corrupt motive of some kind or other will not only be suspected, but must be violently presumed.
The persons in whose favour all these rules have been violated, and the conduct of ministers towards them, will naturally call for your consideration, and will serve to lead you through a series and combina. tion of facts and characters, if I do not mistake, into the very inmost recesses of this mysterious business. You will then be in possession of all the materials on which the principles of sound jurisprudence will found, or will reject the presumption of corrupt motives; or if such motives are indicated, will point out to you of what particular nature the corruption is.
Our wonderful minister, as you all know, formed a new plan, a plan insigne recens alio indictum ore, a plan for supporting the freedom of our constitution by court intrigues, and for removing its corruptions by Indian delinquency. To carry that bold para: doxical design into execution, sufficient funds and apt instruments became necessary. You are perfectly sensible that a parliamentary reform occupies his thoughts day and night, as an essential member of this extraordinary project. In his anxious researches upon this subject natural instinct, as well as sound policy, would direct his eyes, and settle his choice on Paul Benfield. Paul Benfield is the grand parliamentary reformer, the reformer to whom the whole choir of reformers bow, and to whom even the right honourable gentleman himself must yield the palm : for what region in the empire, what city, what borough, what county, what tribunal, in this kingdom, is not full of his labours ? Others have been only speculators; he is the grand practical reformer; and whilst the chancellor of the exchequer pledges in vain the man and the minister, to increase the provincial members, Mr. Benfield has auspiciously and practically begun it. Leaving far behind him even lord Camelford's generous design of bestowing Old Sarum on the bank of England, Mr. Benfield has thrown in the borough of Cricklade to reenforce the county representation. Not content with this, in order to station a steady phalanx for all future reforms, this publick-spirited usurer, amidst his charitable toils for the relief of India, did not forget the poor rotten constitution of his native country. For her, he did not disdain to stoop to the trade of a wholesale upholsterer for this house, to furnish it not with the faded tapestry figures of antiquated merit, such as decorate, and may reproach some other houses, but with real, solid, living patterns of true modern virtue. Paul Benfield made (reckoning himself) no fewer than eight members in the last parliament. What copious streams of pure blood must he not have transfused into the veins of the present!
But what is even more striking than the real services of this new-imported patriot, is his modesty. As soon as he had conferred this benefit on the constitution, he withdrew himself from our applause. He conceived that the duties of a member of parlia. ment (which with the elect faithful, the true believers, the Islam of parliamentary reform, are of little or no merit, perhaps not much better than specious sins) might be as well attended to in India as in England, and the means of reformation to parliament itself, be far better provided. Mr. Benfield was therefore no sooner elected, than he set off from Madras, and defrauded the longing eyes of parliament. We have never enjoyed in this house the luxury of beholding that minion of the human race, and contemplating that visage, which has so long reflected the happiness of nations.
It was therefore not possible for the minister to consult personally with this great man. What then was he to do? Through a sagacity that never failed him in these pursuits, he found out in Mr. Benfield's representative, his exact resemblance. A specifick
attraction by which he gravitates towards all such characters, soon brought our minister into a close connexion with Mr. Benfield's agent and attorney; that is, with the grand contractor (whom I name to honour) Mr. Richard Atkinson ; a name that will be well remembered as long as the records of this house, as long as the records of the British treasury, as long as the monumental debt of England shall endure.
This gentleman, sir, acts as attorney for Mr. Paul Benfield. Every one who hears me, is well acquainted with the sacred friendship, and the steady mutual attachment that subsists between him and the present minister. As many members as chose to attend in the first session of this parliament, can best tell their own feelings at the scenes which were then acted. How much that honourable gentleman was consulted in the original frame and fabrick of the bill, commonly called Mr. Pitt's India bill, is matter only of conjecture; though by no means difficult to divine. But the publick was an indignant witness of the ostentation with which that measure was made his own, and the authority with which he brought up clause after clause, to stuff and fatten the rankness of that corrupt act.
As fast as the clauses were brought up to the table, they were accepted. No hesitation; no discussion. They were received by the new minister, not with approbation, but with implicit submission. The reformation may be estimated, by seeing who was the reformer. Paul Benfield's associate and agent was held up to the world as legislator of Indostan. But it was necessary to authenticate the coalition between the men of intrigue in India and the minister of intrigue in England, by a studied display of the power of this their connecting link.
Every trust, every honour, every distinction, was to be heaped upon him. He was at once made a director of the India company; made an alderman of London ; and to be made, if ministry could prevail (and I am sorry to say how near, how
, very near they were prevailing) representative of the capital of this kingdom. But to secure his services against all risk, he was brought in for a ministerial