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borough. On his part, he was not wanting in zeal for the common cause. His advertisements show his motives, and the merits upon which he stood. For your minister, this worn-out veteran submitted to enter into the dusty field of the London contest; and you all remember, that in the same virtuous cause he submitted to keep a sort of publick office or counting-house, where the whole business of the last general election was managed. It was openly managed by the direct agent and attorney of Benfield. It was managed upon Indian principles, and for an Indian interest. This was the golden cup of abominations; this the chalice of the fornications of rapine, usury, and oppression, which was held out by the gorgeous eastern harlot; which so many of the people, so many of the nobles of this land, had drained to the very dregs. Do you think that no reckoning was to follow this lewd debauch? that no payment was to be demanded for this riot of publick drunkenness and national prostitution? Here! you have it here
The principal of the grand election manager must be indemnified; accordingly the claims of Benfield and his crew must be put above all inquiry.
For several years, Benfield appeared as the chief proprietor as well as the chief agent, director, and controller, of this system of debt. The worthy chairman of the company has stated the claims of this single gentleman on the nabob of Arcot, as amounting to five hundred thousand pounds. Possibly at the time of the chairman's state, they might have been as high. Eight hundred thousand pound had been mentioned some time before; and according to the practice of shifting the names of creditors in these transactions, and reducing or raising the debt itself at pleasure, I think it not impossible, that at one period, the name of Benfield might have stood before those frightful figures. But my best information goes to fix his share no higher than four hundred thousand pounds. By the scheme of the present ministry for adding to the principal twelve per cent. from the year 1777 to the year 1781,
four hundred thousand pounds, that smallest of the sums ever mentioned for Mr. Benfield, will form a capital of 592,0001. at six per cent. Thus, besides the arrears of three years, amounting to 106,5001. (which, as fast as received, may be legally lent out at twelve per cent.) Benfield has received by the ministerial grant before you, an annuity of 35,5201. a year, charged on the publick revenues.
Our mirrour of ministers of finance, did not think this enough for the services of such a friend as Benfield. He found that lord Macartney, in order to frighten the court of directors from the object of obliging the nabob to give soucar security for his debt, assured them, that if they should take that step, Benfield would infallibly be the soucar ; and would thereby become the entire master of the Carnatick. What lord Macartney thought sufficient to deter the very agents and partakers with Benfield in his iniquities, was the inducement to the two right honourable gentlemen to order this very soucar security to be given, and to recal Benfield to the city of Madras, from the sort of decent exile, into which he had been relegated by lord Macartney. You must there. fore consider Benfield, as soucar security for 480,0001. a year, which at twenty-four per cent. (supposing him contented with that profit) will, with the interest, of his old debt, produce an annual income of 149,5201. a year.
Here is a specimen of the new and pure aristocracy created by the right honourable gentleman,* as the support of the crown and constitution, against the old, corrupt, refractory, natural interests of this kingdom ; and this is the grand counterpoise against all odious coalitions of these interests. Benfield outweighs them all; a criminal, who long since ought to have fattened the region kites with his offal, is, by his majesty's ministers, enthroned in the government of a great kingdom, and enfeoffed with an estate, which in the comparison effaces the splen
* Right honourable William Pitt.
dour of all the nobility of Europe. To bring a little more distinctly into view the true secret of this dark transaction, I beg you particularly to advert to the circumstances which I am going to place before you.
The general corps of creditors, as well as Mr. Benfield himself, not looking well into futurity, nor presaging the minister of this day, thought it not expedient for their common interest, that such a name as his should stand at the head of their list. It was therefore agreed amongst them, that Mr. Benfield should disappear by making over his debt to Messrs. Taylor, Majendie, and Call, and should in return be secured by their bond.
The debt thus exonerated of so great a weight of its odium, and otherwise reduced from its alarming bulk, the agents thought they might venture to print a list of the creditors. This was done for the first time in the year 1783, during the duke of Portland's administration. In this list the name of Benfield was not to be seen. To this strong negative testimony was added the further testimony of the nabob of Arcot. That prince (or rather Mr. Benfield for him) writes to the court of directors a letter full of complaints and accusations against lord Macartney, conveyed in such terms as were natural for one of Mr. Benfield's habits and education to employ. Amongst the rest, he is made to complain of his lordship's endeavouring to prevent an intercourse of politeness and sentiment between him and Mr. Benfield; and to aggravate the affront, he expressly declares Mr. Benfield's visits to be only on account of respect and of gratitude, as no pecuniary transactions subsisted between them.
Such, for a considerable space of time, was the outward form of the loan of 1777, in which Mr. Benfield had no sort of concern. At length intelligence arrived at Madras, that this debt, which had always been renounced by the court of directors, was rather like to become the subject of something more like a criminal inquiry, than of any patronage or sanction from parliament. Every ship brought
accounts, one stronger than the other, of the preva. lence of the determined enemies of the Indian system. The publick revenues became an object desperate to the hopes of Mr. Benfield; he therefore resolved to fall upon his associates, and, in violation of that faith which subsists among those who have abandoned all other, commences a suit in the mayor's court against Taylor, Majendie, and Call, for the bond given to him, when he agreed to disappear for his own benefit as well as that of the com
The assignees of his debt, who little expected the springing of this mine, even from such an engineer as Mr. Benfield, after recovering their first alarm, thought it best to take ground on the real state of the transaction. They divulged the whole mystery, and were prepared to plead, that they had never received from Mr. Benfield any other consideration for the bond, than a transfer, in trust for himself, of his demand on the nabob of Arcot. A universal indignation arose against the perfidy of Mr. Benfield's proceeding; the event of the suit was looked upon as so certain, that Benfield was compelled to retreat as precipitately as he had advanced boldly; he gave up his bond, and was reinstated in
; his original demand, to wait the fortune of other elaimants. At that time, and at Madras, this hope was dull indeed; but at home another scene was preparing
It was long before any publick account of this discovery at Madras had arrived in England, that the present minister, and his board of control, thought fit to determine on the debt of 1777. The recorded proceedings at this time knew nothing of any debt to Benfield. There was his own testimony; there was the testimony of the list; there was the testimony of the nabob of Arcot against it. Yet such was the
. ministers' feeling of the true secret of this transaction, that they thought proper, in the teeth of all these testimonies, to give him license to return to Madras. Here the ministers were under some embarrassment. Confounded between their resolution of rewarding
the good services of Benfield's friends and associates in England, and the shame of sending that notorious incendiary to the court of the nabob of Arcot, to renew his intrigues against the British government, at the time they authorize his return, they forbid him, under the severest penalties, from any conversation with the nabob or his ministers; that is, they forbid his communication with the very person on account of his dealings with whom they permit his return to that city. To overtop this contradiction, there is not a word restraining him from the freest intercourse with the nabob's second son, the real author of all that is done in the nabob's name; who, in conjunction with this very Benfield, has acquired
, an absolute dominion over that unhappy man, is able to persuade him to put his signature to whatever paper they please, and often without any communica. tion of the contents. This management was detailed to them at full length by lord Macartney, and they cannot pretend ignorance of it.
I believe, after this exposure of facts, no man can entertain a doubt of the collusion of ministers with the corrupt interest of the delinquents in India. Whenever those in authority provide for the interest of any person, on the real but concealed state of his affairs, without regard to his avowed, publick, and ostensible pretences, it must be presumed that they are in confederacy with him, because they act for him on the same fraudulent principles on which he acts for himself. It is plain, that the ministers were fully apprized of Benfield's real situation, which he had used means to conceal whilst concealment answered his purposes. They were, or the person on whom they relied was, of the cabinet council of Benfield, in the very depth of all his mysteries. An honest magistrate compels men to abide by one story. An equitable judge would not hear of the claim of a man who had himself thought proper to renounce it. With such a judge his shuffling and prevarication would have damned his claims; such a judge never