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would have known, but in order to animadvert upon proceedings of that character.
I have thus laid before you, Mr. Speaker, I think with sufficient clearness, the connexion of the ministers with Mr. Atkinson at the general election ; I have laid open to you the connexion of Atkinson with Benfield; I have shown Benfield's employment of his wealth, in creating a parliamentary interest, to procure a ministerial protection; I have set before your eyes his large concern in the debt, his practices to hide that concern from the publick eye, and the liberal protection which he has received from the minister. If this chain of circumstances do not lead you necessarily to conclude that the minister has paid to the avarice of Benfield the services done by Benfield's connexions to his ambition, I do not know any thing short of the confession of the party that can persuade you of his guilt. Clandestine and collusive practice can only be traced by combination and comparison of circumstances. To reject such combinanation and comparison is to reject the only means of detecting fraud; it is indeed to give it a patent and free license to cheat with impunity.
I confine myself to the connexion of ministers, mediately or immediately, with only two persons concerned in this debt. How many others, who support their power and greatness within and without doors, are concerned originally, or by transfers of these debts, must be left to general opinion. I refer to the reports of the select committee for the proceedings of some of the agents in these affairs, and their attempts, at least, to furnish ministers with the means of buying general courts, and even whole parliaments, in the gross. .
I know that the ministers will think it little less than acquittal, that they are not charged with having taken to themselves some part of the money of which they have made so liberal a donation to their partisans, though the charge may be indisputably fixed upon the corruption of their politicks. For my part, Į follow their crimes to that point to which legal presumptions and natural indications lead me, without considering what species of evil motive tends most to aggravate or to extenuate the guilt of their conduct. But if I am to speak my private sentiments, I think that in a thousand cases for one it would be far less
a mischievous to the publick, and full as little dishonourable to themselves, to be polluted with direct bribery, than thus to become a standing auxiliary to the oppression, usury, and peculation of multitudes, in order to obtain a corrupt support to their power. It is by bribing, not so often by being bribed, that wicked politicians bring ruin on mankind. Avarice is a rival to the pursuits of many:
It finds a multitude of checks, and many opposers, in every walk of life. But the objects of ambition are for the few; and every person who aims at indirect profit, and therefore wants other protection than innocence, and law, instead of its rival, becomes its instrument. There is a natural allegiance and fealty due to this domineering paramount evil, from all the vassal vices, which acknowledge its superiority, and readily militate under its banners; and it is under that discipline alone that avarice is able to spread to any considerable extent, or to render itself a general publick mischief. It is therefore' no apology for ministers that they have not been bought by the East India delinquents, but that they have only formed an alliance with them for screening each other from justice, according to the exigence of their several necessities. That they have done so is evident; and the junction of the power of office in England, with the abuse of authority in the east, has not only prevented even the appearance of redress to the grievances of India, but I wish it may not be found to have dulled, if not extinguished, the honour, the candour, the generosity, the good nature, which used formerly to characterize the people of England. I confess, I wish that some more feeling than I have yet observed for the sufferings of our fellow-creatures and fellow-subjects in that oppressed part of the world, had mani. fested itself in any one quarter of the kingdom, or in any one large description of men.
That these oppressions exist, is a fact no more denied, than it is resented as it ought to be. Much evil has been done in India under the British authority. What has been done to redress it? We are no longer surprised at any thing. We are above the unlearned and vulgar passion of admiration. But it will astonish posterity, when they read our opinions in our actions, that after years of inquiry we have found out that the sole grievance of India consisted in this, that the servants of the company there had not profited enough of their opportunities, nor drained it sufficiently of its treasures; when they shall hear that the very first and only important act of a commission specially named by act of parliament, is to charge upon an undone country, in favour of a handful of men in the humblest ranks of the publick service, the enormous sum of perhaps four millions of sterling money.
It is difficult for the most wise and upright government to correct the abuses of remote delegated power, productive of unmeasured wealth, and protected by the boldness and strength of the same ill-got riches. These abuses, full of their own wild native vigour, will grow and flourish under mere neglect. But where the supreme authority, not content with winking at the rapacity of its inferiour instruments, is so shameless and corrupt as openly to give bounties and premiums for disobedience to its laws; when it will not trust to the activity of avarice in the pursuit of its own gains; when it secures publick robbery by all the careful jealousy and attention with which it ought to protect property from such violence; the commonwealth then is become totally perverted from its purposes; neither God nor man will long endure it ; nor will it long endure itself. In that case, there is an unnatural infection, a pestilential taint fermenting in the constitution of society, which fever and convulsions of some kind or other must throw off; or in which the vital powers, worsted in an unequal struggle, are pushed back upon themselves, and by a reversal of their whole functions, fester to gangrene, to death; and instead of what was but just now the delight and
boast of the creation, there will be cast out in the face of the sun, a bloated, putrid, noisome carcass, full of stench and poison, an offence, a horrour, a lesson to the world.
In my opinion, we ought not to wait for the fruitless instruction of calamity, to inquire into the abuses which bring upon us ruin in the worst of its forms, in the loss of our fame and virtue. But the right honourable gentleman* says, in answer to all the power- . ful arguments of my honourable friend—“ that this inquiry is of a delicate nature, and that the state will suf. fer detriment by the exposure of this transaction.” But it is exposed; it is perfectly known in every member, in every particle, and in every way, except that which may lead to a remedy. He knows that the papers of correspondence are printed, and that they are in every hand.
He and delicacy are a rare and a singular coalition. He thinks that to divulge our Indian politicks, may be highly dangerous. He! the mover! the chairman! the reporter of the committee of secrecy! he that brought forth in the utmost detail, in several vast, printed folios, the most recondite parts of the politicks, the military, the revenues of the British empire in India. With six great chopping bastards,f each as lusty as an infant Hercules, this delicate creature blushes at the sight of his new bridegroom, assumes a virgin delicacy; or, to use a more fit, as well as a more poetick comparison, the person so squeamish, so timid, so trembling lest the winds of heaven should visit too roughly, is expanded to broad sunshine, exposed like the sow of imperial augury, lying in the mud with all the prodigies of her fertility about her, as evidence of her delicate amours-Triginta capitum fætus enixa jacebat, alba solo recubans albi circum ubera nati.
Whilst discovery of the misgovernment of others led to his own power, it was wise to inquire; it was
* Mr. Dundas.
† Six Reports of the Committee of Secrecy.
safe to publish: there was then no delicacy; there was then no danger. But when his object is obtained, and in his imitation he has outdone the crimes that he had reprobated in volumes of reports, and in sheets of bills of pains and penalties, then concealment becomes prudence; and it concerns the safety of the state, that we should not know, in a mode of parliamentary cognizance, what all the world knows but too well: that is, in what manner he chooses to dispose of the publick revenues to the creatures of his politicks.
The debate has been long, and as much so on my part, at least, as on the part of those who have spoken before me. But long as it is, the more material half of the subject has hardly been touched on; that is, the corrupt and destructive system to which this debt has been rendered subservient, and which seems to be pursued with at least as much vigour and regularity as ever. If I considered your ease or my own, rather than the weight and importance of this question, I ought to make some apology to you, perhaps some apology to myself, for having detained your attention so long. I know on what ground I tread. This subject, at one time taken up with so much fervour and zeal, is no longer a favourite in this house. The house itself has undergone a great and signal revolution. To some the subject is strange and uncouth; to several harsh and distasteful; to the relicks of the last parliament it is a matter of fear and apprehension. It is natural for those who have seen their frieuds sink in the tornado which raged during the late shift of the monsoon, and have hardly escaped on the planks of the general wreck, it is but too natural for them, as soon as they make the rocks and quicksands of their former disasters, to put about their new-built barks, and, as much as possible, to keep aloof from this perilous lee shore.
But let us do what we please to put India from our thoughts, we can do nothing to separate it from our publick interest and our national reputation. Our attempts to banish this importunate duty, will only make it return upon us again and again, and every