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in the midst of war and desolation ; millions of ingenious manufacturers and mechanics ; millions of the most diligent, and not the least intelligent, tillers of the earth. There, are to be found almost all the religions professed by men, the Braminical, the Mussulman, the Eastern and the Western Christian.
If I were to take the whole aggregate of our possessions there, I should compare it, as the nearest parallel I can find, with the empire of Germany. Our immediate possessions I should compare with the Austrian dominions, and they would not suffer in the comparison. The nabob of Oude might stand for the King of Prussia ; the nabob of Arcot I would compare, as superior in territory, and equal in revenue, to the Elector of Saxony. Cheyt Sing, the rajah of Benares, might well rank with the Prince of Hesse, at least; and the rajah of Tanjore (though hardly equal in extent of dominion, superior in revenue) to the Elector of Bavaria. The Polygars and the northern Zemindars, and other great chiefs, might well class with the rest of the princes, dukes, counts, marquises, and bishops in the empire; all of whom I mention to honour, and surely without disparagement to any or all of those most respectable princes and grandees.
All this vast mass, composed of so many orders and classes of men, is again infinitely diversified by manners, by religion, by hereditary employment, through all their possible combinations. This renders the handling of India a matter in a high degree critical and delicate. But oh! it has been handled rudely indeed. Even some of the reformers seem to have forgot that they had any thing to do but to regulate the tenants of a manor, or the shopkeepers of the next county town.
It is an empire of this extent, of this complicated nature, of this dignity and importance, that I have compared to Germany, and the German government! not for an exact resemblance, but as a sort of a middle term, by which India might be approximated to our understandings and, if possible, to our feelings; in order to awaken something of sympathy for the unfortunate natives, of which I am afraid we are not perfectly susceptible, whilst we look at this very remote object through a false and cloudy medium.
My second condition, necessary to justify me in touching the charter, is, whether the company's abuse of their trust, with regard to this great object, be an abuse of great atrocity. I shall beg your permission to consider their conduct in two lights ; first the political, and then the commercial. Their political conduct (for distinctness) I divide again into two heads; the external, in which I mean to comprehend their conduct in their federal capacity, as it relates to powers and states independent, or that not long since were such; the other internal, namely, their conduct to the countries either immediately subject to the company, or to those who, under the apparent government of native sovereigns, are in a state much lower, and much more miserable, than common subjection.
The attention, sir, which I wish to preserve to method will not be considered as unnecessary or affected. Nothing else can help me to selection out of the infinite mass of materials which have passed under my eye; or can keep my mind steady to the great leading points I have in view.
With regard therefore to the abuse of the external federal trust, I engage myself to you to make good these three positions:- First, I say, that from Mount Imaus (or whatever else you call that large range of mountains that walls the northern frontier of India), where it touches us in the latitude of twenty-nine, to Cape Comorin, in the latitude of eight, that there is not a single prince, state, or potentate, great or small, in India, with whom they have come into contact, whom they have not sold. I say sold, though sometimes they have not been able to deliver according to their bargain.Secondly, I say, that there is not a single treaty they have ever made, which they have not broken.—Thirdly, I say, that there is not a single prince or state, who ever put any trust in the company, who is not utterly ruined; and that none are in any degree secure or flourishing, but in the exact proportion to their settled distrust and irreconcilable enmity to this nation. These assertions are universal. I
in the full sense universal. They regard the external and political trust only; but I shall produce others fully equivalent in the internal. For the present, I shall content myself with explaining my meaning; and if I am called on for proof whilst these bills are depending (which I believe I shall not), I will put my finger on the appendixes to the reports, or on papers of record in the House, or the committees, which I have distinctly present to my memory, and which I think I can lay before you at half an hour's warning.
The first potentate sold by the company for money, was the Great Mogul—the descendant of Tamerlane. This high personage, as high as human veneration can look at, is by every account amiable in his manners, respectable for his piety, according to his mode, and accomplished in all the Oriental literature. All this, and the title derived under his charter, to all that we hold in India, could not save him from the general sale. Money is coined in his name ; in his name justice is administered; he is prayed for in
; every temple through the countries we possess—but he was sold.
It is impossible, Mr. Speaker, not to pause here for a moment, to reflect on the inconstancy of human greatness, and the stupen
dous revolutions that have happened in our age of wonders. Could it be believed when I entered into existence, or when you, a younger man, were born, that on this day, in this House, we should be employed in discussing the conduct of those British subjects who had disposed of the power and person of the Grand Mogul ? This is no idle speculation. Awful lessons are taught by it, and by other events, of which it is not yet too late to profit.
This is hardly a digression; but I return to the sale of the Mogul. Two districts, Corah and Allahabad, out of his immense grants, were reserved as a royal demesne to the donor of a kingdom, and the rightful sovereign of so many nations.—After withholding the tribute of 260,0001. a year, which the company was, by the charter they had received from this prince, under the most solemn obligation to pay, these districts were sold to his chief minister Sujah ul Dowlah ; and, what may appear to some the worst part of the transaction, these two districts were sold for scarcely two years' purchase. The descendant of Tamerlane now stands in need almost of the common necessaries of life ; and in this situation we do not even allow him, as bounty, the smallest portion of what we owe him in justice.
The next sale was that of the whole nation of the Rohillas, which the grand salesman, without a pretence of quarrel, and contrary to his own declared sense of duty and rectitude, sold to the same Sujah ul Dowlah. He sold the people to utter extirpation, for the sum of four hundred thousand pounds. Faithfully was the bargain performed on our side. Hafiz Rhamet, the most eminent of their chiefs, one of the bravest men of his time, and as famous throughout the East for the elegance of his literature, and the spirit of his poetical compositions (by which he supported the name of Hafiz) as for his courage, was invaded with an army of a hundred thousand men, and an English brigade. This man, at the head of inferior forces, was slain valiantly fighting for his country. His head was cut off, and delivered for money to a barbarian. His wife and children, persons of that rank, were seen begging a handful of rice through the English camp. The whole nation, with inconsiderable exceptions, was slaughtered or banished. The country was laid waste with fire and sword; and that land, distinguished above most others by the cheerful face of paternal government and protected labour, the chosen seat of cultivation and plenty, is now almost throughout a dreary desert, covered with rushes, and briers, and jungles full of wild beasts.
The British officer, who commanded in the delivery of the people thus sold, felt some compunction at his employment. He represented these enormous excesses to the president of Bengal, for which he received a severe reprimand from the civil governor; and I much doubt whether the breach caused by the conflict, between the compassion of the military and the firmness of the civil governor, be closed at this hour.
In Bengal, Seraja Dowlah was sold to Mir Jaffier; Mir Jaffier was sold to Mir Cossim ; and Mir Cossim was sold to Mir Jaffier again. The succession to Mir Jaffier was sold to his eldest son ;-another son of Mir Jaffier, Mobarech ul Dowlah, was sold to his step-mother. The Maratta empire was sold to Rogabo ; and Rogabo was sold and delivered to the peishwa of the Marattas. Both Rogabo and the peishwa of the Marattas were offered to sale to the rajah of Berar. Scindia, the chief of Malva, was offered to sale to the same rajah; and the subah of the Decan was sold to the great trader Mahomet Ali, nabob of Arcot. To the same nabob of Arcot they sold Hyder Ali and the kingdom of Mysore. To Mahomet Ali they twice sold the kingdom of Tanjore. To the same Mahomet Ali they sold at least twelve sovereign princes, called the Polygars. But to keep things even, the territory of Tinnivelly, belonging to their nabob, they would have sold to the Dutch; and to conclude the account of sales, their great customer, the nabob of Arcot himself, and his lawful succession, has been sold to his second son, Amir ul Omrah, whose character, views, and conduct, are in the accounts upon your table. It remains with you whether they shall finally perfect this last bargain.
All these bargains and sales were regularly attended with the waste and havoc of the country, always by the buyer, and sometimes by the object of the sale. This was explained to you by the honourable mover, when he stated the mode of paying debts due from the country powers to the company. An honourable gentleman, who is not now in his place, objected to his jumping near two thousand miles for an example. But the southern example is perfectly applicable to the northern claim, as the northern is to the southern ; for, throughout the whole space of these two thousand miles, take your stand where you will, the proceeding is perfectly uniform, and what is done in one part will apply exactly to the other.
My second assertion is, that the company never has made a treaty which they have not broken. This position is so connected with that of the sales of provinces and kingdoms, with the negotiation of universal distraction in every part of India, that a very minute detail may well be spared on this point. It has not yet been contended, by any enemy to the reform, that they have observed any public agreement. When I hear that they have done so in instance (which hitherto, I confess, I never heard alleged), I shall speak to the particular treaty. The governor-general has even
amused himself and the court of directors in a very singular letter to that board, in which he admits he has not been very delicate with regard to public faith; and he goes so far as to state a regular estimate of the sums which the company would have lost, or never acquired, if the rigid ideas of public faith entertained by his colleagues had been observed. The learned gentleman“ over against me has indeed saved me much trouble. On a former occasion he obtained no small credit for the clear and forcible manner in which he stated what we have not forgot, and I hope he has not forgot, that universal systematic breach of treaties which had made the British faith proverbial in the East.
It only remains, sir, for me just to recapitulate some heads.The treaty with the mogul, by which we stipulated to pay him 260,0001. annually, was broken. This treaty they have broken, and not paid him a shilling. They broke their treaty with him, in which they stipulated to pay 400,0001. a year to the subah of Bengal. They agreed with the mogul, for services admitted to have been performed, to pay Nudjif Cawn a pension. They broke this article with the rest, and stopped also this small pension. They broke their treaties with the Nizam, and with Hyder Ali. As to the Marattas, they had so many cross treaties with the states-general of that nation, and with each of the chiefs, that it was notorious that no one of these agreements could be kept without grossly violating the rest. It was observed, that if the terms of these several
, treaties had been kept, two British armies would at one and the same time have met in the field to cut each other's throats. The wars which desolate India originated from a most atrocious violation of public faith on our part. In the midst of profound peace, the company's troops invaded the Maratta territories, and surprised the island and fortress of Salsette. The Marattas nevertheless yielded to a treaty of peace, by which solid advantages were procured to the company. But this treaty, like every other treaty, was soon violated by the company. Again the company invaded the Maratta dominions. The disaster that ensued gave occasion to a new treaty. The whole army of the company was obliged in effect to surrender to this injured, betrayed, and insulted people. Justly irritated, however, as they were, the terms which they prescribed were reasonable and moderate; and their treatment of their captive invaders of the most distinguished humanity. But the humanity of the Marattas was of no power whatsoever to prevail on the company to attend to the observance of the terms dictated by their moderation. The war was renewed with greater vigour than ever; and such was
4 Mr. Dundas, Lord Advocate of Scotland.