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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 18

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"The treatment of the females could not be described. Dragged from the inmost recesses of their houses, which the religion of their country had made so many sanctuaries, they were exposed naked to public view! The virgins were carried to the court of justice, where they might naturally have looked for protection, but they now looked for it in vain; for in the face of the ministers of justice, in the face of the spectators, in the face of the sun, those tender and modest virgins were brutally violated. The only difference between their treatment and that of their mothers was, that the former were dishonoured in the face of day, and the latter in the gloomy recesses of their dungeon. Other females had the nipples of their breasts put into a cleft bamboo, and torn off!"

What follows is too shocking and indecent to transcribe. It is almost impossible, in the perusal of these frightful and savage enormities, to believe that we are reading the history of a country under a British government, and that these deeds were perpetrated by British agents, and for the purpose of extorting the British revenue. But these innocent and unhappy people were thus treated because Warren Hastings wanted money, and had sold them to a wretch, whom he knew to be a wretch, for a bribe; they were thus treated because Devi Sing had paid him four lacs of rupees, and must wring them again out of the miserable ryots, though it were with their very life's blood, and with fire and tortures, before unheard of, even in the long, black catalogue of human crimes. And it should never be forgotten, that though Mr. Burke pledged himself, if permitted, under the most awful imprecations, to prove every word of this barbarous recital, such permission was stoutly refused; and that, moreover, the evidence of commissioner Patterson stands on the company's own records. In fact, this, terrible as it is, is but a small portion of the iniquity of the treatment of the natives of India then, and, indeed, so long as the company continued to hold the destinies of India in their hands. The reader cannot help wondering, as he reads, at the non-interference of an indignant Providence; but the Nemesis has come in our own time. There has been, indeed, an active endeavour to represent the revolt and terrible vengeance of the sepoys as having nothing to do with the feelings of the people at large. But those who think so have only to read what was said by Sir John Malcolm in a debate at the India-house in 1824, himself a governor and laudator of our system, that " even the instructed class of natives have a hostile feeling towards

us, which was not likely to decrease from the necessity they were under of concealing it. My attention," he said, " has been, during the last five-and-twenty years, particularly directed to the dangerous species of secret war carried on against our authority, which is always carried on by numerous, though unseen hands. The spirit is kept up by letters by exaggerated reports, by pretended prophecies. When the time appears favourable, from the occurrence of misfortune to our arms, from rebsllion in our provinces, or from mutiny in our troops, circular letters and proclamations are dispersed over the country with a celerity that is incredible. Such documents are read with avidity. Their contents are, in most cases, the same. The English are depicted as usurpers of low caste, and as tyrants, who have sought India only to degrade the natives, to rob them of their wealth, and subvert their usages and religion. The native soldiers are always appealed to, and the advice to them is, in all instances that I have met with, the same, - 'Your European tyrants are few in number - murder them!'"

The attempt has at length been made on a mighty scale; nor is this the only retribution of our deeds in India. The cholera, which has repeatedly swept Europe with its death- wing, has been traced to Bengal as its source, where it has been, in the opinion of scientific men, created by the privation of salt, so necessary to the natives with their vegetable food, that salt being placed, for the most part, beyond their reach by an imposition of two hundred per cent.

Hastings, one of the earliest and most inexorable of the tyrants who have ultimately produced such awful fruits - Hastings, the patron of Devi Sing, and numbers like him - was now traversing the countries cursed by his rule. He arrived on the 27th of March at Lucknow, and remained there five months, busily engaged in vain endeavours to remedy the evils which had their hopeless roots in the huge drain of the English government at Calcutta. In fact, one of the main objects of his suit was to obtain more money from the nabob; and he did obtain it, but he agreed to relieve him of part of the company's troops, which the nabob had so long prayed to be rid of, and for which he paid enormously. Another matter was to do some little justice to the begum. This was strictly enjoined him by the board of directors. That board, spite of the gilded statements of Hastings regarding his proceedings at Benares, had not been able to shut' their eyes to the monstrous conduct of their governor-general. They had written him, that it nowhere appeared, from the papers laid before them, that the begums had anything to do with the insurrection, and they therefore ordered that the jaghires should be returned to them. If they were innocent, as undoubtedly they were, the money ought to have been returned too; but that would have been inconvenient. Hastings ordered the nabob to go to Fyzabad and surrender the jaghires to his mother and grandmother, but the nabob only returned part of them, protesting that the Begums had made a voluntary gift of the rest to him.

Whilst Hastings was at Lucknow, the eldest son of poor old Shah Alum, the great mogul, paid him a visit to persuade him to intercede with the Mahrattas, who kept the shah still a prisoner at Delhi. Hastings was not likely to risk a war with the Mahrattas on account of the mogul, but he persuaded Scindia, the greatest of the Mahratta princes, to endeavour to take the Shah out of the hands in which he then was. This was, in fact, throwing a firebrand amongst the Mahrattas, without any real benefit to the mogul himself; and having, as he hoped, prevented any outbreak in Oude and Benares - substantial benefit was out of his power without a thorough change of system - he re turned to Calcutta, which he reached in the beginning of November.

He had for some time been requesting the directors to name his successor, but, as they had not done it, he now resolved to leave, and he announced the fact to the court of directors, and that he had appointed Mr. Macpherson, the senior member of council, to supply his place till they sent out a new governor-general. He embarked on the 8th of February, 1785, and arrived in England in June, 1786. He had sent home before him his wife, whose health had begun to suffer from the climate of India, and she had been most graciously received by king George and queen Charlotte. Charlotte was not in the habit of passing over blandly such antecedents as those of Marian Imhoff Hastings, but then Mrs. Hastings brought her rich presents of diamonds, and an exquisite ivory bedstead, and was, moreover, a German. All these recommendations had insured her the most flattering reception at St. James's, and now her husband received the same distinctions. He had been accompanied to his ship, on leaving Calcutta, by all the authorities, and by all people of distinction; he had received the most enthusiastic addresses of regret and of admiration as the saviour of India, for he had saved it, for the benefit of the English, though at the cost of the natives. In London, not only at court, but in Leadenhall-street, he met with the same satisfactory honour. He spent the autumn at Cheltenham with his wife, where he was courted and feted in a manner to warrant his writing to a friend, " I find myself everywhere and universally treated with evidences, apparent even to my own observation, that I possess the good opinion of my country." His country had not yet been fully enlightened on his doings in India - doings, however, which do not seem to have in any degree troubled his own conscience, for he had one of those accommodating ones which have in all ages induced some of the greatest tyrants to regard themselves as the peculiar benefactors of their race. He was busy trying to purchase Daylesford, the old family estate, and anticipating a peerage.

But this was only the lull before the storm. Burke and Sheridan were living, and the thunderbolts were already forged which were to shatter his pleasing dream of approval. His agreeable delusion was, indeed, quickly at an end. On the 24th of January parliament met, and an officious friend of Hastings, unfortunately for the ex-governor-general, relying on the manifestation of approbation of Hastings by the court and the fashionable circles, for the people regarded aim in a very different light, got up and asked where now was that menace of impeachment which Mr. Burke had so long and often held out? Burke thus challenged, on the 17th of February rose and made a call for papers and correspondence deposited in the India-house, relative to the proceedings of Hastings in India. He also reminded Pitt and Dundas of the motion of the latter on the 29th of May, 1782, in censure of the conduct of Hastings on the occasions in question. This was nailing the minister's to the question; but Dundas, now at the head of the board of control, repeated that he still condemned the conduct of Hastings, but taken with the services which he had rendered to the country in India, he did not conceive that this conduct demanded more than censure, certainly not impeachment. Fox supported Burke, and Pitt defended Hastings, and attacked Fox without mercy. There was a feeling abroad that the king was determined to support Hastings, and the proceedings of Pitt, who extenuated now what he had so often condemned, in the cases of the Rohilla war, Cheyte Sing, the begums, &c., confirmed this. Burke's demand for papers was refused, but this did not deter Burke. On the 4th of April lie rose again and presented nine articles of impeachment against Hastings, and in the course of the week twelve more articles. To these a twenty-second article was afterwards added. These articles included all those extraordinary transactions which we have already detailed - the Rohilla war; the affair of Benares; of the great mogul; the treaties with and coercions in Oude; the outrages on the begums and their ministers; the hanging of Nuncomar; the attempts upon Fyzoola Khan, the Rohilla chief, &c.

The affair was now becoming serious, and Hastings demanded to be heard at the bar, where he appeared on the 1st of May, and read a long defence, which did not go to a denial of the charges, but a justification of them, from the need of money to save India, and from the approbation awarded to these actions both in India and at the India-house. But this was no answer to Burke's accusations, which did not relate to the benefits he might have conferred on the English in India, or on the company, but to the crimes and atrocities perpetrated on the natives. Nobody doubted the satisfaction of the company, which had pouched forty lacs of rupees, or of the English in India, who were there to get all the money they could from the natives,

On the 1st of Jüne Burke brought forward his first charge - the Rohilla war. The debate was not finished till seven o'clock on the morning of the 3rd. In it Fox, Wyndham, Wilbraham, and many others supported the charge. Dundas, Pitt, lord Mornington, the pious Wilberforce, &c., opposed it. It was the first appearance of lord Mornington, afterwards marquis of Wellesley, and destined to figure greatly himself in India. The motion was rejected by one hundred and nineteen against sixty-seven, and it was fondly hoped that the proceedings against Hastings were altogether crushed. Lord Thurlow advised the king to carry out his intention to make Hastings baron Daylesford, and the great talk in the clubs and west-end assemblies was the triumph of Hastings. But the rejoicing was premature. On the 13th of June Fox took up the second charge - the treatment of Cheyte Sing, and Francis, with all the bitterness of his character and of his hatred of Hastings, supported it. So black were the facts now produced that Pitt was compelled to give way. He defended the governor-general for calling on Cheyte Sing to contribute men and money for the war against Mysore; he lauded the firmness, decision, and great ability of Hastings, but he was forced to admit that he had been excessive in his demands on the zemindars of Benares, and must support the charge!

This was a thunderstroke to Hastings and his friends. Fifty of Pitt's followers immediately wheeled round with him; Dundas voted with Pitt, and the motion was carried by an exact inversion of the numbers which had negatived the former article on the Rohilla war, one hundred and nineteen against sixty-seven. The very next day Hastings presented a magnificent diamond, sent by the nabob of Oude in a purse containing also a letter to his majesty. The presentation of this diamond the day after the defeat, at a public levee, created universal remark. Caricatures, songs, and epigrams, were issued in abundance. The king was represented on his knees, and Hastings putting the diamond into hiß mouth; in another caricature Hastings was wheeling George away in a wheelbarrow, with his crown and sceptre, and a label from Hastings' mouth, " What a man buys he may sell!" Sheridan passed some very severe witticisms on the circumstance in the house of commons. On the other hand, it was stated that the diamond had only reached Hastings on the 2nd of June, but this did not remove the significance of its presentation precisely the day after this adverse vote; and the session closed on the 11th of July with the rest of the charges hanging over the ex-governor's head in ominous gloom.

With this continuous narrative of Indian affairs we close this chapter, having now brought them to the present date of general history.

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