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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 18


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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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Pictures for Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 18

Dunbrody Abbey
Dunbrody Abbey >>>>
Church of Dungannon
Church of Dungannon >>>>
Calcutta
Calcutta >>>>
Fort of Allahabad
Fort of Allahabad >>>>
Futtehpoor
Futtehpoor >>>>
Great Mogul
Great Mogul >>>>
Banks of the Ganges
Banks of the Ganges >>>>
Tippoo Saib
Tippoo Saib >>>>
View near Agra
View near Agra >>>>
Warden Hasting
Warden Hasting >>>>
Taje Mahal
Taje Mahal >>>>
Rohilla Chief
Rohilla Chief >>>>
French and English cruisers off Ceylon
French and English cruisers off Ceylon >>>>
Defeat of Hyder Ali
Defeat of Hyder Ali >>>>
Bundelcund
Bundelcund >>>>
Cheyte
Cheyte >>>>
Brahmin
Brahmin >>>>

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