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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 4

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He carried his bill with little difficulty through the commons; but in the lords, lord Loughborough made a decided set against it, and pointed out one most shameful provision in it, namely, that in case of any suit against an exciseman for improper seizure, a jury was prohibited giving more damages than twopence, or any costs of suit, or inflicting a fine of more than one shilling if the exciseman could show a probable cause for such a seizure. Lord Loughborough declared justly that this was a total denial of justice to the complaint against illegal conduct on the part of excisemen, for nothing would be so easy as for the excise to plead false information as a probable cause. It was a disgraceful infringement of the powers of juries, and lord Loughborough called on lord Camden to defend the sacred rights of juries as he had formerly done. Camden was compelled to confess that the clause was objectionable; but that, to attempt an alteration, would destroy the bill for the present session, and so it was suffered to pass with the monstrous clause.

On the 16th of June Pitt communicated a message from his majesty, proposing the appointment of a commission to inquire into the condition of the woods and forests, and the land revenues of the crown. A bill was at the same time submitted for that object. In the commons, Mr. Jolliffe pointed out, and defeated a clause, which enabled the commissioners " to call for and take into their keeping all titles, maps, plans, documents, which related to lands holden of the crown," Mr. Jolliffe's amendment protected all private title-deeds, and bound the commissioners to report their proceedings to parliament. In the lords, however, lord Loughborough pointed out that the bill did not agree with the message from the crown, which was simply to inquire; but the bill gave authority to alienate such property, and to alienate it without reserve of sundry rents reserved in former acts to certain persons, and for certain salutary uses, thus committing actual fraud on private persons, and otherwise introducing inquisitorial powers over private rights and privileges. Notwithstanding this strenuous opposition of lord Loughborough, the bill passed; but Pitt perceived that he should meet with considerable trouble from the pretended patriotism of Loughborough, till he silenced him by the presentation of some good office, which eventually became that of lord chancellor.

The remaining measures of the session were an alteration of the militia laws, rendering the service less onerous to the individual, and less expensive to the nation, by enacting that only two-thirds of those balloted should be called out; and some attempts at parliamentary reform introduced by Wilberforce. The chief of these was to purify the elections in counties by establishing a general register of the freeholders, and by opening the poll at several places in one day; another was to extend the power of judges to consign the bodies of executed murderers to the surgeons to the bodies of burglars. Both these were thrown out in the lords, and Loughborough, who knew that Wilberforce was a great friend of Pitt's, was particularly severe upon the last, as " the project of an inexperienced youth, unacquainted with the laws."

But during the whole of this session, or at least to the 17th of February and to the 11th of July, there was one question which engrossed the attention of both parliament and the public far more than any other. This was the demand by Burke for the impeachment of Warren Hastings, late governor-general of Bengal, for high crimes and misdemeanours there alleged to have been by him committed. It therefore becomes necessary at this point to resume our narrative of Indian affairs from the year 1775, which our connected view of the events of the American war necessarily suspended.

At the point at which our former detail of Indian affairs ceased lord Olive had gone to England to recruit his health. He had found us possessing a footing in India, and had Mt us the masters of a great empire. He had conquered Arcot and other regions of the Carnatic; driven the French from Pondicherry, Chandernagore, and Chinsura; and though we had left titular princes in the Deccan and Bengal, we were, in truth, masters there; for Meer Jaffier, though seated on the Musnud of Bengal, was our mere instrument.

The English having deposed Suraja Dowla, the nabob of Bengal and set up their tool, the traitor Meer Jaffier, who had actually sold his master, the nabob, to them, the unfortunate nabob was soon assassinated by the son of Meer Jaffier. But Meer Jaffier, freed thus from the fear of the restoration of the nabob, soon began to cabal against his patrons, the English. Clive was absent, and the government conducted by Mr. Henry Vansittart, the father of the late lord Bexley, a man of little ability, and of less steadiness in Iiis course of policy. All discipline ceased to exist amongst the English; their only thought was of enriching themselves by any possible means.

Meer Jaffier was not blind to this. He saw how hateful the English were making themselves in the country, and was becoming as traitorous to them as he had been to his own master. Early, therefore, in the autumn of 1760 Vansittart and colonel Caillaud marched to Cossim-Bazar, a suburb of Moorshedabad, where Meer Jaffier lived, at the head of a few hundred troops, and offered certain terms to him. Meer Jaffier appeared to shuffle in his answer; and, without more ceremony, the English surrounded his palace at the dead of night, and compelled him to resign, but allowed him to retire to Fort William, under the protection of the British flag; and they then set up in his stead Meef Cossim, his son-in-law.

Meer Cossim, for a time, served their purpose. They obtained, as the price of his elevation, a large sum of money and an accession of territory. But he was not a man of the obsequious temper of Meer Jaffier. They had exacted large sums from him; and he made the same exactions on his subjects. His temper was imperious and unscrupulous. The English liked the activity with which he raised money to pay their claims upon him, but he soon extended this again to the English themselves. He put in practice every species of cruelty and injustice to obtain the money he had to pay to the English commanders; but he found the insolence and rapine of the gomastahs, the native factors or agents in British pay, interfere with his own operations. He therefore took measures to free himself of these obstructions. He removed his court from Moorshedabad to Monghir, two hundred miles further from Calcutta. He increased and disciplined his troops; he then made compulsory levies on the English traders, from which they had always claimed exemption. There was a loud outcry, and a determined resistance on the part of the English; but Meer Cossim not only continued to compel them to pay the same revenue dues as others, but imprisoned or disgraced every man of note in his dominions who had ever shown regard to the English. It was clear that he chafed under the impositions of his elevators, and meant to free himself from them and their obligations together.

It was in vain that the English council in Calcutta uttered warning and remonstrance; there was the most violent controversy betwixt the English factory at Patna and Meer Cossim. Vansittart hastened to Monghir, to endeavour to arrange matters with Cossim. He consented to the payment, by the English, of the inland revenue to the amount of nine per cent.; and on his part he accepted a present for himself from Cossim of seven lacs of rupees, or upwards of seventy thousand pounds.

Large as this bribe may appear, it was but on the ordinary scale of such bribes to our officers, at that time, by the native princes. According to the report of the committee of the house of commons of 1773, the sum received by the civil and military officers in 1777, from Meer Jaffier, to enable him to depose his master, was one million two hundred and sixty-one thousand and seventy-five pounds, which was divided betwixt Drake, the governor of Calcutta. Clive, as commander-in-chief, Watts, as leading member of the council, and the officers of the army. Drake got thirty- one thousand pounds; Clive two hundred and thirty-four thousand pounds; Watts one hundred and seventeen thousand pounds; and the rest of the council, Becher, Marringham, Walsh, Lushington, &c., from sixty thousand pounds down to five thousand pounds each. The army and navy had upwards of six hundred thousand pounds. For the elevation of Meer Cossim, the sums paid to Vansittart, Summer, Holwell, and the rest of the council, including the honorarium to colonel Caillaud and major Yorke, were two hundred thousand two hundred and sixty- nine pounds; for restoring Meer Jaffier again, as we shall see, two million one hundred and fifty thousand pounds! And for similar work with other princes, from 1757 to 1766, the total received by the English officers, civil and military, exclusive of Olive's jaghire, worth thirty thousand pounds a year, was five million nine hundred and forty thousand four hundred and ninety-eight pounds!

Such were the secret springs which moved our many infamous proceedings in the early acquisition of territory in India. But on this occasion, though Vansittart had pocketed this large bribe from Meer Cossim, the council in Calcutta, who got nothing, voted the terms most dishonourable, and sent a fresh deputation to Cossim at Monghir. This deputation was headed by Mr. Amyott; but as it went to undo what Vansittart had just done, Cossim, who saw no end of exactions, and no security in treating with the English, caused his troops to fall on the unfortunate deputation as they passed through Moorshedabad, and they were all cut to pieces. Here was an end to all agreement with this impracticable man, so the council immediately decreed the deposition of Meer Cossim, and the restoration of the more pliant puppet, Meer Jaffier.

The English took the field in the summer of 1763 against Meer Cossim with six hundred Europeans and one thousand two hundred Sepoys. Major Adams, the commander of this force, was vigorously resisted by Meer Cossim, but drove him from Moorshedabad, gained a decided victory over him on the plains of Geriah, and, after a siege of nine days, reduced Monghir. Reduced to his last place of strength in Patna, and feeling that he must yield that, Meer Cossim determined to give one parting example of his ferocity to his former patrons, as, under their protection, he had given many to his own subjects. He had taken prisoners the English belonging to the factory at Patna, amounting to one hundred and fifty individuals. These he caused to be massacred by a renegade Frenchman in his service, named Sombre, but called.by the Indians Sumroo. On the 5th of October, after taking away their knives and forks, and leaving them wholly defenceless, this Sumroo and his soldiers massacred all of them except William Fullarton, a surgeon known to the nabob, and therefore excepted by him. The mangled bodies of the victims were thrown into two wells, which were then filled up with stones. This done, the monster Cossim fled into Oude, and took refuge with its nabob, Sujah Dowlah. The English immediately entered Patna, still reeking with the blood of their countrymen, and proclaimed the deposition of Meer Cossim, and the elevation of Meer Jaffier as nabob of Bengal; the council having bargained with this latter compliant individual for reward to themselves for this service to the amount, as before stated, of two millions one hundred and fifty thousand pounds.

The nabob of Oude zealously embraced the cause of Meer Cossim. He possessed not only great resources in his own province, but he possessed additional authority with the natives from having received also at his court the titular emperor of Delhi, Shah Allum, who, though driven from his throne and territory by the Mahrattas, was still in the eyes of the people the Great Mogul. With the Great Mogul in his camp, and appointed vizier by him, Sujah Dowlah advanced at the head of fifty thousand men against major Adams and his little army, now numbering about one thousand two hundred Europeans and eight thousand Sepoys. Before the two armies came in sight of each other Adams died, and the command was assumed by major, afterwards Sir Hector Munro.

The most alarming circumstance to the English was that there was mutiny in their camp. The Sepoys did not much relish the service against the Great Mogul and their former chief; and Munro resorted to that frightful mode of quelling it which shocks all our ideas of civilisation, but which our commanders in the late general insurrection in India deemed themselves compelled to imitate. He blew twenty-four of the mutineers from the mouth of cannon. With troops thus rather over-awed than well-affected, Munro led his army to Buxor, more than a hundred miles higher up the Ganges. There, in the month of October, 1764, he came into conflict with the army of Oude, and put it thoroughly to the route, killing four thousand men, and taking one hundred and thirty pieces of cannon and much spoil.

The next day the Great Mogul went over to the stronger party. He had no further hope of assistance from Sujah Dowlah, and so he rode, with a few followers, to the English camp. He was received most willingly, for, though the English had shown no disposition to recognise his authority, now he was in their hands they acknowledged him as the rightful sovereign of Hindostan, and lost no time in concluding a treaty with him; and, on condition of his yielding certain territories to them, they agreed to put him in possession of Allahabad and the other states of the nabob of Oude. After this, Munro continuing the war against Sujah Dowlah, endeavoured to take the hill fort of Chunar, in which all the treasures of Cossim were said to be deposited, but failed. On his part, Sujah Dowlah had obtained the assistance of Holkar, a powerful Maliratta chief, and, with this advantage, endeavoured to make a better peace with Munro; bat that officer declined treating, unless, Cossim and the assassin, Sombre, were first given up to him. Dowlah proposed, instead of this surrender of those who had sought his protection, the usually triumphant argument with the English, a large sum of money. But Munro replied that all the lacs of rupees in Dowlah's treasury would not satisfy him without the surrender of the j murderers of his countrymen at Patna. Dowlah, though he would not surrender the fugitives, had no objection to give a secret order for the assassination of Sombre; but Munro equally spurned this base proposal, and the war went on. Munro was victorious, and early in 1765, having reduced the fort of Chunar and scattered Dowlah's army, he entered Allahabad in triumph, and put the Mogul in possession of it.

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