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XX.

1782.

tings, embracing the opportunity when the Mahrattas BOOK were assembled in great force upon the frontiers of the vizieriate of Oude, entered into an AGREEMENT with the vizier, after seven years useless retention of them at a ruinous expence, to withdraw a very great proportion of the British troops, in this moment of danger, from the province; asserting, in contradiction to the whole tenor of his conduct and former declarations, “ that this government has not any right to force defence with its maintenance upon the nabob.” The council refusing in present circumstances to ratify this agreement, Mr. Hastings moved, in his minute of December 4, 1784, “ that if, contrary to his opinion, the said troops should not be reduced, they should be employed under the prince Mirza Jehander Shah (now notoriously under the absolute control of the Mahrattas) to assist in carrying on a war against the nation called the Seiks, the ancient enemies of the Mahratta state--a warlike people, possessing an extensive territory to the north-west of India, on the confines of Tartary. I feel,” says he, “ the sense of an Mogul, the negotiations at Dehli, &c. &c. were entirely omitted. Those retained were: 1st, the article respecting Benares ; 2d, the Begums; 3d, Ferruckabad; 4th, Contracts; 5th, Fyzoola Khan; 6th, Presents; 7th, Revenues; and the thirteen last consist in a detail, under various heads, of the oppressions and distractions prevailing in the province of Oude, in consequence of the mal-administration of Mr. Hastings.

XX.

1782.

1

BOOK obligation imposed upon me, by the supposition I

have made, to state a mode of rendering the detach-
ment of use in its prescribed station, and of affording
the appearance of a cause for its detention.”

Mr. Hastings indeed admitted, that there was no
present danger to the Company's possessions from
this remote and almost unknown people; but he
declared, " that their military and enthusiastic spirit,
the hardiness of their natural constitution, the dan.
gers which might arise from them in some future
time, if they should ever happen to be united under
one head, were reasons in favor of this war; and
he predicted great danger from them, at no very

distant period, if they be permitted to grow into matu. rity without interruption. Acknowledging that the urgent solicitations of the prince had their weight with him, he professed nevertheless that a stronger impulse, arising from the hope of blasting the growth of a generation whose strength might become fatal to our own, pleaded in his mind for supporting his wishes.”

The council, unable to explore the dark and unfathomable abyss of the governor's politics, and astonished, doubtless, at an inconsistency so gross and flagrant as that of warring against a power lest it should lecome formidable, in favor of a power already formidable, negatived the proposition ; and the peace of India was for this time happily preserved.

XX.

1782,

ter

presses itself

The governor, perceiving his influence in the BOOK council lost, knowing his reputation at home to be greatly in the wane, and fearing most probably a disgraceful dismission, now thought it expedient to RESIGN the GOVERNMENT. On his arrival in Resignation

of Mr. HasEngland he was, after a long previous investigation tings. of his numerous delinquencies, most deservedly IMPEACHED at the bar of the house of lords, by the commons of Great Britain, of HIGH CRIMES and MISDEMEANORS in the execution of his office.

The political character of Mr. Hastings, on a cool His characand impartial review of his conduct, so forcibly im

upon the mind, that it can derive little aid from any adventitious illustration. Daring in the conception, and ardent in the prosecution of his designs ; fertile in resources, and relying with confidence and even with pride on the strength of his own genius, his character acquired a certain stamp of dignity and superiority from the inflexibility of his temper, and the apparent force of his own conviction respecting the rectitude and propriety of his measures : to which must be added, that in his public dispatches he possessed the dangerous art of giving plausibility to the most absurd and pernicious measures by artful and imposing glosses, branching out sometimes into studied ainbiguities, sometimes into bold assumptions, under a perpetual external show of ingenuousness, liberality, and candor.

VOL. VII.

BOOK
XX.

1782.

The numerous individuals returning in rapid succession from India, whom Mr. Hastings had engaged in his interest by various obligations, contributed also to enhance his reputation, by the high eulogiums which they almost universally bestowed upon his conduct; and in which, dazzled by the brilliant exterior of the governor's administration, and unequal to the clear comprehension of an extensive and complex system, they were probably for the most part very sincere. The truth however is, that this man, for thirteen

years

the
scourge

of the East, and whom ignorance and folly have preposterously ranked with the SULLYS and the ChatHAMs of the West, has never been, and never can become, the theme of discerning and rational panegyric. Not to speak of his total and flagrant disregard of the sole legitimate end and object of government-the happiness of the governed- his conduct will be found, in almost all its parts, and in the choice and prosecution of his own purposes, absurd, perplexed, capricious, and inconsequent. His course was one perpetual deviation from the straight and luminous path of political and moral rectitude; and his general reputation was supported chiefly by his habitual vigor of mind and personal courage, which were in him intimately blended, and seemed to rise on some occasions even to the semblance of

magnanimity. His exertions in the last war for the preservation of the Carnatic, which he had so wan

XX.

1782.

tonly and rashly endangered, were generally and BOOK justly spoken of as highly meritorious ; but even in this most splendid and boasted part of his political conduct he could challenge only the praise of a madman, who first fires the house and then labors strenuously to extinguish the flames.

The administration of Mr. Hastings has been truly said, in the glowing expressions of eloquence*, “ to exhibit a medley of meanness and outrage, of duplicity and depredation, of prodigality and oppression, of the most callous cruelty contrasted with the hollow affectation of liberality and good faith. The sordid system of commercial policy, to which all the arrangements and regulations of the Company are ultimately to be traced, was under his government carried to its utmost extent. Thus have nations been extirpated for a sum of money, whole tracts of country laid waste to furnish an investment, princes expelled for the balance of an account, and a bloody sceptre wielded in one hand, in order to replenish the empty purse of mercantile mendicancy displayed in the other."

The concessions of Mr. Hastings himself are indeed occasionally very large and ample; for his views seldom seem to have extended beyond the precise object which he wished at the moment to

* Vide Sheridan's Speech on the Begum Charge, in the 14th article of impeachment,

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