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BOOK fail to prove to individuals in certain situations an
exhaustless source of wealth. The court of di
rectors declared themselves, in the sequel,“ fully aware of the duplicity which had been practised in - the letting of the lands in Bengal ; - that flagrant corruption and great oppressions had been committed ;” and they ordered a prosecution to be commenced against the persons who composed the Committee of Circuit. But after long and studied delays, Mr. Hastings ultimately proposed, and carried his proposition in council, “ that orders should be given for withdrawing the said prosecution.” It is worthy of remark, that the banyan or black steward of Mr. Hastings, Cantoo Baboo, rented, under the new tenure, lands to the value of 150,0001. per annum; and remissions to a very great amount were granted to this man, as well as to all those whose reasons appeared to the governor and council equally valid. The zemindary of Baharbund, taken from the rannee of Radshi, was also given in perpetuity to Cantoo Baboo, at a rent of 82,000 rupees, although the value of it was rated at 350,000. The same Cantoo Baboo was also permitted to contract largely for the provision of the Company's investments; “ but this,” the court of directors, in their general letter of December 1776, say, “ we positively forbid in future.'
The astonishment into which sir John Clavering and his colleagues were thrown, on being apprised
of this extraordinary state of things in Bengal, was BOOK much increased by the alarming information of a s war, into which the governor-general had recently entered, in conjunction with the vizier Sujah ul Dowla, nabob of Oude, for the absolute conquest and EXTIRPATION of the nation of the Rohillas, inhabiting the fertile and beautiful province of Rohilound, situated to the northward of the dominions of the vizier, and bounded by the high range of mountains dividing Hindostan from Tartary. It was not pretended by Mr. Hastings, that the Company had received any injury whatever from the Rohilla nation ; but that we engaged in the war solely as allies of the nabob vizier. The causes or pretexts of the quarrel, with respect to the vizier himself, were of a nature, to say the best, very doubtful and ambiguous. The Rohilla nation, being involved in hostilities with the Mahrattas, had applied to the vizier for assistance, who agreed to furnish them with a large body of troops for an equivalent in money. But, through the dilatory, or perhaps insidious, policy of the vizier, the auxiliary troops, as the Rohillas alleged, did not arrive till the enemy were repulsed. The Rohilla government, therefore, objected to the payment of the promised stipend; on which the vizier, with the previous and eager concurrence of Mr. Hastings, determined to declare war against the
BOOK Rohillas *, a brave, free, and generous people, for
the purpose of adding so desirable a territory to his
strong terms to the execution of his design, declaring to him, “that it would be absolutely necessary to persevere in it until it should be accomplished ; and that he could not hazard or answer for the displeasure of the Company, if they should find themselves engaged in a fruitless war, or in a ruinous expence for prosecuting it.” This apprehension was founded on very reasonable grounds; for the court of directors, in their instructions to the supreme council, had laid it down as an unalterable maxim, “ that they were to avoid
* This is the Rohilla statement of the case. Nevertheless it must be acknowledged that sir Robert Barker and the other officers employed in this expedition strongly attest the performance of the service contracted for by the vizier, in their respective examinations at the bar of the house of commons. But if the object of the Rohilla war had been merely the recovery of a sum of money, whether justly or unjustly claimed, it would, in a moral and political view, have been a trifle light as air, and spotless as innocence, in comparison of that." blackness of darkness" in which it is now enveloped.
taking part in the political schemes of any of the BOOK country princes, particularly of the nabob of Oude, 5 of whose ambitious disposition they were well apprised.” A considerable body of troops under colonel Champion, being detached to the aid of the vizier, entered the province of Rohilcund, and a pitched battle took place, in which Hafiz Rhamet, the principal leader of the Rohillas, and many other of their chieftains, were slain. The whole country, described as “a garden not having one spot in it of uncultivated ground,” was, in consequence of this victory, converted into a frightful waste, and in a great measure depopulated, either by the rigors of military execution, or by forcing the wretched inhabitants beyond the mountains, to wander and perish in the Tartarian deserts. For this service, the vizier had agreed to pay into the treasury of Calcutta the sum of forty lacks of rupees; and Mr. Hastings, in vindication of his conduct, alleged, and in his subsequent memorable PARLIAMENTARY DEFENCE entered upon record, the following very extraordinary reasons : “ The acquisition of this sum to the Company, and of so much specie added to the exhausted currency of our provinces ; that it would give wealth to the nabob of Oude, of which we should participate ; that he should be always ready to profess, that he did reckon the
probable acquisition of wealth among his reasons for taking up arms against his neighbours; that it
BOOK would ease the Company of a considerable part of
their military expence, and preserve their troops