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“MY DEAR SIR, - I have this day answered your public letter in the form you seemed to expect. I hope there is nothing in it that may to you appear too pointed. If you wish the matter to be otherwise understood than I have taken up and stated it, I need not say I shall be ready to conform to whatever you may prescribe, and to take upon myself any share of the blame of the hitherto non-performance of the stipulations made on behalf of the Nabob ; though I do assure you I myself represented to his Excellency and the ministers, conceiving it to be your desire, that the apparent assumption of the reins of his government, (for in that light he undoubtedly considered it at the first view,) as specified in the agreement executed by him, was not meant to be fully and literally enforced, but that it was necessary you should have something to show on your side, as the Company were deprived of a benefit without a requital; and upon the faith of this assurance alone, I believe I may safely affirm, his Excellency’s objections to signing the treaty were given up. If I have understood the matter wrong, or misconceived your design, I am truly sorry for it. However, it is not too late to correct the error; and I am ready to undertake, and, God willing, to carry through, whatever you may, on the receipt of my public letter, tell me is your final resolve.
“If you determine, at all events, that the measures of reducing the Nabob's army, &c., shall be immediately undertaken, I shall take it as a particular favor, if you will indulge me with a line at Fyzabad, that I may make the necessary previous arrangements with respect to the disposal of my family, which I would not wish to retain here, in the event either of a rupture with the Nabob, or the necessity of employing our forces on the reduction of his aumils and troops. This done, I can begin the work in three days after my return from Fyzabad.”
Besides this letter, which I think is sufficiently clear upon the subject, there is also another much more clear upon your Lordships’ minutes, much more distinct and much more pointed, expressive of his being resolved to make such representations of every matter as the Governor-General may wish. Now a man who is master of the manner in which facts are represented, and whose subsequent conduct is to be justified by such representations, is not simply accountable for his conduct; he is accountable for culpably attempting to form, on false premises, the judgment of others upon that conduct. This species of delinquency must therefore be added to the rest; and I wish your Lordships to carry generally in your minds, that there is not one single syllable of representation made by any of those parties, except where truth may happen to break out in spite of all the means of concealment, which is not to be considered as the representation of Mr. Hastings himself in justification of his own conduct.
The letter which I have just now read was written preparatory to the transaction which I am now going to state, called the treaty of Chunar. Having brought his miserable victim thither, he forced him to sign a paper called a treaty: but such was the fraud in every part of this treaty, that Mr. Middleton himself, who was the instrument and the chief agent in it, acknowledges that the Nabob was persuaded to sign it by the assurance given to him that it never was to be executed. Here, then, your Lordships have a prince first compelled to enter into a negotiation, and then induced to accede to a treaty by false assurances that it should not be executed, which he declares nothing but force should otherwise have compelled him to accede to. The first circumstance in this transaction that I shall lay before your Lordships is that the treaty is declared to have for its objects two modes of relieving the Nabob from his distresses, – from distresses which we have stated, and which Mr. Hastings has not only fully admitted, but has himself proved in the clearest manner to your Lordships. The first was by taking away that wicked rabble, the British troops, represented by Mr. Hastings as totally ruinous to the Nabob’s affairs, and particularly by removing that part of them which was called the new brigade. Another remedial part of the treaty regarded the British pensioners. It is in proof before your Lordships that Mr. Hastings agreed to recall from Oude that body of pensioners, whose conduct there is described in such strong terms as being ruinous to the Vizier and to all his affairs. These pensioners Mr. Hastings engaged to recall; but he never did recall them. We refer your Lordships to the evidence before you, in proof that these odious pensioners, so distressing to the Nabob, so ruinous to his affairs, and so disgraceful to our government, were not only not recalled by Mr. Hastings, but that, both afterwards, and upon the very day of signing the treaty, (as Mr. Middleton himself tells you,) upon that very day, I say, he recommended to the Nabob that these pensioners might remain upon that very establishment which, by a solemn treaty of his own making and his own dictating, he had agreed to relieve from this intolerable burden. Mr. Hastings, your Lordships will remember, had departed from Benares, frustrated in his designs of extorting 500,000l. from the Rajah for the Company's use. He had ravaged the country, without obtaining any benefit for his masters: the British soldiers having divided the only spoil, and nothing remaining for the share of his employers but disgrace. He was therefore afraid to return without having something of a lucrative pecuniary nature to exhibit to the Company. Having this object in view, Oude appears to have first presented itself to his notice, as a country from which some advantage of a pecuniary kind might be derived; and accordingly he turned in his head a vast variety of stratagems for effecting his purpose. The first article that occurs in the treaty of Chunar is a power given to the Nabob to resume all the jaghires not guarantied by the Company, and to give pensions to all those persons who should be removed from their jaghires. Now the first thing which would naturally occur to a man, who was going to raise a revenue through the intervention of the prince of the country, would be to recommend to that prince a better economy in his affairs, and a rational and equal assessment upon his subjects, in order to furnish the amount of the demand which he was about to make upon him. I need not tell your Lordships, trained and formed as your minds are to the rules and orders of good government, that there is no way by which a prince can justly assess his subjects but by assessing them all in proportion to their respective abilities, and that, if a prince should make such a body as the House of Lords in this kingdom (which comes near the case I am going to state) separately the subject of assessment, such a thing would be contrary to all the principles of regular and just taxation in any country in the universe. Some men may possibly, by locality or privileges, be excepted from certain taxes, but no taxation ever can be just that is thrown upon some particular class only ; and if that class happen to be small and the demand great, the injustice done is directly proportionable to the greatness of the exaction, and inversely to the number of the persons who are the objects of it: these are clear, irrefragable, and eternal principles. But if, instead of exacting a part by a proportionable rate, the prince should go further and attempt to shake the whole mass of property itself, a mass perhaps not much less than that which is possessed by the whole peers of Great Britain, by confiscating the whole of the estates at once, as a government resource, without the charge or pretence of any crime, I say that such an act would be oppressive, cruel, and wicked in the highest degree. Yet this is what Mr. Hastings projected, and actually did accomplish. My Lords, at the treaty of Chunar, as it is called, Mr. Hastings (for he always artfully feels his way as he proceeds) first says, that the Nabob shall be permitted to do this act, if he pleases. He does not assume the government. He does not compel the Nabob to do anything. He does not force upon him this abandoned and wicked confiscation of the property of the whole nobility of a great country. All that he says is this, - “The Nabob may be permitted to resume these jaghires.” Why permitted ? If the act