The Works Of The Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol. IX. (of 12)
by Edmund Burke
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PART I. 79



















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That the Court of Directors of the East India Company had laid down the following fundamental rules for the conduct of such of the Company's business in Bengal as could be performed by contract, and had repeatedly and strictly ordered the Governor and Council of Port William to observe those rules, viz.: That all contracts should be publicly advertised, and the most reasonable proposals accepted; that the contracts of provisions, and for furnishing draught and carriage bullocks for the army, should be annual; and that they should not fail to advertise for and receive proposals for those contracts every year.

That the said Warren Hastings, in direct disobedience to the said positive orders, and, as the Directors themselves say, by a most deliberate breach of his duty, did, in September, 1777, accept of proposals offered by Ernest Alexander Johnson for providing draught and carriage bullocks, and for victualling the Europeans, without advertising for proposals, as he was expressly commanded to do, and extended the contract for three years, which was positively ordered to be annual,—and, notwithstanding that extension of the period, which ought at least to have been compensated by some advantage to the Company in the conditions, did conclude the said contract upon terms less advantageous than the preceding contract, and therefore not on the lowest terms procurable. That the said Warren Hastings, in defiance of the judgment and lawful orders of his superiors, which in this case left him no option, declared, that he disapproved of publishing for proposals, and that the contract was reduced too low already: thereby avowing himself the advocate of the contractor, against whom, as representative of the Company, and guardian of their interests, he properly was party, and preferring the advantage of the contractor to those of his own constituents and employers. That the Court of Directors of the East India Company, having carefully considered the circumstances and tendency of this transaction, condemned it in the strongest terms, declaring, that they would not permit the contract to be continued, and that, "if the contractor should think himself aggrieved, and take measures in consequence by which the Company became involved in loss or damage, they should certainly hold the majority of the Council responsible for such loss or damage, and proceed against them accordingly."—That the said Warren Hastings, in defiance of orders, which the Directors say were plain and unequivocal, did, in January, 1777, receive from George Templer a proposal essentially different from the advertisement published by the Governor-General and Council for receiving proposals for feeding the Company's elephants, and did accept thereof, not only without having recourse to the proper means for ascertaining whether the said proposal was the lowest that would be offered, but with another actually before the board nearly thirty per cent lower than that made by the said George Templer, to whom the said Warren Hastings granted a contract, in the terms proposed by the said Templer, for three years, and did afterwards extend the same to five years, with new and distinct conditions, accepted by the said Warren Hastings, without advertising for fresh proposals, by which the Company were very considerable losers: on all which the Court of Directors declared, "that this waste of their property could not be permitted; that he, the said Warren Hastings, had disregarded their authority, and disobeyed their orders, in not taking the lowest offers"; and they ordered that the contract for elephants should be annulled: and the said Directors further declared, that, "if the contractor should recover damages of the Company for breach of engagement, they were determined, in such case, to institute a suit at law against those members of the board who had presumed, in direct breach of their orders, to prefer the interest of an individual to that of the Company."—That the said Warren Hastings did, in the year 1777, conclude with —— Forde a contract for an armed vessel for the pilotage of the Chittagong river, and for the defence of the coast and river against the incursions of robbers, for the term of five years, in further disobedience of the Company's orders respecting the mode and duration of contracts, and with a considerable increase of expense to the Company. That the farming out the defence of a country to a contractor, being wholly unprecedented, and evidently absurd, could have no real object but to enrich the contractor at the Company's expense: since either the service was not dangerous, and then the establishment was totally unnecessary, or, if it was a dangerous service, it was evidently the interest of the contractor to avoid such danger, and not to hazard the loss of his ship or men, which must be replaced at his own expense, and therefore that an active and faithful discharge of the contractor's duty was incompatible with his interest.—That the said Warren Hastings, in further defiance of the Company's orders, and in breach of the established rule of their service, did, in the year 1777, conclude a contract with the master and deputy master attendant of the Company's marine or pilot service, for supplying the said marine with naval stores, and executing the said service for the term of two years, and without advertising for proposals. That the use and expenditure of such stores and the direction of the pilot vessels are under the management and at the disposition of the master attendant by virtue of his office; that he is officially the proper and regular check upon the person who furnishes the stores, and bound by his duty to take care that all contracts for furnishing such stores are duly and faithfully executed. That the said Warren Hastings, by uniting the supply and the check in the same hands, did not only disobey the Company's specific orders, and violate the fundamental rules and practice of the service, but did overset the only just and rational principle on which this and every other service of a similar nature ought to be conducted, and did not only subject the Company's interest, in point of expense, to fraud and collusion, but did thereby expose the navigation of the Bengal river to manifest hazard and distress: considering that it is the duty of the master attendant to take care that the pilot vessels are constantly stationed in the roads to wait the arrival of the Company's ships, especially in tempestuous weather, and that they should be in a constant condition to keep the sea; whereas it is manifestly the interest of the contractor, in the first instance, to equip the said vessels as scantily as possible, and afterwards to expose them as little as possible to any service in which the stores to be replaced by him might be lost or consumed. And, finally, that in June, 1779, the said contract was prolonged to the said master attendant, by the said Warren Hastings, for the further period of two years from the expiration of the first, without advertising for proposals.—That it does not appear that any of the preceding contracts have been annulled, or the charges attending any of them abated, or that the Court of Directors have ever taken any measures to compel the said Warren Hastings to indemnify the Company, or to make good any part of the loss incurred by the said contracts.

That in the year 1777 the said Warren Hastings did recommend and appoint John Belli, at that time his private secretary, to be agent for supplying the garrison of Fort William with victualling stores; that the stores were to be purchased with money advanced by the Company, and that the said agent was to be allowed a commission or percentage for his risk and trouble; that, in order to ascertain what sum would be a reasonable compensation for the agent, the Governor-General and Council agreed to consult some of the principal merchants of Calcutta; that the merchants so consulted reported their opinion, that twenty per cent on the prime cost of the stores would be a reasonable compensation to the agent; that, nevertheless, the said Warren Hastings, supported by the vote and concurrence of Richard Barwell, then a member of the Supreme Council, did propose and carry it, that thirty per cent per annum should be allowed upon all stores to be provided by the agent. That the said Warren Hastings professed that "he preferred an agency to a contract for this service, because, if it were performed by contract, it must then be advertised, and the world would know what provision was made for the defence of the fort": as if its being publicly known that the fort was well provided for defence were likely to encourage an enemy to attack it. That in August, 1779, in defiance of the principle laid down by himself for preferring an agency to a contract, the said Warren Hastings did propose and carry it, that the agency should be converted into a contract, to be granted to the said John Belli, without advertising for proposals, and fixed for the term of five years,—"pretending that he had received frequent remonstrances from the said agent concerning the heavy losses and inconveniences to which he was subjected by the indefinite terms of his agency," notwithstanding it appeared by evidence produced at the board, that, on a supply of about 37,000l., he had already drawn a commission of 22,000l. and upwards. That the said Warren Hastings pledged himself, that, if required by the Court of Directors, the profits arising from the agency should be paid into the Company's treasury, and appropriated as the Court should direct. That the Court of Directors, as soon as they were advised of the first appointment of the said agency, declared that they considered the commission of twenty per cent as an ample compensation to the agent, and did positively order, that, according to the engagement of the said Warren Hastings, "the commission paid or to be paid to the said agent should be reduced to twenty pounds per cent." That the said John Belli did positively refuse to refund any part of the profits he had received, or to submit to a diminution of those which he was still to receive; and that the said Warren Hastings has never made good his own voluntary and solemn engagement to the Court of Directors hereinabove mentioned: and as his failure to perform the said engagement is a breach of faith to the Company, so his performance of such engagement, if he had performed it, and even his offering to pledge himself for the agent, in the first instance, ought to be taken as presumptive evidence of a connection between the said Warren Hastings and the said agent, his private secretary, which ought not to exist between a Governor acting in behalf of the Company and a contractor making terms with such Governor for the execution of a public service.

That, before the expiration of the contract hereinbefore mentioned for supplying the army with draught and carriage bullocks, granted by the said Warren Hastings to Ernest Alexander Johnson for three years, the said Warren Hastings did propose and carry it in Council, that a new contract should be made on a new plan, and that an offer thereof should be made to Richard Johnson, brother and executor of the said contractor, without advertising for proposals, for the term of five years; that this offer was voluntarily accepted by the said Richard Johnson, who at the same time desired and obtained that the new contracts should be made out in the name of Charles Croftes, the Company's accountant and sub-treasurer at Fort William; that the said Charles Croftes offered the said Richard Johnson as one of his securities for the performance of the said contract, who was accepted as such by the said Warren Hastings; and that, at the request of the said contractor, the contract for victualling the Europeans serving at the Presidency was added to and united with that for furnishing bullocks, and fixed for the same period. That this extension of the periods of the said contracts was not compensated by a diminution in the charge to be incurred by the Company on that account, as it ought to have been, but, on the contrary, the charge was immoderately increased by the new contracts, insomuch that it was proved by statements and computations produced at the board, that the increase on the victualling contract would in five years amount to 40,000l., and that the increase on the bullock contract in the same period would amount to above 400,000l. That, when this and many other weighty objections against the terms of the said contracts were urged in Council to the said Warren Hastings, he declared that he should deliver a reply thereto; but it does not appear that he did ever deliver such reply, or ever enter into a justification of any part of his conduct in this transaction.—That the act of Parliament of 1773, by which the first Governor-General and Council were appointed, did expressly limit the duration of their office to the term of five years, which expired in October, 1779, and that the several contracts hereinbefore mentioned were granted in September, 1779, and were made to continue five years after the expiration of the government by which they were granted. That by this anticipation the discretion and judgment of the succeeding government respecting the subject-matter of such contracts was taken away, and any correction or improvement therein rendered impracticable. That the said Warren Hastings might have been justified by the rules and practice or by the necessity of the public service in binding the government by engagements to endure one year after the expiration of his own office; but on no principles could he be justified in extending such engagements beyond the term of one year, much less on the principles he has avowed, namely, "that it was only an act of common justice in him to secure every man connected with him, as far as he legally could, from the apprehension of future oppression." That the oppression to which such apprehension, if real, must allude, could only consist in and arise out of the obedience which he feared a future government might pay to the orders of the Court of Directors, by making all contracts annual, and advertising for proposals publicly and indifferently from all persons whatever, by which it might happen that such beneficial contracts would not be constantly held by men connected with him, the said Warren Hastings. That this declaration, made by the said Warren Hastings, combined with all the circumstances belonging to these transactions, leaves no room to doubt, that, in disobeying the Company's orders, and betraying the trust reposed in him as guardian of the Company's property, his object was to purchase the attachment of a number of individuals, and to form a party capable of supporting and protecting him in return.

That, with the same view, and on the same principles, it appears that excessive salaries and emoluments, at the East India Company's charge and expense, have been lavished by the said Warren Hastings to sundry individuals, contrary to the general principles of his duty, and in direct contradiction to the positive orders of the Court of Directors: particularly, that, whereas by a resolution of the Court of Proprietors of the East India Company, and by an instruction of the Court of Directors, it was provided and expressly ordered that there should be paid to the late Sir John Clavering "the sum of six thousand pounds sterling per annum in full for his services as commander-in-chief, in lieu of travelling charges and of all other advantages and emoluments whatever," and whereas the Court of Directors positively ordered that the late "Sir Eyre Coote should receive the same pay as commander-in-chief of their forces in India as was received by Lieutenant-General Sir John Clavering," the said Warren Hastings, nevertheless, within a very short time after Sir Eyre Coote's arrival in Bengal, did propose and carry it in Council, that a new establishment should be created for Sir Eyre Coote, by which an increase of expense would be incurred by the India Company to the amount of eighteen thousand pounds a year and upwards, exclusive of and in addition to his salary of ten thousand pounds a year, provided for him by act of Parliament as a member of the Supreme Council, and exclusive of and in addition to his salary of six thousand pounds a year as commander-in-chief, appointed for him by the Company, and expressly fixed to that amount.

That the disobedience and breach of trust of which the said Warren Hastings was guilty in this transaction is highly aggravated by the following circumstances connected with it. That from the death of Sir John Clavering to the arrival of Sir Eyre Coote in Bengal the provisional command of the army had devolved to and been vested in Brigadier-General Giles Stibbert, the eldest officer on that establishment. That in this capacity, and, as the said Warren Hastings has declared, "standing no way distinguished from the other officers in the army, but by his accidental succession to the first place on the list," he, the said Giles Stibbert, had, by the recommendation and procurement of the said Warren Hastings, received and enjoyed a salary, and other allowances, to the amount of 13,854l. 12s. per annum. That Sir Eyre Coote, soon after his arrival, represented to the board that a considerable part of those allowances, amounting to 8,220l. 10s. per annum, ought to devolve to himself, as commander-in-chief of the Company's forces in India, and, stating that the said Giles Stibbert could no longer be considered as commander-in-chief under the Presidency of Fort William, made a formal demand of the same. That the said Warren Hastings, instead of reducing the allowances of the said Giles Stibbert to the establishment at which they stood during General Clavering's command, and for the continuance of which after Sir Eyre Coote's arrival there could be no pretence, continued the allowances of 13,854l. 12s. per annum to the said Giles Stibbert, and at the same time, in order to appease and satisfy the demand of the said Sir Eyre Coote, did create for him that new establishment, hereinbefore specified, of eighteen thousand pounds per annum,—insomuch that, instead of the allowance of six thousand pounds a year, in lieu of travelling charges, and of all emoluments and allowances whatsoever, to which the pay and allowances of commander-in-chief were expressly limited by the united act of the legislative and executive powers of the Company, the annual charge to be borne by the Company on that account was increased by the said Warren Hastings to the enormous sum of thirty-eight thousand two hundred and seventeen pounds ten shillings sterling.

That on the 1st of November, 1779, the said Warren Hastings did move and carry it in Council, "that the Resident at the Vizier's court should be furnished with an account of all the extra allowances and charges of the commander-in-chief when in the field, with orders to add the same to the debit of the Vizier's account, as a part of his general subsidy,—the charge to commence from the day on which the general shall pass the Caramnassa, and to continue till his return to the same line." That this additional expense imposed by the said Warren Hastings on the Vizier was unjust in itself, and a breach of treaty with that prince: the specific amount of the subsidy to be paid by him having been fixed by a treaty, to which no addition could justly be made, but at the previous requisition of the Vizier. That the Court of Directors, in their letter of the 18th of October, 1780, did condemn and prohibit the continuation of the allowances above mentioned to Sir Eyre Coote in the following words: "These allowances appear to us in a light so very extraordinary, and so repugnant to the spirit of a resolution of the General Court of Proprietors respecting the allowance made to General Clavering, that we positively direct that they be discontinued immediately, and no part thereof paid after the receipt of this letter." That on the 27th of April, 1781, the Governor-General and Council, in obedience to the orders of the Directors, did signify the same to the Commissary-General, as an instruction to him that the extraordinary allowances to Sir Eyre Coote should be discontinued, and no part thereof paid after that day. That it appears, nevertheless, that the said extra allowances (amounting to above twenty thousand pounds sterling a year) were continued to be charged to the Vizier, and paid to Sir Eyre Coote, in defiance of the orders of the Court of Directors, in defiance of the consequent resolution of the Governor-General and Council, and in contradiction to the terms of the original motion made by the said Warren Hastings for adding those allowances to the debit of the Vizier, viz., "that they should continue till Sir Eyre Coote's return to the Caramnassa." That Sir Eyre Coote arrived at Calcutta about the end of August, 1780, and must have crossed the Caramnassa, in his return from Oude, some weeks before, when the charge on the Vizier, if at any time proper, ought to have ceased. That it appears that the said allowances were continued to be charged against the Vizier and paid to Sir Eyre Coote for three years after, even while he was serving in the Carnatic, and that this was done by the sole authority and private command of the said Warren Hastings.

That the East India Company having thought proper to create the office of Advocate-General in Bengal, and to appoint Sir John Day to that office, it was resolved by a General Court of Proprietors that a salary of three thousand pounds a year should be allowed to the said Sir John Day, in full consideration of all demands and allowances whatsoever for his services to the Company at the Presidency of Fort William. That the said Warren Hastings, nevertheless, shortly after Sir John Day's arrival in Bengal, did increase the said Sir John Day's salary and allowances to six thousand pounds a year, in direct disobedience of the resolution of the Court of Proprietors, and of the order of the Court of Directors. That the Directors, as soon as they were informed of this proceeding, declared, "that they held themselves bound by the resolution of the General Court, and that they could not allow it to be disregarded by the Company's servants in India," and ordered that the increased allowances should be forthwith discontinued. That the said Warren Hastings, after having first thought it necessary, in obedience to the orders of the Court of Directors, to stop the extraordinary allowance which he had granted to Sir John Day, did afterwards resolve that the allowance which had been struck off should be repaid to him, upon his signing an obligation to refund the amount which he might receive, in case the Directors should confirm their former orders, already twice given. That in this transaction the said Warren Hastings trifled with the authority of the Company, eluded the repeated orders of the Directors, and exposed the Company to the risk and uncertainty of recovering, at a distant period, and perhaps by a process of law, a sum of money which they had positively ordered him not to pay.

That in the latter part of the year 1776, by the death of Colonel Monson, the whole power of the government of Fort William devolved to the Governor and one member of the Council; and that from that time the Governor-General and Council have generally consisted of an even number of persons, in consequence of which the casting voice of the said Warren Hastings has usually prevailed in the decision of all questions. That about the end of the year 1776 the whole civil establishment of the said government did not exceed 205,399l. per annum; that in the year 1783 the said civil establishment had been increased to the enormous annual sum of 927,945l. That such increase in the civil establishment could not have taken place, if the said Warren Hastings, who was at the head of the government, with the power annexed to the casting voice, had not actively promoted the said increase, which he had power to prevent, and which it was his duty to have prevented. That by such immoderate waste of the property of his employers, and by such scandalous breach of his fidelity to them, it was the intention of the said Warren Hastings to gain and secure the attachment and support of a multitude of individuals, by whose united interest, influence, and intrigues he hoped to be protected against any future inquiry into his conduct. That it was of itself highly criminal in the said Warren Hastings to have so wasted the property of the East India Company, and that the purpose to be obtained by such waste was a great aggravation of that crime.

That among the various instances of profusion by which the civil establishment of Fort William was increased to the enormous annual sum hereinbefore mentioned, it appears that a Salt Office was created, of six commissioners, whose annual emoluments were as follows, viz.:—

President, or Comptroller, per annum L18,480 1st member 13,100 2d do 11,480 3d do 13,183 4th do 6,257 5th do 10,307 ——— L72,807

That a Board of Revenue was created by the said Warren Hastings, consisting of five commissioners, whose annual emoluments were as follows, viz.:—

1st member, per annum L10,950 2d do 9,100 3d do 9,100 4th do 9,100 5th do 9,100 ——— L47,350

That David Anderson, Esquire, first member of the said board, did not execute the duties, though he received the emoluments of the said office: having acted, for the greatest part of the time, as ambassador to Mahdajee Sindia, with a further salary of 4,280l. a year, making in all 15,230l. a year. That the said Warren Hastings did create an office of Agent-Victualler to the garrison of Fort William, whose profits, on an average of three years, were 15,970l. per annum. That this agency was held by the Postmaster-General, who in that capacity received 2,200l. a year from the Company, and who was actually no higher than a writer in the service. That the person who held these lucrative offices, viz., John Belli, was private secretary to the said Warren Hastings.

That the said Warren Hastings created a nominal office of Resident at Goa, where the Company never had a Resident, nor business of any kind to transact, and gave the said nominal office to a person who was not a covenanted servant of the Company, with an allowance of 4,280l. a year.

That these instances are proofs of a criminal profusion and high breach of trust to the India Company in the said Warren Hastings, under whose government, and by means of whose special power, derived from the effect of his casting voice, all the said waste and profusion did take place.

That at the end of the year 1780, when, as the Court of Directors affirm, the Company were in the utmost distress for money, and almost every department in arrear, and when it appears that there was a great scarcity and urgent want of grain at Fort St. George, the said Warren Hastings did accept of a proposal made to him by James Peter Auriol, then Secretary to the Council, to supply the Presidency of Fort St. George with rice and other articles, and did appoint the said Auriol to be the agent for supplying all the other Presidencies with those articles; that the said Warren Hastings declared that the intention of the appointment "was most likely to be fulfilled by a liberal consideration of it," and therefore allowed the said Auriol a commission of fifteen per cent on the whole of his disbursements, thereby rendering it the direct interest of the said Auriol to make his disbursements as great as possible; that the chance of capture by the enemy, or danger of the sea, was to be at the risk of the India Company, and not of the said Auriol; that the said Warren Hastings declared personally to the said Auriol, "that this post was intended as a reward for his long and faithful services." That the President and Council of Bombay did remonstrate against what they called the enormous amount of the charges of the rice with which they wore supplied, which they state to be nine rupees a bag at Calcutta, when they themselves could have contracted for its delivery at Bombay, free of all risk and charges, at five rupees and three sixteenths per bag; and that even at Madras, where the distress and demand was greatest, the supplies of grain by private traders, charged to the Company, were nineteen per cent cheaper than that supplied by the said Auriol, exclusive of the risk of the sea and of capture by the enemy. That it is stated by the Court of Directors, that the agent's commission on a supply of a single year (the said commission being not only charged on the prime cost of the rice, but also on the freight and all other charges) would amount to pounds sterling 26,873, and by the said Auriol himself is admitted to amount to 18,292l. That William Larkins, the Accountant-General at Port William, having been ordered to examine the accounts of the said agent, did report to the Governor-General and Council, that he found them to be correct in the additions and calculations; and that then the said Larkins adds the following declaration: "The agent being upon honor with respect to the sums charged in his accounts for the cost of the articles supplied, I did not think myself authorized to require any voucher of the sums charged for the demurrage of sloops, either as to the time of detention or the rate of the charge, or of those for the articles lost in going down the river; and on that ground I thought myself equally bound to admit the sums acknowledged as received for the sales of goods returned, without requiring vouchers of the rates at which they were sold." That in this transaction the said Warren Hastings has been guilty of a high breach of trust and duty, in the unnecessary expenditure of the Company's money, and in subjecting the Company to a profusion of expense, at all times wholly unjustifiable, but particularly at the time when that expense was incurred. That the said Warren Hastings was guilty of breach of orders, as well as breach of trust, in not advertising generally for proposals; in not contracting indifferently for the supplies with such merchants as might offer to furnish them on the lowest terms; in giving an enormous commission to an agent, and that commission not confined to the prime cost of the articles, but to be computed on the whole of his charges; in accepting of the honor of the said agent as a sufficient voucher for the cost of the articles supplied, and for all charges whatever on which his commission was to be computed; and finally, in giving a lucrative agency for the supply of a distressed and starving province as a reward to a Secretary of State, whose labors in that capacity ought to have been rewarded by an avowed public salary, and not otherwise. That, after the first year of the said agency was expired, the said Warren Hastings did agree, that, for the future, the commission to be drawn by the said agent should be reduced to five per cent, which the Governor-General and Council then declared to be the customary, amount drawn by merchants; but that even in this reduction of the commission the said Warren Hastings was guilty of a deception, and did not in fact reduce the commission from fifteen to five per cent, having immediately after resolved that he, the agent, should be allowed the current interest of Calcutta upon all his drafts on the Treasury from the day of their dates, until they should be completely liquidated; that the legal interest of money in Bengal is twelve per cent per annum, and the current interest from eight to ten per cent.


That, before the appointment of the Governor-General and Council of Fort William by act of Parliament, the allowances made by the East India Company to the Presidents of that government were abundantly sufficient; and that the said Presidents in general, and the said Warren Hastings particularly, was restrained by a specific covenant and indenture, which he entered into with the Company, from accepting any gifts, rewards, or gratuities whatsoever, on any account or pretence whatsoever. That in the Regulating Act passed in the year 1773, which appointed the said Warren Hastings, Esquire, Governor-General of Fort William in Bengal, a salary of twenty-five thousand pounds a year was established for him, to which the Court of Directors added, "that he should enjoy their principal houses, with the plate and furniture, both in town and country, rent-free." That the same law which created the office and provided the salary of the said Warren Hastings did expressly, and in the clearest and most comprehensive terms that could be devised, prohibit him from receiving any present, gift, or donation, in any manner or on any account whatsoever; and that the said Warren Hastings perfectly understood the meaning, and acknowledged the binding force of this prohibition, before he accepted of the office to which it was annexed: he knew, and had declared, that the prohibition was positive and decisive; that it admitted neither of refinement or misconstruction; and that in his opinion an opposition would be to incur the penalty.

That, notwithstanding the covenants and engagements above mentioned, it appears in the recorded proceedings of the Governor-General and Council of Fort William, that sundry charges have been brought against the said Warren Hastings for gifts or presents corruptly taken by him before the promulgation of the act of 1773 in India, and that these charges were produced at the Council Board in the presence of the said Warren Hastings. That, in March, 1775, the late Rajah Nundcomar, a native Hindoo, of the highest caste in his religion, and of the highest rank in society, by the offices which he had held under the country government, did lay before the Council an account of various sums of money paid by him to the said Warren Hastings, amounting to forty thousand pounds and upwards, for offices and employments corruptly disposed of by the said Warren Hastings, and did offer and engage to prove and establish the same by sufficient evidence. That this account is stated with a minute particularity and precision; the date of each payment, down to that of small sums, is specified; the various coins in which such payments were severally made are distinguished; and the different persons through whose hands the money passed into those of the said Warren Hastings are named. That such particularity on the face of such a charge, supposing it false, is favorable to the party wrongfully accused, and exposes the accuser to an instant and easy detection: for, though, as the said Warren Hastings himself has observed on another occasion, "papers may be forged, and evidences may appear in numbers to attest them, yet it must always be an easy matter to detect the falsity of any forged paper produced by examining the witnesses separately, and subjecting them to a subsequent cross-examination, in which case, if false, they will not be able to persevere in one regular, consistent story "; whereas, if no advantage be taken of such particularity in the charge to detect the falsehood thereof, and if no attempt to disprove it, and no defence whatever be made, a presumption justly and reasonably arises in favor of the truth of such charge. That the said Warren Hastings, instead of offering anything in his defence, declared that he would not suffer Nundcomar to appear before the board at his accuser; that he attempted to indict his said accuser for a conspiracy, in which he failed; and that the said Rajah Nundcomar was soon after, and while his charge against the said Warren Hastings was depending before the Council, indicted upon an English penal statute, which does not extend even to Scotland,[1] before the Supreme Court of Judicature, for an offence said to have been committed several years before, and not capital by the laws of India, and was condemned and executed. That the evidence of this man, not having been encountered at the time when it might and ought to have been by the said Warren Hastings, remains justly in force against him, and is not abated by the capital punishment of the said Nundcomar, but rather confirmed by the time and circumstances in which the accuser of the said Warren Hastings suffered death. That one of the offices for which a part of the money above mentioned is stated to have been paid to the said Warren Hastings was given by him to Munny Begum, the widow of the late Mir Jaffier, Nabob of Bengal, whose son, by another woman, holds that title at present. That the said Warren Hastings had been instructed by the Court of Directors of the East India Company to appoint "a minister to transact the political affairs of the government, and to select for that purpose some person well qualified for the affairs of government, to be the minister and guardian of the Nabob's minority." That for these offices, and for the execution of the several duties belonging to them, the said Warren Hastings selected and appointed the said Munny Begum, a woman evidently unqualified for and incapable of such offices, and restrained from acting in such capacities by her necessary seclusion from the world and retirement in a seraglio. That, a considerable deficiency or embezzlement appearing in this woman's account of the young Nabob's stipend, she voluntarily declared, by a writing under her seal, that she had given fifteen thousand pounds to the said Warren Hastings for an entertainment,—which declaration corresponds with and confirms that part of the charge produced by Rajah Nundcomar to which it relates. That neither this nor any other part of the said charge has been at any time directly denied or disputed by the said Warren Hastings, though made to his face, and though he was repeatedly accused by his colleagues, who were appointed by Parliament at the same time with himself, of peculation of every sort. That, instead of promoting a strict inquiry into his conduct for the clearance of his innocence and honor, he did repeatedly endeavor to elude and stifle all inquiry by attempting to dissolve the meetings of the Council at which such charges were produced, and by other means, and has not since taken any steps to disprove or refute the same. That the said Warren Hastings, so long ago as September, 1775, assured the Court of Directors, "that it was his fixed determination most fully and liberally to explain every circumstance of his conduct on the points on which he had been injuriously arraigned, and to afford them the clearest conviction of his own integrity, and of the propriety of his motives for declining a present defence of it"; and having never since given to the Court of Directors any explanation whatever, much less the full and liberal explanation he had promised so repeatedly, has thereby abandoned even that late and protracted defence which he himself must have thought necessary to be made at some time or other, and which he would be thought to have deferred to a period more suitable and convenient than that in which the facts were recent, and the impression of these and other charges of the same nature against him was fresh and unimpaired in the minds of men.

That on the 30th of March, 1775, a member of the Council produced and laid before the board a petition from Mir Zein Abul Deen, (formerly farmer of a district, and who had been in creditable stations,) setting forth, that Khan Jehan Khan, then Phousdar of Hoogly, had obtained that office from the said Warren Hastings, with a salary of seventy-two thousand sicca rupees a year, and that the said Phousdar had given a receipt of bribe to the patron of the city, meaning Warren Hastings, to pay him annually thirty-six thousand rupees a year, and also to his banian, Cantoo Baboo, four thousand rupees a year, out of the salary above mentioned. That by the thirty-fifth article of the instructions given to the Governor-General and Council, they are directed "immediately to cause the strictest inquiry to be made into all oppressions which might have been committed either against the natives or Europeans, and into all abuses that might have prevailed in the collection of the revenues, or any part of the civil government of the Presidency, and to communicate to the Directors all information which they might be able to obtain relative thereto, or to any dissipation or embezzlement of the Company's money." That the above petition and instruction having been read in Council, it was moved that the petitioner should be ordered to attend the next day to make good his charge. That the said Warren Hastings declared, "that it appeared to him to be the purpose of the majority to make him the sole object of their personal attacks; that they had taken their line, and might pursue it; that he should have other remarks to make upon this transaction, but, as they would be equally applicable to many others which in the course of this business were likely to be brought before the board, he should say no more on the subject";—and he objected to the motion. That by the preceding declaration the said Warren Hastings did admit that many other charges were likely to be brought against him, and that such charges would be of a similar nature to the first, viz., a corrupt bargaining for the disposal of a great office, since he declared that his remarks on that transaction would be equally applicable to the rest; and that, by objecting to the motion for the personal attendance of the accuser, he resisted and disobeyed the Company's instructions, and did, as far as depended on his power, endeavor to obstruct and prevent all inquiry into the charge. That in so doing he failed in his duty to the Company, he disobeyed their express orders, and did leave the charge against himself without a reply, and even without a denial, and with that unavoidable presumption against his innocence which lies against every person accused who not only refuses to plead, but, as far as his vote goes, endeavors to prevent an examination of the charge, and to stifle all inquiry into the truth of it. That, the motion having been nevertheless carried, the said Warren Hastings did, on the day following, declare, "that he could not sit to be confronted with such accusers, nor suffer a judicial inquiry into his conduct at the board of which he was president, and declared the meeting of the board dissolved." That the board continued to sit and examine witnesses, servants of the Phousdar, on oath and written evidence, being letters under the hand and seal of the Phousdar, all directly tending to prove the charge: viz., that, out of the salary of seventy-two thousand rupees a year paid by the Company, the said Phousdar received but thirty-two thousand, and that the remainder was received by the said Warren Hastings and his banian. That the Phousdar, though repeatedly ordered to attend the board, did, under various pretences, decline attending, until the 19th of May, when, the letters stated be his, that is, under his hand and seal, being shown to him, it was proposed by a member of the board that he should be asked whether he had any objection to swear to the truth of such answers as he might make to the questions proposed by the board; that the said Warren Hastings objected to his being put to his oath; that the question was nevertheless put to him, in consequence of a resolution of the board; that he first declined to swear, under pretence that it was a matter of serious consequence to his character to take an oath, and, when it was finally left to his option, he declared, "Mean people might swear, but that his character would not allow him,—that he could not swear, and had rather subject himself to a loss." That the evidence in support of the charge, being on oath, was in this manner left uncontradicted. That it was admitted by the said Warren Hastings, that neither Mussulmen or Hindoos are forbidden by the precepts of their religion to swear; that it is not true, as the said Warren Hastings asserted, that it was repugnant to the manners either of Hindoos or Mussulmen; and that, if, under such pretences, the natives were to be exempted from taking an oath, when examined by the Governor and Council, all the inquiries pointed out to them by the Company's instructions might stop or be defeated. That no valid reason was or could be assigned why the said Phousdar should not be examined on oath; that the charge was not against himself; and that, if any questions had been put to him, tending to make him accuse himself, he might have declined to answer them. That, if he could have safely sworn to the innocence of the said Warren Hastings, from whom he received his employment, he was bound in gratitude as well as justice to the said Warren Hastings to have consented to be examined on oath; that, not having done so, and having been supported and abetted in his refusal by the said Warren Hastings himself, whose character and honor, were immediately at stake, the whole of the evidence for the truth of the charge remains unanswered, and in full force against the said Warren Hastings, who on this occasion recurred to the declaration he had before made to the Directors, viz., "that he would most fully and liberally explain every circumstance of his conduct," but has never since that time given the Directors any explanation whatsoever of his said conduct. And finally, that, when the Court of Directors, in January, 1776, referred the question (concerning the legality of the power assumed and repeatedly exercised by the said Warren Hastings, of dissolving the Council at his pleasure) to the late Charles Sayer, then standing counsel of the East India Company, the said Charles Sayer declared his opinion in favor of the power, but concerning the use and exercise of it in the cases stated did declare his opinion in the following words: "I believe he, Warren Hastings, is the first governor that ever dissolved a council inquiring into his behavior, when he was innocent." Before he could summon three councils, and dissolve them, he had time fully to consider what would be the result of such conduct, to convince everybody beyond a doubt of his conscious guilt.—That, by a resolution of a majority of the Council, constituting a lawful act of the Governor-General and Council, the said Khan Jehan Khan was dismissed from the office of Phousdar of Hoogly for a contempt of the authority of the board; that, within a few weeks after the death of the late Colonel Monson, the number of the Council being then even, and all questions being then determined by the Governor-General's casting voice, the said Warren Hastings did move and carry it in Council, that the said Khan Jehan Khan should be restored to his office; and that restoration, not having been preceded, accompanied, or followed by any explanation or defence whatsoever, or even by a denial of the specific and circumstantial charge of collusion with the said Khan Jehan Khan, has confirmed the truth of the said charge.

That, besides the sums charged to have been paid to the said Warren Hastings by the said Nundcomar and Munny Begum and Khan Jehan Khan, and besides the sum of one hundred and ten thousand pounds already mentioned to have been accepted without hesitation by him, as a present on the part of the Nabob of Oude and that of his ministers, the circumstances of which have been particularly reported to the House of Commons, it appears by the confession of the said Warren Hastings, that he has at different times since the promulgation of the act of 1773, received various other sums, contrary to the express prohibition of the said act, and his own declared sense of the evident intent and obligation thereof.—That in the month of June, 1780, the said Warren Hastings made to the Council what he called "a very unusual tender, by offering to exonerate the Company from the expense of a particular measure, and to take it upon himself; declaring that he had already deposited two lacs of rupees [or twenty-three thousand pounds] in the hands of the Company's sub-treasurer for that service." That in a subsequent letter, dated the 29th of November, 1780, he informed the Court of Directors, that "this money, by whatever means it came into their possession, was not his own"; but he did not then, nor has he at any time since, made known to the Court of Directors from whom or on what account he received that money, as it was his duty to have done in the first instance, and notwithstanding the said Directors signified to him their expectation that he should communicate to them "immediate information of the channel by which this money came into his possession, with a complete illustration of the cause or causes of so extraordinary an event." But, from evidence examined in England, it has been discovered that this money was received by the said Warren Hastings from Cheyt Sing, the Rajah of Benares, who was soon after dispossessed of all his property and driven from his country and government by the said Warren Hastings. That, notwithstanding the declaration made by the said Warren Hastings, that he had actually deposited the sum above mentioned in the hands of the Company's sub-treasurer for their service, it does not appear that "any entry whatsoever of that or any other payment by the Governor-General was made in the Treasury accounts at or about the time," nor is there any trace in the Company's books of its being actually paid into their treasury. It appears, then, by the confession of the said Warren Hastings, that this money was received by him; but it does not appear that he has converted it to the property and use of the Company.

That in a letter from the said Warren Hastings to the said Court of Directors, dated the 22d of May, 1782, but not dispatched, as it might and ought to have been, at that time, but detained and kept back by the said Warren Hastings till the 16th of December following, he has confessed the receipt of various other sums, amounting (with that which he accepted from the Nabob of Oude) to nearly two hundred thousand pounds, which sums he affirmed had been converted to the Company's property through his means, but without discovering from whom or on what account he received the same. That, instead of converting this money to the Company's property, as he affirmed he had done, it appears that he had lent the greater part of it to the Company upon bonds bearing interest, which bonds were demanded and received by him, and, for aught that yet appears, have never been given up or cancelled. That for another considerable part of the above-mentioned sum he has taken credit to himself, as for a deposit of his own property, and therefore demandable by him out of the Company's treasury at his discretion. That all sums so lent or deposited are not alienated from the person who lends or deposits the same; consequently, that the declaration made by the said Warren Hastings, that he had converted the whole of these sums to the Company's property, was not true. Nor would such a transfer, if it had really been made, have justified the said Warren Hastings in originally receiving the money, which, being in the first instance contrary to law, could not be rendered legal by any subsequent disposition or application thereof; much less would it have justified the said Warren Hastings in delaying to make a discovery of these transactions to the Court of Directors until he had heard of the inquiries then begun and proceeding in Parliament, in finally making a discovery, such as it is, in terms the most intricate, obscure, and contradictory. That, instead of that full and clear explanation of his conduct which the Court of Directors demanded, and which the said Warren Hastings was bound to give them, he has contented himself with telling the said Directors, that, "if this matter was to be exposed to the view of the public, his reasons for acting as he had done might furnish a variety of conjectures to which it would be of little use to reply; that he either chose to conceal the first receipts from public curiosity by receiving bonds for the amount, or possibly acted without any studied design which his memory could at that distance of time verify; and that he could have concealed them from their eye and that of the public forever." That the discovery, as far as it goes, establishes the guilt of the said Warren Hastings in taking money against law, but does not warrant a conclusion that he has discovered all that he may have taken; that, on the contrary, such discovery, not being made in proper time, and when made being imperfect, perplexed, and wholly unsatisfactory, leads to a just and reasonable presumption that other facts of the same nature have been concealed, since those which he has confessed might have been forever, and that this partial confession was either extorted from the said Warren Hastings by the dread of detection, or made with a view of removing suspicion, and preventing any further inquiry into his conduct.

That the said Warren Hastings, in a letter to the Court of Directors dated 21st of February, 1784, has confessed his having privately received another sum of money, the amount of which he has not declared, but which, from the application he says he has made of it, could not be less than thirty-four thousand pounds sterling. That he has not informed the Directors from whom he received this money, at what time, nor on what account; but, on the contrary, has attempted to justify the receipt of it, which was illegal, by the application of it, which was unauthorized and unwarrantable, and which, if admitted as a reason for receiving money privately, would constitute a precedent of the most dangerous nature to the Company's service. That, in attempting to justify the receipt and application of the said money, he has endeavored to establish principles of conduct in a Governor which tend to subvert all order and regularity in the conduct of public business, to encourage and facilitate fraud and corruption in all offices of pecuniary trust, and to defeat all inquiry into the misconduct of any person in whom pecuniary trust is reposed.—That the said Warren Hastings, in his letter above mentioned, has made a declaration to the Court of Directors in the following terms: "Having had occasion to disburse from my own cash many sums, which, though required to enable me to execute the duties of my station, I have hitherto omitted to enter in my public accounts, and my own fortune being unequal to so heavy a charge, I have resolved to reimburse myself in a mode the most suitable to the situation of your affairs, by charging the same in my Durbar accounts of the present year, and crediting them by a sum privately received, and appropriated to your service in the same manner with other sums received on account of the Honorable Company, and already carried to their account." That at the time of writing this letter the said Warren Hastings had been in possession of the government of Fort William about twelve years, with a clear salary, or avowed emoluments, at no time less than twenty-five thousand pounds sterling a year, exclusive of which all the principal expenses of his residence were paid for by the Company. That, if the services mentioned by him were required to enable him to execute the duties of his station, he ought not to have omitted to enter them in his public accounts at the times when the expenses were incurred. That, if it was true, as he affirms, that, when he first engaged in these expenses, he had no intention to carry them to the account of the Company, there was no subsequent change in his situation which could justify his departing from that intention. That, if his own fortune in the year 1784 was unequal to so heavy a charge, the state of his fortune at any earlier period must have been still more unequal to so heavy a charge. That the fact so asserted by the said Warren Hastings leads directly to an inference palpably false and absurd, viz., that, the longer a Governor-General holds that lucrative office, the poorer he must become. That neither would the assertion, if it were true, nor the inference, if it were admitted, justify the conduct avowed by the said Warren Hastings in resolving to reimburse himself out of the Company's property without their consent or knowledge.—That the account transmitted in this letter is styled by himself an aggregate of a contingent account of twelve years; that all contingent accounts should be submitted to those who ought to have an official control over them, at annual or other shorter periods, in order that the expense already incurred may be checked and examined, and similar expenses, if disapproved of, may be prohibited in time; that, after a very long period is elapsed, all check and control over such expenses is impracticable, and, if it were practicable in the present instance, would be completely useless, since the said Warren Hastings, without waiting for the consent of the Directors, did resolve to reimburse himself. That the conduct of the said Warren Hastings, in withholding these accounts for twelve years together, and then resolving to reimburse himself without the consent of his employers, has been fraudulent in the first instance, and in the second amounts to a denial and mockery of the authority placed over him by law; and that he has thereby set a dangerous example to his successors, and to every man in trust or office under him.—That the mode in which he has reimbursed himself is a crime of a much higher order, and greatly aggravates whatever was already criminal in the other parts of this transaction. That the said Warren Hastings, in declaring that he should reimburse himself by crediting the Company by a sum privately received, has acknowledged himself guilty of an illegal act in receiving money privately. That he has suppressed or withheld every particular which could throw any light on a conduct so suspicious in a Governor as the private receipt of money. That the general confession of the private receipt of a large sum in gross, in which no circumstance of time, place, occasion, or person, nor even the amount, is specified, tends to cover or protect any act of the same nature (as far as a general confession can protect such acts) which may be detected hereafter, and which in fact may not make part of the gross sum so confessed, and that it tends to perplex and defeat all inquiry into such practices.—That the said Warren Hastings, in stating to the Directors that he has resolved to reimburse himself in a mode the most suitable to the situation of their affairs, viz., by receiving money privately against law, has stated a presumption highly injurious to the integrity of the said Directors, viz., that they will not object to, or even inquire into, any extraordinary expenses incurred and charged by their Governors in India, provided such expenses are reimbursed by money privately and illegally received. That he has not explained what that situation of their affairs was or could be to which so dangerous and corrupt a principle was or might be applied.—That no evidence has been produced to prove that it was true, nor any ground of argument stated to show that it might be credible, that any native of India had voluntarily and gratuitously given money privately to the said Warren Hastings, that is, without some prospect of a benefit in return, or some dread of his resentment, if he refused. That it is not a thing to be believed, that any native would give large sums privately to a Governor, which he refused to give or lend publicly to government, unless it were to derive some adequate secret advantage from the favor, or to avoid some mischief from the enmity of such Governor.—That the late confessions made by the said Warren Hastings of money received against law are no proof that he did not originally intend to appropriate the same to his own use, such confessions having been made at a suspicious moment, when, and not before, he was apprised of the inquiries commenced in the House of Commons, and when a dread of the consequence of those inquiries might act upon his mind. That such confessions, from the obscure, intricate, and contradictory manner in which they are made, imply guilt in the said Warren Hastings, as far as they go; that they do not furnish any color of reason to conclude that he has confessed all the money which he may have corruptly received; but that, on the contrary, they warrant a just and reasonable presumption, that, in discovering some part of the bribes he had received, he hoped to lull suspicion, and thereby conceal and secure the rest.

That the Court of Directors, when the former accounts of these transactions came before them, did show an evident disposition not to censure the said Warren Hastings, but to give the most favorable construction to his conduct; that, nevertheless, they found themselves obliged "to confess that the statement of those transactions appeared to them in many parts so unintelligible, that they felt themselves under the necessity of calling on the Governor-General for an explanation, agreeably to his promise voluntarily made to them." That their letter, containing this requisition, was received in Bengal in the month of August, 1784, and that the said Warren Hastings did not embark for England until the 2d of February, 1785, but made no reply to that letter before his departure, owing, as he has since said, to a variety of other more important occupations. That, under pretence of such occupations, he neglected to transmit to the Court of Directors a copy of a paper which, he says, contained the only account he ever kept of the transaction. That such a paper, or a copy of it, might have been transmitted without interrupting other important occupations, if any could be more important than that of giving a clear and satisfactory answer to the requisition of the Directors. That since his arrival in England he has written a letter to the chairman of that court, professedly in answer to their letter above mentioned, but in fact giving no explanation or satisfaction whatsoever on the points which they had declared to be unintelligible. That the terms of his letter are ambiguous and obscure, such as a guilty man might have recourse to in order to cover his guilt, but such as no innocent man, from whom nothing was required but to clear his innocence by giving plain answers to plain questions, could possibly have made use of. That in his letter of the 11th of July, 1785, he says, "that he has been kindly apprised that the information required as above was yet expected from him: that the submission which his respect would have enjoined him to pay to the command imposed on him was lost to his recollection, perhaps from the stronger impression which the first and distant perusal of it had left on his mind that it was rather intended as a reprehension for something which had given offence in his report of the original transaction than as expressive of any want of a further elucidation of it."[2]

That the said Warren Hastings, in affecting to doubt whether the information expressly required of him by his employers was expected or not, has endeavored to justify a criminal delay and evasion in giving it. That, considering the importance of the subject, and the recent date of the command, it is not possible that it could be lost to his recollection; much less is it possible that he could have understood the specific demand of an answer to specific questions to be intended only as a reprehension for a former offence, viz., the offence of withholding from the Directors that very explanation which he ought to have given in the first instance. That the said Warren Hastings, in his answer to the said questions, cautiously avoids affirming or denying anything in clear, positive terms, and professes to recollect nothing with absolute certainty. That he has not, even now, informed the Directors of the name of any one person from whom any part of the money in question was received, nor what was the motive of any one person for giving the same. That he has, indeed, declared, that his motive for lending to the Company, or depositing in their treasury in his own name, money which he has in other places declared to be their property, was to avoid ostentation, and that lending the money was the least liable to reflection; yet, when he has stated these and other conjectural motives for his own conduct, he declares he will not affirm, though he is firmly persuaded, that those were his sentiments on the occasion. That of one thing only the said Warren Hastings declares he is certain, viz., "that it was his design originally to have concealed the receipt of all the sums, except the second, even from the knowledge of the Court of Directors, but that, when fortune threw a sum in his way of a magnitude which could not be concealed, and the peculiar delicacy of his situation at the time in which he received it made him more circumspect of appearances, he chose to apprise his employers of it." That the said Warren Hastings informs the Directors, that he had indorsed the bonds taken by him for money belonging to the Company, and lent by him to the Company, in order to guard against their becoming a claim on the Company, as part of his estate, in the event of his death; but he has not affirmed, nor does it anywhere appear, that he has surrendered the said bonds, as he ought to have done. That the said Warren Hastings, in affirming that he had not time to answer the questions put to him by the Directors, while he was in Bengal,—in not bringing with him to England the documents necessary to enable him to answer those questions, or in pretending that he has not brought them,—in referring the Directors back again to Bengal for those documents, and for any further information on a subject on which he has given them no information,—and particularly in referring them back to a person in Bengal for a paper which he says contained the only account he ever kept of the transaction, while he himself professes to doubt whether that paper be still in being, whether it be in the hands of that person, or whether that person can recollect anything distinctly concerning it,—has been guilty of gross evasions, and of palpable prevarication and deceit, as well as of contumacy and disobedience to the lawful orders of the Court of Directors, and thereby confirmed all the former evidence of his having constantly used the influence of his station for the most scandalous, illegal, and corrupt purposes.


That Warren Hastings having by his agent, Lauchlan Macleane, Esquire, on the 10th day of October, in the year 1776, "signified to the Court of Directors his desire to resign his office of Governor-General of Bengal, and requested their nomination of a successor to the vacancy which would be thereby occasioned in the Supreme Council," the Court of Directors did thereupon desire the said Lauchlan Macleane "to inform them of the authority under which he acted in a point of such very great importance"; and the said Lauchlan Macleane "signifying thereupon his readiness to give the court every possible satisfaction on that subject, but the powers with which he was intrusted by the papers in his custody being mixed with other matters of a nature extremely confidential, he would submit the same to the inspection of any three of the members of the court," the said Court of Directors empowered the Chairman, Deputy Chairman, and Richard Becher, Esquire, to inspect the authorities, powers, and directions with which Mr. Macleane was furnished by Mr. Hastings to make the propositions contained in his letter of the 10th October, 1776, and to report their opinion thereon. And the said committee did accordingly, on the 23d of the said month, report, "that, having conferred with Mr. Macleane on the subject of his letter presented to the court the 11th instant, they found, that, from the purport of Mr. Hastings's instructions, contained in a paper in his own handwriting given to Mr. Macleane, and produced by him to them, Mr. Hastings declared he would not continue in the government of Bengal, unless certain conditions therein specified could be obtained, of which they saw no probability; and Mr. George Vansittart had declared to them, that he was present when these instructions were given to Mr. Macleane, and when Mr. Hastings empowered Mr. Macleane to declare his resignation to the said court; that Mr. Stewart had likewise confirmed to them, that Mr. Hastings declared to him, that he had given directions to the above purpose by Mr. Macleane."

And the Court of Directors, having received from the said report due satisfaction respecting the authority vested in the said Lauchlan Macleane to propose the said resignation of the office of Governor-General of Bengal, did unanimously resolve to accept the same, and did also, under powers vested in the said court by the act of the 13th year of his present Majesty, "nominate and appoint Edward Wheler, Esquire, to succeed to the office in the Council of Fort William in Bengal which will become vacant by the said resignation, if such nomination shall be approved by his Majesty": which nomination and appointment was afterwards in due form approved and confirmed by his Majesty.

That the Court of Directors did, by a postscript to their general letter, dated 25th October, 1776, acquaint the Governor-General and Council at Calcutta of their acceptance of the said resignation, of their appointment of Edward Wheler, Esquire, to fill the said vacancy, and of his Majesty's approbation of the said appointment, together with the grounds of their said proceedings; and did transmit to the said Governor-General and Council copies of the said instruments of appointment and confirmation.

That the said dispatches from the Court of Directors were received at Calcutta, and were read in Council on the 19th day of June, in the year 1777; and that Warren Hastings, Esquire, having taken no steps to yield the government to his successor, General Clavering, and having observed a profound silence on the subject of the said dispatches, he, the said General Clavering, did, on the next day, being the 20th of June, by a letter addressed to the said Warren Hastings, require him to surrender the keys of Fort William, and of the Company's treasuries; but the said Warren Hastings did positively refuse to comply with the said requisition, "denying that his office was vacated, and declaring his resolution to assert and maintain his authority by every legal means."

That the said General Clavering, conceiving that the office of Governor-General was vacated by the arrival of the said dispatches, which acquainted the Council-General of the resignation of the said Warren Hastings and the appointment of the said Edward Wheler, Esquire, and that he, the said General Clavering, had in consequence thereof legally succeeded, under the provisions of the act of the 13th year of his present Majesty's reign, to the said office of Governor-General, become vacant in the manner aforesaid, did, in virtue thereof, issue in his own name summonses to Richard Barwell, Esquire, and Philip Francis, Esquire, members of the Council, to attend the same, and in the presence of the said Philip Francis, Esquire, who obeyed the said summons, did take the oaths as Governor-General, and did sit and preside in Council as Governor-General, and prepared several acts and resolutions in the said capacity of Governor-General, and did, amongst other things, prepare a proclamation to be made of his said succession to the government, and of its commencing from the date of the said proclamation, but did not carry any of the acts or resolutions so prepared into execution.

The said Warren Hastings did, notwithstanding thereof, and in pursuance of his resolution to assert and maintain his authority, illegally and unjustifiably summon the Council to meet in another department, and did sit and preside therein, apart from the said General Clavering and his Council, and, in conjunction with Richard Barwell, Esquire, who concurred therein, issued sundry orders and did sundry acts of government belonging to the office of Governor-General, and, amongst others, did order several letters to be written in the name of the Governor-General and Council, and did subscribe the same, to the commandant of the garrison of Fort William, and to the commanding officer at Barrackpore, and to the commanding officers at the other stations, and also to the provincial councils and collectors in the provinces, enjoining them severally "to obey no orders excepting such as should be signed by the said Warren Hastings, or a majority of his Council."

That the said Warren Hastings did, by the said proceedings, which were contrary both to law and to good faith, constitute a double government, thereby destroying and annihilating all government whatever; and, by his said orders to the military officers, did prepare for open resistance by arms, exposing thereby the settlement, and all the inhabitants, subjects of or dependent on the British government, whether native or European, not only to political distractions, but to the horrors of civil war; and did, by exposing the divisions and weakness of the supreme government, and thereby loosening the obedience of the provinces, shake the whole foundation of British authority, and imminently endanger the existence of the British nation in India.

That the said evils were averted only by the moderation of the said General Clavering and Philip Francis, Esquire, in consenting to a reference, and submitting to the decision of the judges of the Supreme Court of Judicature, although they entertained no doubts themselves on the legality of their proceedings and the validity of General Clavering's instant right to the chair, and although they were not in any way bound by law to consult the said judges, who had no legal or judicial authority therein in virtue of their offices or as a court of justice, but were consulted, and interposed their advice, only as individuals, by the voluntary reference of the parties in the said dispute. And the said Warren Hastings, by his declaration, entered in Minutes of Council, "that it was his determination to abide by the opinion of the judges," and by the measures he had previously taken as aforesaid to enforce the same by arms, did risk all the dangerous consequences above mentioned: which must have taken place, if the said General Clavering and Philip Francis, Esquire, had not been more tender of the public interests, and less tenacious of their own rights, and had persisted in their claim, as they were by law entitled to do, the extra-judicial interposition of the judges notwithstanding; and from which claim they receded only from their desire to preserve the peace of the settlement, and to prevent the mischiefs which the illegal resistance of the said Warren Hastings would otherwise infallibly have occasioned.

That, after the said judges had delivered their opinion, "that the place and office of Governor-General of this Presidency had not yet been vacated by Warren Hastings, and that the actual assumption of the government by the member of the Council next in succession to Mr. Hastings, in consequence of any deduction which could be made from the papers communicated to them, would be absolutely illegal," and after the said General Clavering and Philip Francis, Esquire, had signified to the said Warren Hastings, by a letter dated the 21st of June, "their intention to acquiesce in the said opinion of the judges," and when the differences in the Supreme Council were by these means composed, and the calamities consequent thereon were avoided, the said Warren Hastings and Richard Barwell, Esquires, did once more endanger the public peace and security by other illegal, unwarrantable, and unprovoked acts of violence: having omitted to summon either the said General Clavering or the said Philip Francis, Esquire, to Council; and having, in a Council held thus privately and clandestinely and contrary to law, on the 22d day of June, come to the following resolutions, viz.

"Resolved, That, by the said acts, orders, and declarations of Lieutenant-General John Clavering, recited in the foregoing papers," (meaning the proceedings of General Clavering in his separate Council on the 20th of June,) "he has actually usurped and assumed and taken possession of the place and office of Governor-General of the Presidency of Fort William in Bengal, granted by the act of the 13th of his present Majesty to Warren Hastings, Esquire.

"Resolved, That Lieutenant-General John Clavering has thereby relinquished, resigned, surrendered, and vacated the office of Senior Counsellor of Fort William in Bengal.

"Resolved, That Lieutenant-General John Clavering has thereby relinquished, resigned, surrendered, and vacated his place of Commander-in-Chief of the Company's forces in India.

"Resolved, That Richard Barwell, Esquire, by virtue of the said act of Parliament, and by the death of the Honorable George Monson, Esquire, is promoted to the office of Senior Counsellor of the Presidency of Fort William in Bengal, in consequence of the said relinquishment, resignation, surrender, and vacation of General Clavering.

"Resolved, That the office of Commander-in-Chief of the Company's forces in India, by the relinquishment, resignation, surrender, and vacation of General Clavering, and by the death of the Honorable George Monson, Esquire, does no longer exist.

"Resolved, That, for the preservation of the legality of our proceedings, Lieutenant-General John Clavering be not in future summoned or admitted as a member of the Governor-General and Council."

And the said Warren Hastings and Richard Barwell, Esquire, did again sit in Council on the next day, being the 23d of June, without summoning either General Clavering or Philip Francis, Esquire, and did come to several other resolutions, and make several orders, contrary to law or justice, and inconsistent with the tranquillity and the security of the settlement: that is to say, they ordered their secretary "to notify to General Clavering that the board had declared his offices of Senior Counsellor and Commander-in-Chief to be vacant, and to furnish him with a copy of these proceedings, containing the grounds of the board for the aforesaid declaration."

And they ordered extracts of the said proceedings "to be issued in general orders, with letters to all the provincial councils and military stations, directing them to publish the same in general orders"; and they resolved, "that all military returns be made to the Governor-General and Council in their military department, until a commander-in-chief shall be appointed by the Company."

That on the day following, that is to say, on the 24th of June, the said Warren Hastings did again omit to summon General Clavering to Council, and did again, together with Richard Barwell, Esquire, who concurred therein, adhere to and confirm the said illegal resolutions come to on the two former days, declaring "that they could not be retracted but by the present authority of the law or by future orders from home," and aggravating the guilt of the said unjustifiable acts by declaring, as the said Warren Hastings did, "that they were not the precipitate effects of an instant and passionate impulse, but the fruits of long and most temperate deliberations, of inevitable necessity, of the strictest sense of public duty, and of a conviction equal in its impression on his mind to absolute certainty."

That the said Warren Hastings was the less excusable in this obstinate adherence to his former unjust proceedings, as the said declarations were made in answer to a motion made by Philip Francis, Esquire, for the reversal of the said proceedings, and to a minute introducing the said motion, in which Mr. Francis set forth in a clear and forcible manner, and in terms with which the Court of Directors have since declared their entire concurrence, both the extreme danger and the illegality and invalidity of the said proceedings of Warren Hastings and Richard Barwell, Esquire, concluding the said minute by the following conciliatory declaration: "And that this salutary motion may not be impeded by any idea or suspicion that General Clavering may do any act inconsistent with the acquiescence which both he and I have avowed in the decision of the judges, I will undertake to answer for him in this respect, or that, if he should depart from the true spirit and meaning of that acquiescence, I will not be a party with him in such proceedings."

That the said Warren Hastings could not plead ignorance of the law in excuse for the said illegal acts, as it appears from the proceedings of the four preceding days that he was well acquainted with the tenure by which the members of the Council held their offices under the act of the 13th of his present Majesty, and had stated the same as a ground for retaining his own office, contrary to an express declaration of the Court of Directors and an instrument under the sign-manual of his Majesty; and the judges of the Supreme Court, in their reasons for their decision in his favor, had stated the provisions in the said act,[3] so far as they related to the matter in dispute, from which it appeared that there were but four grounds on which the office of any member of the Council could be vacated,—namely, death, removal, resignation, or promotion. And as the act confined the power of removal to "his Majesty, his heirs and successors, upon representation made by the Court of Directors of the said United Company for the time being," and conferred no such power on the Governor-General, or a majority of the Council, to remove, on any ground or for any cause whatever, one of their colleagues,—so, granting the claim of General Clavering to the chair, and his acts done in furtherance thereof, to have been illegal, and criminal in whatever degree, yet it did not furnish to the rest of the Council any ground to remove him from his office of Counsellor under the provisions of the said act; and there could therefore remain only his resignation or promotion, as a possible means of vacating his said office. But with regard to the promotion of General Clavering to the office of Governor-General, although he claimed it himself, yet, as Mr. Hastings did not admit it, and as in fact it was even receded from by General Clavering, it could not be considered, at least by Mr. Hastings, as a valid ground for vacating his office of Senior Counsellor, since the act requires for that purpose, not a rejected claim, but an actual and effectual promotion; and General Clavering's office of Counsellor could no more be vacated by such a naked claim, unsupported and disallowed, than the seat of a member of the House of Commons could be vacated, and a new writ issued to supply the vacancy, by his claim to the office of Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds, when his Majesty has refused to appoint him to the said office. And with regard to resignation, although the said Warren Hastings, as a color to his illegal resolutions, had affectedly introduced the word "resigned" amongst those of "relinquished, surrendered, and vacated," yet he well knew that General Clavering had made no offer nor declaration of his resignation of his offices of Senior Counsellor and Commander-in-Chief, and that he did not claim the office of Governor-General on the ground of any such resignation made by himself, but on the ground of a resignation made by the said Warren Hastings, which resignation the said Warren Hastings did not admit; and the use of the term resigned on that occasion was therefore a manifest and wilful misconstruction and misapplication of the words of the act of his present Majesty. And such misinterpretation and false extension of the term of resignation was the more indecent in the said Warren Hastings, as he was at the same moment disavowing and refusing to give effect to his own clear and express resignation, according to the true intent and meaning of the word as used in the said act, made by his agent, duly authorized and instructed by himself so to do, to an authority competent to receive and accept the same.

That, although the said Warren Hastings did afterwards recede from the said illegal measures, in compliance with the opinion and advice of the judges again interposed, and did thereby avoid the guilt of such further acts and the blame of such further evils as must have been consequent on a persistence therein, yet he was nevertheless still guilty of the illegal acts above described; and the same are great crimes and misdemeanors.

That, although the judges did decide that the office of Governor-General, held by the said Warren Hastings, was not ipso facto and instanter vacated by the arrival of the said dispatches and documents transmitted by the Court of Directors, and did consider the said consequences of the resignation as awaiting some future act or event for its complete and effectual operation, yet the said judges did not declare any opinion on the ultimate invalidity of the said acts of Lauchlan Macleane, Esquire, as not being binding on his principal, Warren Hastings, Esquire; nor did they declare any opinion that the obligation of the said resignation was not from the beginning conclusive and effectual, although its operation was, from the necessity of the case, on account of the distance between England and India, to take place only in future,—or that the said resignation made by Lauchlan Macleane, Esquire, was only an offer or proposal of a resignation to be made at some future and indefinite period, or a mere intimation of the desire of Warren Hastings, Esquire, to resign at some future and indefinite period, and that the said resignation, notwithstanding the acceptance thereof by the Court of Directors, and the regular appointment and confirmation of a successor, was still to remain optional in the said Warren Hastings, to be ratified or departed from at his future choice or pleasure; nor did the said judges pronounce, nor do any of their reasonings which accompanied their decision tend to establish it as their opinion, that even the time for ratifying and completing the said transaction was to be at the sole discretion of the said Warren Hastings; but they only delivered their opinion as aforesaid, that his said office "has not yet been vacated, and [therefore] that the actual assumption of the government by the member of the Council next in succession was [in the actual circumstances, and rebus sic stantibus] illegal."

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