« AnteriorContinuar »
that the only monuments by which the proceedings of the British were distinguished, were waste and desolation. Other conquerors, he said, of every description, had left some monument either of state or beneficence behind them. If their passion or their avarice drove the Tartar hordes to acts of rapacity or tyranny, there had been time enough in the short life of man to repair the desolations of war by the acts of munificence and peace. But under the English government all this order was reversed. Our conquest there, after twenty years, was as crude as it had been the first day. The natives scarce knew what it was to see the
grey head of an Englishman. Young men (almost boys) governed there, without society and without sympathy with the natives. They had no more social habits with the people than if they still resided in England ; nor indeed any species of intercourse, but that which was necessary to the making a sudden fortune with a view to a remote settlement, Animated with all the avarice of age, and all the impetuosity of youth, they'rolled in one
after another, wave after wave, and there was nothing before the eyes of the natives but an endless, hopeless prospect of new fights of birds of prey and passage, with appetites continually renewing for a food that was continually wasting. Were we to be driven out of India this day, nothing would remain to tell that it had been possessed, during the inglorious period of our dominion, by any thing better than the ouran-outang, or the tyger.' The peroration was an eulogium on his friend Fox as the mover of the bill. After a very animated general panegyric, he entered on the praises of the bill, anticipating the fervent and adoring gratitude with which he and the supporters of it would be regarded in India.
. He said, • There was not a tongue, a nation, a religion in India, which would not bless the presiding care and manly beneficence of that house and of him who proposed to them this great work. Their names would never be separated before the throne of the Divine Goodness, in whatever language or with
whatever rites pardon was asked for sin, and reward for those who imitated the God. head in his universal bounty to his creatures.'
The bill passed the House of Commons by a very great majority. When it came to the Peers, it met, if not with an abler opposition, with a much more numerous, in proportion to the number of the assembly ; and talents (with the exception of Lord Thurlow) were chiefly on the side of Ministry. The acute and comprehensive genius of Pitt, with the sound sense and extensive knowledge of India affairs possessed by Dundas, had exhausted the arguments that could militate against the bill. Even Thurlow brought forward little new matter on the general merits of the bill, but confined himself chiefly to the attack on Hastings. •If (said he) Hastings be a depopulator of
provinces, and an enemy to the human race, let his crimes be brought forward. The close habits of judicial investigation of that great man represented inve tive, however eloquent, against an individual as mere inanity, unless supported by proof.
Though defended by the Duke of Portland, Lords Stormont, Carlisle, Sandwich, and Loughborough, with all the force of their respetive talents, it was thrown out in the House of Peers. Whether the more de. cisive opposition that it met with in that house was owing to the Lords, from having had more time to consider its principles and effects, being convinced that it was an unjust and dangerous measure, or to some extrinsic cause, I cannot take upon me to determine. It is certain, that of the Peers (with the exception of the Duke of Richmond, Lords Thurlow and Camden, and a few more) those who were most zealous in opposing it, were not those whose talents and habits of discussion rendered them the most competent judges of great political regulations. It was understcod in the House of Commons that it had been represented by authority to many Peers, that those would not be con
sidered as the friends of the Sovereign who voted for the bill. Resolutions of great boldness and decision were adopted, after much debate, by the house, declaring that it was derogatory to the honour of the Crown, and subversive of the Constitution of the country, to report any opinion or alledged opinion of the King on any proceeding pending in Parliament, so as to influence the votes c! the members. The King determined on an entire change of Administration. The principal members were immediately dismissed from office, and a very general resignation of employments took place. Pitt was appointed Prime Minister. The majority, however, continued in favour of Opposition in the House of Cominons. A series of motions was proposed and adopted, tending to prove that the Minister ought not to continue in office without the support of the House of Commons. That no one could be long Minister if thwarted by the House of Commons, is obvious; at the same time, neither law nor precedent was brought forward to
prove that the continuance of a Minister in office