Page images
PDF
EPUB

taught us one essential rule. I think the excellent and philosophic artist, a true judge, as well as a perfect follower of nature, Sir Joshua Reynolds, has somewhere applied it, or something like it, in his own profession. It is this, that if ever we should find ourselves disposed not to admire those writers or artists, Livy and Virgil for instance, Raphael or Michael Angelo, whom all the learned had admired, not to follow our own fancies, but to study them until we know how and what we ought to admire; and if we cannot arrive at this combination of admiration with knowledge, rather to believe that we are dull, than that the rest of the world has been imposed on. It is as good a rule, at least, with regard to this admired constitution. We ought to understand it according to our measure; and to venerate where we are not able presently to comprehend.

Such admirers were our fathers, to whom we owe this splendid inheritance. Let us improve it with zeal, but with fear. Let us follow our ancestors, men not without a rational, though without an exclusive, confidence in themselves ; who, by respecting the reason of others, who, by looking backward as well as forward, by the modesty as well as by the energy of their minds, went on, insensibly drawing this constitution nearer and nearer to its perfection, by never departing from its fundamental principles, nor introducing any amendment which had not a subsisting root in the laws, constitution, and usages of the kingdom. Let those who have the trust of political or of natural authority ever keep watch against the desperate enterprises of innovation: let even their benevolence be fortified and armed. They have before their eyes the example of a monarch, insulted, degraded, confined, deposed; his family dispersed, scattered, imprisoned; his wife insulted to his face like the vilest of the sex, by the vilest of all populace; himself three times dragged by these wretches in an infamous triumph; his children torn from him, in violation of the first right of nature, and given into the tuition of the most desperate and impious of the leaders of desperate and impious clubs; his revenues dilapidated and plundered ; his magistrates murdered; his clergy proscribed, persecuted, famished ; his nobility degraded in their rank, undone in their fortunes, fugitives in their persons ; his armies corrupted and ruined ; his whole people impoverished,

disunited, dissolved; whilst through the bars of his prison, and amidst the bayonets of his keepers, he hears the conflict of two conflicting factions, equally wicked and abandoned, who

agree in principles, in dispositions, and in objects, but who tear each other to pieces about the most effectual means of obtaining their common end; the one contending to preserve for a while his name and his person, the more easily to destroy the royal authority-the other clamouring to cut off the name, the person, and the monarchy together, by one sacrilegious execution. All this accumulation of calamity, the greatest that ever fell upon one man, has fallen upon his head, because he had left his virtues unguarded by caution; because he was not taught that, where power is concerned, he who will confer benefits must take security against ingratitude.

I have stated the calamities which have fallen upon a great prince and nation, because they were not alarmed at the approach of danger, and because, what commonly happens to men surprised, they lost all resource when they were caught in it. When I speak of danger, I certainly mean to address myself to those who consider the prevalence of the new | Whig doctrines as an evil.

The Whigs of this day have before them, in this Appeal, their constitutional ancestors; they have the doctors of the modern school. They will choose for themselves. The author of the Reflections has chosen for himself. If a new order is coming on, and all the political opinions must pass away as dreams, which our ancestors have worshipped as revelations, I

say for him, that he would rather be the last (as certainly he is the least) of that race of men, than the first and greatest of those who have coined to themselves Whig principles from a French die, unknown to the impress of our fathers in the constitution.

SPEECH

ON

THE MOTION MADE FOR PAPERS

RELATIVE TO THE DIRECTIONS

FOR CHARGING THE NABOB OF ARCOT'S PRIVATE DEBTS TO EUROPE

ANS, ON THE REVENUES OF THE CARNATIC.

FEBRUARY 28TH, 1785.

WITH AN APPENDIX, CONTAINING SEVERAL DOCUMENTS.

'Ενταύθα τι πράττειν έχρήν άνδρα των Πλάτωνος και Αριστοτέλους ζηλωτήν δογμάτων και άρα περιοράν ανθρώπους αθλίους τοίς κλέπταις εκδιδομένους, ή κατά δύναμιν αυτοίς αμύνειν, oίμαι, ώς ήδη το κύκνειον εξάδoυσι διά τό θεομισές εργαστήριον των τοιούτων; Έμοι μεν ούν αισχρόν είναι δοκεί τους μεν χιλιάρχους, όταν λείπωσι την τάξιν, καταδικάζειν" την δε υπέρ άθλίων ανθρώπων υπολείπειν τάξιν, όταν δέη προς κλέπτας αγωνίζεσθαι τοιούτους και ταύτα του Θεού συμμαχούντος ημίν, ώσπερ ούν έταξεν.-JULIANI Epist. 17.

ADVERTISEMENT.

That the least informed reader of this speech may be en. abled to enter fully into the spirit of the transaction, on occasion of which it was delivered, it may be proper to acquaint him, that among the princes dependent on this nation in the southern parts of India, the most considerable at present is commonly known by the title of the Nabob of Arcot.

This prince owed the establishment of his government, against the claims of his elder brother, as well as those of other competitors, to the arms and influence of the British East-India Company. Being thus established in a considerable part of the dominions he now possesses, he began, about the year 1765, to form, at the instigation as he asserts) of Some years

the servants of the East-India Company, a variety of designs for the further extension of his territories. after, he carried his views to certain objects of interior arrangement, of a very pernicious nature. None of these designs could be compassed without the aid of the Company's arms; nor could those arms be employed consistently with an obedience to the Company's orders. He was therefore advised to form a more secret, but an equally powerful, interest among the servants of that Company, and among others both at home and abroad. By engaging them in his interests, the use of the Company's power might be obtained without their ostensible authority; the power might even be employed in defiance of the authority; if the case should require, as in truth it often did require, a proceeding of that degree of boldness.

The Company had put him into possession of several great cities and magnificent castles. The good order of his affairs, his sense of personal dignity, his ideas of Oriental splendour, and the habits of an Asiatic life, (to which, being a native of India, and a Mahometan, he had from his infancy been inured) would naturally have led him to fix the seat of his government within his own dominions. Instead of this, he totally sequestered himself from his country; and, abandon. ing ai

appearance of state, he took up his residence in an ordinary house, which he purchased in the suburbs of the Company's factory at Madras. In that place he has lived, without removing one day from thence, for several years past. He has there continued a constant cabal with the Company's servants, from the highest to the lowest; creating, out of the ruins of the country, brilliant fortunes for those who will, and entirely destroying those who will not, be subservient to his purposes.

An opinion prevailed, strongly confirmed by several passages in his own letters, as well as by a combination of circumstances forming a body of evidence which cannot be resisted, that very great sums have been by him distributed, through a long course of years, to some of the Company's servants. Besides these presumed payments in ready money, (of which, from the nature of the thing, the direct proof is very difficult,) debts have at several periods been acknowledged to those gentlemen, to an immense amount; that is,

to some millions of sterling money. There is strong reason to suspect, that the body of these debts is wholly fictitious, and was never created by money bonâ fide lent. But even on a supposition that this vast sum was really advanced, it was impossible that the very reality of such an astonishing transaction should not cause some degree of alarm, and incite to some sort of inquiry.

It was not at all. seemly, at a moment when the Company itself was so distressed, as to require a suspension, by act of parliament, of the payment of bills drawn on them from India--and also a direct tax upon every house, in England, in order to facilitate the vent of their goods, and to avoid instant insolvency-at that very moment that their servants should appear in so flourishing a condition, as, besides ten millions of other demands on their masters, to be entitled to claim a debt of three or four millions more from the territorial revenue of one of their dependent princes.

The ostensible pecuniary transactions of the Nabob of Arcot, with very private persons, are so enormous, that they evidently set aside every pretence of policy, which might in. duce a prudent government in some instances to wink at ordinary loose practice in ill-managed departments. No caution could be too great in handling this matter ; no scrutiny too exact. It was evidently the interest, and as evidently at least in the power, of the creditors, by admitting secret participation in this dark and undefined concern, to spread corruption to the greatest and the most alarming extent.

These facts relative to the debts were so notorious, the opinion of their being a principal source of the disorders of the British government in India was so undisputed and universal, that there was no party, no description of men in parliament, who did not think themselves bound, if not in honour and conscience, at least in common decency, to institute a vigorous inquiry into the very bottom of the business, before they admitted any part of that vast and suspicious charge to be laid upon an exhausted country: Every plan concurred in directing such an inquiry ; in order that whatever was discovered to be corrupt, fraudulent, or oppressive. should lead to a due animadversion on the offenders ;

and if anything fair and equitable in its origin should be found,

« PreviousContinue »