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to correct the abuses of remote, delegated power, productive of unmeasured wealth, and protected by the boldness and strength of the same ill-got riches. These abuses, full of their own wild native vigour, will grow and flourish under mere neglect. But where the supreme authority, not content with winking at the rapacity of its inferior instruments, is so shameless and corrupt as openly to give bounties and premiums for disobedience to its laws, when it will not trust to the activity of avarice in the pursuit of its own gains, when it secures public robbery by all the careful jealousy and attention with which it ought to protect property from such violence, the commonwealth then is become totally perverted from its purposes ; neither God nor man will long endure it; nor will it long endure itself. In that case,
there is an unnatural infection, a pestilential taint fermenting in the constitution of society, which fever and convulsions of some kind or other must throw off; or in which the vital powers, worsted in an unequal struggle, are pushed back upon themselves, and, by a reversal of their whole functions, fester to gangrene, to death; and, instead of what was but just now the delight and boast of the creation, there will be cast out in the face of the sun, a bloated, putrid, noisome carcass, full of stench and poison, an offence, a horror, a lesson to the world.
In my opinion, we ought not to wait for the fruitless instruction of calamity to inquire into the abuses which bring upon us ruin in the worst of its forms, in the loss of our fame and virtue. But the right honourable gentleman' says, in answer to all the powerful arguments of my honourable friend—“ that this inquiry is of a delicate nature, and that the state will suffer detriment by the exposure of this transaction.” But it is exposed; it is perfectly known in every member, in every particle, and in every way, except that which may lead to a remedy. He knows that the
papers correspondence are printed, and that they are in every hand.
He and delicacy are a rare and a singular coalition. He thinks that to divulge our Indian politics, may be highly dangerous. He! the mover! the chairman? the reporter of the committee of secrecy! he that brought forth in the ut most detail, in several vast printed folios, the most recondite
1 Mr. Dundas.
parts of the politics, the military, the revenues of the British empire in India! With six great chopping bastards, each as lusty as an infant Hercules, this delicate creature blushes at the sight of his new bridegroom, assumes a virgin delicacy; or, to use a more fit, as well as a more poetic, comparison, the
person so squeamish, so timid, so trembling lest the winds of heaven should visit too roughly, is expanded to broad sunshine, exposed like the sow of imperial augury, lying in the mud with all the prodigies of her fertility about her, as evidence of her delicate amours-Triginta capitum fætus enixa jacebat, alba solo recubans albi circum ubera nati.
Whilst discovery of the misgovernment of others led to his own power, it was wise to inquire; it was safe to publish: there was then no delicacy; there was then no danger. But when his object is obtained, and in his imitation he has outdone the crimes that he had reprobated in volumes of reports, and in sheets of bills of pains and penalties, then concealment becomes prudence; and it concerns the safety of the state, that we should not know in a mode of parliamentary cognizance, what all the world knows but too well, that is, in what manner he chooses to dispose of the public revenues to the creatures of his politics.
The debate has been long, and as much so on my part, at least, as on the part of those who have spoken before me. But long as it is, the more material half of the subject has hardly been touched on; that is, the corrupt and destructive system to which this debt has been rendered subservient, and which seems to be pursued with at least as much vigour and regularity as ever. If I considered your ease or my own, rather than the weight and importance of this question, I ought to make some apology to you, perhaps some apology to myself, for having detained your attention so long. I know on what ground I tread. This subject, at one time taken with so much fervour and zeal, is no longer a favourite in this House. The House itself has undergone a great and signal revolution. To some the subject is strange and uncouth, to several harsh and distasteful, to the reliques of the last parliament it is a matter of fear and apprehension. It is natural for those who have seen their friends sink in
· Six Reports of the Committee of Secrecy.
the tornado which raged during the late shift of the monsoon, and have hardly escaped on the planks of the general wreck, it is but too natural for them, as soon as they make the rocks and quicksands of their former disasters, to put about their new-built barks, and, as much as possible, to keep aloof from this perilous lee shore. But let us do what we please to put India from our thoughts, we can do nothing to separate it from our public interest and our national reputation. Our attempts to banish this importunate duty will only make it return upon us again and again, and every time in a shape more unpleasant than the former. A government has been fabricated for that great province; the right honourable tleman says, that therefore you ought not to examine into its conduct. Heavens! what an argument is this! We are not to examine into the conduct of the direction, because it is an old government: we are not to examine into this board of control, because it is a new one. Then we are only to examine into the conduct of those who have no conduct to account for. Unfortunately the basis of this new government has been laid on old, condemned delinquents, and its superstructure is raised out of prosecutors turned into protectors. The event has been such as might be expected. But if it had been otherwise constituted, had it been constituted even as I wished, and as the mover of this question had planned, the better part of the proposed establishment was in the publicity of its proceedings; in its perpetual responsibility to parliament. Without this check, what is our government at home, even awed, as every European government is, by an audience formed of the other states of Europe, by the applause or condemnation of the discerning and critical Company before which it acts ? But if the scene on the other side of the globe, which tempts, invites, almost compels, to tyranny and rapine, be not inspected with the eye of a severe and unremitting vigilance, shame and destruction must ensue. For one, the worst event of this day, though it may deject, shall not break or subdue me. The call upon us is authoritative. Let who will shrink back, I shall be found at my post. Baffled, discountenanced, subdued, discredited, as the cause of justice and humanity is, it will be only the dearer to me. Whoever therefore shall at any time bring before you anything towards the relief of our distressed fellow-citizens in India, and towards a subversion of the present most corrupt and oppressive system for its government, in me shall find a weak, I am afraid, but a steady, earnest, and faithful assistant.
Appointing Commissioners to inquire into the fees, gratuities, perquisites, and emoluments, which are, or have been lately, received in the several public offices therein mentioned; to examine into
exist in the same, &c. AND be it further enacted, that it shall and may
be lawful to and for the said commissioners, or any two of them, and they are hereby empowered, authorized, and required, to examine upon oath (which oath they, or any two of them, are hereby authorized to administer) the several persons, of all descriptions, belonging to any of the offices or departments before mentioned, and all other persons whom the said commissioners, or any two of them, shall think fit to examine, touching the business of each office or department, and the fees, gratuities, perquisites, and emoluments taken therein, and touching all other matters and things necessary for the execution of the powers vested in the said commissioners by this act; all which persons are hereby required and directed punctually to attend the said commissioners, at such time and place as they, or any two of them, shall appoint, and also to observe and execute such orders and directions as the said commissioners, or any two of them, shall make or give for the purposes before mentioned.
And be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that the said commissioners, or any two of them, shall be, and are, hereby empowered to examine into any corrupt and frandulent practices, or other misconduct, committed by any person or persons concerned in the management of any of the offices or departments hereinbefore mentioned; and, for the better execution of this present act, the said commissioners, or any two of them, are hereby authorized to meet and sit, from time to time, in such place or places as they shall find most convenient, with or without adjournment, and to send their precept or precepts, under their hands and seals, for any person or persons whatsoever, and for such books, papers, writings, or records, as they shall judge necessary for their information, relating to any of the offices or departments hereinbefore mentioned ; and all bailiffs, constables, sheriffs, and other his Majesty's officers, are hereby required to obey and execute such orders and precepts aforesaid, as shall be sent to them, or any of them, by the said commissioners, or any two of them, touching the premises.
No. II. Referred to from p. 130.
MR. GEORGE SMITH being asked, Whether the debts of the Nabob of Arcot have increased since he knew Madras ? he said, Yes, they have. He distinguishes his debts into two sorts; those contracted before the year 1766, and those contracted from that year to the year in which he left Madras.-Being asked, What he thinks is the original amount of the old debts ? he said, Between twenty-three and twentyfour lacks of pagodas, as well as he can recollect. Being asked, What was the amount of that debt when he left Madras ? he said, Between four and five lacks of pagodas, as he understood.-Being asked, What was the amount of the new debt wheu he left Madras ? he said, In November, 1777, that debt amounted, according to the Nabob's own account, and published at Chipauk, his place of residence, to sixty lacks of pagodas, independent of the old debt, on which debt of sixty lacks of pagodas, the Nabob did agree to pay an interest of 12 per cent. per annum.-Being asked, Whether this debt was approved of by the court of directors ? he said,