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drawn," the Court observe, “was fully demonstrated in the Report to the Court of the Committee of Correspondence under date the 19th June 1822, and printed by an order of the House of Commons under date the 22d of the same month. And besides this, the incorrectness of the reasoning is obvious. During the whole of the period, in which the vizier had been making payments to the Company, he had been borrowing. There was not one of those lenders who might not, with equal propriety, have affirmed that their money was borrowed to enable the vizier to make his payments to the Company. The supply drawn by the vizier from his various resources constituted one general fund, from which he provided for his various necessities; and it is absurd to say that his payments to the Company were drawn from one source more than another. If the nabob squandered his legitimate revenue, and was obliged to supply its deficiency by borrowing, how does that concern-his payments to the Company more than any other disburses ment which he had to make ?"
4th. This implication was much strengthened by the extent and notoriety of intercourse between government and Asuf-ud-Dowlah in pecuniary con
So that, because Asuf-ud-Dowlah paid a subsidy to the British Government, the latter is bound to extort from his successor, forty years after, payment in full of the bankers' demand. The Board, or Lord Hastings, must have been strangely embarrassed for want of arguments, to venture upon such a glaring non-sequitur.
5th. In fact, that sentiment was acknowledged by the government, which confessedly forebore to urge the repayment of this loan, lest it might embarrass its own demands upon Saadut Ali. This is another fundamental allegation, which, it is melancholy to find, stands without any recorded authority. “ The records of the Company,” say the Court, “ afford no evidence of any such acknowledgment, or of any such forbearance, nor can it be traced to any other source than the allegation of the claimants.”
6th. These circumstances (those which have been previously detailed and disproved) took the bankers' case completely out of the class of demands respecting which the intervention of government was precluded, “ this case not being the simple transaction between individual and individual, but a claim heretofore recognized as just by government, and only suffered to sink through the avowed preference we had given to our own interest.” The comment of the Court upon this deserves to be quoted entire ::- The Court have already examined, one by one, the circumstances to which the Marquess of Hastings annexes this effect; and they assert with confidence, that there is not one of them which has so much as a tendency to take the claim of the Dosses out of the general class of claims upon the vizier. In the latter part of the sentence there is a misrepresentation of the matters of fact. The words used convey the idea, that the interdiction of interference made by the Court referred only to claims of individuals, on individuals, not to claims on the vizier, which is directly contrary to the fact. Recognized as just by government,' is an equivocal expression, calculated to carry the conception of the reader beyond the matter of fact. There was no other
recognition on the part of government but that which applied to all the creditors, at least all who were included in the list of Mr. Cherry; and the recommendation of government never went farther than to this, that the vizier should pay all his just debts, which did not mean his submission to extortionate demands. The last assertion, not very respectful to the government to which it applied, is utterly unfounded in fact.”
7th. By a letter from Mr. R. Thornton, the then Chairman of the Court of Directors, it is indisputable that the Court had put this construction upon
case, but had abstained from recommending it to the consideration of the government, only by the principle that the judgment on such questions ought to rest with the local authorities. The letter here referred to was, like that from Lord Wellesley, a private one, and like that, too, appears to have expressed sentiments which seem to be in direct opposition to the public acts of the writer. With respect to Lord Wellesley, nothing can justly be said to detract from the moral weight of his opinion, though he may have written under impressions arising from defect of memory; but in considering the essential weight of the private testimony of Mr. Robert Thornton, given in direct contradiction to his public recorded acts and sentiments, his subsequent history must not be altogether forgotten. The Court state that the report of the Committee of Correspondence, in 1822, found the facts referred to in Mr. Thornton's letter diametrically the reverse of what he had declared them to be. The remarks of Mr. Mac Donnell upon this point are too apposite to be omitted :
Now, Sir, a word as to Mr. Thornton's share in this joint-stock private letter-writing concern. He was chairman of the Company in 1814, and having presided at a committee of correspondence, assembled for the purpose of considering the present claims, the nine members thereof severally affixed their signatures to a long report to the General Court, most strongly protesting against those claims on their interposition, and at the head of that list Mr. Thornton placed his signature. Nevertheless, on the very next day, the 3d March 1814, that same Mr. Thornton, the Chairman of the East-India Company, nay, the chairman of the same committee of correspondence which had determined against those claims—he, Sir, is also induced (Quere—the nature of all those inducements, then and now?) to despatch a private letter to the Earl of Moira, Governor General of India, to counteract the determination of the court over which he presided, and thereby to induce his lordship to violate all the treaties and agreements of non-interference which the Company and the Board had uniformly, without one solitary exception, approved ; and to abandon that system of government which the Company were solemnly pledged to the native princes to maintain in India. Are you, Sir, seriously prepared to justify such conduct of the noble marquis and the late honour. able Chairman in this matter? Nay, Sir, are you prepared to justify the conduct of your Board, when that Board, so far from expressing, or intimating, or gently breathing, the slightest disapproval of such conduct, accepts it as the foundation of its own proceedings in a matter of great importance, in point of principle as well as practical effect, and thereby extends to it an unqualified official sanction.
But the Court remark that, even had the facts been as represented by Mr. Thornton, and not so entirely the reverse, still the inferences founded upon that letter would be fallacious. Had they been otherwise, it is inconceivable that, as Mr. Thornton was a member of Parliament during the period when the agent of the claimants (himself a member of Parliament) urged the claim, he should not have avowed his real sentiments on the subject. But, strange to say,' neither he nor the noble marquess took any opportunity of openly supporting a claim which they professed, in their private letters to the Governor-general, to consider founded in equity.
But, after all, what did Lord Hastings do in the matter ? His unrecorded minute goes no farther than to say that, on the grounds already stated, which are no grounds at all, he thought the petitioners entitled to all the assistance which we could, with propriety, afford them: "unfortunately,” he adds, “ that does not go far. We cannot bring forward the claim to the nawab vizier as one which government formally supports, because we should have difficulty in vindicating our right of application should he resist it; but I think Mr. Strachey may be instructed to take advantage of some favourable opportunity for stating the demand, as one which it would be creditable to the justice and honour of his Excellency to liquidate.” In compliance with his instructions, Mr. Strachey did bring the matter before the reigning sovereign of Oude, and “the answer returned by him to that application was such as to deter Lord Hastings from renewing it without the Court's sanction ;” being, in fact, a positive refusal to listen to the claims, although the resident appears to have exceeded his instructions, and to have written, after much personal importunity, a formal letter to the vizier, wherein he declares that “the British government cannot but grant its support to its own subjects, in directing your Excellency's attention to this call on your justice.”
The case stands, therefore, thus. It is an incontrovertible position that the King of Oude is, as far as regards his private financial concerns, an independent prince, and that the British government has no title to interfere with his authority, by advice or remonstrance, in these concerns. It is admitted by the Board, in the very draft under consideration, that the British government ought not to interfere in the recovery of loans from any native state (including of course those dependent upon us) unless two conditions exist, neither of which appears in the present case ; and the “ peculiar circumstances,” which are supposed, strangely enough, to take this case out of so general a rule, so far from justifying the plea, are calculated to make the government more cautious of interference.
The mode in which Mr. Strachey carried into effect the instructions of Lord Hastings, in his application to the nawab vizier, was thus noticed by the Court of Directors, acting in concurrence with the then Board of Control, under the presidency of Mr. Canning: “ The instructions which you issued to Mr. Strachey appear to have been acted upon in a manner directly at variance both with the letter and the spirit of your
orders. We think this departure from the tenour of his instructions, on the part of an officer of your government, ought not to have passed without censure." Asiat. Journ. N.S.VOL. 14. No. 53.
Yet the Board of Control of the present day have actually adopted this very style of interference, and have required the court to adopt, and to transmit as their own act, a despatch, the most material paragraph* of which is worded precisely in the same spirit, and nearly in the same language, as that censured letter.” It is worthy of remark too, that, in the letter of the Court to the Bengal government just quoted, wherein the mode of interference adopted by Mr. Strachey was censured, the Court say :“ You are aware of our decided opinion upon the subject of interference with the native princes in matters of this kind; but had we no such general opinion, we should feel ourselves precluded from all right of authoritative interference with the vizier of Oude, by the existing state of relations between the two governments.” To this paragraph, Mr. Canning, conceiving it not sufficiently strong, added the following emphatic words: “ We are so much aware of the difficulty of divesting a friendly communication to a weaker power of the character of authority, and are so apprehensive that the consequence of pressing upon the vizier the consideration of those claims might bring upon him others from various quarters, that we direct you to rest content with the attempt you have already made, and to abstain from any similar proceedings hereafter, at the instance either of those or any other claimants.”
The Board of Control, or rather Mr. Grant, the president, has endeavoured evidently to invalidate this argument by an exposition of a principle, which must be somewhat alarming to Indian princes : “ The duty and the right of interference on the part of any country in behalf of its own subjects, even as against independent states, are established by national law, and recognized in the practice of all nations, and particularly of Great Britain. Such right and duty are surely not impaired by the circumstance, that the wrong-doer happens in this instance to be a prince depending for his throne entirely on our support.” This principle, taken in relation with the specific case to which it was applied, must mean that wherever, throughout India, individuals can, by birth or by construction, claim the title of “ British subjects," they may invoke the direct interference of the British Government in support of their private pecuniary claims upon any independent state, without inquiry into the origin or justice of those claims. The extravagant consequences to which such a principle would lead are scarcely to be calculated. In the present instance, if the claimants are entitled to have their sull demands against the king of Oude enforced by the interference of the British Government, the kingdom must be put up to sale, or its revenues must be sequestrated for a vast number of years.
The of £115,870, with compound interest for 38 years, at 36 per cent., which most of the bonds carry, becomes no less than £13,328,945,058, or about sixteen times the amount of our national debt! But there are other con
*“ Under a strong conviction that this is a valid claim against the King of Oude, we are of opinion that the settlement of it should no longer be delayed ; you will, accordingly, lose no time in communicating to the king our sentiments on this subject, and strongly urging on him the importance of an immediate and effectual adjustment, as due to his own honcur, no less than to the interests of justice and to the wishes of the British Government.”
sequences of a still more serious nature, which Mr. MacDonnell bas well pointed out :
This question (the continuance or dissolution of the relations between the two states), and it may be a most awful one, must obviously and immediately arise, if the Board should persevere in its present course. Are you, Sir, prepared to encounter the consequences or chances of such a proceeding? Is his Majesty's government prepared to enter upon a new career of military struggles in India ? Are the Court of Proprietors so prone to deeds of arms as to involve the revenue, which is the security of their dividends, in such a struggle, now that no aid towards those dividends is to be expected from commercial profits? Is all so safe and settled in India, that no fears are to be entertained, if opportunities were afforded, for the manifestation of dissatisfaction! Is nothing to be apprehended from the facilities provided by the late Bill, for the visits of adventurers to the dominions of native princes ? and is it likely that the persons, who would join either Pedro or Miguel, in Portugal, with little prospect of professional advancement or of pecuniary advantage, would be unwilling to try their chances, under more promising inducements, in India ? Those who set any value upon the evidence furnished by the late sub-committees, not omitting the “ Military,” will not be very confident in the declaration of perfect security. The question would not be confined to the king of Oude; for, being a question of general principle, involving the validity of treaties, and their security to native princes, it would necessarily alarm every one of those with whom any one of the 299 treaties, mentioned in the appendix to the “ Political ” report, is now subsisting.
We add no more: the same firmness of purpose which confident in the indifference of the British public to the concerns of native India) could carry through the Nozeed Bill, in defiance of a declaration of the first law officer in the country,—a cabinet-minister of the Crown,- the whig Lord Chancellor,—that it sanctioned the discharge of claims void through laches, lapse of time and taint in their origin, can easily command success where even the cursory glance of Parliament is excluded. By rare good fortune, the stand which the Court of Directors have made, in this instance, at the risk of a committal to Newgate, may open a few eyes to the necessity of some effectual rule of publicity in cases of this nature, in order to guard against possible future, though doubtless remote evils, when the Court may have been drilled, by a severe course of discipline, into complete subserviency to the Board, and when an Indian minister may be capable of acting under the influence of private suggestions rather than the dictates of public duty.