§ Mr. francis
rose, and in a masterly and luminous speech took an extensive view of our affairs in India. It would not, he set out by observing, be denied, that the state of our immense dominion in the East, was a subject of the highest importance that could be submitted to the consideration of parliament. In proportion, however, as this empire was extended, it seemed to excite less of the attention either of the house or the public. It seemed as if its very greatness bad rendered it superior to the capacity of the house fully to understand or beneficially to regulate. If this really was the case, it was only an additional proof of the impolicy of that all-grasping system which had too long guided our councils in India, only an additional confirmation that such a system must continue to produce consequences of the most disastrous nature. Abuses must, from the very nature of things, spring out of this excessive lost for power. Abuses must arise from the remoteness of our possessions, so little liable to investigation or punishment. But it was fit that the house should bear in mind. that evils which originated in India would not confine themselves to that country. Even at this moment, some of those evils were already felt, and many more would follow in their track. India, under its present government, afforded us no revenue. It was on the contrary there that our resources were consumed in ruinous conquests, that the flower of our troops were cut off, fighting unnecessary battles, India, under a wise system of policy, might be at once a source of revenue and a fund of the most beneficial commerce. Before these effects took place, however, the present system of apathy, with regard to our Indian affairs, must be abandoned for a system of jealousy, of justice, and of moderation. From the conduct of parliament now, with regard to India, it appeared as if her authority to legislate fro that part of 226 the empire, were absolutely abdicated. From a deep conviction that this system could not long be persisted in, he had risen to call the attention of the house to the subject, as he had felt it his duty to do on many former occasions. Since he had last submitted the consideration of our affairs in India generally to parliament,the constitution of the house had been so much changed, as well as the individuals who composed it, that it became necessary for him to take a short view of our Indian policy, from the time of our first settling there down to the present day, describing briefly the principles which parliament had at different periods laid down for the regulation of our government. In the first place, he had to state the reasons which induced him so often to take up this office;this thankless office, as he had often experienced it. It was in 1773 that his first connection with India originated, when he was sent out by the government or that period to be a member of the supreme council. During a residence of six years in India, his conduct had ever received the strongest marks of approbation; and on his return in 1781 it had undergone the most rigid examination. A committee of the house had examined every act and every opinion which he had delivered while a member of the supreme council; and he was proud in the recollection that the report of that committee was as favourable as even his most sanguine wishes could have desired. It was a report of the most unqualified approbation. Other committees had made similar reports, and after all the inquiry which did take place, he had a right to say, that though not formally tried, he was much on his trial as even Mr. Hastings was, when he was formally arraigned before the highest tribunal in this country. To himself, who had received so little solid advantage from the attention he had bestowed on Indian affairs, it was a consolation to know, that his conduct, and the policy which he had ever recommended, had received the most flattering testmonies.—Having said so much respecting the origin of his connection with India, be proceeded to the direct consideration of the question, in doing which he assured gentlemen that they had no occasion to be alarmed by any apprehension of long, dry details. All that he had in contemplation was a bird's-eye view of the business, for that would be fully sufficient for the object he had proposed on the present oc- 227 casion. There was a great deal of matter in the papers before the house, to which he should not feel it necessary to allude, nor did he now mean to say any thing of those military operations, the details of which were so numerous and intricate. With regard to the Origin of our connection with India, it was hardly necessary for him to remind the house, that it was originally purely commercial, but it was marked on the part of the native princes with every appearance of good understanding, and even kindness. They not only afforded us every facility for carrying on an advantageous trade, but actually conferred on us immunities and exemptions which many of their own subjects did not enjoy. It was, in a mercantile point of view, wise in the native princes to encourage trade with foreign nations. But while their commercial eve was open, their political eye was closed. They did not act on those principles which had so effectually excluded European nations from the dominion of China. It was not till 1765, that our situation in India sustained an important change. Our first connection with Bengal, was in the character of adventurers. Alter that period we began to assume the character of sovereigns. But what was then the language of lord Clive, a man to whom we owe the erection of our immense eastern dominion? His language was, "my resolution and my hopes will always be to confine our conquests and Our possessions, to Bengal, Bahar, and Orixa. To go farther is, in my opinion, a scheme so extravagantly ambitious and absurd, that no governor and council in their senses can ever adopt it, unless the whole system of the company's interest be first entirely new modelled".— Such was the language of one whose knowledge was unquestioned, and whose policy laid the only Sure foundation of our Indian possessions. He himself knew that the government of that day fully adopted these principles of limited dominion. When in 1773 he went with the other commissioners to India, the government gave the most positive instructions to see that the same Principles were followed up, and the commands of the directors were absolute on the subject. These were principles laid down while a French force had possession of a considerable part of India, and when the idea of undertaking a war for conquest might have appeared some excuse for deviating in a particular case from the gene- 228 ral system of limitation. But it was not on these declarations that he found himself obliged to rest his opinion. In 1782, parliament unanimously resolved, that the British Empire should not be extended in India, and that no war should be undertaken from a lust of conquest. The same resolution was followed up by an express act of the legislature in 1784; and at the renewal of the charter in 1793, the continuance of the same policy was provided for in the most explicit terms. This general principle was therefore so clearly laid down, that it was absolutely impossible to attempt to controvert it. He was aware that a distinction was attempted to be taken betwixt wars of oppression, which were never to be undertaken, and wars which were founded on justice and necessity. It was not very easy to see on what grounds such a plea was brought forward. Of tile origin or justice of many of the wars in India, the house and the public were Frequently, or rather always, without the means of forming a proper judgment. We had never any evidence but the testimony of one of the Belligerent powers against the other, and therefore such testimony was to be received with diffidence. We knew only in general that wars had been begun, that great acquisitions were made, and we gave ourselves little trouble to ascertain how far they arose, either out of justice or necessity. The native princes of India had no ambassadors to plead their cause. They saw their country overrun, their wealth destroyed, and then they had only the satisfaction of being told that they had been actuated by lawless ambition. Many members might not, perhaps, be aware that there formerly existed in the government of Bengal a commission of Persian correspondence, through which our relations with the native princes were conducted. In looking, however, to the vast body of papers on the table, he had not been able, after the most diligent inquiry, to find above three or four short documents, containing no intelligence of the slightest importance. This correspondence was now, therefore, either altogether abolished, or had for a considerable time been suspended. Thus were the house and the public without means of judging of the origin of contests in India. Our commissioners might be honest persons, and their representations might be frequently founded in fairness and truth. But we were forced to believe them, without knowing what was 229 the nature of the remonstrances of the native princes, or what sacrifices they had made for the preservation of peace. He desired the house to consider what was the extent of our conquests in India. The hon. member proceeded to read the following list of native princes, who have either been extirpated, or whose states have sunk into ours: Nabob of Bengal, rajah of Benares, nabob of Oude, Rohillas, Ferokabad, nabob of the Carnatic, Tippoo Sultan and Mysore, now under an infant rajah.—He then stated the following to be the list of those princes who survive under our government, or are suffered to remain as feeble tributaries.—Rajahs of Tanjore, Tinnivelli, Travancore; subadar of the decan by a susidiary treaty made in 1798; Gwicowar and Guzzerat, Bundelcund, the Mogul, in short the whole peninsula from Delhi to Cape Cormorin, except the Mahratta country.—But with all this extent of empire, with all that variety of dominion, the thirst of conquest remained unbounded, and the positive law of parliament for the limitation of our territories has been again violated, by a War with the Mahratta powers. The pretext for the war struck him as absurd, and indefensible in the highest degree. There was not the slightest ground for supposing that the Mahrattas entertained any views hostile to our power. It was true, that they were agitated by intestine feuds, but he defied any member, from the papers on the table, to shew that their proceedings could inspire any one with subject for jealousy or alarm. He knew it was common to represent the native princes in the most odious light, as absolute monsters of depravity; but from the language of those employed under the government of lord Wellesley, it was easy to see in what light these descriptions should be considered. To secure the tranquillity of our possessions, it was necessary that a treaty with one of the Mahratta chiefs should be concluded, and the Peshwa was selected for that purpose. Now what is the character of this prince, with whom it is necessary to stand on good terms, to promote our own security? Colonel Palmer says, "I am to have my last private audience of the Peshwa this evening, when I will make a final effort to convince his highness of the lasting security, power, and prosperity, which he will derive from embracing your lordship's proposals; though I apprehend that nothing short of imminent and certain 230 destruction will induce him to make concessions which militate against his deep-rooted jealousy and prejudices, and of which he thinks he has already made extraordinary sacrifices." Colonel Close says, "every day's experience tends to strengthen the impression, that, from the first, your lordship's amicable and liberal views in relation to this state, have not only been discordant with the natural disposition of the Peshwa, but totally adverse to that selfish and wicked policy, which, in a certain degree, he seems to have realized.—In the midst of personal peril and the lowest debasement, he viewed the admission of permanent support from your Lordship with the deepest aversion.—The dark complexion of the Peshwa's disposition and character, the disgustful history of his domestic and public conduct, his atrocious machinations, &c.—His faithless and sordid policy, his hatred and jealousy of the British name.—The present Pesbwa has, ever since the year 1793, acted more like an enemy, than a friend of the company's government."—"Yet, after all, he appears to be a young man, of whom a chief of his own family says that he had retired from Poona, owing to the thoughtlessness of youth." —Thus it is that a native prince is loaded with abuse by the government of India that he is called on to give up a great proportion of his dominions, and all this for the purpose of securing tranquil possession of his throne. It was not a little singular too, that the Peshwa is always represented as a Sovereign Prince, that he was the head of the Mahrattas, and that the other chiefs were only his servants. This representation was directly contrary to fact. The Peshwa was nothing more than the Prime Minister among the Mahratta Confederacy. He was only primus inter pares, and had no right to conclude that treaty against which it was quite clear he entertained a. most powerful, and, in his situation, natural aversion.—The hon. member directed the attention of the house to the manner in which Scindia was spoken of by the officers in the Indian Government. It is in terms such as these that a high spirited Prince was vilified and traduced, though it did not appear that he had ever entertained any Views hostile to our interests. "The perfidy and violence of that unprincipled chieftain."— "The corrupt and profligate councils of that weak, 231 arrogant, and faithless chief.— His violence, rapacity, and lawless ambition, have been the main causes of the present war with the confedera[...] Mahratta Chiefs.—An inexperienced youth, who as yet could form no correct judgment of his own true interests."—"Indeed, Scindia appears to be an inexperienced youth, and is, I understand, not at all conversant in business." He left the house to make their own comments on such apparent inconsistency. But he desired to call the attention of gentlemen to the species of treaty offered for the acceptance of Scindia, thus so violently denounced as the great foe to the tranquillity of India. The proposal was transmitted to Scindia in 1802, from the seat of government at Bengal: "1st. To subsidize a considerable British force to be stationed within his dominions in perpetuity: to cede in perpetual sovereignty to the company an extent of territory, the wet produce of which shall be adequate to the charges of that force; to admit the arbitration of the British government in all disputes and differences between Scindia and his highness the Nizam, and eventually between Scindia and the other powers of Hindostan." "To obtain for the company the cession of the part of the Duab which is in Scindia's possession, and also that the fortresses of Agra and Delhi should be ceded to the company."—"Whatever proposals you may offer to Scindia, under the foregoing instructions, should be stated to him in the light ofa concession on the part of the British government, tending to the Security of his interests and the stability of his dominion; not as directed to objects in any degree necessary to the security of the British empire in India." "Col. Collins in-strutted to state to Scindia the manifest advantages to the stability of his government, and to the prosperity of his affairs, which the proposed connection is calculated to secure."—He was aware that the great argument against the Mahrattas was their harbouring French officers among them, with views evidently hostile to our superiority. It was even asserted that there was an army of 14,000 Frcnch troops, under Capt. Perron. Of the existence of such a body of troops there was not a Single tittle of evidence before the house. If there was so large a body under his command, it was quite clear they were not French troops. In- 232 deed, after the Minutest investigation, he found that there were not in the whole Mahratta army more than 12 French officers; it was, however, further urged, that the French officers would introduce European tactics among the Mahratta troops. This, so far from striking his mind as an evil, was a thing much to be desired, if war was to be Kept up with the Mahratta states. It was by abandoning their own irregular mode of fighting that they suffered so severely, and were so effectually repulsed. Had they persevered in the irregular warfare common to their country, they would have exhibited an appearance. far more formidable,and displayed a resistance tar more dreadful. The history of all ages proved the truth of this assertion. The Parthians often repulsed the disciplined legions of Rome, not indeed in regular combat, but by surrounding them, by cutting off their supplies of provisions, by taking all those advantages peculiar to a barbarous enemy. His view of the fighting of the Mahrattas had been well understood by military men. Mr. Hastings, one whose name he never could mention except when he had an opportunity of mentioning it with approbation, was fully of this opinion, and the same gentleman had expressed himself in very strong terms on the policy of limiting our dominions. As to any wish of Scindia to admit French troops into his dominions, he denied its existence. It was notorious that Scindia abhorred the idea of foreign troops in any part of his states. Perron was equally hateful and dreadful to him. It was a fact well known, that the knowledge of this hatred was one great inducement with Perron, to capitulate with the few troops under his command.—In no view of the case, did he think, then, that the justice or necessity of the war had been established in a satisfactory manner. The reluctance shewn against the proud and insolent terms of our treaty was natural. It would have been astonishing if it had not existed. The hon. gent. desired members to put the matter to their Own feelings. Was it not natural for a high-spirited Chief to spurn at terms so abject? To be told that the capital of the Mahratta Empire was to be in the hands of a British garrison, and to be supported by the native princes, was surely the extremest degradation. It was unquestionably adding injury to insult. He begged leave to put a parallel case, and ask then, 233 what would be gentleman's ideas of the attempt, if Bonaparté were to propose to the independent Emperor of Austria to fill Vienna with a French garrison, and to have this garrison supported out of the Emperor's coffers? What would be thought of such a monstrous proposition? Would it not be treated with contempt and indignation? Would the king of Prussia, the elector of Saxony, or any other member of the Germanic Body, see it even hinted at with indifference? Should we not expect to see them in arms to resist it, if attempted by force, or should we not equally detest and despise their cowardice, if they allowed it to pass with impunity? Human nature was the same in all countries on some grand subjects of reasoning and feeling. If we should commend European Sovereigns resenting insolence and repelling oppression, should we not allow something to the feelings of a Mahratta Chief, indignant at seeing the capital of his empire in the hands of a foreign garrison?—He called on gentlemen to think and feel, and then he thought there could be little doubt on the result of their inquiries. He was himself not satisfied that the war against Scindia was just or necessary. He found nothing in the papers on the table to support such an opinion. The hon. member touched on the mode in which our wars were conducted in India, allowing them even to be just or necessary. He strongly condemned putting British troops so much in the brunt of every engagement. If a town was to be scaled, if a pass was to be stormed, if any service of difficulty was to be performed, Europeans were always employed. This waste of men who were so invaluable, was altogether unaccountable. It should be recollected that Europeans were equally our protection against the hostility of the natives, the only security against the treachery of our Sepoys, whom the Mahratta chiefs might succeed in detaching from their allegiance. This last was a critical and interesting view of the subject, and was a most powerful inducement no longer to persist in extending our empire by useless and insecure conquests. If our army were scattered over an immense tract of country; if they were to stretch to Agra, to Delhi and to Poonah, it was impossible to say to what disasters they might be exposed. He said, with great emphasis, we first had commerce commerce produced factories, factories 234 produced garrisons, garrisons produced armies, armies produced conquests, and conquests had brought us into our present situation. He hoped all that reason could allow him from the noble lord lately appointed to the government of India. Whatever could be effected by prudence, justice and moderation, would distinguish his administration. The hon. gent. after complimenting the talents of lord Wellesley, concluded with the following motion: That this house adheres to the principle established by its unanimous resolution of the 28th of May, 1782, and recognised and adopted by the legislature in two several acts of parliament of the 24th and 33d year of his majesty's reign—namely, "that to pursue schemes of conquest and extension of dominion in India, are measures repugnant to the wish, the honour, and the policy of this nation." Upon the question being put from the chair.
complimented the hon. gent. on the able speech which he had made, and observed, that there was no occasion for his making any apology for thus interfering with the affairs of India. The situation which he once held in the Indian govt. and the information on these points, which he must by these means have acquired, rendered him well qualified to discuss the affairs of India. But though the hon, gent. had certainly turned his attention a good deal to the finances of India, he had seldom or never called the attention of the house to the other points which he had now touched upon. The hon. gent. had made quotations from different parts of the papers, than which nothing could be more unfair, because they carried quite a different meaning when separated from the context. What might be the hon. gent.'s object he did not know. It was impossible for him to enter minutely into the particular cases, because the subject was so very general. He had formerly asked information from the hon. gent. respecting the chief point to which his attention was to be directed, and his view in bringing forward his motion, but was refused any information on that head. He was persuaded, however, that the hon. gent. did not mean to vilify the councils of his country, nor to impeach the character of any individual who was absent, and could not defend himself. Having said this much by way of preface, he would endeavour to follow the hon. gent. through the outlines of his speech. With respect 235 to the hon. gent.'s first proposition, that of his calling the attention of the house to the act of parliament upon this subject; he conceived the hon. gent. had put construction upon the act which he could by no means sustain upon fair argument. That any extension of the British empire in India was a source of policy which, under no circumstances whatever, should be resorted to, was a doctrine so futile and absurd, and so wholly unlike the wisdom of the British constitution, that it could not stand for one moment. As well might it be said, that a man was to be chained to his post, without the power of defence or attack, while surrounded by enemies. There was another principle equally absurd, and that was, that the British govt. in India were precluded from forming any connections with the princes of the east and that they were to pay the expences of a military force in land, and not in money. This clause in the act most certainly never meant to recognise such a power; it was the intention of the govt. merely to guard against the united efforts of the Indian powers. His lordship admitted, that when the govt. should have travelled out of the fair line of policy, then there would be a fair ground of charge against them; but in the present case, no charge whatever was establised against the councils, either at home or abroad. In enumerating the several princes who had been brought under the British dominion, and whose families were extinct, the hon. gent, went into prima facie evidence of their dissolution; but before he came to censure the govt.; before he came to call down the condemnation of the public upon them, he should have brought his charge on some particular grounds, on some specific instances of oppression, and have taken the sense of parliament upon them, Parliament could then come to a conclusion, either one way or the other. With respect to the commercial interests being turned into territorial interests, that was a measure necessarily resorted to; it had uniformly been the policy of France to goad England in that quarter; all her efforts were directed against it, and it was her machinations which drove us to those measures; if we could have kept in existence our commercial interests, without territorial possessions, it would have been more politic; but in order to secure the one we were obliged to obtain the other. The hon. gent.'s proposition, 236 therefore, upon this head, did not admit of any qualification. As to the wars in the Mysore country. particularly the two last wars, if the hon. gent. would have called in question the councils upon them, he would have seen that some, at least, of the transactions on that subject, had never the finger of calumny pointed at them. This alone, his lordship thought, would go a great length in doing away the charges made against them. The restoration of the Hindoo Rajah and his family, was a strong proof of the moderation, lenity, and liberality of govt. and a transaction which, in itself, dispelled much of the calumny which had been thrown upon the councils of that country. The hon. gent. in his indictment had made general charges: to this indictment he put in his plea, which he contended was a good bar to the action. The next point his lordship came to, was with respect to the territories of the Oude and the Carnatic, as to the first of which there were no papers upon the table, by which the house could be guided, nor could it be charged that the transactions relative to those countries were an acquisition of territory. In the year 1765, both those became bound within the power of the British empire, they were always subordinate to, dependent on and directed by the British govt. and council. Our connection with the Nizam, the hon. gent. considered as a measure of reproach: that he should charge this, his lordship owned he was not at all surprized,for he did not mean to say but that the native powers were much distressed by the connection; they were at war with other states, and were obliged to resort to a foreign force for assistance; but that the connection with the British govt. was so horrible, so detestable to the native princes was an assertion wholly fallacious. The charge also of the company's troops, consisting of 10,000 men, being in the territory of the Nizam, was another argument equally futile, for it was to be remembered that they were in possession of a long tract on the south side of that territory. The question then came to the nature of the connection of the British govt. with the Mahrattas: this his lordship considered the most important consideration of the whole, and a question altogether of great difficulty; with respect to the transaction, and such ideas as may arise from the natural doubts upon this subject. There were two questions upon 237 this head: first, what description of people were the Mahrattas, and what were the principles of policy by which the British councils were to be guided? Looking to the general Character of the people, their customs, their wars, their dispositions, and habits, it was certainly much better to keep clear of them entirely. They were formerly composed of a great number of small states, which were frequently at variance with each other. If they had kept their old system of warfare; if they had continued in their ancient manners, without taking in the aid of foreign councils. In all sound policy it would have been our best way to have kept clear of them; but after the treaty of Bassein, a great number of French officers were introduced into their army. The policy of the Mahratta connection then stood upon new grounds. Scindia and Holkar were at variance, their armies became regular: suppose then one power got the better of the other, both then united and became organised under one head; his lordship asked, would not this coalition be very formidable to the military power of Great Britain in India? It was to this alteration in the military system, introduced and directed by French officers, that we were to look for changing the policy of the British councils, respecting a connection with the Mahrattas. The government of the Mysore consisted of a considerable military force, which was also aided and directed by French officers; the object, therefore, of marquis Wellesley was to augment and strengthen the Peshwa; and thus, by invigorating him, resist the force, and drive the French from that territory. From the fall of Tippoo, the policy of the British government became quite different from what it had been before. The council from that time, was to turn its mind towards the extirpation of the French from that quarter. We were then to consider what was the object, what was the conduct of the French at that period, and what was to direct marquis Wellesley in his deliberations. We all knew, that in the year 1798 the French made a footing in Egypt; we were well aware their main object was to aim a deadly blow at our Eastern possessions: their close alliance with Tippoo, and all the other concomitant circumstances, sufficiently explained their intentions, and we were all satisfied India was not out of their mind when they undertook that expedition. Marquis Wellesley's 238 mind was strongly impressed with this idea, and with the consequences which should follow. With respect to France, he did not consider the connection of France with the Mahrattas at all done away; on the contrary, it was growing daily; and, from the complicated system of the Mahratta policy, it was impossible for any man to say how soon that system might be put in practice. If the councils of the Mahrattas had remained as formerly, and not put on the councils and assistance of French officers, it might have been otherwise. The French general Perron had organised such a power, that Scindia himself did not venture to oppose him, but gave up the contest. Thirty or 40,000 under the Nizam, were in a state of perfect discipline. Was it to be questioned, whether, after the peace, the French had sent emissaries into that country, and if they were allowed to establish a connection with the Mahratta people, it did not require much political foresight to discover what might follow: having stated thus much, his lordship observed, that the whole change of the complexion of the Mahratta empire had made this a new 'subject. The moment marquis Wellesley had found out the triple connection formed by marquis Cornwallis, he enlarged the principles of his actions, and endeavoured to promote the interest of the British govt. with the Rajah; he conceived the necessity of that alliance, and the impression upon his mind was, that if he should persuade the native, princes, that it was safer to rely on the connection with the British empire, than join any other power, or war among themselves; by this means he might lead to the exclusion of the French interest, and the policy or connection of their situation might induce them to embrace such a proposal. His lordship agreed with the hon. gent. that a great question of expediency arose out of those circumstances; but, from the details then upon the table, it clearly was not it proposition which parliament could then decide upon. The conduct of marquis Wellesley upon this matter would hand down his name to posterity as one of the most wise and vigorous officers that ever conducted the councils of a great nation. The governor general had not shown a bigoted adherence to the system of establishing a connection with the Mahrattas to extirpate the French, but he modified it; and his lordship contended, that the general charge made against that 239 system in the Mahratta empire by the hon gent. did not cast any reflection upon the noble Marquis's conduct: In the Mahratta empire there was a population of 36 millions under one head; it was,not necessary therefore for the governor general to wait to conclude a treaty of the same nature of that of Hydrabad, with the Peshwa until a communication, was had with the govt. at home. In the instructions to marquis Wellesley his lordship was directed not to pursue policy to a war; and as the Peshwa was driven from his; country, that was the most likely moment to conclude a general peace in India. The hon. gent. had mentioned the treaty of Bassein, as act of aggression; but he did not shew on What grounds it was so. The native princes, so far from remonstrating against it, fully acquiesced in the terms, and as far as general intentions would go, marquis Wellesley took up the principle not to force-that treaty upon the power of that prince; had marquis Wellesley acted in any other manner, he would have abandoned the interest of his employers and, throughout the whole, there was a sincere disposition upon his part to accomplish his purpose without war, and he managed it in such a way as to give the benefit of the Mahratta connection to this country; this view he had taken of it in all his pacific negociations.—The more extended question of arrangement therefore was, whether we were involved in war upon just and fair grounds? That the Near was successful, more than even the councils of this country would allow, was certain. His lordship trusted, that the hon. gent. would not expect him to go more into the question: under the present existing circumstances, his lordship thought he should not be justifiable in doing so; it, however, appeared clearly, that the subject matter in question could be traced to the general policy of France, to shake our power in India. His lordship observed, that he had omitted to make one observation respecting the war with Holkar in its proper place: the hon. gent. he said, had not justified his impeachment of that war, it was not the materials furnished, but the bostile intentions of Holkar which produced it; and there was nothing whatever censurable in the governor general's conduct; and there was reason to anticipate the supposition that the war was commenced on just grounds. His lordship admitted the governor-general should have 240 transmitted documents upon this subject, in order to see the grounds and origin of the commencement of hostilities, but this was easily accounted for from the short period which has since elapsed. In conclusion, his lordship said, that the, hon. .gent. had not made any case which could induce parliament to come to any decision upon the subject. If he had stated the particular point on which he meant to rely; if he had brought forward his propositions before the house one by one, and not in an accumulated mass of general matter and general censure, the house would then have been able to come to some certain decision upon the question: but, he conceived the hon. gent. had discharged himself but ill in this business; he considered it a mere personal motion, for the satisfaction of the hon. gent.'s own mind, and could only be brought forward for the purpose of general censure. For these reasons he should think himself justified in moving "that the other orders of the day be now read.
admitted, that there had been a line of policy marked out for India by act of Parliament which ought to he adhered to. If it had not been adhered to, he would certainly ageee with the motion of his hon. friend. But in his opinion the principle had never been lost sight of. If his hon. friend had attacked the character of the governor-general, he would have strongly objected to that part of his motion particularly, but he had disclaimed any thing of that sort. His hon. friend had begun with our establishment in India, its origin, and had made use of a singular phrase which he had taken down. He said that our commerce produced factories, that factories produced armies, that armies had produced conquests, that conquests had produced extended dominion, and that this brought us to our present situation. His lordship observed, that it did not by any means follow, that all this originated in a thirst of power on our part.—There was another point in his hon friend's speech, which he must also notice, that was the idea of a knowledge of European tactics, being dangerous to the natives of India; he, on the contrary, was of opinion that a small number of Frenchmen scattered over different parts of the continent of India, would be more effectually serviceable to the natives by instructing them, and more dangerous to .us than a much. greater force 241 acting in a body as a military force against us. As to the conduct of his noble friend who was now most probably on his way home, in concluding the Treaty at Poonah, he thought that it must be clear that it any blame can be attached to this transaction, it must attach to the court of Directors, who gave him authority so to do. Upon the whole he felt himself bound to support the amendment the noble lord.
§ Dr. Laurence
thought the statements of his. hon. friend were worthy of the strictest attention, and most serious consideration that the house could possibly give it, being a question winch involved no less a number than thirty-two millions of persons: a number which was more than three times the amount of the population of England. It surprised him very much to hear the noble lord opposite him (Castlereagh) argue in the manner he had done; it surprised kiln much to hear him state that his hon. friend had no right to look bark to points which were more remote, and took place at a more distant period of time, merely because, as the noble lord stated, he had not come forward at every intermediate step, and moved for those papers, and that information, which might then have existed. He denied that this was any argument against his coming forward now, with this very necessary motion; but, even supposing it was, his hon. friend had complied with it in every respect, for, to his knowledge, no one instance had passed without his calling for papers, and doing every thing that could in any way be thought necessary. The hon. and learned gent. remarked, with some severity, on the term "connection," as it had been applied to the mode which we pursued towards the Mahrattas, a nation containing 30,000,000 of people. The question, at the best, was on a point of very dubious policy. He praised the conduct of marquis Cornwallis when in India before, and trusted his return there would be attended with similar advantages. The noble lord seemed to misunderstand every thing advanced by his hon. friend, from beginning to end. What harm could result from re-asserting those principles which were already to be found in the resolutions of the house, and in the statutes? He condemned the modes practised by the company for the acquirement of territory in India. It was once given as Mr Hastings's opinion, that the possession of the whole of Bengal alone might 242 ruin the company. Formerly, there were a number of petty states between Bengal and the Mahrattas, which it was our policy to support. Now, we had swallowed up, one after another, all those Mohammedan powers. If the noble lord had chosen to go into the justice of the wars in which we had so frequently engaged in that country, he had no objection. The causes of, many of them were of a very doubtful complexion. The nabob of Arcot was punished for the offences of his grandmother; Cossim Ali Cawir for cultivating his country too well; and others were set aside on different pretences: the Nizam we had, however, left, under what was called our protection. We made him our ally to get more territory from kiln, to maintain an army which we sent him, and which army was, in fact, to hold his country. He should not have said so much on this point, had not the noble lord spoken of the justice of our India wars in such a tone of triumph. He saw nothing to stop this principle of aggrandisement; he saw no bounds but the wall of China, or the Russian empire, to our daily acquisitions of territory while this system continued. We were on the Mahratta borders. If they are disturbed, we are distressed. If they settled their quarrels, we were afraid they would have too much power. What was the true meaning of that word connection which the noble lord used? It was not connection, but dependence on our military power in India. The natural consequence would be, speedily to take the whole country. After the conquest of the Mysore, the Peishwa refused to sign the treaty of alliance we had proposed to him; but we took advantage of his misfortunes and flight, to force him to sign it, and he had not, after all, ever requested us to act upon it. We had adopted a kind of geographical morality, and a sort of policy of latitude and longitude for our own purposes in India, different from what we conceived of those things in Europe. Gentlemen could hear of the most terrible calamities in India without emotion, who, for a little finger ache at home, would dissolve in sentimental sorrow. The hon. and learned gent. concluded, by saying, that he should vote for the original motion, because it was meant with a view to the re-establishment of the principle sanctioned by parliament and the legislature, and not with a view to the crimination of any individual.
observed, that the noble lord who moved the previous question,had stated that the Marquis Wellesley's conduct in India had been approved of by the government of this country, and by the directors of the East India company, as had been transmitted to him by a committee in the regular course of official communication, that was an incorrectness founded upon a misunderstanding of one fact, namely, that the directors had approved of the conduct of the noble Marquis; the fact was, that that question was never before the directors at all: this observation he thought was called from him after what the noble lord had said upon that subject to-night; that noble lord had bestowed great attention to the affairs, and displayed Much ability in the conduct of the business of India in this country; but notwithstanding what that noble lord had said, he owned he was unable to view what had of late years passed in India, in any other light than that of an infraction of the principle laid down at the time when the resolution was passed, by which we renounced conquest in India, for the purpose of an extension of territory. He was led to adopt this opinion from experience of the effect of the former Mahratta war, an event which had laid the foundation of all the debt we had incurred there. The diffusion of ourselves to so unlimited an extent, would be most injurious to us, for by it we should lose ourselves. With regard to the French power in India, his opinion had always been that it was much exaggerated by statements in this country, and that a few French officers there were not dangerous in the way they were supposed to influence the natives a thousand miles from the coast. He thought the principle laid, that we were not to pursue conquest for the sake of extension of territory, was the true policy of this country; and that so much had been done to render it doubtful whether we had not abandoned that principle, it became necessary now to give the world assurance, that Such is to be our guide, and this he wished to be distinctly avowed. He thought that we had now an extent of territory in India; that we should never be able to preserve it; for the governments of India were so loose, that almost any adventurer would find followers when he wished to kindle the flames of war, and therefore there was a necessity for recurring to the principle of our former resolution, since the expences of the war had been already 244 productive of great evils to this country.
said, he did not wish that this subject should be too much detailed in parliament, but as he had had long experience in India, he thought it his duty to put the house in possession of his sentiments upon this most important question. His hon. friend who had just spoken, had alluded to what past with reference to the court of directors, and the dispatch of the marquis of Wellesley of the 21st Dec. on the subject of the treaty of Bassein, by which it appeared that the noble marquis expressed himself as having received the approbation of his majesty's government and court of directors, but the truth of the matter was, that the terms of that treaty were never brought before the court of directors, neither was there among them any discussion concerning it, desired or admitted; and with regard to the idea of departing from a system of policy formerly laid down, or of their having expressed approbation of what was done in India, or that any question was discussed by them on the subject of war or peace in India, or of the extent of the territories of the British empire. The court of directors, although in the opinion of the public they were supposed to have a great deal of power, had in reality no More than any member of that house in these matters, and here he was sure that the candour of the house would permit him to state how the matter stood with regard to the directors. It had been said by those to Whose assertions, from their weight in the world, there was consequence, on the subject of the merit of the noble marquis respecting our successes, and were stated to have been great, and that the consequences of them would have been still greater if some obstacles had not been thrown in his way, and lest there might be any mistake upon that subject, to whom it was meant to apply that observation, it was said, it did not come from any of his majesty's ministers; it was therefore meant to apply to the directors, of whom it was said they were men of very good intentions, but not of such enlargement of mind as to be able to understand the plan of the marquis of Wellesley, or the great benefits they were calculated to produce. Now whatever consequence the directors might have, they had no share in the management of sending any thing to India on the subject of the political ,system there, and there- 245 fore that they could not send any thing to India, which did not previously obtain the sanction of the board of control, of which several members of his majesty's cabinet are members, and that consequently nothing could be thrown in the way of the noble Marquis, which had not previously obtained the sanction of his majesty's ministers. There was a circumstance of great importance with regard to the Mahratta people; and another point upon which he should touch, of which, he believed, the next generation, when it came to peruse the labour of the historian, would judge more correctly than the present; and they had been described as having been decided by the court of directors, when, in truth, the directors were so far from bearing any share in them, that they hind never been allowed even to, discuss them. He confessed he could not comprehend the plans of the noble marquis. They appeared to him to be accompanied with present difficulties, to him with mischief, to set existence on the cast, to be unwise in policy, to be founded on schemes and projects, wherein failure would be destructive, and even success ruinous; whereby nothing was to be gained but the expence of blood and treasure, and perhaps a permanent hatred inspired into the inhabitants. These were his sentiments, and were not less so last year, when the accounts had been received of the brilliant successes, than at present on receipt of the account of a disaster, which had opened the eyes of many, and would, he feared, open the eyes of many more. He admitted the energy of the great mind of the noble marquis, and that he exerted his powers most successfully for this country, in the destruction of that infatuated tyrant Tippoo Sultan. That was a great service rendered to- the East India company and to Ins country; but it was easy to see that this advantage would be followed by the reverse of it, unless followed by moderation, in that he thought the noble marquis had failed; it appeared to him that the very great success the noble marquis had met with, which was certainly, in. some respects, unexpected, had let him to depart from the system of his predecessor in the government. He appeared to have made the whole of India dependent on the British government. He had made them all receive British garrisons in their cities, and to grant subsidies for that British protection, and afterwards to requite it with 246 territorial revenue to us—in all this he saw the seeds of a revolt the instant an opportunity offered. We had once sided with Scindia against Holkar, and afterwards with Holkar against Scindia, by which we had procured the hatred of both, and we had now territories so extensive in India, that the population of Europe would hardly equal the drain they would require to keep them in our power, according to the military system now established. For several years past, as the company have advanced in revenues, they had equally done so in expence, and it was morally impossible to bear the drain of men that would be necessary to keep so many millions of the human race in subjection to us. No man better knew than he did, the benefits, almost beyond calculation, which this country might derive from our possessions in India, if affairs were managed with justice and moderation. His majesty's government, he said, had shewn their anxiety on that head, by their recent appointment of the marquis Cornwallis as governor-general of India. This nobleman was as amiable in his character, as he was exalted in rank, and was known by the native powers to combine within himself all that was just and good. He had already convinced them that, while possessed of absolute power, he was actuated only by inviolable honour and the most conciliatory disposition towards them; and he thought that a declaration of parliament, such as the hon, mover has brought forward, made at this time just as the noble marquis was about to sail for India, would be a token to the native powers that we wished, and intended an abrogation of the present system, and could not fail Of being attended with the most beneficial effects. He would therefore vote fur the original motion.
§ Sir Theophilus Metcalfe
differed altogether from the two hon. gent. who had spoken last. The treaty of Bassein had been founded on consummate policy, and did great honour to the noble marquis, whose principal object was to prevent the Mahrattas from being united under one head. The hon. bart. proceeded to review the circumstances which led to that treaty. If Scindeah and Holkar had not been divided at Poonah, the consequence would have been the consolidation of their several great powers, and we should have had them both joined against us. The Mah- 247 rattas had always had it in contemplation, ever since the death of Sujat. UI Dowla, to extirpate the English from India. Madajee Scindeah had the same, and he thought the marquis Wellesley had the highest degree of merit, in being able to frustrate their machinations, and by attacking them separately, preventing those mischievous consequences which a combination of their powers could not fail to produce. From the character of the noble marquis, if he could have preserved peace consistently with the interests of the company, he was certain he would have done it. It had been the favourite design of the Mahrattas, for upwards of twenty years, to extirpate-the English from India, and for this express purpose they had been at a very great expence in improving their tactics and engaging in their service as many Europeans as possible. He was decidedly against the original motion.
§ Mr. Chapman
spoke in favour of the original motion. He said, that the moment they entered into a treaty with the Peishwah, they must expect a war with the Mahrattas. He had been resident in the country of the Rajah of Berar, and there the Peishwah was not allowed to be the supreme chief over the other feudatory chiefs. Scindeah and Holkar could never be expected to agree to the treaty, and he thought, therefore, it was very impolitic to enter upon it. The war was very expensive, and he was afraid would be productive of considerable mischief to the company's affairs.
thought the house indebted to the perseverance of the hon. member in calling their attention to so important a subject, and expressed his approbation of the magnanimous conduct of those official gentlemen, who, disregarding the restraint of office, so candidly and honourably avowed their sentiments. He trusted, as the attention of the house seemed now directed to the subject, they would not give it up till they had fully investigated the manner in which the affairs of our Indian dependencies had been administered. On the present occasion, however, when a noble marquis was on the eve of setting off for India, to take on him the supreme command and government of the country, he did not wish such a declaration as that moved for by the hon. gent. should be voted by the house, as he was afraid it would be the means of fettering and bind- 248 ing up his hands, at a time when he ought to be left at full liberty to act in such manner as to himself should seem most proper. He should therefore vote for the previous question.
§ Mr. Robert Thornton
warmly approved of the original motion. He was of opinion, that the system now acted upon with regard to India ought to be changed, and that we should act on principles and indications of moderation and forbearance, and not in the spirit of conquest and aggrandizement. He trusted, that it was with that view, and with these intentions, that marquis Cornwallis would set out for that country. In sending out that noble marquis in lieu of lord Wellesley, we were substituting the olive branch for the sword, and this at a time that such a substitution was essentially necessary. Such a declaration as that now moved for would shew that parliament are determined on a dereliction of the late system; and it would show the marquis and the native powers in India, that you do not send him out merely as a common governor-general, but that the country might derive advantage from that conciliatory disposition which is so much wanted to heal the wounds which, he thought, had too rashly been inflicted there. If we were to hold India, and to keep the French out of it, we must not think of doing either by the sword, but by conciliating the minds of the native powers, and convincing them that justice and moderation should be the future rule of our conduct towards them. No one could deny that marquis Wellesley had acted with great energy and activity. In his opinion the noble marquis was too active, too energetic and too enterprising. The noble lord had pursued the warlike system too far, and had thus created a discontent and disposition to resistance among the native powers, of which the French, or any power hostile to us, could easily avail itself, if it could obtain any footing in India. The conciliatory system was therefore become indispensable for our honour and security. For he feared that for some years back we were become in India what the tyrant of France was in Europe.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
admitted, that in one point of view the motion now before the house was such as nobody could object to in the abstract, because it was a principle expressed upon our statute-book, and founded upon natural justice, that we 249 should not make war for the sake of extending territory; but it did not thence follow, that if we were forced into a just and a necessary war, that we were not to conquer, and that, after conquest, an extent of dominion might become the result of it, for that was the natural effect of superiority in contest; our security might require it, or we might take by way of indemnity. If it were not so, we should, by pusillanimity, unite all the world to attack us. The resolution, therefore, as it had an aspect hostile to that principle, was unjust to the noble marquis, because it was a general censure on the whole of his administration, by now putting the whole of that administration together, and following up the historical account of it with a resolution, which either meant to censure that administration altogether—an administration as full of excellent achievement as any that ever preceded it, and in which the noble marquis had done as many and glorious deeds as ever were done by any man; or else the resolution was only a repetition of what was on the statute book already, and meant nothing but an unnecessary repetition of an undisputed truth and objection on that head. This resolution taken as one that censured extension of territory, in all events, was unjust, not only for the reason he had stated already but unjust to my lord Cornwallis himself who was to-night so highly and justly praised, for even he had extended our territory in India after the conclusion of a war. The grand policy of this country in India was to keep down the power of France. There might be fair ground for difference of opinion on some points of Indian policy; but on the great leading features of the noble marquis's administration, there could exist no doubt on the merits of those transactions, by which he had conferred such benefits on his country, had secured her interest, upheld her honour, and exalted her glory. He had dispelled a danger the most formidable and menacing, which he never could have done on the principle of the hon. gentlemen opposite; and dispelled it, during a war in which France wished, through India, to strike a fatal blow against British Commerce and greatness. The wisdom of the noble lord had been evinced in adopting the highest, most important, and fundamental policy of the British interests it India: he had procured, in the issue of his brilliant campaigns, indemnity and se- 250 curity: he had gained a great extent of valuable sea-coast, a matter of great consideration with a view to preventing the designs of the enemy.—He must object most decidedly to a motion which cast a slur upon the justice, the magnanimity, and the good faith of the British government. He need not dwell on the last Mahratta war, after what had been said by his noble friend. He contended, that lord Wellesley was fully justified respecting the treaty with the Peishwa. We ought not to permit either Scindia or the Peishwah to possess the whole of the Mahratta power. The right hon. gent. alluded to the attempt made on Egypt, as connected with the design of the enemy on the East Indies, and stated, that he knew France had still been looking to the Mahratta states as the great instrument to be employed against us in India. If there was any variety of opinion as to some parts of the noble marquis's administration in India, and in an administration so long and so full of incident, no wonder if there should, let the specific points be stated on which the objections are taken, and they should be met as they ought to be, but the present motion was either to convey a general censure of the whole of the administration, which nobody would avow, or it went to declare that which was unnecessary, because declared already.
§ Mr. Fox
vindicated the motion and the objects of the honourable mover. The right hon. gent. who had just sat down, was completely mistaken, in supposing that the meaning of his hon. friend, or of those by whom the motion of 1782 was drawn up, was, that parliament should make a declaration against unjustifiable wars, for that would be just such trash as the French assembly published at the commencement of the revolution; but upon which they did not afterwards act, "that they would not make war forsake of conquest." No, the meaning of the motion before the house, and of that of 1782, was this, that an extension of territory in India was not the policy of this country; that is, that whatever the grounds of war might be, a farther addition to our territory in that quarter would be a mischief. But the right hon. gent. on the other side, seemed to say, that our -situation was materially altered since 1782, with respect to India. Where, he would ask, was the material circumstance of change? We were at war with France 251 in 1782—The French were as willing to excite an opposition to us in India, and Tippoo was quite as willing to second such Views as the Mahrattas can be supposed at present. Yet under all these circumstances we concluded the resolution of 1782. He called upon the house to come to some discussion upon this point. If the extension of territory were desirable, let the motion be negatived at once, and let some course be determined on. But let not such a line of policy be followed as was calculated to keep alive doubt and suspicion, and forbid the possibility of confidence in our views among the native powers. Every pretence seemed to be sought for to declare war in India, and it appeared impossible to calculate when this propensity to war would cease. As soon as we had destroyed Tippoo, it was then stated to be very desirable to forma close connection with those Mahratta powers, which were previously pronounced our friends. This connexion we had soon formed with them, and we gave them something like what the French used to term the "fraternal hug." We embraced the Mahrattas, just as the French embraced Holland. We, in fact, seemed in India, to be like Macbeth, "so steeped in blood" that we thought it vain to go back. Sed revocare gradum, hic labor, hoc opus est. After destroying Tippoo, who formed a barrier between us and our friends the Mahrattas, we then proceeded to destroy our friends themselves. But, it is said, that you waged war against the Mahrattas, merely from a fear of the French; and a similar plea may be alleged with equal justice, against any state in India, until, in the work of destruction, the English force may make its way to the wall of China, or farther if they could. War was declared against the Mahrattas, because they were the only power remaining in India. So that in other words, our govt. appeared to argue, that we could not be safe until all India was our own. His opinion, the hon. member declared to be decidedly different. The best way in his view to secure our interest and possessions, was to prohibit their extension. As to the allusion made to the character of lord Wellesley, he could not admit that the motion was meant to reflect on that noble lord, upon whose conduct he was not now prepared to pronounce any opinion. If the administration of that noble lord was meant to be inquired into, when he should return home would cer- 252 tainly be the proper time to institute such inquiry. An hon. gent. (Mr. Princep) was of opinion that the adoption of this motion would operate to fetter lord Cornwallis. But he believed, on the contrary, that it would serve to fortify the views and intentions of that noble lord. It would shew him that the policy he held was sanctioned by the voice of parliament. He remembered it having been said with respect to his India bill, that the objection was not so much to the measure as to the man; but on this occasion he should say, with .respect to the motion and lord Cornwallis, that this measure was the man. The hon. gent. on the other side entertained opinions directly the reverse of those professed by the three respectable directors of the India company, whom the house had heard declare an unqualified adherence to the resolution of 1782. The right hon. gent. had advanced some statements which shewed that he contemplated schemes of ambition far more wild and mad than the governor of India was ever suspected of. For the right hon. gent.'s ideas would go to this, that we should possess ourselves of all India; and if possessed of that vast empire, he contended that it would be an intolerable drain upon our military resource to preserve it, while its preservation would not be so conducive to our benefit, as India governed upon the principle laid down in the motion would be. But the main pretence rested upon by the advocates for further conquests seems to be this, that they are necessary for our safety. Now this was precisely the pretence of all conquerors and marauders, in all ages. According to Livy, whenever the Romans made war upon any state, it was only to secure their own safety. Such was the plea advanced and exactly the same was the ground frequently urged by Lewis XIV. and others entertaining similar views. In the name of common sense and justice, he would ask, where such a plea was likely to stop? Where was this resort for safety to end, for, according as it was applied, no man was likely to be at peace, for he could not calculate upon safety while there was another man alive who had strength enough to knock him down. Thus no state could be at peace, until every nation capable of attacking it was destroyed. Such was the tendency of the argument deducible from the abominable principle laid down to excuse our wars in India, respecting the weans of securing 253 our safety. The operation of such a plea struck him to have no end but in unbounded dominion. The hon. gent. concluded with expressing a hope that whether the motion before the house should be acceded to or not, something declaratory of the proposed system with respect to India, would be adopted as a guide to our governors in India, as a rule by which our views might be judged of by the natives. If that system should be consonant with moderation and justice, it would be founded on the principle of this motion, and best calculated, he was confident, to promote our interests in India.
§ Mr. Francis ,
in reply, insisted on the same motives of conduct as were recommended by Mr. Fox; and contended, that they would be most congenial to the feelings, and most consonant to the policy upon which the noble marquis was likely to act, and for the enforcement of which it was likely that he was again induced to undertake the government of our India possesions.—The question being loudly called for, the house divided;
For Mr. Francis's motion 46 For the previous question 105 Majority against the motion 59