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10 WARREN HASTINGS.

from plundering and oppressing them ; and this he appears to have
done. It is certain that at this time he continued poor; and it is
equally certain that by cruelty and dishonesty he might easily
have become rich. It is certain that he was never charged with
having borne a share in the worst abuses which then prevailed;
and it is almost equally certain that, if he had borne a share in
those abuses, the able and bitter enemies who afterwards persecuted
him would not have failed to discover and to proclaim his guilt.
The keen, severe, and even malevolent scrutiny to which his whole
public life was subjected, a scrutiny unparalleled, as we believe, in
the history of mankind, is in one respect advantageous to his re-
putation. It brought many lamentable blemishes to light; but it
entitles him to be considered pure from every blemish which has
not been brought to light.

The truth is that the temptations to which so many English
functionaries yielded in the time of Mr. Vansittart were not tempt-
ations addressed to the ruling passions of Warren Hastings. He
was not squeamish in pecuniary transactions; but he was neither
sordid nor rapacious. He was far too enlightened a man to look
on a great empire merely as a buccaneer would look on a galleon.
Had his heart been much worse than it was, his understanding
Would have preserved him from that extremity of baseness. He
was an unscrupulous, perhaps an unprincipled, statesman; but still
he was a statesman, and not a freebooter.

In 1764 Hastings returned to England. He had realized only
a very moderate fortune; and that moderate fortune was soon
reduced to nothing, partly by his praiseworthy liberality, and
partly by his mismanagement. Towards his relations he appears
to have acted very generously. The greater part of his savings
he left in Bengal, hoping probably to obtain the high usury of
India. But high usury and bad security generally go together;
and Hastings lost both interest and principal.

He remained four years in England. Of his life at this time
very little is known. But it has been asserted, and is highly
probable, that liberal studies and the society of men of letters
occupied :1 great part of his time. It is to be remembered to his
honour that, in days when the languages of the East were regarded

by other servants of the Company merely as the means of com-
municating with weavers and money-changers, his enlarged and
accomplished mind sought in Asiatic learning for new forms of

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