Previous Index Next
Page 131
(previous) (Page 000131) (next)
 
WARREN HASTINGS. 3 I

remonstrances, they proceeded to exercise, in the most indiscreet

manner, their new authority over the subordinate presidencies;

threw all the affairs of Bombay into confusion; and interfered,

with an incredible union of rashness and feebleness, in the intestine

disputes of the Mahratta government. At the same time, they

fell on the internal administration of Bengal, and attacked the

whole fiscal and judicial system, a system which was undoubtedly
defective, but which it was very improbable that gentlemen fresh
from England would be competent to amend. The effect of their
reforms was that all protection to life and property was withdrawn,
and that gangs of robbers plundered and slaughtered with impunity
in the very suburbs of Calcutta. Hastings continued to live in
the Government-house, and to draw the salary of Governor-
General. He continued even to take the lead at the council-
board in the transaction of ordinary business; for his opponents
could not but feel that he knew much of which they were ignorant,
and that he decided, both surely and speedily, many questions
which to them would have been hopelessly puzzling. But the
higher powers of government and the most valuable patronage
had been taken from him.

The natives soon found this out. They tonsidered him as a
fallen man; and they acted after their kind. Some of our readers
may have seen, in India, a cloud of crows pecking a sick vulture
to death, no had type of what happens in that country, as often
as fortune deserts one who has been great and dreaded. In an
instant, all the sycophants who had lately been ready to lie for
him, to forge for him, to pander for him, to poison for him, hasten
to purchase the favour of his victorious enemies by accusing him.
An Indian government has only to let it be understood that it
wishes a particular man to be ruined; and, in twenty-four hours,
it will be furnished with grave charges, supported by depositions
so full and circumstantial that any person unaccustomed to Asiatic
mendacity would regard them as decisive. It is well if the sig-
nature of the destined victim is not counterfeited at the foot of
some illegal compact, and if some treasonable paper is not slipped
into a hiding-place in his house. Hastings was now regarded as
helpless. The power to make or mar the fortune of every man
in Bengal had passed, as it seemed, into the hands of the new
Councillors. Immediately charges against the Governor-General
began to pour in. They were eagerly welcomed by the majority,

Previous Index Next