Previous Index Next
Page 174
(previous) (Page 000174) (next)

tical with morality, namely, far-sighted policy. Nevertheless the
common sense of mankind, which in questions of this sort seldom
goes far wrong, will always recognise a distinction between crimes
which originate in an inordinate zeal for the commonwealth, and
crimes which originate in selfish cupidity. To the benefit of this
distinction Hastings is fairly entitled. There is, we conceive, no
reason to suspect that the Rohilla war, the revolution of Benares,
or the spoliation of the Princesses of Oude, added a rupee to his
fortune. We will not aflirm that, in all pecuniary dealings, he
showed that punctilious integrity, that dread of the faintest appear-
ance of evil, which is now the glory of the Indian civil service.
But when the school in which he had been trained and the temp-
tations to which he was exposed are considered, We are more
inclined to praise him for his general uprightness with respect to
money, than rigidly to blame him for a few transactions which
would now be called indelicate and irregular, but which even now
would hardly be designated as corrupt. A rapacious man he certainly
was not. Had he been so, he would infallibly have returned to his
country the richest subject in Europe. We speak within compass,
when we say that, without applying any extraordinary pressure
he might easily have obtained from the zemindars of the Company’s
provinces and from neighbouring princes, in the course of thirteen
years, more than three millions sterling, and might have outshone
the splendour of Carlton House and of the Palais Royal. He
brought home a fortune such as a Governor—General, fond of state,
and careless of thrift, might easily, during so long a tenure of office,
save out of his legal salary. Mrs. Hastings, we are afraid, was
less scrupulous. It was generally believed that she accepted pre-
sents with great alacrity, and that she thus formed, without the
connivance of her husband, a private hoard amounting to several
lacs of rupees. We are the more inclined to give credit to this
story, because Mr. Gleig, who cannot but have heard it, does not,
as far as we have observed, notice or contradict it.

The influence of Mrs. Hastings over her husband was indeed
such that she might easily have obtained much larger sums than
she was ever accused of receiving. At length her health began to
give way; and the Governor-General, much against his will, was
compelled to send her to England. He seems to have loved her
with that love which is peculiar to men of strong minds, to men
whose afl'ection is not easily won or widely diffused. The talk of

Previous Index Next