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INTRODUCTION AND NOTES
VINCENT A. SMITH, M.A. DUBL. ET Oxon.
THE OXFORD STUDENT'S HISTORY OF INDIA'
THE EARLY HISTORY OF INDIA,' ETC.
AT THE CLARENDON PRESS
LONDON: HENRY FROWDE
EDINBURGH, NEW YORK, TORONTO & MELBOURNE
MACAULAY's Essay on Warren Hastings will always deserve to be read, studied, and admired as a masterpiece of English prose. But it is not true history. On the contrary, it is a gross libel on the memory of the greatest among the British Rulers of India not atoned for by the insertion of patches of inconsistent praise. The essayist's furious attack on Sir Elijah Impey has no solid foundation, and the description of Bengalee character is painted in colours so dark as to amount to a libel on a whole people.
The Delegates of the Clarendon Press having rightly decided that regard for the truth of history forbids the issue of a reprint of the Essay at this time without a word of warning to the unwary reader, the following brief memoranda are prefixed to it in the hope that they may suffice to correct the false impression produced by perusalof Macaulay’snumerous misstatements and unfair innuendoes. Minor errors are not noted.
Parentage and Boyhood.-Warren's father, the Rev. Penyston Hastings (b. 1704), was admitted as a commoner at Balliol College, Oxford, March 26, 1724, and was married, when twenty-six years of age, on July 30, 1730, at Worcester, to Helen Warren, aged twenty-five. He then lived with his father, the Rector of Daylesford, in a decent house, at.Churchill (photo. in Mr G. W. Hastings's book). : The lagend started by Gleig and copied by Macaulay, &c., that Penyston married at fifteen, and lived in penury, is false.
The Rohilla War.—The story told by Mill and Macaulay is rhetorical fiction. The Rohillas, far from being an 'injured nation,' were greedy Afghan adven. turers lording it over a large Hindu population, which was but slightly affected by the war. The destruction wrought during the brief struggle is enormously exaggerated in the Essay, not more than 1,700 or 1,800 Rohilla families having been expelled. The main and legitimate object of the war, successfully achieved, was the protection of the territories of the Company and its only useful ally' from the Marathās, with whom the Rohillas were intriguing faithlessly.
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Reduction of allowances to the Nawāb of Murshidābād and stoppage of tribute to the Emperor.These necessary measures were justified by the abolition of double government' in Bengal and by the fact that the Emperor had become a there tool of the hostile Marāthās, who alone would have benefited by payment of the tribute.
Nandkumār (Nuncomar) and Sir Elijah Impey.Macaulay's declaration that it was then, and still.is the opinion of everybody, idiots and biographers excepted, that Hastings was the real mover in the business of Nandkumār's conviction, is rebutted by Hastings's. solemn oath and much cogent evidence. The trial: by jury, which was prolonged, thorough, and scrupu lously fair, was held before four unanimous judges, not Sir Elijah Impey alone, as implied by Macaulay It is not true that 'Impey hanged Nuncomar in order to support Hastings.' No judicial misconduct isl proved against Impey, who must, however, share with his colleagues whatever blame may attach to the later deplorable conflict with the Executive. The essayist's account of that conflict ‘is absolutely false from end to end' (Stephen).
The statements that 'no other such judge has dishonoured the English ermine since Jefferies drank himself to death in the Tower,' and that 'the Chief Justice was rich, quiet, and infamous' are cruelly unjust. “He seems to me,' writes Sir James Stephen,
to have resembled closely many other judges whom I have known. ... I see as little ground from his general character and behaviour to believe him guilty of the horrible crimes imputed to him as to suspect any of my own colleagues of such enormities. ... I believe him to have been quite innocent.'
Rājā Chait Singh, as a zemindar holding first under the Nawāb-vazīr, and later under the Company, was liable to be called on by his suzerain for special aid in an emergency. The fine intended to be imposed for default may have been excessive, as Pitt maintained, but no moral blame attaches to Hastings, although he acted imprudently in effecting the Rājā’s arrest. The
statement that Hastings's first design was on Benares, a city &c.,' is untrue. He never had any design on Benares.
The Begams.of Oudh.—The treasure retained by the Begams and wrongly guaranteed to them by Francis and his colleagues, the enemies of Hastings, was State. property, and, as such, claimable by the Nawāb-yazın The Begams joined actively in Chait Singh's. rebellion, and may be fairly held to have therebj forfeited their right to the continuance of the Courtcil's guarantee. No personal violence to them was used, and the improper severities inflicted on the eunuchs were not ordered by Hastings.
Personal character of Hastings. There is no suffi. cient warrant for the scandalous imputations conveyed in many of Macaulay's phrases, to the effect that Hastings was not squeamish in pecuniary transactions,' that he was ready to use any 'means, fair or foul,' that he was guilty of great crimes,' and so forth. Nor was he hard of heart, as affirmed. On the contrary, he was most sympathetic, compassionate, and generous.
The character delineated by Macaulay as combining the highest virtues with 'great crimes' is that of a monster rather than of a man.
References for the facts.-G. FORREST, Selections from the Letters, Dispatches, and other State Papers preserved in the Foreign Department of the Government of India, 1772-85 (2 vols. : Blackwell ; Constable, 1910): G. W. HASTINGS, A Vindication of Warren Hastings (H. Frowde, 1909): SYDNEY C. GRIER, The Letters of Warren Hastings to his Wife (Blackwood, 1905): SIR CHARLES LAWSON, The Private Life of Warren Hastings (Swan Sonnenschein & Co. 1895): SIR JOHN STRACHEY, Hastings and the Rohilla War (Clarendon Press, 1892): SIR JAMES STEPHEN, The Story of Nuncomar and the Impeachment of Sir Elijah Impey (2 vols.: Macmillan, 1885). The Indian chapters in the History of England by LORD MAHON (STANHOPE), published separately as The Rise of our Indian Empire (Murray, 3rd ed., 1876), are dispassionate and judicial.
VINCENT A. SMITH.
Memoirs of the Life of Warren Hastings, first Governor-General of Bengal. Compiled from Original Papers, by the Rev. G. R. GLEIG, M.A. 3 vols. 8vo. London : 1841.
We are inclined to think that we shall best meet 5 the wishes of our readers, if, instead of minutely examining this book, we attempt to give, in a way necessarily hasty and imperfect, our own view of the life and character of Mr. Hastings. Our feeling towards him is not exactly that of the House of 10 Commons which impeached him in 1787; neither is it that of the House of Commons which uncovered and stood up to receive him in 1813. He had great qualities, and he rendered great services to the state. But to represent him as a man of stainless virtue is to 15 make him ridiculous; and from regard for his memory, if from no other feeling, his friends would have done well to lend no countenance to such adulation. We believe that, if he were now living, he would have sufficient judgement and sufficient greatness of mind 20 to wish to be shown as he was. He must have known that there were dark spots on his fame. He might also have felt with pride that the splendour of his fame would bear many spots. He ald have wished posterity to have a likeness of him, though an un- 25 favourable likeness, rather than a daub at once insipid and unnatural, resembling neither him nor anybody else. Paint me as I am,' said Oliver Cromwell, while sitting to young Lely. “If you leave out the scars and wrinkles, I will not pay you a shilling.' 30 Even in such a trifle, the great Protector showed both his good sense and his magnanimity. He did not wish all that was characteristic in his countenance to be lost, in the vain attempt to give him the regular features and smooth blooming cheeks of the curl-pated 35 minions of James the First. He was content that his