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From the Edinburgh Review.
feeling towards him is not exactly that of
the House of Commons which impeached Memoirs of the Life of Warren Hastings, him in 1787; neither is it that of the House
first Governor-General of Bengal. Com- of Commons which uncovered and stood up piled from Original Papers, by the Rev. to receive him in 1813.
He had great G. R. GLEIG, M.A. 3 vols. 8vo. London: qualities, and he rendered great services to 1841.
the state. But to represent him as a man
of stainless virtue, is to make him ridicuTais book seems to have been manufac- lous; and from regard for his memory, if tured in pursuance of a contract, by which from no other feeling, his friends would the representatives of Warren Hastings, on have done well to lend no countenance to the one part, bound themselves to furnish such puerile adulation. We believe that, papers, and Mr. Gleig, on the other part, if he were now living, be would have sufbound himself to furnish praise. It is but ficient judgment and sufficient greatness of just to say that the covenants on both sides mind to wish to be shown as he was. He have been most faithfully kept; and the must have known that there were dark spots result is before us in the form of three big on his fame. He might also have felt with bad volumes, full of undigested correspon- pride that the splendour of his fame would dence and undiscerning panegyric. bear many spots. He would have prefer
If it were worth while to examine this red, we are confident, even the severity of performance in detail, we could easily make Mr. Mill to the puffing of Mr. Gleig. He a long article by merely pointing out inac- would have wished posterity to have a liktcurate statements, inelegant expressions, dess of him, though an unfavourable likeand immoral doctrines. But it would be ness, rather than a daub at once insipid and idle to waste criticism on a bookmaker; unnatural, resembling neither him nor anyand, whatever credit Mr. Gleig may have body else. • Paint me as I am,' said Oliver justly earned by former works, it is as a Cromwell, while sitting to young Lely. If bookmaker, and nothing more, that he now you leave out the scars and wrinkles, I will comes before us. More eminent men than not pay you a shilling.' Even in such a Mr. Gleig have written nearly as ill as he, trifle, the great Protector showed both his when they have stooped to similar drudgery good sense and his magnanimity. He did It would be unjust to estimate Goldsmith not wish all that was characteristic in his by the Vicar of Wakefield, or Scott by the countenance to be lost, in the vain attempt Life of Napoleon. Mr. Gleig is neither a to give bim the regular features and the Goldsmith nor a Scott; but it would be un smooth blooming cheeks of the curl-pated just to deny that he is capable of something minions of James the First. He was conbetter than these Memoirs. It would also, tent that his face should go forth marked we hope and believe, be unjust to charge with all the blemishes which had been put any Christian minister with the guilt of on it by time, by war, by sleepless nights, deliberately maintaining some propositions by anxiety, perhaps by remorse; but with which we find in this book. It is not too valour, policy, authority, and public care, much to say, that Mr. Gleig has written written in all its princely lines. If•men several passages, which bear the same rela- truly great knew their own interest, it is tion to the · Prince' of Machiavelli that the thus that they would wish their minds to be • Prince' of Machiavelli bears to the portrayed. • Whole Duty of Man,' and which would Warren Hastings sprang from an ancient excite amazement in a den of robbers, or on and illustrious race. It has been affirmed board of a schooner of pirates. But we that his pedigree can be traced back to the are willing to attribute these offences to great Danish sea-king, whose sails were haste, to thoughtlessness, and to that disease long the terror of both coasts of the British of the understanding, which may be called channel; and who, after
fierce and the Furor Biographicus, and which is to doubtful struggles, yielded at last to the writers of lives what the goître is to an Al- valour and genius of Alfred. But the unpine Shepherd, or dirt-eating to a Negro doubted splendour of the line of Hastings, slave.
needs no illlustration from fable. One We are inclined to think that we shall branch of that line wore, in the fourteenth best meet the wishes of our readers, if, in- century, the coronet of Pembroke. From stead of dwelling on the faults of this book, another branch sprang the renowned Chamwe attempt to give, in a way necessarily berlain, the faithful adherent of the White basty and imperfect, our own view of the Rose, whose fate has furnished so striking life and character of Mr. Hastings. Our a theme both to poets and to historians. His
family received from the Tudors the earl-l into the hands of strangers, filled his young dom of Huntingdon; which, after long dis- brain with wild fancies and projects. He possession, was regained in our time by a loved to hear stories of the wealth and series of events scarcely paralleled in ro- greatness of his progenitors — of their splen
did housekeeping, their loyalty, and their The lords of the manor of Daylesford, valour. On one bright summer day, the in Worcestershire, claimed to be considered boy, then just, seven years old, lay on the as the heads of this distinguished family. bank of the rivulet which flows through the The main stock, indeed, prospered less than old domain of his house to join the Isis. some of the younger shoots. But the There, as three-score and ten years later be Daylesford family, though not ennobled, told the tale, rose in bis mind a scheme was wealthy and highly considered, till, which, through all the turns of his eventful about two hundred years ago, it was over- career, was never abandoned. He would whelmed in the great ruin of the civil war. recover the estate which had belonged to The Hastings of that time was a zealous his fathers. He would be Hastings of cavalier. He raised money on his own lands, Daylesford. This purpose, formed in in-. sent his plate to the mint at Oxford, joined fancy and poverty, grew stronger as bis the royal army, and, after spending half of intellect expanded and as his fortune rose. his property in the cause of King Charles, He pursued his plan with that calm but inwas glad to ransom himself by making over domitable force of will, which was the most most of the remaining half to Speaker Len- striking peculiarity of his character. When, thal. The old seat at Daylesford still re- under a tropical sun, he ruled fifty millions mained in the family; but it could no longer of Asiatics, his hopes, amidst all the cares be kept up; and in the following generation of war, finance, and legislation, still pointed it was sold to a merchant of London. to Daylesford. And when his long public
Before the transfer took place, the last life, so singularly chequered with good and Hastings of Daylesford had presented his evil, with glory and obloquy, had at length second son to the rectory of the parish in closed for ever, it was to Daylesford that he which the ancient residence of the family retired to die. stood. The living was of little value ; and When he was eight years old, his uncle, the situation of the poor clergyman, after Howard, determined to take charge of him, the sale of the estate was deplorable. He and to give him a liberal education. The was constantly engaged in lawsuits about boy went up to London, and was sent to a his tithes with the new lord of the manor, school at Newington, where he was well and was at length utterly ruined. His eldest taught but ill fed. He always attributed son, Howard, a well-conducted young man, the smallness of his stature to the hard and obtained a place in the Customs. The sec. scanty fare of this seminary. At ten he and son, Pynaston, an idle worthless boy was removed to Westminster school, then married before he was sixteen, lost his wife flourishing under the care of Dr. Nichols. in two years, and went to the West Indies, Vinny Bourne, as his pupils affectionately where he died leaving to the care of his called him, was one of the masters. Churunfortunate father a little orphan, destined chill, Colman, Loyd, Cumberland, Cowper, to strange and memorable vicissitudes of were among the students. With Cowper, fortune.
Hastings formed a friendship which neither Warren, the son of Pynaston, was born the lapse of time, nor a wide dissimilari:y on the 6th of December, 1732. His mother of opinions and pursuits, could wholly disdied a few days later, and he was left de- solve. It does not appear that they ever pendent on bis distressed grandfather. met after they had grown to manhood. The child was early sent to the village But many years later, when the voices of a school, where he learned his letters on the crowd of great orators were crying for vensame bench with the sons of the peasantry. geance on the oppressor of India, the shy Nor did anything in his garb or fare indi- and secluded poet could image to himself cate that his life was to take a widely differ- Hastings the Governor-General, only as the ent course from that of the young rustics Hastings with whom he had rowed on the with whom he studied and played. But no Thames and played in the cloister; and recloud could overcast the dawn of so much fused to believe that so good-tempered a genius and so much ambition. The very fellow could have done anything very ploughmen observed, and long remembered, wrong. His own life had been spent in how kindly little Warren took to his book. praying, musins, and rhyming among the The daily siglit of the lands which his an- waterlilies of the Ouse. He had preserved cestors had possessed, and which had passed in no commou piea-ure the innocence of
childhood. His spirit had indeed been se- ! He was immediately placed at a desk in verely tried, but not by temptations which the Secretary's office at Calcutta, and laimpelled him to any gross violation of the boured there during two years. Fort rules of social morality. He had never William was then å purely commercial been attacked by combinations of powerful settlement. In the south of India the enand pleadly enemies. He had never been croaching policy of Dupleix had transformed compelled to make a choice between inno- the servants of the English company, against cence and greatness, between crime and their will, into diplomatists and generals. ruin. Firmly as he held in theory the The war of the succession was raging in doctrine of human depravity, his habits were the Carnatic; and the tide had been sudsuch, that he was unable to conceive how denly turned against the French by the far from the path of right, even kind and genius of young Robert Clive. But in noble natures may be hurried by the rage Bengal, the European settlers, at peace with of conflict and the lust of dominion.
the natives and with each other, were Hastings had another associate at West- wholly occupied with Ledgers and Bills of minster, of whom we shall have occasion to lading. Inake frequent mention - Elijah Impey. After two years passed in keeping acWe know little about their school days. counts at Calcutta, Hastings was sent up the But we think we may safely venture to country to Cossimbazar, a town which lies guess that, whenever Hastings wished to on the Hoogly, about a mile from Moorshedplay any tricks more than usually naughty, abad, and which then bore to Moorshedabad he hired Impey with a tart or a ball to act a relation, if we may compare small things as fag in the worst part of the prank. with great, such as the city of London bears
Warren was distinguished among his to Westminster. Moorshedabad was the comrades as an excellent swimmer, boatman, abode of the prince who, by an authority and scholar. At fourteen he was first in ostensibly derived from the Mogul, but the examination for the foundation. His really independent, ruled the three great name in gilded letters on the walls of the provinces of Bengal, Orissa, and Bahar. dormitory, still attests his victory over many At Moorshedabad were the court, the baolder competitors. He stayed two years rem, and the public offices. Cossimbazar longer at the school, and was looking for- was a port and a place of trade, renowned ward to a studentship at Christ Church, for the quantity and excellence of the silks when an event happened which changed which were sold in its marts, and constantly the whole course of his life. Howard Hast- receiving and sending forth fleets of richly ings died, bequeathing his nephew to the laden barges. At this important point, the care of a friend and distant relation, named Company had established a small factory Chiswick. TẠis gentleman, though he did subordinate to that of Fort William. Here, not absolutely refuse the charge, was de- during several years, Hastings was employed sirous to rid himself of it as soon as possible. in making bargains for stuffs with native Dr. Nichols made strong remonstrances brokers. While he was thus engaged, Suragainst the cruelty of interrupting the ajab Dowlah succeeded to the government, studies of a youth who seemed likely to be and declared war against the English. The one of the first scholars of the age. He defenceless settlement of Cossimbazar, lyeven offered to bear the expense of sending ing close to the tyrant's capital, was inhis favourite pupil to Oxford. But Mr. stantly seized. Hastings was sent a prisonChiswick was indexible. He thought the er to Moorshedabad; but, in consequence years which had already been wasted on of the humane intervention of the servants hexameters and pentameters quite sufficient. of the Dutch Company, was treated with He had it in his power to obtain for the lad indulgence. Meanwhile the Nabob marched a writership in the service of the East India on Calcutta ; the governor and the comCompany. Whether the young adventurer, mandant fled; the town and citadel were when once shipped off
, made a fortune, or taken, and most of the English prisoners died of a liver complaint, he equally ceased perished in the Blackhole. to be a burden to anybody. Warren was In these events originated the greatness accordingly removed from Westminster of Warren Hastings. The fugitive govern school, and placed for a few months at a or and his companions had taken refuge on commercial academy, to study arithmetic the dreary islet of Fulda, near the moutlı and book-keeping. In January, 1750, a few of the Hoogly. They were naturally dedays after he had completed his seventeenth sirous to obtain full information respecting year, he sailed for Bengal, and arrived at the proceedings of the Nabob; and no perhis destination in the October following: son seemed so likely to furnish it as Hast
ings, who was a prisoner at large in the begets a sort of courage; when a convulimmediate neighbourhood of the court. sive burst of popular rage and despair warns He thus became a diplomatic agent, and tyrants not to presume too far on the pasoon established a high character for ability tience of mankind. But against misgovernand resolution. The treason which at a ment such as then afflicted Bengal, it was later period was fatal to Surajah Dowlah, impossible to struggle. The superior inwas already in progress; and Xastings was telligence and energy of the dominant admitted to the deliberations of the con- class made their power irresistible. A war spirators. But the time for striking had of Bengalees against Englishmen, was like not arrived. It was necessary to postpone a war of sheep against wolves, of men the execution of the design; and Hastings, against demons. The only protection who was
now in extreme peril, fled to the conquered could find was in the moderFulda.
ation, the clemency, the enlarged policy of Soon after his arrival at Fulda, the expe
the conquerors. That protection, at a later dition from Madras, commanded by Clive, period, they found. But at first, English appeared in the Hoogly. Warren, young, power came among them unaccompanied intrepid, and excited probably by the ex- by English morality. There was an interample of the Commander of the Forces, val between the time at which they became who, having like himself been a mercantile our subjects, and the time at which we beagent of the Company, had been turned by gan to reflect that we were bound to dispublic calamities into a soldier, determined charge towards them the duties of rulers. to serve in the ranks. During the early During that interval, the business of a seroperations of the war he carried a musket. vant of the Company was simply to wring But the quick eye of Clive soon perceived out of the natives a hundred or two hunthat the head of the young volunteer dred thousand pounds as speedily as possiwould be more useful than his arm. When ble, that he might return home before his after the battle of Plassey, Meer Jaffier was constitution had suffered from the heat, to proclaimed Nabob of Bengal, Hastings was marry a peer's daughter, to buy rotten borappointed to reside at the court of the new roughs in Cornwall, and to give balls in St. prince as agent for the Company.
James's Square. Of the conduct of HastHe remained at Moorshedabad till the ings at this time, little is known; but the year 1761, when he became a member of little that is known, and the circumstance Council, and was consequently forced to that little is known, must be considered as reside at Calcutta. This was during the in- honourable to him. He could not protect terval between Clive's first and second ad- the natives; all that he could do was, to abministration - an interval which has left stain from plundering and oppressing them ; on the fame of the East India Company a and this he appears to have done. It is cerstain, not wholly effaced by many years of tain that at this time he continued poor ; just and humane government. Mr. Vansit- and it is equally certain, that by cruelty tart, the Governor, was at the head of a and dishonesty he might easily have become new and anomalous empire. On the one rich. It is certain that he was never charged side was a band of English functionaries, with having borne a share in the abuses daring, intelligent, eager to be rich. Do which then prevailed; and it is almost the other side was a great native popula- equally certain that, if he had borne a share tion, helpless, timiil, aucustomed to crouch in those abuses, the able and bitter enemies under oppression. To keep the stronger who afterwards persecuted him, would not race from preying on the weaker, was an have failed to discover and to proclaim his undertaking whiảh tasked to the utmost the guilt. The keen, severe, and even malevotalents and energy of Clive. Vansitta't, lent scrutiny to which his whole public life with fair intentions, was a feeble and effi- was subjected a scrutiny unparalleled, as cient ruler. The master caste, as was natu- we believe, in the history of mankind — is, in ral, broke loose from all restraint; and then one respect, advantageous to his reputation. was seen what we believe to be the most It brought many lamentable blemishes to frightful of all spectacles, the strength of light; but it entitles him to be considered civilisation without its mercy. To all other pure from every blemish which has not been despotism there is a check; imperfect, in- broughtoto light. deed, and liable to gro:8 abuse, but still suf- The truth is that the temptations to ficient to preserve society from the last ex- which so many English functionaries yieldtreine of mistry. A time comes when the ed in the time of Mr. Vansittart, were not evils of submission are obviously greater temptations addressed to the ruling pagthan those of resistance; when fear itself i sions of Warren Hastings. He was not