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fuccefs the war in Ceylon; and furely it was at least prudent to inquire into these means before a refolution was taken to protract fo arduous a conteft. He had heard a rumour, that the Governor General of India had determined to attempt the conquest of Candy; and that ten thousand men were to be fent from the continent of India for that purpose. It behoved the Houfe to know the grounds of the war and the probability of fuccefs, before the lives of fo many brave men were idly facrificed. He was therefore decidedly in favour of inquiry.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer declared, that Government was in poffeffion of no information as to any great expedition to Ceylon. He thought the firft paper fufficient for every purpose of information, and conceived that the production of the others would be attended with great inconvenience.
The queftion was then loudly called for, and the House divided;
For the original motion
For the previous queftion 70-Majority 23. Mr. Creevey's other motions were then put, and negatived.
Mr. Francis moved, that the 55th claufe of the 24th of the King fhould be read, viz. ""Whereas to purfue fchemes of conqueft and extenfion of dominion are meafures repugnant to the with, the honour, and policy of this nation; be it enacted, &c." That Gentleman then addreffed himself to the Speaker to the following effect-In moving to have this claufe now read, I have two objects in view: firft, to remind the Houfe of their own unanimous refolution, on which the fubfequent act of Parliament was founded; and then to fhew that, in the motion which I propose to fubmit to the Houfe, I am governed by that refolution, and aim at nothing but to inforce the execution of that law. In this purpofe, and on this ground, I hope for the fupport and concurrence of the Houfe; because I do not believe it will be afferted by any man, that it is very right to pafs laws for the better government of a diftant dominion, and very wrong to inquire whether fuch laws are obeyed or not. In my opinion it would be a wifer policy and a fafer praetice not to make any laws, than to fuffer them to be flighted with impunity. Habits of difobedience are very catching; and they are the more dangerous in proportion to the dif tance of the offending parties, and to the facility which
that distance gives them, to conceal or difguife their tranfactions. I ftate thefe principles generally, as a rational ground of parliamentary fufpicion and inquiry, whenever the governments in India appear to be engaged in measures which the law prohibits; and not at all meaning to affirm, that fuch measures, when they are thoroughly examined, may not admit of a fufficient juftification. The bufinefs and duty of this day does not call upon me to accuse any man, or to affirm that any thing deferving the cenfure of Parlia ment has been done. My object is to inquire; and then, according to the refult of the inquiry, to defift or to proceed. All I contend for, in the firft inftance, is, that a Britifh governor who commences a war in India, is prima facie doing that which the law prohibits; that his own act of itself puts him on his defence; that he is bound to juftify on the cafe; and that, until he has fo juftified his conduct, the prefumptions are against him. All the authorities of this country have united with one voice to condemn and forbid the carrying on war in India for any purpose but defence, or any ground but neceffity. I need not tell the Houfe that the practice in India has been almoft uniformly, or with very fhort exceptions, directly oppofed to the prohibition. While the Directors of the India Company had any power, they certainly laid down very wife principles, and gave very proper orders on this fubject. When their power over their own governors was found to be infufficient, the Legiflature interpofed, but, as it appears by the facts, with no more fuccefs than the Directors. Since the prohibitory act paffed in 1783, I appeal to the Houfe whether we have heard of any thing from India but war and conqueft; many victories, and great acquifitions, with only now and then a fhort interval of repofe, to take breath and begin again. There is another ground of prefumption against the neceffity and juftice of thefe wars, which feems to me as ftrong and conclufive, as any prefumption can be before the contrary is proved; I mean, Sir, that almost all these wars are fuppofed to originate in acts of provocation and aggreffion committed by the weak against the ftrong. The ftrength of any fingle Indian state at any time, and now I believe of all of them put to. gether, is not to be compared to the military power and refources of the English. I do not fay that thefe nations have no means of defence, or that the Mahrattas, for example, can do us.no mifchief; but that, confidering the great dif parity of force, it requires very clear evidence to make it credible, that whereas the difpofition of the British power
in India is always, if poffible, to preferve the peace, and to be fatisfied with what we poffefs, this excellent difpofition is never fuffered to prevail, because the Indian princes are fo reftlefs and unruly, that we cannot, in common justice to ourselves, refrain from invading them. The fable fays,the fierce, rebellious lamb, would never fuffer the mild, gentle, moderate wolf to be quiet; if it was not you, it was your father. Thefe propofitions may be true, but they require fome proof; and, when the proof is produced, I thalt defire it always to be obferved and remembered that the evis dence, that comes before us, is ex parte. We hear little or nothing of what the oppofite, and poffibly the injured party have to fay for themselves.Ever fince I have known any thing of Indian affairs, I have found that the prevailing difeafe of our Governments there has been a rage for mak ing war. The ftrong though ineffectual remedies which have from time to time been applied to this diforder, are a fufficient proof of its exiftence. That individuals may find their account in the conduct of fuch wars, I do not mean to difpute. But I deny that they are or can be for the benefit of the India Company or the nation, particularly in the prefent circumftances of the Company's affairs. In thefe circumftances, and in actual poffeffion of half the Peninfula, you engage in a new war with the Mahrattas, the fuccefs of which can give you nothing but an addition of territory, which you cannot keep without an intolerable increase of your military establishments, and a perpetual drain of all your refources, of men as well as money, and which you ought not to keep if you could. Whether the Mahrattas have united in defence of their country, or to carry the war Into the heart of our best provinces, as they have done in former times, or with what lofs or expence our fuccefs against them may have been purchased, are queftions on which we are utterly in the dark. By public report alone we are informed, that a war of great extent at least, and liable to many important confequences, is now carrying on in India, and no information of it has been communicated to Parliament. Sir, I can fafely affure this Houfe, that the Mahrattas, though not capable of meeting us in the field, or at all likely to encounter us in a pitched battle, are neverthelefs very well able to do us a great deal of tnischief. In the year 1778, the prefidency of Bombay received and gave their protection to à Mahratta fugitive, called Ragoba, and muftcred all the force they could collect to efcort him back to Poonah, and to make themfelves mafters of that place. If
the expedition had fucceeded, I do not doubt that the perfons who were engaged in it, would have been very well paid for their trouble. The event was, that their army was furrounded, starved, and compelled to capitulate. At fome earlier periods of the hiftory of India, the Mahrattas have frequently croffed the rivers and made rapid incurtions into the upper provinces of Bengal and Bahar, carrying universal defolation with them wherever they went, ruining the country, and making it impoffible to collect the revenues. know no reason, why they may not make the fame attempts again, and with the fame fuccefs, With fuch bodies of horfe as they can collect at a very fhort warning, from fifty to a hundred thoufand in different quarters, they may pour into our provinces, overrun and lay wafte the country, and then make their retreat with the fame rapidity, without its being poffible for us either to meet or to overtake them. This is their mode of making war, and it has always fucceeded with them. They are the Tartars of India. In these circumftances, I afk, is it proper or not that Parliament fhould know, why this war was undertaken, for what purposes it has been purfued, and with what fuccefs it has been attended; and finally, has it the fanction and approbation of the Court of Directors, and of his Majefty's Minifters? I cannot believe it poffible. If it should be stated, as I have fome reafon to expect it may, that the papers to which these motions allude, have not in fact been received by the Court of Directors, that answer muft filence me for the prefent; but I must say that, in another point of view, it will be very unfatisfactory. The orders given by Lord Wellesley, in confequence of which the hoftilities began upon the Malabar coaft, must have been dated fome time in June or early in July laft. I beg of the House to obferve the dates-we are now in the middle of March; fo that eight months and a half must have elapfed fince the orders were given, and no information received at home on that fubject. This is a cafe, which the act of Parliament has forefeen and provided for. The words of the law are that, "in all cafes, where hoftilities fhall be commenced or treaty made, the Governor General and Council fhall, by the most expeditious means they can devife, communicate the fame to the Court of Directors, together with a full ftatement of the information and intelligence upon which they fhall have commenced fuch hoftilities or made fuch treaties, and their motives and reafons for the fame at large." Until it fhall appear in
evidence that this delay of information directly from Lord Wellesley is not owing to any neglect or omiffion on his part, I am bound to prefume that there is a fault fomewhere. Suppofing the meatures in queftion fhould appear, upon inquiry, to deferve cenfure, that caufe of cenfure will be greatly aggravated by the neglect of fending home timely information on the whole fubje&t.-I am not able to forefee what fort of objections can be stated to the motions for papers, with which I mean to conclude. I rather hope for the acquiefcence of the noble Lord on the other fide. At all events, I hope and expect that perfonal character, or the perfonal confidence due to any man, will not be alleged in bar to this inquiry. At prefent there is no charge, and. there ought to be no defence. If I have laid fufficient ground for inquiry, we are bound to inquire. If crimination fhould follow, it must be answered, not by character, but by proof. When an inquiry was moved for in this Houfe, in the year 1791, into the caufes of the firft war with Tippoo Sultan, no man's reputation ftood higher in the estimation of the public than that of Lord Cornwallis. But I do not remember that any oppofition to the inquiry was fet up on the fcore of his perfonal character, though none was more generally refpected. On the contrary, his Majefty's Minifters met the inquiry fairly, and thought they could not defend his conduct better than by giving us all the information they poffeffed. I hope and expect that the noble Lord, now at the head of the India department, will follow that example. He profeffes to invite and encourage a free difcuffion of all Indian queftions. If not, and if the motion, with which I am now about to conclude, fhould be refifted, I think the Houfe will be reduced to one of these two conclufions; either that there is fomething in the perfonal merits of Lord Wellesley, which entities him to greater confidence than was thought due to Lord Cornwallis; or that there has been fomething in his conduct, to which no other defence. can be applied but a favourable opinion of his character. I move you, Sir,
"That there be laid before this Houfe, copies or extracts of all difpatches received from the Governor General of Bengal, or from the prefidencies of Fort St. George and Bombay, as far as fuch difpatches relate to or account for hoftilities, now or lately fubfifting between the faid Governments and any of the Mahratta princes or ftates; with the dates of the receipt of fuch difpatches.