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Francis whether he had been previously aware of Nuncomar's design, which the other reluctantly admitted. Mr. Hastings scouted the accusations of such a miscreant, and denied the right of the Council to entertain them. Nevertheless, on the receipt of a further letter from Nuncomar, demanding to be personally heard in support of his allegations, the majority of the Council, as if to leave no doubt of the quality of their motives, had the bad taste, as well as audacity, to accede to this demand, notwithstanding that Mr. Barwell pointed out the Supreme Court as the proper tribunal before which such questions should be tried. Mr. Hastings could not submit to be bearded by Nuncomar in the very council-chamber, and accordingly, in the exercise of the power vested in him by the Act, adjourned the Council, and retired with Mr. Barwell. The majority, however, kept their seats, and placing General Clavering in the chair, determined that the proceeding of the Governor-General was irregular, and called in Nuncomar, who tendered a fresh charge against Mr. Hastings, of extorting two lacs from the Munny Begum, in proof of which he produced a pretended letter from that lady, which bore the character of forgery on the face of it, and which she subsequently disavowed. Yet the Council voted the charges true, and that measures should be taken to compel the repayment of about £40,000 by Mr. Hastings into the public treasury without delay.
The example of Nuncomar, and the avidity with which the Council listened to the most improbable charges against a man marked, as it were, for ruin, had the natural effect of stimulating others to join in the conspiracy against him-some, perhaps, from revenge, others in the hope of advantage, for all were caressed, flattered, and rewarded, in exact proportion to the charges they brought against the Governor-General. "Nuncomar," says Mr. Hastings, writing to his agents, "holds his durbar in complete state; sends for zemindars and their vakeels, coaxing and threatening them for complaints, which no doubt he will get in abundance, besides what he forges himself." A sudden check, however, was put to the career of the majority by evidence unexpectedly coming to the hands of Mr. Hastings, whereby he was enabled to institute proceedings in the Supreme Court for a conspiracy against the whole of their agents, including Nuncomar. This evidence was obtained by the voluntary defection of one of the conspirators, Comul uddeen, a large zemindar or farmer of the revenues, who made a deposition before the Supreme Court, on the strength of which Nuncomar, Mr. Fowke, and their associates, were held to bail to take their trial, Mr. Hastings being bound over to prosecute. The three councillors, with a disregard to decency amounting almost to a crime, on the very day following the arrest of Nuncomar, paid him a formal visit of honour, a compliment which they had never before offered him, and which he had never received from any previous administration. The measure of this man's iniquity, however, was now full. In less than three weeks after, Nuncomar was arrested on a charge of forgery, preferred by a native merchant in Calcutta, and committed to prison. The three Councillors had the assurance to protest against the right of the King's judges to commit, on such a charge, a
native of Nuncomar's rank, to a common gaol, and required that, in consideration of his religious scruples, he should be enlarged on bail. Haughty messages were sent by them, as the Council, to the Supreme Court; but the judges, who had fortunately the power to act upon their own responsibility, did not want the firmness requisite to vindicate their own independence and the majesty of the law. Nuncomar was tried by a jury of Englishmen, convicted, and though a Bramin, hanged like any other malefactor.
No one in the least acquainted with the history of British India can be ignorant of the sensation produced by the execution of this man, and of the reproaches cast upon the judges, and especially upon Mr. Hastings, for this "tragedy," or "murder," as some have termed it. "No transaction, perhaps," observes Mr. Mill," of his whole administration more deeply tainted the reputation of Hastings than the tragedy of Nuncomar." And why? Because he was an accuser of the Governor-General, who might have prevented the prosecution, and suspended the execution, and his not doing so, "generates the suspicion of guilt, and of an inability to encounter the weight of his testimony." But it is well answered by Mr. Gleig, that Mr. Hastings had no power to interfere, whereas the majority of the Council might, by a simple vote, have suspended the execution pending a reference home, and their sitting with folded arms to witness the death of their tool would seem to countenance the belief that they hoped to make it another count of the indictment against Hastings, and to assign his death as a convenient reason why the inquiries into the Governor-General's malversations failed. Then the chief justice, who presided at the trial, and by whose hands, the three Councillors asserted, "the Governor-General murdered Nuncomar," was afterwards impeached for the transaction. It was urged against him, that forgery was not a capital offence by the law of Hindustan; that the act of forgery was committed in 1770, whereas the statute which created the Supreme Court was not published till 1774; that Nuncomar, as a native, was not amenable to the English tribunals for a crime committed against another native, and various other allegations. Sir Elijah Impey, however, fully exculpated himself, and even Mr. Mill admits, with a "perhaps," that the Court was justified "on the rigid interpretation of naked law." The Court, therefore, acted according to law, and that the crime was brought home to Nuncomar no one can reasonably entertain a doubt. Whether the punishment of death should have been inflicted, seeing that forgery was not a capital offence in the eyes of the natives of India, is another question, which affects the Court, not the Governor, who has never been connected with the prosecutor, Mohun Persaud, or proved to have instigated or aided the prosecution. The coincidence of the charge against Nuncomar with the accusations brought by him against the Governor is the only circumstance which the most bitter enemy of Hastings could tinge with suspicion. "The coincidence," observes Mr. Wilson, in his notes upon the text of Mill, "was unfortunate, but it seems to have been unavoidable." The assertion recklessly made by Mr.
Burke, in his speech on the 14th May 1789, that Mr. Hastings murdered Nuncomar by the hands of Sir Elijah Impey," was not only charac terized in the House of Commons as indecent, but it was resolved by large majority, that "the words ought not to have been spoken."
The trials to which the patience and temper of Hastings were exposed during the disputes in his Council must have been severe, and his endurance of them is one of the strongest proofs of his fortitude. They were not the ordinary differences which occasionally divide and distract the executive government of a colony, which are traceable to temporary causes, or to sources of local origin; nor were they restricted to that species of opposi tion which results from a calm and sincere, however erroneous, conviction that the measures opposed are mischievous. "The gravest questions were debated," as Mr. Gleig observes, "not upon their own merits, but with reference to the parties proposing them." Nor was the evil confined to the council-chamber; it must have aggravated the distress and perplexity of Mr. Hastings, as well as the difficulties of his post, to find that "the example set by the Supreme Government was faithfully imitated in the inferior tribunals, till there was scarcely a district, or pergunnah, or zemindary, or farm, which became not an arena for party struggles." Nor had he the support which, next to the testimony of his own heart, could have best consoled and strengthened him, namely, the approbation of his employers at home. Although, as we have seen, he went out with a pledge that he might "depend on the steady support and favour of the Court," he writes to his intimate friend and agent at home, Colonel MacLeane, in July 1776, as follows:
The letter from the Court of Directors is the most partial that ever bore their seal; it is replete with the grossest adulation to the majority, and as gross abuse of me, which is conveyed even in the language of my opponents. But I regard it not. If those who penned the letter hope by it to provoke me to give up the battle, they have erred most miserably. Though ruin or death should attend it, I shall wait the event; and if I must fall, I will not be the instrument of my own defeat by anticipating it, unless my friends at home shall all join in advising it, and I shall be at the same time convinced of the propriety of a retreat.
At one moment, Mr. Hastings seems to have been goaded almost into a resolution to retire, and the construction put upon the expressions which conveyed that incipient resolution produced consequences of some impor
RAMBLES IN CEYLON.
BY LIEUTENANT DE BUTTS.
Ir is in the pass of Rambodde, which emerges on the plains of Newera Ellia, that the greatest natural obstacles on the line of route between that Alpine station and Kandy were surmounted. The elevation of the plains above Rambodde, from whence the ascent commences, is between three and four thousand feet. Measured in an horizontal plane, the distance between that village and Newera Ellia does not exceed eight miles. The result is, that the greater portion of the road through the pass is on an inclined plane, which ascends one foot in twelve or thirteen, an inclination which is nearly the same as that which occurs in Napoleon's celebrated military communication over the Simplon. To keep this cork-screwing way in repair, and clear it of the slips of soil which not unfrequently come thundering down, and choke up the narrow thoroughfare, a strong working party of Caffre soldiers are constantly employed on different parts of the pass. These Caffres are found to make better labourers than soldiers. There is something in their character repugnant to the etiquette and strictness of military discipline. They have been gradually exchanged for Malays, who, almost exclusively, compose the present Ceylon Rifle Regiment. Nature appears to have designed the Caffre to be the counterpart of the Malay. The former is social, cheerful, and amiable; the latter cold, stern, and vindictive. The one awakens our sympathies and affections; the other commands our respect, but makes no effort to secure our regard, for which he apparently entertains a sovereign contempt. Nor are heir corporeal characteristics less at variance than their moral attributes. The Malay is active, of a slight yet muscular form, and his every movement bespeaks energy, while in his restless eye and fine lip may be read that daring and enterprising spirit that has ever belonged to the rovers of the Eastern Archipelago. The Caffre, on the contrary, possesses all the characteristics of the Negro. The woolly hair-the blubber lip-the long head-all these appear in your true Caffre. His eye, though shrewd, is heavy, and its glances evince none of that cold, sardonic spirit that is born with a Malay, grows with his growth, and strengthens with his strength." The few Caffre soldiers still in Ceylon are solely employed in repairing old, or in making new, roads. The detachment on the Rambodde pass consists of sixty or seventy men. Nearly all of these being married, and, generally speaking, the fathers of a numerous progeny, their encampment presents an animated spectacle amid the loneliness of the surrounding jungle. A favourable opportunity of studying another, and, to the Anglo-Cingalese, a novel impress of the "human face divine," is thus afforded to the visitor of Rambodde, who, if a disciple of Lavater, or a phrenologist, has here a new field for his philosophical researches.
Without entering into any dissertation touching the charms of Caffre women, it may, perhaps, be permitted to me to record my conviction that, on the surface of the habitable world, more frightful specimens of le beau sexe do not exist. It would be an insult to humanity to believe that any creatures yet uglier could "live and have their being." The head of the Gorgon could hardly have united more horrors than are combined in the physiognomy of a Caffre belle.
Although the party that accompanied me were quite unanimous on this point, these interesting animals were evidently unconscious of their utter want of loveliness; for, on being bribed by copious libations of brandy, for which they showed an inordinate affection, they readily undertook to favour their visitors with a Caffre dance. The dance somewhat resembled the fandango of Spain; but the resemblance, it must be confessed, was that of a caricature. Two individuals of opposite sexes gradually approach each other with an air of coquetry, making indescribable contortions and grimaces. The female slowly retires from the ardent advances of her lover, who, suiting the action to the word, endeavours to capture the fair fugitive, while he pours forth his tale of love in the most moving tropes that his eloquence can command. "The lady of his love" at length abates somewhat of the air of scorn with which she at first affects to regard her impassioned swain, who, emboldened by this evidence of a favourable impression, and again alarmed at his own audacity, alternately advances towards and retreats from the object of his adoration. The movements of the lover, and of the lovee, during this scene of courtship, much resemble those of two ill-trained bears, to which animals they, in uth, bear a striking similitude. The lady at length intimates to ber adorer, that his is not a hopeless love. This dénouement is followed by sundry embraces, of rather too vehement a character, after which " the happy pair" vanish from the stage which has witnessed the rise, progress, and termination of this amatory scene, during which, it should be observed, the spectators are in duty bound to keep up a continued howl or yell, by way of encouraging the performers.
The sins that do most easily beset the Caffres are drunkenness and drowsiness-two failings which most effectually prevent them from serving as soldiers when they are not drunk, they are asleep. In the one case, they are sufficiently troublesome; in the other, the most innocuous creatures on the face of the earth; but it need not be added that, in both, they are equally hors de combat and non-effective. In their own country, the Caffres have a reputation for activity and energy; be this as it may, expatriation seeins to deprive them of whatever portion of those qualities nature may originally have endowed them with.
A ludicrous defence made by a Caffre before a court-martial, held at Kandy in 1838, may serve to illustrate Jack's* opinion of the undue severity of military discipline. Being charged with divers offences and misdemeanors, all of which were fully established, the prisoner was, selon les régles, called on for his defence, which, if it failed to carry conviction, had probably some effect in mollifying the judicial sternness of the court then and there assembled. In this memorable rejoinder, the prisoner, who, no doubt, possessed forensic talents of a high order, endeavoured to palliate rather than to deny the crimes with which he stood charged. He complained that those who held dominion over him had but one recipe for all the moral infirmities that ever and anon ** overcame him like a summer cloud." That recipe will best be explained in the words with which he concluded his eloquent and energetic oration: "If I ask for my pay, they say, 'Put him in the guard-room.' If I take a little 'rack,tSend him to the guard-room.' If I get sleepy, To the guard-room.' When I get a little drunkay, 'Take him to the guard-house." "
After passing this Caffre station, the road continues to wind up the tedious and apparently interminable pass. The head of the pass is nearly three miles distant from Newera Ellia, and from thence is obtained the first view of the
* In Ceylon, Caffres are always denominated "Jacks."