Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 6.djvu/97

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SHERIDAN


Middleton, as an equivalent for the resumption; and as when tyranny and injustice take the field, they are always attended by their camp followers, paltry pilfering and petty insult; so in this instance, the goods taken from the princesses were sold at a mock sale at an inferior value. Even gold and jewels, to use the language of the Begums, instantly lost their value when it was known that they came from them. Their ministers were imprisoned to extort the deficiency which this fraud occasioned, and every mean art was employed to justify a continuance of cruelty toward them. Yet this was small to the frauds of Mr. Hastings. After extorting upward of £600,000, he forbade Mr. Middleton to come to a conclusive settlement with the princesses. He knew that the treasons of our allies in India had their origin solely in the wants of the company. He could not therefore say that the Begums were entirely innocent until he had consulted the General Record of Crimes, the Cash Account of Calcutta! His prudence was fully justified by the event. For there was actually found a balance of twenty-six lacks more against the Begums, which £260,000 worth of treason had never been dreamed of before. "Talk not to us," said the governor-general, "of their guilt or innocence, but as it suits the company's credit! We will not try them by the Code of Justinian, nor the Institutes of Timur. We will not judge them either by the British laws or their local customs! No! We

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