It is true, then, that there was too muchfoundation for the representations of those satirists and dramatists who heldup the character of the English Nabob to the derision and hatred of a formergeneration. It is true that some disgraceful intrigues, some unjust and cruelwars, some instances of odious perfidy and avarice, stain the annals of ourEastern Empire. It is true that the duties of government and legislation werelong wholly neglected or carelessly performed. It is true that when theconquerors at length began to apply themselves in earnest to the discharge oftheir high functions, they committed the errors natural to rulers who were butimperfectly acquainted with the language and manners of their subjects. It istrue that some plans, which were dictated by the purest and most benevolentfeelings, have not been attended by the desired success. It is true that Indiasuffers to this day from a heavy burden of taxation and from a defective systemof law. It is true, I fear, that in those states which are connected with us bysubsidiary alliance, all the evils of oriental despotism have too frequentlyshown themselves in their most loathsome and destructive form.
[But nowadays its affairs are much improved, and still improving]
All this is true. Yet in the historyand in the present state of our Indian Empire I see ample reason for exultationand for a good hope.
I see that we have established orderwhere we found confusion. I see that the petty dynasties which were generatedby the corruption of the great Mahometan Empire, and which, a century ago, keptall India in constant agitation, have been quelled by one overwhelming power. Isee that the predatory tribes, which, in the middle of the last century, passedannually over the harvests of India with the destructive rapidity of ahurricane, have quailed before the valour of a braver and sterner race, havebeen vanquished, scattered, hunted to their strongholds, and either extirpatedby the English sword, or compelled to exchange the pursuits of rapine for thoseof industry.
I look back for many years; and I seescarcely a trace of the vices which blemished the splendid fame of the firstconquerors of Bengal. I see peace studiously preserved. I see faith inviolablymaintained towards feeble and dependent states. I see confidence graduallyinfused into the minds of suspicious neighbours. I see the horrors of warmitigated by the chivalrous and Christian spirit of Europe. I see examples ofmoderation and clemency, such as I should seek in vain in the annals of anyother victorious and dominant nation. I see captive tyrants, whose treacheryand cruelty might have excused a severe retribution, living in security,comfort, and dignity, under the protection of the government which theylaboured to destroy.
I see a large body of civil andmilitary functionaries resembling in nothing but capacity and valour thoseadventurers who, seventy years ago, came hither, laden with wealth and infamy,to parade before our fathers the plundered treasures of Bengal and Tanjore. Ireflect with pride that to the doubtful splendour which surrounds the memory ofHastings and of Clive, we can oppose the spotless glory of Elphinstone andMunro. I contemplate with reverence and delight the honourable poverty which isthe evidence of rectitude firmly maintained amidst strong temptations. Irejoice to see my countrymen, after ruling millions of subjects, aftercommanding victorious armies, after dictating terms of peace at the gates ofhostile capitals, after administering the revenues of great provinces, afterjudging the causes of wealthy Zemindars, after residing at the courts oftributary Kings, return to their native land with no more than a decentcompetence.