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A History of the Four Georges and of William IV, V

Wheler was appointed Governor General in his stead


At

the same time it must be remembered that, however black the arguments against Hastings may seem, there is no positive proof that he was directly implicated in what his enemies called the judicial murder of Nand Kumar. It must be remembered that the writer who has gone most deeply into the whole ugly story, Sir James Stephen, in his careful "Story of Nuncomar," has after long and exhaustive analysis of every particular of the case recorded his judgment in favor of Impey and of Hastings. Sir James Stephen's judgment is not final, indeed, but it must have weight with any one who attempts impartially to appreciate two public men who have been accused for more than a century of a terrible crime. Sir James Stephen believes that Nand Kumar's trial was perfectly fair, that Hastings had no share whatever in the prosecution, and that there was no collusion of any kind between Hastings and Impey with regard to the trial, the verdict, or the execution. Every one must form as best he may his own judgment upon the matter and the men; but Sir James Stephen's opinion is one that must be taken into account in any attempt to decide.

The death of Nand Kumar did not end the struggle between Hastings and his three antagonists. While they made no further attempt of a like kind--the fate of Nand {264} Kumar, said Francis, would prevent any further native information against the Governor-General--they still resolutely strove by all possible means to cross and check

him. It is not necessary to follow in all their mean and wearisome details the particulars of that prolonged conflict. The odds were against Hastings until the death of Monson, when, by means of his own casting vote and the adhesion of Barwell, Hastings found himself the master of the majority at the Council-table. But the persistence of the attacks had their result at home, where an ill-advised offer of resignation made by Hastings was seized upon by the Directors of the Company. The resignation was accepted, Wheler was appointed Governor-General in his stead, and pending his arrival in India the post was to be filled by Clavering.

This was a severe blow for Hastings. At first he thought of yielding to it, in which case his career in India would have been closed. But Clavering's indecent eagerness to seize upon the Governor-Generalship before it was fairly vacant forced Hastings to defiance. He refused to surrender his office to Clavering. Clavering called upon the army to support him. Hastings called upon the army to stand fast by him. The army followed Hastings, and the support of the men of the sword was followed by the support of the men of the robe. The judges of the Supreme Court backed up Hastings and censured Clavering, and a little later Clavering's death left Hastings for the time supreme in the Council-chamber. His supremacy was contested after the arrival of Wheler, who immediately sided with Francis against Hastings. But the supremacy was not overthrown. Hastings was in the majority; he would not allow the alliance of Francis and Wheler to impede him in his purposes, and he stuck to his post as Governor-General.

The East India Company made no effort to enforce his resignation. The Court of Directors resented his conduct, and found fault with him persistently, but they could not overlook his influence with the Court of Proprietors, and the condition of affairs in India was too grave to make the {265} dismissal of Hastings wise or politic. The Government bore Hastings little love, and the King in particular was much incensed at his refusal to resign, and was all for his recall and the recall of Barwell who had abetted, and the judges who had supported him. But the struggle with the American colonies absorbed the attention of the Administration too closely to allow them to interfere so markedly in the affairs of India at a moment when interference might perhaps have a result not unlike the civil war.


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