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wickedness, in the following it through all the winding recesses and mazes of its artifices, we shall show as much vigour, as much constancy, as much diligence, energy, and perseverance, as any others can do in endeavouring to elude the laws, and triumph over the justice of their country. My lords, we have thought it the more necessary to say this, because it has been given out, that we might faint in this business : No, we follow, and trust we shall always follow that great emblem of antiquity, in which the person, who held out to the end of a long line of labours, found the reward of all the eleven in the twelfth. Our labour, therefore, will be our reward ; and we will go on, we will pursue with vigour and diligence, in a manner suitable to the Commons of Great Britain, every mode of corruption, till we have thoroughly eradicated it.
I think it necessary to say a word too upon another circumstance, of which there is some complaint, as if some injustice had arisen from voluntary delay on our part.
I have already alluded to, first, the melancholy, then, the joyful occasion of this delay ; and I shall now make one remark on another part of the complaint, which I understand was formally made to your lordships, soon after we had announced our resolution to proceed in this great cause of suffering nations before you. It has been alleged, that the length of the pursuit had already very much distressed the person, who is the object of it ; that it leaned upon a fortune unequal to support it ; and that 30,0001. had been already spent in the preliminary preparations for the defence.
My lords, I do admit, that all true genuine and unadulterated justice considers, with a certain degree of tenderness, the person, whom it is called to punish, and never oppresses those by the process, who ought not to be oppressed but by the sentence of the court, before which they are brought. The Commons have heard, indeed, with some degree of astonishment, that 30,0001. hath been laid out by Mr. Hastings in this business. We, who have some experience in the conduct of affairs of this nature, we, who profess to proceed with regard not to the economy so much as to the rigour of this prosecution, (and we are justified by our coun
try in so doing) upon a collation and comparison of the publick expenses with those, which the defendant is supposed to have incurred, are much surprised to hear it; we suppose, that his solicitors can give a good account to him of those expenses, that the thing is true, and that he has actually, through them, incurred this expense. We have nothing to do with this : but we shall remove any degree of uneasiness from your lordships' minds, and from our own, when we show you in the charge, which we shall bring before you this day, that one bribe only received by Mr. Hastings, the smallest of his bribes, or nearly the smallest, the bribe received from rajah Nobkisson, is alone more than equal to have paid all the charges Mr. Hastings is stated to have incurred : and, if this be the case, your lordships will not be made very uneasy in a case of bribery by finding, that you press upon the sources of peculation.
It has also been said, that we weary out the publick patience in this cause. The House of Commons do not call upon your lordships to do any thing, of which they do not set the example. They have very lately sat in the Colchester committee as many, within one or two, days successively, as have been spent in this trial interruptedly in the course of two years. Every cause deserves, that it should be tried according to its nature and circumstances; and in the case of the Colchester committee, in the trial of paltry briberies of odd pounds, shillings, and pence, in the corruption of a returning officer, who is but a miller, they spent nearly the same number of days, that we have been inquiring into the ruin of kingdoms by the peculation and bribery of the chief governour of the provinces of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa. Therefore, God forbid, that we should faint at thrice thirty days, if the proceedings should be drawn into such a length, when for a small crime as much time has been spent, as has yet been spent in this great cause.
Having now cleared the way with regard to the local and temporary circumstances of this case ; having shown your lordships, that too much time has not been spent in it; having no reason to think from the time, which has hitherto been spent, that time will be unnecessarily spent in future,
I trust your lordships will think, that time ought neither to be spared nor squandered in this business; we will therefore proceed article by article, as far as the discretion of the House of Cominons shall think fit for the justice of the case to limit the inquiry, or to extend it.
We are now going to bring before your lordships the sixth article. It is an article of charge of bribery and corruption against Mr. Hastings ; but yet we must confess, that we feel some little difficulty in limine. We here
in the name and character not only of representatives of the Commons of Great Britain, but representatives of the inhabitants of Bengal : and yet we have had lately come into our hands such ample certificates, such full testimonials, from every person, in whose cause we complain, that we shall appear to be in the strangest situation in the world, the situation of persons complaining, who are disavowed by the persons, in whose name and character they complain. This would have been a very great difficulty in the beginning, especially as it is come before us in a flood-tide of panegyrick. No encomium can be more exalted, or more beautifully expressed. No language can more strongly paint the perfect satisfaction, the entire acquiescence of all the nations of Bengal, and their wonderful admiration of the character of the person, whom we have brought as a criminal to your bar upon their part. I do admit, that it is a very awkward circumstance; but yet, at the same time, the same candour, which has induced the House of Commons to bring before you the bosom friends and confidants of Mr. Hastings as their evidence, will not suffer them to suppress or withhold for a moment from your lordships this universal voice of Bengal, as an attestation in Mr. Hastings's favour, and we shall produce it as a part of our evidence. Oh ! my lords, consider the situation of a people, who are forced to mix their praises with their groans, who are forced to sign with hands, which have been in torture, and with the thumb-screws but just taken from them, an attestation in favour of the person, from whom all their sufferings have been derived. When we prove to you the things, that we shall prove, this will, I hope, give your lordships a full, conclusive, and satisfactory proof of the mi
sery, to which these people have been reduced. You will see before you, what is so well expressed by one of our poets as the homage of tyrants, “ that homage with the mouth, which the heart would fain deny, but dares not.” Mr. Hastings has received that homage, and that homage we mean to present to your lordships; we mean to present it, because it will show your lordships clearly, that after Mr. Hastings has ransacked Bengal from one end to the other, and has used all the power, which he derives from having every friend and every dependant of his in every office from one end of that government to the other, he has not in all those panegyricks, those fine high-down eastern encomiums, got one word of refutation, or one word of evidence against any charge whatever, which we produce against him. Every one knows, that in the course of criminal trials, when no evidence of alibi can be brought, when all the arts of the Old Bailey are exhausted, the last thing produced is evidence to character. His cause therefore is gone, when having ransacked Bengal he has nothing to say for his conduct, and at length appeals to his character. In those little papers, which are given us of our proceedings in our criminal courts, it is always an omen of what is to follow : after the evidence of a murder, a forgery, or robbery, it ends in his character.He has an admirable character-I have known him from a boy; he is wonderfully good; he is the best of men; I would trust him with untold gold ; and immediately follows, guilty, death. This is the way in which our courts' character is generally followed by sentence. The practice is not modern. Undoubtedly Mr. Hastings has the example of criminals of high antiquity ; for Caius Verres, Antonius, and every other man, who has been famous for the pillage and destruction of provinces, never failed to bring before their judges the attestations of the injured to their character.
“ Les bons mots sont toujours redits." A similar occasion has here produced a similar conduct. He has got just the same character, as Caius Verres got in another cause; and the laudationes, which your lordships know always followed, to save trouble, we mean ourselves to give your lordships ; we mean to give them with this strong pre
sumption of guilt, that, in all this panegyrick, there is not one word of defence to a single article of charge ; they are mere lip-honours ; but we think we derive from those panegyricks, which Mr. Hastings has had sent over as evidence to supply the total want of it, an indication of the impossibility of attaining it. Mr. Hastings has brought them here, and I must say we are under some difficulty about them, and the difficulty is this—we think we can produce before your lordships proofs of barbarity and peculation by Mr. Hastings: we have the proofs of them in specifick provinces, where those proofs may be met by contrary proofs, or may lose their weight from a variety of circumstances. We thought we had got the matter sure, that every thing was settled, that he could not escape us after he had himself confessed the bribes he had taken from the specifick provinces. But in what condition are we now ? We have from those specifick provinces the strongest attestations, that there is not any credit to be paid to his own acknowledgments. In short, we have the complaints, concerning these crimes of Mr. Hastings, of the injured persons themselves : we have his own confessions > we shall produce both to your lordships. But these persons now declare, that not only their own complaints are totally unfounded, but that Mr. Hastings's confessions are not true, and not to be credited.
These are circumstances, which your lordships will consider in the view you take of this wonderful body of attestation.
It is a pleasant thing to see in these addresses the different character and modes of eloquence of different countries. In those, that will be brought before your lordships, you will see the beauty of chaste European panegyrick, improved by degrees into high, oriental, exaggerated, and inflated metaphor. You will see, how the language is first written in English, then translated into Persian, and then retranslated into English. There may be something amusing to your lordships in this, and the beauty of these styles may, in this heavy investigation, tend to give a little gaiety and pleasure. We shall bring before you the European and Asiatick incense. You will have the perfume shops of the two countries.