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lordships, belong to the first period of his bribery, before he thought of the doctrine, on which he has since defended it. There are many other bribes, which we charge bim with having received during this first period, before an improving conversation and close virtuous connexion with great lawyers had taught him how to practise bribes in such a manner, as to defy detection, and instead of punishment to plead merit. I am not bound to find order and consistency in guilt ; it is the reign of disorder. The order of the proceeding, as far as I am able to trace such a scene of prevarication, direct fraud, falsehood, and falsification of the publick accounts, was this.-From bribes he knew he could never abstain ; and his then precarious situation made him the more rapacious. He knew, that a few of his former bribes had been discovered, declared, recorded; that for the moment indeed he was secure, because all informers had been punished, and all concealers rewarded. He expected hourly a total change in the council ; and that men like Clavering and Monson might be again joined to Francis ; that some great arenger should arise from their ashes—« Exoriare aliquis nostris ex ossibus ultor,”—and that a more severe investigation, and an infinitely more full display would be made of his robbery, than hitherto had been done. He therefore began in the agony of his guilt to cast about for some device, by which he might continue his offence, if possible, with impunity and possibly. make a merit of it. He therefore first carefully perused the act of parliament, forbidding bribery, and his old covenant engaging him not to receive presents. And bere he was more successful than upon former occasions. If ever an act was studiously and carefully framed to prevent bribery, it is that law of the 13th of the king, which he well observes admits no latitudes of construction, no subterfuge, no escape, no evasion. Yet has he found a defence of his crimes even in the very provisions, which were made for their prevention and their punishment. Besides the penalty, which belongs to every informer, the East-India Company was invested with a fiction of property in all such bribes, in order to drag them with more facility out of the corrupt hands, which held them. The covenant with an exception of 100
pounds, and the act of parliament without any exception, declared, that the governour-general and council should receive no presents for their own use. He therefore concluded, that the system of bribery and extortion might be clandestinely and safely carried on, provided the party taking the bribes had an inward intention and mental reservation, that they should be privately applied to the company's service, in any way the briber should think fit ; and that on many occasions this would prove the best method of supply for the exigencies of their service.
He accordingly formed, or pretended to form, a private bribe exchequer, collateral with, and independent of, the company's publick exchequer; though in some cases administered by those, whom for his purposes he had placed in the regular official department. It is no wonder, that he has taken to himself an extraordinary degree of merit. For surely such an invention of finance I believe never was heard of, an exchequer, wherein extortion was the assessor, fraud the cashier, confusion the accomptant, concealment the reporter, and oblivion the remembrancer : in short, such as I believe no man, but one driven by guilt into phrenzy, could ever have dreamed of.
He treats the official and regular directors with just contempt, as a parcel of mean, mechanical book-keepers. He is an eccentrick book-keeper, a Pindarick accomptant. I have heard of “the poet's eye in a fine phrenzy rolling.” Here was a revenue, exacted from whom he pleased, at what times he pleased, in what proportions he pleased, through what persons he pleased, by what means he pleased, to be accounted for, or not, at his discretion, and to be applied to what service he thought proper. I do believe your lordships stand astonished at this scheme ; and indeed I should be
very loath to venture to state such a scheme at all, however I might have credited it myself, to any sober ears, if, in his defence before the House of Commons and before the lords, he had not directly admitted the fact of taking the bribes or forbidden presents, and had not in those defences, and much more fully in his correspondence with the directors, admitted the fact, and justified it upon these very principles.
As this is a thing so unheard of and unexampled in the world, I shall first endeavour to account, as well as I can, for his motives to it, which your lordships will receive or reject, just as you shall find them tally with the evidence
I say, his motives to it; because I contend, that publick valid reasons for it he could have none : . and the idea of making the corruption of the governour-general a resource to the company never did or could for a moment enter into his thoughts.—I shall then take notice of the juridical constructions, upon which he justifies his acting in this extraordinary manner.-—And lastly, show you the concealments, prevarications, and falsehoods, with which he endeavours to cover it. Because wherever you find a concealment you make a discovery. Accounts of money received and paid ought to be regular and official.
He wrote over to the court of directors, that there were certain sums of money he had received, and which were not his own, but that he had received them for their use. Ву this time his intercourse with gentlemen of the law became more considerable than it had been before. When first attacked for presents, he never denied the receipt of them, or pretended to say they were for publick purposes ; but upon looking more into the covenants, and probably with better legal advice, he found, that no money could be legally received for his own use ; but as these bribes were directly given and received, as for his own use, yet (says he) there was an inward destination of them in my own mind to your benefit, and to your benefit have I applied them.
Now here is a new system of bribery, contrary to law, very ingenious in the contrivance, but, I believe, as unlikely to produce its intended effect upon the mind of man, as any pretence, that was ever used. Here Mr. Hastings changes his ground. Before, he was accused as a peculator ; he did not deny the fact; he did not refund the money; he fought it off, he stood upon the defensive, and used all the means in his power to prevent the inquiry. That was the first era of his corruption, a bold, ferocious, plain, downright use of power. In the second, he is grown a little more careful
and guarded, the effect of subtilty. He appears no longer as a defendant, he holds himself up with a firm, dignified, and erect countenance, and says, I am not here any longer as a delinquent, a receiver of bribes, to be punished for what I have done wrong, or at least to suffer in my character for it. No, I am a great inventive genius, who have gone out of all the ordinary roads of finance, have made great discoveries in the unknown regions of that science, and have for the first time established the corruption of the supreme magistrate as a principle of resource for government.
There are crimes, undoubtedly, of great magnitude, naturally fitted to create horrour, and that loudly call for punishment, that have yet no idea of turpitude annexed to them ; but unclean hands, bribery, venality and peculation are offences of turpitude, such as, in a governour, at once debase the person, and degrade the government itself, making it not only horrible, but vile and contemptible in the eyes of all mankind. In this humiliation and abjectness of guilt, he comes here not as a criminal on his defence, but as a vast fertile genius, who has made astonishing discoveries in the art of government ;—“ Dicam insigne, recens, alio indictum ore”—who by his flaming zeal and the prolifick ardour and energy of his mind has boldly dashed out of the common path, and served his country by new and untrodden ways; and now he generously communicates for the benefit of all future governours, and all future governments, the grand arcanum of his long and toilsome researches. He is the first, but if we do not take good care, he will not be the last, that has established the corruption of the supreme magistrate among the settled resources of the state ; and he leaves this principle as a bountiful donation, as the richest deposit, that ever was made in the treasury of Bengal. He claims glory and renown from that, by which every other person since the beginning of time has been dishonoured and disgraced. It has been said of an ambassadour, that he is a person employed to tell lies for the advantage of the court, that sends him. His is patriotick bribery, and publick-spirited corruption. He is a peculator for the good of his country.
It has been said, that private vices are publick benefits. He goes the full length of that position, and turns his private peculation into a publick good. This is what you are to thank him for. You are to consider him as a great inventor upon this occasion.
Mr. Hastings improves on this principle. He is a robber in gross, and a thief in detail ; he steals, he filches, he plunders, he oppresses, he extorts—all for the good of the dear East-India Company,—all for the advantage of his honoured masters the proprietors—all in gratitude to the dear perfidious court of directors, who have been in a practice to heap "insults on his person, slanders on his character, and indignities on his station; who never had the confidence in him, that they had in the meanest of his predecessors.”
If you sanction this practice, if, after all you have exacted from the people by your taxes and publick imposts, you are to let loose your servants upon them to extort by bribery and peculation what they can from them, for the purpose of applying it to the publick service only whenever they please,--this shocking consequence will follow from it. If your governour is discovered in taking a bribe, he will say, What is that to you? mind your business, I intend it for the publick service. The man, who dares to accuse him, loses the favour of the governourgeneral, and the India company. They will say, the go. vernour has been doing a meritorious action, extorting bribes for our beneat, and y u have the impudence to think of prosecuting him. So that the moment the bribe is detected, it is instantly turned into a merit; and we shall prove, that this is the case with Mr. Hastings, whenever a bribe has been discovered.
I am now to inform your lordships, that, when he made these great discoveries to the court of directors, he never tells them who gave him the money ; upon what occasion he received it; by what hands; or to what purposes he applied it.
When he can himself give no account of his motives, and even declares, that he cannot assign any cause, I am authorized and required to find motives for him-corrupt moVOL. VII.