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I impeach Warren Hastings, Esquire, of high crimes and misdemeanours.
I impeach him in the name of the Commons of Great Britain in parliament assembled, whose parliamentary trust he has betrayed.
I impeach him in the name of all the Commons of Great Britain, whose national character he has dishonoured.
I impeach him in the name of the people of India, whose laws, rights, and liberties he has subverted; whose properties he has destroyed, whose country he has laid waste and desolate.
I impeach him in the name, and by virtue, of those eternal laws of justice, which he has violated.
I impeach him in the name of human nature itself, which he has cruelly outraged, injured, and oppressed in both sexes, in every age, rank, situation, and condition of life.
AFTER Mr. Burke had concluded these opening speeches, the first article of the impeachment was brought forward on the 22d of February 1788, by Mr. Fox, and supported by Mr. Grey on the 25th. After the evidence upon this article had been adduced, it was summed up and enforced by Mr. Anstruther on the 11th day of April following.
The next article with which the Commons proceeded, was brought forward on the 15th of April 1788, by Mr. Adam, and supported by Mr. Pelham; and the evidence, in part upon the second article of charge, was summed up and enforced on the 3d of June, by Mr. Sheridan.
On the 21st of April 1789, Mr. Burke opened the sixth charge, bribery and corruption, in the following speech, which was continued on the 21st of April, and on the 5th and 7th May, in the same session.
TRIAL.–TUESDAY, 21st APRIL 1789.
(MR. BURKE.) MY LORDS,—An event, which had spread, for a considerable time, an universal grief and consternation through this kingdom, and which, in its issue, diffused as universal and transcendent a joy, has in the circumstances both of our depression and of our exaltation produced a considerable delay, if not a total suspension of the most important functions of government.
My lords, we now resume our office; and we resume it with new and redoubled alacrity, and, we trust, under not less propitious omens than when we left it, in this house, at the end of the preceding session. We come to this duty with a greater degree of earnestness and zeal, because we urged to it by many and very peculiar circumstances. This day we come from an house, where the last steps were taken, and, I suppose, something has happened similar in this, to prepare our way to attend with the utmost solemnity in another place a great national thanksgiving for having restored the sovereign to his parliament, and the parliament to its sovereign.
But, my lords, it is not only in the house of prayer, that we offer to the First Cause the acceptable homage of our rational nature—my lords, in this house, at this bar, in this place, in every place where His commands are obeyed, His worship is performed. And, my lords, l. must boldly say, (and I think I shall hardly be contradicted by your lordships, or by any persons versed in the law, which guides us all,) that the highest act of religion, and the highest homage, which we can and ought to pay, is an imitation of the divine perfections as far as such a nature can imitate such perfections; and that by this means alone we can make our homage acceptable to him.
My lords, in His temple we shall not forget, that His most distinguished attribute is justice, and that the first
link in the chain, by which we are held to the Supreme Judge of all, is justice ; and that it is in this solemn temple of representative justice we may best give bim praise, because we can here best imitate his divine attributes. If ever there was a cause, in which justice and mercy are not only combined and reconciled, but incorporated, it is in this cause of suffering nations, which we now bring before your lordships, this second session of parliament, unwearied and unfatigued in our persevering pursuit; and we feel it to be a necessary preliminary, a necessary fact, a necessary attendant and concomitant of every publick thanksgiving, that we should express our gratitude by our virtues, and not merely with our mouths : and that, when we are giving thanks for acts of mercy, we should render ourselves worthy of them by doing acts of mercy ourselves. My lords, these considerations, independent of those, which were our first movers in this business, strongly urge us at present to pursue with all zeal and perseverance the great cause, we have now in hand. And we feel this to be the more necessary, because we cannot but be sensible, that light, unstable, variable, capricious, inconstant, fastidious minds soon tire in any pursuit, that requires strength, steadiness, and perseverance. Such persons, who we trust are but few, and who certainly do not resemble your lordships, nor us, begin already to say, How long is this business to continue ? Our answer is,-lt is to continue till its ends are obtained.
We know, that by a mysterious dispensation of Providence injury is quick and rapid ; and justice slow : and we may say, that those, who have not patience and vigour of mind to attend the tardy pace of justice, counteract the order of Providence, and are resolved not to be just at all. We, therefore, instead of bending the order of nature to the laxity of our characters and tempers, must rather confirm ourselves by a manly fortitude and virtuous perseverance to continue within those forms, and to wrestle with injustice, . until we have shown, that those virtues, which sometimes wickedness debauches into its cause, such as vigour, energy, activity, fortitude of spirit, are called back and brought to their true and natural service; and that in the pursuit of
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 ineurred : 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,