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this bar, in this place, in every place where His commands are obeyed, His worship is performed. And, my Lords, I 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 Him 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 public 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, It 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 vigor 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 vigor, 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 vigor, as much constancy, as much diligence, energy, and perseverance, as any others can do in endeavoring 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 labors found the reward of all the eleven in the twelfth. Our labor, therefore, will be our reward;
and we will go on, we will pursue with vigor 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 30,0007. 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 rigor of this prosecution, (and we are justified by our country in so doing,) upon a collation and comparison of the public 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 Nobkissin, 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 public patience in this cause. The House of Commons do not call upon your Lordships to do anything 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 governor 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 Commons 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 appear 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 panegyric. 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 ad