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power in India to its foundation ? And if it be true that this rebellion had its rise in some wicked act of this man, who had offended these women, and made them, as he says, his mortal enemies, you will then see that you never can go so deep with this prisoner that you do not find in every criminal act of his some other criminal act. In the lowest deep there is still a lower deep. In every act of his cruelty there is some hidden, dark motive, worse than the act itself, of which he just gives you a hint, without exposing it to that open light which truth courts and falsehood basely slinks from.
But cruelly as they have suffered, dreadfully as they have been robbed, insulted as they have been, in every mode of insult that could be offered to women of their rank, all this must have been highly aggravated by coming from such a man as Mr Middleton. You have heard the audacious and insulting language he has held to them, his declining to correspond with them, and the mode of his doing it. There are, my Lords, things that embitter the bitterness of oppression itself: contumelious acts and language, coming from persons who the other day would have licked the dust under the feet of the lowest servants of these ladies, must have embittered their wrongs, and poisoned the very cup of malice itself.
Oh! but they deserved it. They were concerned in a wicked, outrageous rebellion : first, for expelling their own son from his dominions; and, secondly, for expelling and extirpating the English nation out of India. - Good God Almighty! my Lords, do you hear this? Do you understand that the English nation had made themselves so odious, so particularly
hateful, even to women the most secluded from the world, that there was no crime, no mischief, no family destruction, through which they would not wade, for our extermination? Is this a pleasant thing to hear of? Rebellion is, in all parts of the world, undoubtedly considered as a great misfortune: in some countries it must be considered as a presumption of some fault in government: nowhere is it bousted of as supplying the means of justifying acts of cruelty and insult, but with us.
We have, indeed, seen that a rebellion did exist in Baraitch and Goruckpore. It was an universal insurrection of the people: an insurrection for the very extermination of Englishmen,- for the extermination of Colonel Hannay, - for the extermination of Captain Gordon,- for the extermination of
Captain Williams, and of all the other captains and colonels exercising the office of farmer-general and sub-farmer-general in the manner that we have described. We know that there did exist in that country such a rebellion. But mark, my Lords, against whom ! - against these mild and gracious sovereigns, Colonel Hannay, Captain Gordon, Captain Williams. Oh, unnatural and abominable rebellion ! — But will any one pretend to say that the Nabob himself was ever attacked by any of these rebels ? No: the attacks were levelled against the English. The people rose in favor of their lawful sovereign, against a rebellion headed by Mr. Middleton, who, you see, usurped his authority,- headed by Colonel Hannay,- headed by Captain Gordon - headed by all those abomina
,ble persons exercising, under the Nabob's name, an authority destructive to himself and his subjects. Against them there was a rebellion. But was this an unnatural rebellion,- a rebellion against usurped authority, to save the prince, his children, and state, from a set of vile usurpers ?
My Lords, I shall soon close our proceeding for this day, because I wish to leave this part of our charge strongly and distinctly impressed upon your Lordships' memory, and because nothing can aggravate it. I shall next proceed, in the farther examination of the prisoner's defence, to dissipate, as I trust we have done, and as I hope we shall do, all the miserable stuff they have given by way of defence. I shall often have occasion to repeat and press upon your Lordships that that miserable defence is a heavy aggravation of his crime. At present, I shall conclude, leaving this part of our charge with the impression upon your Lordships' minds that this pretended rebellion was merely an insurrection against the English, excited by their oppression.
If the rebellion was against the Nabob, or if he was the author of the oppression which caused it, why do the English only appear to be concerned in both of them? How comes it that the Nabob never appears to have expressed any resentment against the rebels? We shall prove beyond a doubt, that the Begums had nothing to do with it. There was, indeed, as I have already said, what may be called a rebellion ; but it was a rebellion against — not the Nabob, but in favor of the lawful prince of the country, - against the usurpers of his authority and the destroyers of his country. With this, as a rebellion, Mr. Hastings has charged these women; he has charged them with a war against their son, for the purpose of exterminating the English. Look, I pray you, at the whole business, consider all the circumstances of it, and ask
yourselves whether this is not a charge, not only so grossly improbable, but so perfectly impossible, that there is not any evidence which can make it even plausible. Consider next, my Lords, on the other side, the evidence of their innocence, and then ask yourselves whether any additional matter could make its probability in the least degree more probable. My Lords, the evidence we have produced is neither more nor less than that of almost all the
who have had a share in exciting that rebellion, and who, to justify their own horrible cruelty, have attempted to charge the natural consequences of that cruelty upon these unhappy women.
But where, all this time, is the Nabob, against whom this rebellion is pretended to be directed ? Was it ever even insinuated to him that his mother had raised a rebellion against him? When were the proofs shown to him ? Did he ever charge her with it? He surely must have been most anxious to prevent and suppress a rebellion against himself: but not one word on that subject has ever come out of his mouth; nor has any one person been produced to show that he was informed of the existence of such a rebellion. The persons said to be rebels are his mother and grandmother; and I again ask, Was there the least intimation given to him by Mr. Middleton, or by any other person, of their being even suspected of rebellion against him? There was, indeed, a hint of some rebellion, which the creatures of Mr. Hastings got at obliquely ; but neither the person against whom the rebellion is supposed to exist, nor the persons who were said to be guilty of it, were ever either informed of or charged with it. I defy the prisoner and his whole gang to produce
one word ever uttered by any one of them, from which the Nabob or Begums could learn that they were supposed to be concerned in the rebellion : so that none of those who were said to be the principal actors in the scene ever heard of the parts they were acting from the actual authors and managers of the business. Not one word was uttered of a charge made, much less of proof given. Nothing was heard but “Give me the money!” — irons, - new irons, - new imprisonment, and at last the castle of Chunar.
And here I beg leave to pause, and to leave upon your minds the impression, first, of the wrong that was done, the violence, and the robbery, - and, secondly, of the pretences, both civil and criminal, by which they have attempted to justify their proceedings.