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or female, be confiscated for crime, or escheat for want of heirs. The law then goes on to other casts, and gives to each its property, and distinguishes them with great accuracy of discrimination.
Mr. Hastings says, that there is no inheritable property among them. Now, you have only to look at page 27, chapter the second, the title of which is,“ of the division of inheritable pro“perty.” There, after going through all the nicety of pedigree, it is declared, that " when
a father, or grandfather, a great grandfather,
or any relations of that nature decease, or lose .“ their cast, or renounce the world, or are de“ sirous to give up their property; their sons,
grandsons, great grandsons, and other natural
heirs, may divide and assume their glebe lands, “ orchards, jewels, corals, clothes, furniture, o cattle and birds, and all the estate, real and “ personal.” My Lords, this law recognises this kind of property, it regulates it with the nicest accuracy of distinction; it settles the descent of it in every part and circumstance. It no where asserts (but the direct contrary is positively asserted,) that the magistrate has any power whatever over property. It states that it is the magistrate's duty to protect it; that he is bound to govern by law; that he must have a council of Bramins to assist him in every material act
that he does; in short, my Lords, there is not even a trace of arbitrary power in the whole system.
My Lords, I will mention one article to let you see in a very few words, that these Gentoos not only have an inheritance, but that the law has established a right of acquiring possession in the property of another by prescription. The passage stands thus : “ If there be a person, “ who is not a minor, (a man ceases to be a “ minor at fifteen years of age,) nor impotent,
nor diseased, nor an idiot, nor so lame as not w to have power to walk, nor blind, nor one who,
on going before a magistrate, is found incapable of distinguishing and attending to his
own concerns, and who has not given to “ another person power to employ and to use his property ; if, in the face of
person, “ another man has applied to his own use, during “ the space of twenty years, the glebe land, or “ houses, or orchards of that person, without “ let or molestation from him, from the twenty
the property becomes invested in “ the person so applying such things to his own
use ; and any claim of the first person above“ mentioned, upon such glebe houses or or“ chards, shall by no means stand good: but if “ the person before-mentioned comes under any " of the circumstances hereinbefore described,
« his claim in that case shall stand good.” Here you see, my Lords, that possession shall, by prescription, stand good against the claims of all persons who are not disqualified from making their claims.
I might, if necessary, shew your Lordships, that the highest magistrate is subject to the law; that there is a case in which he is fineable; that they have established rules of evidence and of pleading; and in short, all the rules which have been formed in other countries, to prevent this very arbitrary power. Notwithstanding all this, the Prisoner at the bar, and his Counsel, have dared to assert, in this sacred Temple of Justice, in the presence of this great assembly, of all the Bishops, of all the Peers, and of all the Judges of this land, that the people of India have no laws whatever.
I do not mean to trouble your Lordships with more extracts from this book. I recommend it to your Lordships' reading; when you will find, that, so far from the magistrate having any power either to imprison arbitrarily, or to fine arbitrarily, the rules of fines are laid down with ten thousand times more exactness than
If you here find that the magistrate has any power to punish the people with arbitrary punishment, to seize their property, or to disfranchise them of any rights or privileges,
I will readily admit that Mr. Hastings has laid down good, sound doctrine upon this subject. There is his own book, a compilation of their laws, which has in it not only good and excellent positive rules, but a system of as enlightened jurisprudence, with regard to the body and substance of it, as perhaps any nation ever possessed: a system which must have been composed by men of highly cultivated understandings.
As to the travellers that have been quoted, absurd as they are in the ground of their argument, they are not less absurd in their reasonings. For having first laid it down, that there is no property, and that the government is the proprietor of every thing, they argue, inferentially, that they have no laws. But if ever there were a people, that seem to be protected with care and circumspection from all arbitrary power, both in the executive and judicial department, these are the people that seem to be so protected.
I could shew your Lordships that they are so sensible of honour, that fines are levied and punishment inflicted according to the rank of the culprit, and that the very authority of the magistrate is dependent on their rank. That the learned Counsel should be ignorant of these things is natural enough. They are concerned in the gainful part of their profession. If they know the laws of their own country, which I dare say they do, it is not to be expected that they should know the laws of any other. But, my Lords, it is to be expected, that the Prisoner should know the Gentoo laws : for he not only cheated Nobkissin of his money to get these laws translated, but he took credit for the publication of the work as an act of publick spirit, after shifting the payment from himself, by fraud and peculation. All this has been proved by the testimonies of Mr. Auriol and Mr. Halhed, before your Lordships.
We do not bring forward this book as evidence of guilt or innocence, but to shew the laws and usages of the country, and to prove the Prisoner's knowledge of them.
From the Gentoo we will proceed to the Tartarian government of India, a government established by conquest, and therefore not likely to be distinguished by any marks of extraordinary mildness towards the conquered. The book before me will prove to your Lordships, that the head of this government (who is falsely supposed to have a despotick authority,) is absolutely elected to his office. Tamerlane was elected; and Ghinges Khan particularly valued himself on improving the laws and institutions of his own country. These laws we only have imperfectly in this book ; but we are told in it, and I believe the fact, that he forbad, under