« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
WARREN HASTINGS, ESQ.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 11th, 1794.
SIXTH DAY OF THE REPLY.
YOUR Lordships will recollect that we closed
recollect that we closed the last day of your proceeding in this trial, at a most interesting part of our Charge, or rather of our observations upon that Charge. We closed at that awful moment when we found the first women of Oude, pillaged of all their landed and of all their monied property, in short of all they possessed. We closed by reciting to you the false pretence on which this pillage was defended, namely, that it was the work of the Nabob. Now we had before proved to you, from evidence adduced by the Prisoner himself, that this Nabob was a mere tool in his hands; a nd therefore if this pretence be true, it aggravates his guilt; for surely the forcing a son to Vol. XVI.
violate the property of his mother must every where be considered a crime most portentous and enormous. At this point we closed; and after the detail which has been given you already, of these horrible and iniquitous proceedings, some apology may perhaps be necessary for entering again into the refutation of this iniquitous pretence.
My honourable Fellow-manager who preceded me in this business, did, in his remarks upon the inference drawn by the Prisoner's Counsel from the seizure of the Begum's treasures by the Nabob, as evidence of their guilt, as he ought to do--he treated it with proper contempt. 1 consider it indeed to be as little an evidence of their guilt as he does, and as little a defence of that seizure as he does. But I consider it in another and in a new light, namely, as a heavy aggravation of the Prisoner's crimes, and as a matter that will let you into the whole spirit of his government; and I warn your Lordships against being imposed on by evasions, of which if it were possible for you to be the dupes, you would be unfit to be judges of the smallest matters in the world, civil or criminal.
The first observation which I shall beg leave to make to your Lordships, is this, that the whole of the proceedings from beginning to end has been a mystery of iniquity, and that in no
part of them have the orders of the Company been regarded ; but on the contrary the whole has been carried on in a secret and clandestine
It is necessary that your Lordships should be acquainted with the manner in which the correspondence of the Company's servants ought to be carried on and their proceedings regulated; Your Lordships, therefore, will please to hear read, the orders given concerning correspondence of every kind with the Country Powers. You will remember the period when these orders were issued, namely, the period at which the Act passed for the better direction of the servants of the Company. By this Act Mr. Hastings was appointed to be Governour General, and the Court of Directors was required by that Act, to prepare orders and instructions, which Mr. Hastings was required, by the same Act, to comply with. . You will see what these instructions and orders were, and in what manner he has complied with them.
Extract of general instructions to the Governour General and Council, 29th of March 1774:-"We direct that you assemble in Council “ twice every week, and that all the Members “ be duly summoned ; that the correspondence “ with the Princes or Country Powers in India, “ be carried on by the Governour General only,
“ but that all letters sent by him be first ap“ proved in Council, and that he lay before the “ Council, at their next meeting, all letters “ received by him in the course of such corre"spondence, for their information. We like“ wise direct, that a copy of such parts of the “ country correspondence, be communicated to
our Board of Trade, (to be constituted as “ hereinafter mentioned), as may any ways “ relate to the business of their department."
You will observe; my Lords, two important circumstances in these instructions. First, that after the Board had regularly met, the Persian correspondence, kept by the Governour only, was to be communicated to the Council; and secondly, that he should write no answer to any part of the business until he had previously consulted the Council upon it. Here is the law of the land ; an order given in pursuance of an Act of Parliament. Your Lordships will consider how Mr. Hastings comported himself with regard to those orders : for we charge it as a substantive crime, independent of the criminal presumptions arising from it, that he violated an Act of Parliament, which imposed direct instructions upon him, as to the manner in which he was to conduct all matters of business with the Native Powers.
My Lords, we contend strongly that all the positive rules and injunctions of the law, though