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part of the world, that claims it at your hands. Your lordships always had an ample power, and almost unlimited jurisdiction; you have now a boundless object. It is not from this district, or from that parish, not from this city, or the other province, that relief is now applied for : exiled and undone princes, extensive tribes, suffering nations, infinite descriptions of men, different in language, in manners, and in rites -men, separated by every barrier of nature from you, by the providence of God are blended in one common cause, and are now become suppliants at your bar. For the honour of this nation, in vindication of this mysterious providence, let it be known, that no rule formed upon municipal maxims (if any such rule exists) will prevent the course of that imperial justice, which you owe to the people, that call to you from all parts of a great disjointed world. For, situated as this kingdom is, an object, thank God, of envy to the rest of the nations ; its conduct in that high and elevated situation will undoubtedly be scrutinized with a severity as great as its power is invidious.
It is well known, that enormous wealth has poured into this country from India through a thousand channels, publick and concealed; and it is no particular derogation from our honour to suppose a possibility of being corrupted by that, by which other empires have been corrupted, and assemblies, almost as respectable and venerable as your lordships, have been directly or indirectly vitiated. Forty millions of money, at least, have within our memory been brought from India into England. In this case the most sacred judicature ought to look to its reputation. Without offence we may venture to suggest, that the best way to secure reputation is, not by a proud defiance of publick opinion, but by guiding our actions in such a manner, as that publick opinion may in the end be securely defied, by having been previously respected and dreaded. No direct false judgment is apprehended from the tribunals of this country. But it is feared, that partiality may lurk and nestle in the abuse of our forms of proceeding. It is necessary, therefore, that nothing in that proceeding should appear to mark the slightest trace, should betray the faintest odour, of chicane. God forbid, that, when you try the most serious of all causes, that when you try the cause of Asia in the presence of Europe, there should be the least suspicion, that a narrow partiality, utterly destructive of justice, should so guide us, that a British subject in power should appear in substance to possess rights, which are denied to the humble allies, to the attached dependants of this kingdom, who by their distance have a double demand upon your protection, and who, by an implicit (I hope not a weak and useless) trust in you, have stripped themselves of every other resource under heaven.
I do not say this from any fear, doubt, or hesitation, concerning what your lordships will finally do, none in the world; but I cannot shut my ears to the rumours, which you all know to be disseminated abroad. The abusers of power may have a chance to cover themselves by those fences and intrenchments, which were made to secure the liberties of the people against men of that very description. But God forbid it should be bruited from Pekin to Paris, that the laws of England are for the rich and the powerful; but to the poor, the miserable, and defenceless, they afford no resource at all. God forbid it should be said, no nation is equal to the English in substantial violence and in formal justice—that in this kingdom we feel ourselves competent to confer the most extravagant and inordinate powers upon publick ministers, but that we are deficient, poor, helpless, lame, and impotent in the means of calling them to account for their use of them. An opinion has been insidiously circulated through this kingdom, and through foreign nations too, that, in order to cover our participation in guilt, and our common interest in the plunder of the East, we have invented a set of scholastick distinctions, abhorrent to the common sense, and unpropitious to the common necessities, of mankind; by which we are to deny ourselves the knowledge of what the rest of the world knows, and what so great a part of the world both knows and feels. I do not deprecate any appearance, which may give countenance to this aspersion, from suspicion, that any corrupt motive can influence this court; I deprecate it from knowing, that hith
erto we have moved within the narrow circle of municipal justice. I am afraid, that, from the habits acquired by moving within a circumscribed sphere, we may be induced rather to endeavour at forcing nature into that municipal circle, than to enlarge the circle of national justice to the necessities of the empire we have obtained.
This is the only thing, which does create any doubt or difficulty in the minds of sober people. But there are those, who will not judge so equitably. Where two motives, neither of them perfectly justifiable, may be assigned, the worst has the chance of being preferred. If, from any appearance of chicane in the court, justice should fail, all men will say, better there were no tribunals at all. In my humble opinion, it would be better a thousand times to give all complainants the short answer the Dey of Algiers gave a British ambassadour, representing certain grievances suffered by the British merchants,-“ My friend,” (as the story is related by Dr. Shawe) “ do not you know, that my subjects are a band of robbers, and that I am their captain ?” -better it would be a thousand times, and a thousand thousand times more manly, than an hypocritical process, which, under a pretended reverence to punctilious ceremonies and observances of law, abandons mankind, without help and resource, to all the desolating consequences of arbitrary power.
The conduct and event of this cause will put an end to such doubts, wherever they may be entertained. Your lordships will exercise the great plenary powers, with which you are invested, in a manner, that will do honour to the protecting justice of this kingdoin, that will completely avenge the great people, who are subjected to it. You will not suffer your proceedings to be squared by any rules, but by their necessities, and by that law of a common nature, which cements them to us, and us to them.
The reports to the contrary have been spread abroad with uncommon industry ; but they will be speedily refuted by the humanity, simplicity, dignity, and nobleness of your lordships' justice.
Having said all, that I am instructed to say, concerning the process, which the House of Commons has used, con
cerning the crimes, which they have chosen, concerning the criminal, upon whom they attach the crimes, and concerning the evidence, which they mean to produce ; I am now to proceed to open that part of the business, which falls to my share. It is rather an explanation of the circumstances, than an enforcement of the crimes.
Your lordships of course will be apprized, that this cause, is not what occurs every day in the ordinary round of municipal affairs ; that it has a relation to many things, that it touches many points in many places, which are wholly removed from the ordinary beaten orbit of our English affairs. In other affairs, every allusion immediately meets its point of reference; nothing can be started, that does not immediately awaken to your attention something in your own laws and usages, which you meet with every day in the ordinary transactions of life. But here you are caught, as it were, into another world; you are to have the way pioneered before you. As the subject is new, it must be explained; as it is intricate as well as new, that explanation can be only comparatively short: and therefore, knowing your lordships to be possessed, along with all other judicial virtues, of the first and foundation of them all, judicial patience, I hope, that you will not grudge a few hours to the explanation of that, which has cost the Commons fourteen years assiduous application to acquire that your lordships will not disdain to grant a few hours to what has cost the people of India upwards of thirty years of that innate, inveterate, hereditary patience to endure.
My lords, the powers, which Mr. Hastings is charged with having abused, are the powers delegated to him by the East-India Company. The East-India Company itself acts under two very dissimilar sorts of powers, derived from two sources very remote from each other. The first source of its power is under charters, which the Crown of Great Britain was authorized by act of parliament to grant; the other is from several charters derived from the emperour of the Moguls, the person, in whose dominions they were chiefly conversant :-particularly that great charter, by which, in the year 1766, they acquired the high stewardship of the
kingdoms of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa. Under those two bodies of charters, the East-India Company, and all their servants, are authorized to act.
As to those of the first description, it is from the British charters, that they derive the capacity, by which they are considered as a publick body, or at all capable of any publick function. It is from thence they acquire the capacity to take from any power whatsoever any other charter, to acquire any other offices, or to hold any other possessions. This, being the root and origin of their power, renders them responsible to the party, from whom all their immediate and consequential powers are derived. As they have emanated from the supreme power of this kingdom, the whole body and the whole train of their servants, the corporate body as a corporate body, individuals as individuals, are responsible to the high justice of this kingdom. In delegating great power to the East-India Company, this kingdom has not released its sovereignty ; on the contrary, the responsibility of the company is increased by the greatness and sacredness of the powers, that have been intrusted to it. Attempts have been made abroad to circulate a notion, that the acts of the East-India Company, and their servants, are not cognizable here. I hope on this occasion your lordships will show, that this nation never did give a power, without annexing to it a proportionable degree of responsibility.
As to their other powers, the company derives them from the Mogul empire by various charters from that crown, and from the great magistrates of that crown, and particularly by the Mogul charter of 1765, by which they obtained the Duanni, that is, the office of Lord High Steward of the kingdoms of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa. By that charter they bound themselves (and bound inclusively all their servants) to perform all the duties belonging to that new office, and to be held by all the ties belonging to that new relation. If the Mogul empire had existed in its vigour, they would have been bound under that responsibility, to bserve the laws, rights, usages, and customs of the natives; and to pursue their benefit in all things. For this duty was inherent in the nature, institution, and purpose of the