« PreviousContinue »
as it is particularly set forth in the printed book entitled Reports of the Committee of the House of Commons. I knew," he adds, "it was there, and was therefore surprised at this application; it is so notorious that every body in the settlement must have known it; when I say every body I mean with an exception to the gentlemen who have applied to the court. The only reason I can give for their applying is the little time they have been in the country." The judge, (I think it is chief justice Impey,) then goes on, "Perhaps this question might have been determined merely on the dates of the letters to the governor-general; but as the council have made the other a serious question, I should not have thought that I had done my duty, if I had not given a full and determinate opinion upon it; I should have been sorry if I had left it doubtful, whether the empty name of a nabob should be thrust between a delinquent and the laws, so as effectually to protect him from the hand of justice."
My lords, the court, as you see, bottoms its determination on what we stand upon here, Mr. Hastings's evidence, that the empty name of a pretended sovereign should not be thrust forth between a delinquent and justice.
What does Mr. Lemaistre, the other judge, say upon this occasion," with regard to this phantom, that man of straw, Mobarick ul Dowlah, it is an insult on the understanding of the court, to have made the question of his sovereignty. But as it came from the governor-general and council, I have too much respect for that body to treat it ludicrously, and I confess, I cannot consider it seriously, and we always shall consider a letter of business from the nabob the same, as a letter from the governor-general and council.”
This is the unanimous opinion of all the judges concerning the state and condition of the nabob. We have thus established the point we mean to establish, that any use which shall be made of the nabob's name, for the purpose
of justifying any disobedience to the orders of the company, or of bringing forward corrupt and unfit persons for the government, could be considered as no other than the act of the persons who shall make such a use of it; and that no letter, that the nabob writes to any one in power, was or could be considered as any other than the letter of that person himself. This we wish to impress upon your lordships, because, as you have before seen the use that has been made in this way of the nabob of Oude, you may judge of the use that has been made of the name of Hyder Beg Khân, and of the names of all the eminent persons of the country. One word more, and I have done; if, whilst you remark the use that is made of this man's name, your lordships shall find, that this use has ever been made of his name for his benefit, or for the purpose of giving him any useful or substantial authority, or of meliorating his condition in any way whatever, forgive the fraud, forgive the disobedience.
But if we have shown your lordships, that it was for no other purpose than to disobey the orders of the company, to trample upon the laws of his country, to introduce back again, and to force into power, those very corrupt and wicked instruments which had formerly done so much mischief, and for which mischief they were removed, then we shall not have passed our time in vain, in endeavoring to prove that this man, in the opinion of a court of justice, and by public notoriety, and by Mr. Hastings's own opinion, was held to be fit for nothing but to be made a tool in his hands.
Having stated to your lordships generally the effects produced upon the Mahomedan interest of Bengal, by the misconduct of the prisoner at your bar, with respect to the appointment of the guardian of the nabob or soubahdar of that province, and of the ministers of his government, I shall have the honor of attending your lordships another day; and shall show you the use that has been made of this government and of the authority of the nabob, who, as your lord
ships have seen, was the mere phantom of power; and I shall show how much a phantom he was for every good purpose, and how effectual an instrument he was made for every bad one.
SATURDAY, 14TH JUNE, 1794.
EIGHTH DAY OF REPLY.
MY LORDS,-Your lordships heard, upon the last day of the meeting of this high court, the distribution of the several matters which I should have occasion to lay before you, and by which I resolved to guide myself, in the examination of the conduct of Mr. Hastings with regard to Bengal. I stated, that I should first show the manner in which he comported himself with regard to the people, who were found in possession of the government when we first entered into Bengal. We have shown to your lordships the progressive steps by which the native government was brought into a state of annihilation. We have stated the manner in which that government was solemnly declared, by a court of justice, to be depraved and incompetent to act, and dead in law. We have shown to your lordships (and we have referred you to the document) that its death was declared upon a certificate of the principal attending physician of the state, namely Mr. Warren Hastings himself; this was declared in an affidavit made by him, wherein he has gone through all the powers of government, of which he had regularly despoiled the nabob Mobarick ul Dowlah part by part, exactly according to the ancient formula, by which a degraded knight was despoiled of his knighthood; they took, I say, from him all the powers
of government, article by article; his helmet, his shield, his cuirass, at last they hacked off his spurs, and left him nothing. Mr. Hastings laid down all the premises, and left the judges to draw the conclusion.
Your lordships will remark, (for you will find it on your minutes,) that the judges have declared this affidavit of Mr. Hastings to be a delicate affidavit. We have heard of affidavits that were true. We have heard of affidavits that were perjured; but this is the first instance that has come to our knowledge, (and we receive it as a proof of Indian refinement,) of a delicate affidavit; this affidavit of Mr. Hastings we shall show to your lordships, is not entitled to the description of a good affidavit, however it might be entitled, in the opinion of those judges, to the description of a delicate affidavit, a phrase by which they appear to have meant that he had furnished all the proofs of the nabob's deposition, but had delicately avoided to declare him expressly deposed. The judges drew, however, this indelicate conclusion; the conclusion they drew was founded upon the premises; it was very just and logical; for they declared, that he was a mere cypher. They commended Mr. Hastings's delicacy, though they did not imitate it; but they pronounced sentence of deposition upon the said nabob, and they declared that any letter or paper, that was produced from him, could not be considered as an act of government. So effectually was he removed by the judges out of the way, that no minority, no insanity, no physical circumstances, not even death itself, could put a man more completely out of sight. They declare that they would consider his letters in no other light than as the letters of the company, represented by the governor-general and council. Thus, then, we find the nabob legally dead.
We find next, that he was politically dead. Mr. Hastings, not satisfied with the affidavit he made in court, has thought proper upon record to inform the company and the world of what he considered him to be civilly and politically.-[Minute