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ners, customs, and opinions of the people of India; and we contend, that Mr. Hastings is bound to know them and to act by them; and I shall prove, that the very condition upon which he received power in India, was to protect the people in their laws and known rights. But whether Mr. Hastings did know these laws, or whether, content with credit gained by as base a fraud as was ever practised, he did not read the books which Nobkissin paid for; we take the benefit of them: we know and speak after knowledge of them. And although I believe his counsel have never read them, I should be sorry to stand in this place, if there was one word and tittle in these books that I had not read over.
We therefore come here and declare to you, that he is not borne out by these institutes, either in their general spirit, or in any particular passage, to which he has the impudence to appeal, in the assumption of the arbitrary power which he has exercised. We claim, that, as our own government, and every person exercising authority in Great Britain is bound by the laws of Great Britain, so every person exercising authority in another country shall be subject to the laws of that country; since otherwise, they break the very covenant by which we hold our power there. Even if these institutes had been arbitrary, which they are not, they might have been excused as the acts of conquerors. But, my lords, he is no conqueror, nor any thing but what you see him; a bad scribbler of absurd papers, in which he can put no two sentences together without contradiction. We know him in no other character than that of having been a bullock contractor for some years; of having acted fraudulently in that capacity, and afterwards giving fraudulent contracts to others; and yet I will maintain, that the first conquerors of the world would have been base and abandoned if they had assumed such a right as he dares to claim. It is the glory of all such great men to have for their motto, Parcere subjectis et debellare superbos. These were men that said they would recompense the countries which they had obtained
through torrents of blood, through carnage and violence; by the justice of their institutions, the mildness of their laws, and the equity of their government. Even if these conquerors had promulgated arbitrary institutes instead of disclaiming them in every point, you, my lords, would never suffer such principles of defence to be urged here; still less will you suffer the examples of men acting by violence, of men acting by wrong;-the example of a man who has become a rebel to his sovereign in order that he should become the tyrant of his people, to be examples for a British governor, or for any governor. We here confidently protest against this mode of justification, and we maintain that his pretending to follow these examples is in itself a crime; the prisoner has ransacked all Asia for principles of despotism; he has ransacked all the bad and corrupted part of it for tyrannical examples to justify himself; and certainly in no other way can he be justified.
Having established the falsehood of the first principle of the prisoner's defence, that sovereignty, wherever it exists in India, implies in its nature and essence a power of exacting any thing from the subject, and disposing of his person and property ;-we now come to his second assertion, that he was the true, full, and perfect representative of that sovereignty in India.
In opposition to this assertion we first do positively deny, that he or the company are the perfect representative of any sovereign power whatever. They have certain rights by their charter, and by acts of parliament, but they have no other. They have their legal rights only, and these do not imply any such thing as sovereign power. The sovereignty of Great Britain is in the king; he is the sovereign of the Lords and the sovereign of the Commons, individually and collectively; and as he has his prerogative established by law, he must exercise it, and all persons claiming and deriving under him, whether by act of parliament, whether by charter of the crown, or by any other mode whatever, all are alike bound
by law, and responsible to it. No one can assume or receive any power of sovereignty, because the sovereignty is in the crown, and cannot be delegated away from the crown; no such delegation ever took place, or ever was intended; as any one may see in the act by which Mr. Hastings was nominated governor. He cannot, therefore, exercise that high supreme sovereignty, which is vested by the law, with the consent of both houses of parliament, in the king, and in the king only. It is a violent, rebellious assumption of power, when Mr. Hastings pretends fully, perfectly, and entirely, to represent the sovereign of this country, and to exercise legislative, executive, and judicial authority, with as large and broad a sway as his majesty, acting with the consent of the two houses of parliament, and agreeably to the laws of this kingdom. I say, my lords, this is a traitorous and rebellious assumption which he has no right to make, and which we charge against him, and therefore it cannot be urged in justification of his conduct in any respect.
He next alleges, with reference to one particular case, that he received this sovereignty from the Vizier Sujah Dowlah, who, he pretends, was sovereign, with an unlimited power over the life, goods, and property of Cheit Sing. This we positively deny. Whatever power the supreme sovereign of the empire had, we deny that it was delegated to Sujah Dowlah. He never was in possession of it. He was a vizier of the empire; he had a grant of certain lands for the support of that dignity, and we refer you to the institutes of Timour, to the institutes of Akbar, to the institutes of the Mahomedan law, for the powers of delegated governors and viceroys. You will find, that there is not a trace of sovereignty in them; but that they are, to all intents and purposes, mere subjects, and, consequently, as Sujah Dowlah had not these powers he could not transfer them to the India Company. His master, the Mogul emperor, had them not. I defy any man to show an instance of that emperor's claiming any such thing as arbitrary power; much less can it be
claimed by a rebellious viceroy who had broken loose from his sovereign's authority, just as this man broke loose from the authority of parliament. The one had not a right to give, nor the other to receive such powers; but whatever rights were vested in the mogul, they cannot belong either to Sujah Dowlah, to Mr. Hastings, or to the company. These latter are expressly bound by their compact to take care of the subjects of the empire, and to govern them according to law, reason, and equity; and when they do otherwise, they are guilty of tyranny, of a violation of the rights of the people, and of rebellion against their sovereign.
We have taken these pains to ascertain and fix principles, because your lordships are not called upon to judge of facts. A jury may find facts, but no jury can form a judgment of law; it is an application of the law to the fact that makes the act criminal or laudable. You must find a fixed standard of some kind or other; for if there is no standard but the immediate momentary purpose of the day, guided and governed by the man who uses it, fixed not only for the disposition of all the wealth and strength of the state, but for the life, fortune, and property of every individual, your lordships are left without a principle to direct your judgment. This high court-this supreme court of appeal from all the courts of the kingdom-this highest court of criminal jurisdiction, exercised upon the requisition of the House of Commons, if left without a rule, would be as lawless as the wild savage, and as unprincipled as the prisoner that stands at your bar. bar. Our whole issue is upon principles, and what I shall say to you will be in perpetual reference to them, because it is better to have no principles at all than to have false principles of government and of morality. Leave a man to his passions, and you leave a wild beast to a savage and capricious nature. A wild beast, indeed, when its stomach is full will caress you, and may lick your hands; in like manner when a tyrant is pleased, or his passion satiated, you may have a happy and serene day under an arbitrary govern
ment. But when the principle founded on solid reason, which ought to restrain passion, is perverted from its proper end, the false principle will be substituted for it, and then man becomes ten times worse than a wild beast. The evil principle, grown solid and perennial, goads him on and takes entire possession of his mind; and then perhaps the best refuge, that you can have from that diabolical principle, is in the natural wild passions and unbridled appetites of mankind. This is a dreadful state of things; and therefore we have thought it necessary to say a great deal upon his principles.
My lords, we come next to apply these priniples to facts which cannot otherwise be judged, as we have contended and do now contend. I will not go over facts which have been opened to you by my fellow managers; if I did so, I should appear to have a distrust, which I am sure no other man has, of the greatest abilities displayed in the greatest of all causes. I should be guilty of a presumption, which I hope I shall not dream of, but leave to those who exercise arbitrary power; in supposing that I could go over the ground which my fellow managers have once trodden, and make any thing more clear and forcible than they have done. In my humble opinion, human ability cannot go farther than they have gone; and if I ever allude to any thing which they have already touched, it will be to show it in another light ;-to mark more particularly its departure from the principles upon which we contend you ought to judge; or to supply those parts which through bodily infirmity, and I am sure nothing else, one of my excellent fellow managers has left untouched. I am here alluding to the case of Cheit Sing.
My honorable fellow manager, Mr. Grey, has stated to you all the circumstances requisite to prove two things:-First, that the demands, made by Mr. Hastings upon Cheit Sing, were contrary to fundamental treaties between the company and that rajah :—and next, that they were the result and effect of private malice and corruption. This having been stated and proved to you, I shall take up the subject where it was left.