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would be admitted that the expedient ought to be tried, Should such a law pass, every man who should go to India in future, would, by so doing, consent to stand in the particular predicament in which the particular law placed him, and in thus agreeing to give up some of the most essential privileges of his country, he would do no more than a very numerous and honorable body of men did daily, without the smallest impeachment of their characters, or the purity of the motives that impelled their conduct.”
Mr. Pitt suggested loosely what his idea of the summary species of trial he meant to authorize was. He said “ there must be an exception to the general rules of the law; the trials must be held by special commission; the court must not be tied down to strict rules of evidence; but they must be upon their oaths to give judgment conscientiously, and pronounce such judgment as the common law would warrant, if the evidence would reach it. Much he was aware, would depend on the constitution of the court. His design, therefore, was, that it should be composed of men of known talents, unimpeached character, and high consequence; that their impartiality should be farther secured by their election being by ballot; and that a certain number out of the whole nominated should make a court, in order that there might exist the chance of a choice by ballot. The persons to be balloted for, should be some of them from among the judges, some members of the House of Lords, and some members of that House. Such a mixed assemblage, from the very first characters in the kingdom, would leave no room for suspicion, or possible impeachment of justice ; and, in order still more strongly to fortify the subject against injustice, they should not be
chosen till the hour of trial, and should then be all sworn. To effect the purposes of the institution of such a tribunal, they should be empowered to take depositions, and receive information, communicated by witnesses who were in India when the delinquent was stated to have committed the offences he might stand charged with ; and farther, they should be judges both of the law and fact. With regard to the punishments, they should be governed by the punishments the law, as it stood, authorised in cases of misdemeanor, viz. fine and imprisonment; but the extent of these should rest in the discretion of the court, to apportion according to their opinion of the proved enormity of the crime; and as a farther means of rendering such a tribunal awful, and of giving effect to its plans for preventing the perpetration of crimes shocking to humanity, it should be armed with the power of examining the parties charged as delinquents, by interrogatories, as to the value of their effects, in order the better to be able to govern the quantum of the fine to be levied in case of conviction; it should also be armed with the power of examining the amount of any man's property on his arrival in England from India ; and since purity and abstinence were the objects which every man must desire should characterize the conduct of their countrymen in Asia, the company should not have it in their power to employ any one of their servants convicted of a misdemeanour while he had been in India, nor should any person be suffered to return to that country after his stay in this beyond a certain limited period.”
Mr. Pitt interpersed his notification of the different principles and regulations, which his intended bill went to establish, with a variety of illustrations and arguments; and concluded with moving, VOL. II.
“ That leave be given to bring in a bill for the better regulation and management of the East India Company, and of the possessions in India."
The motion, after a few observations from Mr. Fox, was agreed to.
CHAPTER CHAP. IX.
MONG these that of WARREN HASTINGS attracted
the most considerable share of public attention. From the great number of eloquent speeches delivered on this subject, we have been induced to select the fola lowing memorable one of Mr. SHERIDAN, respecting the Begum Princesses of Oude, which proved decisive as to the question.
The House having resolved itself, on the 7th of Fea bruary 1787, into a committee on the fourth charge of Mr. HASTINGS, Mr. DEMPSTER begged leave to acquaint the House, that Sir ELIJAH Impey, having fully and coolly revolved in his mind the nature, scope, and perspicuity of his former evidence, and assisted his fresh researches by the most accurate examination of his papers, discovered, that the answers which he gave to some of the questions put to him, during the course of the preceding evening, were less explicit and decisive than he desired to make them; and of course, not totally including all which ought to have been submitted to a parliamentary consideration; he, therefore, earnestly wished to embrace an opportunity of setting his evidence to rights; and, for that purpose, as well as to save the time of the committee, he had written the explanation, which he was desirous of giving upon that paper,
, that it might be read to the committee. Mr. DemPSIER then read the paper, the general tendency of which was
to authenticate the depositions taken by Sir ELIJAH at Lucknow, by declaring that the translator had been sworn, and had deposed that the translation was authentic and correct.
Mr. SHERIDAN commenced his speech by observing, " that had it been possible to have received, without a violation of the established rules of parliament, the paper which the honorable member [Mr. DEMPSTER] had just now read, he should willingly have receded from any
forms of the House, for the purpose of obtaining new lights, and farther illustration on the important subject then before them; not indeed that on the present occasion he found himself so ill prepared, as merely, for this reason, to be prevented from proceeding to the discharge of his duty; neither, to speak freely, was he inclined to consider any explanatory additions to the evidence of Sir ELIJAH IMPEY So much framed to elucidate, as to perplex and contradict.
Needless to his present purpose was it for him to require Sir ELIJAH, legally to recognize what had been read in his name by the honorable gentleman. In fact, neither the informality of any subsisting evidence, nor the adducement of any new explanations from Sir ELIJAH IMPEY, could make the slightest impression upon the vast and strong body of proof which he should now bring forward against WARREN HASTINGS. Yet, if any motive could so far hate operated upon him, as to make him indústriously seek for renewed opportunities of questioning Sir ELIJAH, it would result from his fresh and indignant recollection of the low and artful stratagem of delivering to the members, and others, in this last period of parliamentary inquiry, printed hand-bills of defence, the contents of which bespoke a presumptuous and empty boast of completely refuting all which, at any time had, or even could be