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piousness of stile, pathos and sublimity of conception; to which we have this day listened with ardor and admiration. From poetry up to eloquence, there is not a species of composition of which a complete and perfect specimen might not, from that single speech, be culled and collected."
Next in consequence, and next also in the general opinion of deliquency to Mr. HASTINGS was Sir ELIJAH IMPEY, Chief Justice of the supreme court, established by the regulating act in 1773, against whom six articles of impeachment (including the murder of NUNDCOMAR) were exhibited by Sir Gilbert ELLIOT (now lord MinTO] on the 12th of December 1787.
He began his speech with lamenting “ that the first time in which he had occassion to call the attention of the House of Commons in the present parliament, he should stand in the unpopular and disagreeable character of an accuser. Those who knew him best, and who were acquainted with the complexion of his mind, and its habits, would be able to estimate the discomfort that he felt under such a predicament ; and at the same time would, he trusted, do him the honor to bear testimony to his heart, that such a task was highly incompatible with his natural feelings, and directly contrary to his common conduct. Instead of standing up there, as the accuser of any man, to gratify his natural disposition, he could have wished that it had fallen to his lot to appeal to the House in favor of distinguished merit, and to call on their gratitude and justice for rewards of services honorably performed. “But,” said Sir GILBERT,
” “ next to the pleasant duty of beslowing honors on great and distinguished men, who, having been invested by their country with high power, have exercised it with exemplary moderation, and who, being intrusted with
the lives and properties of their fellow.creatures, have preserved them against outrage and oppression, is the necessary, though painful task of drawing down the vengeance of parliament on the head of a servant, whose pride stretched his power into tyranny, and whose avarice perverted his trust into plunder.
« On this ground, Sir GILBERT begged of gentlemen to consider, that if he that day stood up to accuse one person of high crimes, and misdemeanors, he, at the same time, presented himself an advocate for oppressed millions, and they would consider also, that in redressing
; the grievances of nations, in preserving the weak against the violence and rapine of the strong, in administering justice with integrity themselves, and in taking care that it should be administered by others, consisted the grandest and most enviable distinctions of a powerful and enlightened senate. That the House of Commons had mani. fested their honorable determination that every subject of the extended empire of Britain should partake of the purity of its system, as to the protection and equality of its laws; and that no officer, however highly endowed with power, should dare to outrage his fellow subjects by acts of turpitude and cruelty, was a truth which cheered and supported him in the arduous undertaking which he had assumed; and it gave him much confidence and comfort, that the highest authorities in that House had shewn, they were disposed to join cordially in the general determination of the House,
He undoubtedly had need of much indulgence. It might be said, that he had not been able to avail himself of any particular opportunities of seeing the transactions in India. - I certainly have not seen them with my own eyes, but,” continued Sir GILBERT, " for several years past, the principal part of
my time and labor has been devoted to the
study and contemplation of the affairs of India ; and I
abilities are, un. fortunate as it is for the task that it has fallen into my hands, I am convinced that if the House will enter on the inquiry, they will find that the person, whom I have accused, has been guilty of the most scandalous enormities; 'that many millions of people,
millions of people, to whom he was sent to administer law, have been oppressed, and plundered under its color ; that being sent with the power of making them know and feel the blessings of the pure and equitable system which the legislature of England had in its wisdom and benevolence devised for their
protection, he perverted it to the most scandalous purposes of tyranny; and thus has alienated the hearts of the people of India, and has stained the name of Britain. In confidence that these things will all be made evident in the course of the inquiry, I am bold enough to stand up, and charge Sir ELIJAH İMPEY with high crimes and misdemeanors committed in India."
Before Sir GILBERT entered upon the detail of those crimes, he made a very modest yet forcible appeal to both sides of the House, on the known purity and dis. interestedness of his views. “ It was particularly grateful to him, he confessed, that he could not even be suspected of party motives. There could be no faction involved in this prosecution; for the protection of the weak, and
1 the punishment of the guilty, did not belong exclusively to any side of the House. Besides, by a little attention to facts, it would be found that no one side or party could possibly lay claim singly to this charge, nor could it affect any other party. In the year 1774, Sir ELIJAH Impey went out to Bengal; the year 1775 had not elapsed before a formal and serious complaint was preferred against him for mal-administration of his powers, and
for having perverted the functions of the supreme court to purposes of scandalous tyranny and abuse. Every year afterwards brought similar charges against him, so that not only the court of directors, but that House had thought fit to recal him from his high oisice ; and full five
years ago he stood on the records of that House as a public culprit. This would prove that in this charge there was nothing hostile to any party. Sir ELIJAH IMPEY was not a member ; and he knew of no party in that House who had reason to assert, that there was any factious motive at the bottom, or that he stood in any other light than of a voluntary agent for many millions of oppressed and outraged fellow-beings. He trusted that, in the prosecution of this business, it would always be present to the minds of gentlemen, and he begged leave to assume it as a fundamental principle; that our fellow-subjects in India were entitled, as well as ourselves, to the enjoyment of fair and equal justice ; and the code of laws which had been devised for their protection, should be administered with purity and impartiality. · It was certainly as easy to make laws for the people of India, as for the people of England, the difficulty was in their not being executed as well.
“ In England,” said Sir GÜLBERT, “the arm of justice is under the immediate eye of the legislature that made the law; and egregious abuses can neither escape instantaneous notice, nor instantaneous correction. But it is not so with the course of justice in a place so remote as India. Much must be left to the purity, the integrity, the moderation of those persons who are entrusted with its powers; and all that the legislature can preserve is the power of exemplary punishment on the conviction of enormous abuse. Perhaps nothing is so truly abhorrent to the heart of man; nothing so deservVOL. II.
ing the rigor of national justice, as a corrupt administration of law. It is such an instrument in the hands of a bad and profligate man as to make the heart shudder at the uses to which it may be applied ; and therefore do the crimes of a judge, more perhaps than any other species of delinquency, call for the vengeance of a nation.”
Sir GILBERT now proceeded to state the nature of the case, on which the prosecution was to be founded. He related the circumstances of the act passed in 1773, for the establishment of a supreme court of judicature in Bengal, and the nature and extent of the powers committed to the judges. From thence he went to the appointment of Sir ELIJAH IMPEY, and the almost instan. taneous use that had been made of his powers.
« That these were fit subjects for the attention of that House it would not be necessary for him to take pains to elucidate; and he trusted that the current language which had been held on the first institution of the Indian code, and the supreme court, would not prevent gentlemen from seriously entering into this important investigation, He knew that the institution had been called a law joban establishment intended as a colong for the bar in West minster-hall by which young adventurers in law, as well as politics, were to carry their talents to the Indian field, and by which, in due process of time, that House was to behold a learned, as well as a lay squad from Bengal. All this, he trusted, would be thrown totally out of the minds of gentlemen ; for it was highly inconsistent with the dignity of parliament to imagine, that a solemn institu, tion of law, by which many millions of people were to have the blessings of justice, or the miseries of the perversion of it, could ever have originated in so base a motive as a job. Much less, he trusted, would it be