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to them by the information; if you agree with me in that meaning, you convict; if you disagree with me, of course you acquit.
The rule of your judgment, I apprehend, with submission to your lordship, will be the ordinary acceptation of the words, and the plain and obvious sense of the several passages; if there be doubt, or if there be difficulty ; if there be screwing or ingenuity, or unworthy straining, on the part of a public prosecutor, you certainly will pay no attention to that; but, on the contrary, if he who runs may read; if the meanest capacity must understand the words, in their plain and obvious sense, to be the same as imputed in this information, in such a case as that, ingenuity on the other side must be laid aside by you, and you will not be over-a ixious to give a meaning to words, other tha: the ordinary and plain one.
In my situation, it does not become me to raise in you more indignation than the words themselves, and the plain and simple reading of the libel will do; far be it from me, if it were in my power to do so, to provoke any undue passion or animosity in you, against conduct even such as this. The solemnity of the situation in which I am placed on this occasion, obliges me to address the intellect both of the court and jury, and neither their passions nor their prejudices ; for that reason I shall content myself with the few observations I have made, and betake myself merely to thù words of the libel; and leaving that with you, I am most confident that if you follow the rule of intepretation which you always do upon such occasions, it cannot possibly happen that you should differ from me, in the construction which I have put upon
them. Gentlemen, this, I should however mention to you, is a libel of a more dangerous nature than the ribaldry that we daily see crowding every one of the prints which appear every morning upon our tables; because it is contained in a work which discovers the author of it to be by no means ignorant of composition, but certainly to be of good understanding, and eminently acquainted with letters. Therefore when calumny of this sort comes so recommended, and addressing itself to the understandings of the most enlightened part of mankınd -I mean those who have had the best education -it
may sink deep into the minds of those who compose the thinking and the judging part of the community; and, by misleading them, perhaps may be of more real danger than the momentary misleading, or the momentary inflammation, of common minds, by the ordinary publications of
This book is entitled, “A Review of the Principal Charges against Warren Hastings, Esquire, late Governor-General of Bengal.”
One passage in it is this: The House of Commons has now given its final decision with regard to the merits and demerits of Mr. Hastings. The grand inquest of England has delivered their charges, and preferred their impeachment; their allegations are referred to proof; and from the appeal to the collective wisdom and justice of the nation in the supreme tribunal of the kingdom, the question comes to be determined, whether Mr. Hastings be guilty or not guilty.”
Another is this: “What credit can we give to multiplied and accumulated charges, when we find that they originate from misrepresentation and falsehood?”
Another is: “An impeachment of error in judgment with regard to the quantum of a fine, and for an intention that never was executei', characterizes a tribunal inquisition, rather than a court of Parliament."
In another part it is said : “ The other charges are so insignificant in themselves, or founded on such gross misrepresentations, that they would not affect an obscure individual, much less a public character."
And again : “If success in any degree attend the designs of the accusers of Mr. Hastings, the voice of Britain henceforth to her sons is, Go and serve your country; but if you transgress the line of official orders, though compelled by necessity, you do so at the risk of your fortune, your honor, and your life; if you act with proper prudence against the interests of the Empire, and bring calamity and disgrace upon your country, you have only to court opposition and coalesce with your enemies, and you will find a party zealous and devoted to support you. You may obtain a vote of thanks from the House of Commons for your services, and you may read your history in the
eyes of the mob, by the light of bonfires and illuminations. But if, after exerting all your efforts in the cause of your country, you return covered with laurels and crowned with success : if you pre. serve a loyal attachment to your sovereign, you may expect the thunders of parliamentary vengeance; you will certainly be impesched, ani probably be undone.”
Another passage is this: “The office of caim, deliberate justice, is to redress grievances as weil as to punish offences. It has been affirmed that the natives of India have been deeply injured ; but has any
motion been made to make them compensation for the injuries they have sustained ? Have the accusers of Mr. Hastings ever proposed to bring back the Rohillas to the country from which they were expelled ? to restore Cheit Sing to the Zemindary of Benares, or to return the Nabob of Oude the present which the governor of Bengal received from him for the benefit of the company?
Till such measures are adopted, and in the train of negotiation, the world has every reason to conclude that the impeachment of Mr. Hastings is carried on”—now, gentlemen, I leave you to judge what sort of motives are imputed to the House of Commons here.-“from motives of personal animosity, not from regard to public justice.”
The general meaning, without specifying it in technical language, which I have thought it my duty to impute to these words, is shortly this: That the House of Commons, without consideration, without reading, without hearing, have not been ashamed to accuse a man of distinguished situation, and to pervert their accusatorial character from the purposes of deliberate, thoughtful, considerate justice, to immediate, hasty, passionate, vindictive, personal animosity. The work represents that the better a man conducis himself, that the more deserving he has rendered himself of his country's favo. from his past conduct, the more he exposes himself to the vindictive proceedings of Parliament; and that such a man will be impeached and ruined.
In another passage, personal animosity (the very words are used) is imputed to the Commons of Great Britain as the motive of their conduct; these are too plain for you, gentlemen, to differ with me in the interpretation.
I do not choose to waste your time, and that of