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gentleman, whose of a war in Gerst advisable to pur
policy might dictate to her as most advisable to pursue hereafter, in the case of a war in Germany, the right honourable gentleman, who had on the foregoing day disclaimed all responsibility for the wisdom and policy of the measure in question, might come down to the House, on a subsequent occasion, and make that very measure, respecting which the British parliament was excluded from all inquiry and control, the ground of an application for additional supplies. Mr. Fox concluded, by observing, that he never spoke concerning a point of state with less reluctance, persuaded that, on the present occasion, he neither divulged a secret, nor gave the slightest wound to the security and interests of the nation.
Mr. BURKE'S ACCUSATION OF MR. HASTINGS,
ON the first day of this session, Mr. Burke was called upon by
Major Scott, the agent of the late Governor-general of Ben gal, to produce the criminal charges against Mr. Hastings in such à shape as might enable parliament to enter into a full discussion of his conduct, and come to a final decision upon it. On Friday, the 17th of February, Mr. Burke brought this subject before the House of Commons: after desiring the clerk to read the 44th and 45th resolutions of censure and recal of Mr. Hastings, moved by Mr. Dundas on the 29th of May 1782, he said that he entirely agreed in opinion with the friends of that gentleman, that the resolution which had been read should not be suffered to remain a mere calumny on the page of their journals; at the same time he lamented that the solemn business of the day should have devolved upon him by the natural death of some, by the political death of others, and in some instances by a death to duty and to principle. It would doubtless, he said, have come forward with much more weight and effect in the hands of the right honourable gentleman who had induced the House to adopt those resolutions, or in those of another gentleman, who had taken an active part in the select committee, and then enjoyed a confidential post in the Indian department, the secretary of the board of controul; but as he could not perceive any intentions of the kind in either of those members, and as he had been personally called upon, in a manner highly honourable to the party interested in the proceeding, but in a manner which rendered it impossible for him not to do his duty, he should endeavour to the best of his power to support the credit and dignity of the House, to enforce its intentions, and give vigour and effect to a sentence passed four years ago; and he trusted that he should receive that protection, that fair and
honourable interpretation of his conduct, which the house owed to those who acted in its name, and under the sanction of its authority. - Having endeavoured upon this ground to remove the odium of appearing a forward prosecutor of public delinquency, Mr. Burke called back the recollection of the House to the several proceedings which had been had in parliament respecting the mal-administration of the company's affairs in India, from the period of Lord Clive's government down to the reports of the secret and select committees, the resolutions moved thereupon, and the approbation repeatedly given to these proceedings by his majesty from the throne. - It was upon the authority, the sanction, and the encouragement thus. afforded him, that he rested his accusation of Mr. Hastings, as a delinquent of the first magnitude.- After going through an infinite variety of topics relative to this part of his subject; he proceeded to explain the process which he should recommend to the house to pursue. There were, he observed, three several modes of proceeding against state-delinquents, which according to the exigencies of particular cases had each at different times been adopted. The first was to direct his majesty's attorney general to prosecute; from this mode he acknowledged himself totally averse, not only because he had not discovered in the learned gentleman, whose respectable character and professional abilities had advanced him to that high official situation, that zeal for public justice in the present instance, which was a necessary qualification in a public prosecutor: but more especially, because he thought a trial in the court of king's bench, amidst a cloud of causes of meum and tuum, of trespass, assault, battery, conver. sion, and trover, &c. &c. not at all suited to the size and enormity of the offender, or to the complicated nature and extent of his of fences. Another mode of proceeding occasionally adopted by the house was by bill of pains and penalties; this mode he also greatly disapproved of, in the first place, as attended with great hardship and injustice to the party prosecuted, by obliging him to anticipate his defence; and secondly, as putting the house in a situation which, where the nature of the case did not absolutely require it, ought carefully to be avoided, that of shifting its character backwards and forwards, and appearing in the same cause one day as accusers, and another as judges. The only process that remained, was by the ancient and constitutional mode of impeachment; and even in adopting this process he should advise the House to proceed with all possible caution and prudence. It had been usual, he observed, in the first instance, to resolve that the party accused should be impeached, and then to appoint a committee to examine the evidence, and find the articles on which the impeachment was to be founded. This mode of proceeding had, from the heat and passion with which the minds of men were sometimes apt to be inflamed, led the house, on more than one occasion, into the disgraceful dilemma of either abandoning the impeachment they had voted, or of preferring articles which they had not evidence to support. In order to steer clear of this disgrace, he should move that such papers as were necessary for substantiating the guilt of Mr. Hastings, if guilt there was, should be laid before
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the House ; and that these papers, together with the charges ex. :
head of the out in 1987, that it, i
Mr. Fox rose, and declared, that he had not the smallest, idea of speaking during the course of the debate, nor would he have troubled the House, had not some observations fallen from the right honourable and learned gentleman, under which it was impossible for him to remain a moment silent. The only way in which he could meet the matter, was to oppose assertion to assertion; and to declare upon the word and honour of a gentleman, that if, in talking of the thirty-six writers sent out in 1783, when Sir Henry Fletcher sat at the head of the board of East India directors, and when he had himself the honour to be in administration, the right honourable and learned gentleman meant to insinuate, that he had been concerned in sending out any, he was completely and perfectly mistaken. In the whole course of his life, he never had sent out, or rather procured to be sent out to India, but one single writer, and that was at the time when the Earl of Shelburne, now Marquis of Lansdown, presided over his majesty's councils. That, upon his word of honour, most solemnly pledged to the House, had been the only writer for whom he had ever procured a recommendation and succeeded. Indeed, if the House would recollect a little, it was not very likely, that the administration in which he had the honour to be, should stand remarkably well with the board of directors, as it was well known what their intentions were at the time, with a view to effect a reform of the company. Mr. Fox added, that he considered it right to say thus much in consequence of the insinuation of the right honourable and learned gentleman, and the manner in which it had been conveyed to the House.
Previous to his sitting down, he should beg leave briefly to touch upon the consistency of the right honourable and learned gentleman, who, when hard driven to the point, and obliged, as it were, to defend his own conduct, had done that, which heaven knew the right honourable and learned gentle man could do at all times, with his opponents face to face, let the argument bear as much as it would against him! But what sort of a defence had the right honourable and learned gentleman made ? He had been reduced to the necessity of admitting, that he at one time entertained an opinion that Mr. Hastings, with respect to certain points, proceeded in a manner highly culpable; nay, he added, that he was still of the same opinion, although almost in the same breath, certainly in the same speech, he had declared that he entertained a high opinion of Mr. Hastings, and praised his conduct as warmly in the latter part of his observations, as he had abused it in the former part. And what points had the right honourable and learned gentleman chosen to select as the points in which he cansidered Mr. Hastings as having
been highly culpable? Merely the two points of the Robilla war, with the breach of the treaty of Poorunder, and in having introduced expensive establishments in India. Gracious heaven! did the whole idea which the right honourable and learned gentleman entertained of the culpability of Mr. Hastings amount only to this? Had the House heard nothing of Corah and Allahabad? Of Cheyt Sing? Of the Begums? And of all the long catalogue of crimes committed in India, to the infinite disturbance of the peace of the country, to the misery and even butchery of the natives, to the destruction of all confidence in British faith, and to the everlasting disgrace of the British name and character in Hindostan?
Mr. Fox now read the resolution immediately preceding that in which the House resolved, in 1782, that Mr. Hastings and Mr. Hornby should be recalled, and appealed to every man of common sense, whether that marked and strong censure did not go immediately to Mr. Hastings and Governor Hornby? It was not in language to express disgrace more, strongly than to declare that the delinquents ought to receive some mark of parliamentary displeasure. Certainly these two resolutions, and the obvious construction of both, with the vote of recall passed at the India house, in which Governor Hastings was permitted to resign in consequence of his long and meritorious services, was not a little strange. How was this mode of recall to be reconciled to the resolution which stigmatized Mr. Hastings, and declared it as the opinion of the House that he deserved some mark of parliamentary displeasure? Was it not a contradiction insulting to that House, and inconsistent to a shameful degree? The right honourable and learned gentleman thought proper to declare that he would not have sheltered himself under a minute of the board of directors, but that had he been a director, he would have signed that minute likewise; and, therefore, the right honourable and learned gentleman, who had himself prevailed upon the House of Commons to resolve in a grave and phlegmatic form, but in strong and energetic phrase, that Governor Hastings deserved parliamentary censure, would have given that gentleman thanks for his long and meritorious services ! What egregious inconsistency! For the word “ long” in the minute of recall, undoubtedly comprehended the whole of the services of Mr. Hastings, as well those before 1782, as those subsequent to this period. During the debate, his right honourable friend who commenced it, had been censured by a worthy alderman (Le Mesurier) for his supposed remark in respect to trial by jury. The worthy magistrate had misunderstood his right honourable friend, who had not expressed any disapprobation of the general principle of trials by jury,
gem, but in stred parliaments long and word " longe of the
ings oman thanks forency! For the wed the whole