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ment had been intrusted, but whose nomination as a member of the committee appointed to consider of the answer to these articles had been opposed. There must, indeed, be strong arguments adduced to prove the fitness of the honourable gentleman to sit as a member of the one committee, and his unfitness to sit as a member of the other. They were not now acting as the judges of Mr. Hastings; they were not even sitting in the character of a grand jury to decide whether or not a bill of indictment was to be found against him; they were become his prosecutors; in that capacity they had committed themselves, and would act with the utmost inconsistency if they failed to avail themselves of every circumstance and of every assistance that might give effect to their prosecution.
Whatever objections might be urged to Mr. Francis as the judge of Mr. Hastings, though for his own part he neither felt nor admitted their existence, there could be no possible objection to his appearing as his accuser. To the character of an accuser, innocence and integrity were indispensably necessary. , It was requisite that he who preferred an accusation against another should himself be blameless, and his reputation unsuspected. That his honourable friend possessed this reputation was well known to all who heard him. All knew that he had been sent out to India as one of the supreme council on account of this reputation, and returned with the approbation and the confidence of his employers. But in such a case the testimony of his friends would be incomplete, unless corroborated and confirmed by the testimony of his enemies. This testimony his honourable friend had also obtained. By a steady and consistent hostility to the malversations and corruptions of others, he had provoked the most rigid scrutiny into his own conduct while in India, and since his return he had courted, not shunned, inquiry. Had any discoveries of misconduct on his part been to be made, they would long since have been before the public, since they must have come within the knowledge of those who were well disposed to bring them to light. It was, therefore, fair to conclude that his character was unimpeachable, since it had not been impeached, and that he possessed that innocence and integrity of life and conduct which qualified him to come forward as the accuser of another.
It was fit also that an accuser should possess talents. What the natural abilities of his honourable friend were, it was needless to state where they were so well known. What his acquired abilities on the subject of the prosecution were, must be equally evident from the opportunities he had enjoyed. It was much to have been in India; it was much to have been acquainted with the evasions and tergiversations under
Sup All knew putation Peated. That himself who preferres
which Mr. Hastings had been accustomed to screen his conduct. When Cicero came forward as the accuser of Verres, what were the arguments he advanced why the prosecution should be committed to him? - Because," said he, “I am acquainted with the evasions and sophistry of his advocate Hortentius. I am accustomed to combat and to overthrow them."
Nor was it less requisite that an accuser should entertain no partiality in favour of the accused; and not only that he should entertain no partiality, but that he should not be indifferent as to the event of the prosecution : that he should be animated with an honest indignation against the crimes and the criminal whom he attempted to bring to justice. In the case of a prosecution for murder, where the son of the person said to have been murdered was the prosecutor, he made his charge and produced his proofs with such seeming coolness and indifference, that the judges stopped him by asking: 6 Were the facts you alledge true? Was this man really the murderer of your father? If you indeed believed him such, you could not possibly go on in this unaffected and impartial manner. While, therefore, you address us in this trim language, we can give no credit to what you say." Even like this might be the answer of the party accused ; and such had actually been the answer of Mr. Hastings to the remonstrance of the court of directors : “ If you actually disapprove of my conduct, you could not possibly address me in such gentle terms." If Mr. Francis was supposed to cherish enmity to Mr. Hastings, it was not enmity to his person, it was enmity to his crimes. He was, therefore, from his detestation of those crimes, and his ability to prove them, a proper person to become the accuser of Mr. Hastings. There was no such thing known as an impartial prosecution in this country, for although all prosecutions were commenced in the king's name, it was always the party injured that came forward in support of them.
As to the merits of his honourable friend in other points it was enough to say, that if India was to be better governed ; if the abuses and corruptions that had prevailed in that country were to be corrected; if the honourable gentleman at the head of the board of control was able to introduce a purer and a better system, he must own that his knowledge had flowed originally from Mr. Francis. Under these circumstances, if his honourable friend was not appointed a member of the committee, the House must prevaricate and depart from a charge which they had already adopted. He had with infinite application and ability brought forward the charge of abuses in the administration of the revenues. By
head of.to be corrected on that had prebe better governed it means of his ystery of corrupe had persuade an accusetion and
means of his local and personal knowledge, he had developed the whole mystery of corruption; he had enforced it on the conviction of the House; he had persuaded an unwilling au. dience — for no man was willing to become an accuser. And would the House, now that they adopted the accusation and made it their own, prevent his honourable friend from supporting it at the bar of the House of Lords, where he alone could support it with effect ?
The sole argument which he had ever heard against the appointment of his honourable friend was, that he had once had a personal quarrel with Mr. Hastings. Of what weight was this ? He was not to be the judge, but the accuser of Mr. Hastings; and not the only accuser, but an accuser joined with others. Was he supposed of such authority as to influence the judges? Were the whole committee of such authority? The Lords would sit to pass sentence, upon their honour, like a jury on their oath; and Heaven forbid that the united authority of the Commons of England should influence their decision! Were this argument to be allowed of any force, what a lesson would it teach to all our governors abroad, who might dread inquiry into their conduct? It would be saying this to them: “ You know the persons who have the means of discovering your mal-administration, you have only to provoke a private quarrel with them, and they can never afterwards be suffered to bring a charge against you; and if they cannot be admitted as your accusers, much less can they appear as evidence against you.” The truest criterion for judging on the subject was the circumstance that the prosecution was to be arranged like other prosecutions, and that the House having once adopted it as their own, were to employ the best means of supporting it. His honourable friend was more conversant in the affairs of India than any member of that House, and not to avail themselves of his knowledge and ability, would be a dereliction of their own cause. If they demanded impartial accusers, who were acquinted with the subject of the accusation, where were they to be found ? Not in India, for it afforded not a man who could be said to be impartial in this cause. And by whom was Mr. Hastings to be accused by those who had supported his measures, or those who had opposed them? by his friends, or his enemies? There were not many accusers from India. He knew but few from that quarter who could dare to assume the character, or whose own conduct would stand the test of inquiry. Under these circumstances, to exclude from the committee the person likely to be the most dangerous accuser, would have a very pernicious appearance. Next to the power of chusing, was the power of rejecting accusers; and such fa
his du hemiseint upeis, Esqihento
your shewn to him who had abused the authority intrusted to him, and such discountenance to him who had faithfully done his duty, would have the effect of making the criminals conclude themselves in safety, and operate as an unjust and barbarous restraint upon the innocent. Mr. Fox now moved, “ That Philip Francis, Esq. be added to the managers appointed to manage the impeachment of Warren Hastings, Esq.”
The motion occasioned an interesting debate. It was supported by Mr. Windham, Mr. Sheridan, General Burgoyne, and Mr. Burke; and opposed by Mr. Pitt, Mr. W. Grenville, Mr. Dundas, and Major Scott. Mr. Francis, in a very able speech, entered into an account of his conduct respecting Mr. Hastings, for the last thirteen years, both in India and England. On a division, the numbers were Tellers.
Na YEAS Mr. North
SMr. J. J. Hamilton 2
es Mr. Steele So it passed in the negative.
Committees were afterwards appointed by both Houses to search the records of parliament, for precedents relative to the mode of proceeding in trials by impeachment, and the necessary orders were made for their accommodation in Westminster-hall, for the admission of spectators, the attendance of witnesses, and other matters respecting the regularity of their proceeding. On the 13th of February 1788, the trial commenced, with the usual formalities. The counsel who appeared for the defendant were Mess. Law, Plumer, and Dallas. The assistant counsel for the Commons, Dr. Scott, and Dr. Laurence, Messrs. Mansfield, Pigott, Burke, and Douglas.
RIGHT OF PETITION.
. . December 12. : ON the noth of December, Mr. Alderman Sawbridge offered to
present a petition from the several electors of the borough of Queenborough, setting forth, that for thirty years past works by the board of ordnance had been carried on there without any kind of advantage to the public, but for the sole purpose of creata ing an unconstitutional influence in the borough at elections for members to serve in parliament; and praying the House to appoint. a committee, before whom the petitioners pledged themselves to prove the facts stated in the petition. The Speaker having expressed some doubts as to the propriety of the petition, as it appeared to him to be rather in the nature of a complaint, the motion for bringing up the said petition was rejected. On the 12th, Mr. Sawbridge presented a similar petition to the one which had been rejected. It alledged, that the board of ordnance carried on a branch of the service of their department at Queenborough, at a much greater expence than was necessary, merely for the purpose of corruptly influencing the electors of that borough, and by that means procuring the return in favour of a person belonging to the ordnance, a circumstance equally improvident in respect to a lavish and unnecessary expenditure of the public money, and unconstitutional, as tending to the destruction of the independance of the borough, and after stating that this practice had obtained for thirty years, the petitioners pray the House to institute an inquiry into the facts alledged, and provide such redress as the wisdom of the House may deem proper; engaging on their parts to prove their allegations at the bar of the House.—Mr. Dundas said, that if the petition had concerned the patrimonial rights of the petitioners, he should have had no objection to its being received; but he contended, that it was in direct contradiction to the established rules of the House to receive from private individuals petitions on public questions which regarded the rights and privileges of parliament. It was no doubt competent to any member of that House to bring forward any discussion of that nature; but it was surely, against every precedent to receive the petition in its present shape; because it referred to no particular election, but merely stated in general, that abuses had prevailed in influencing the electors of Queenborough. If the House were to listen to such vague assertions, there would be no end to petitions of that nature. He had not the least objection to the discussion of the subject.; but he wished that it should originate from some member of the House, and not in consequence of the petition of a few individuals.
Mr. Fox observed, that he thought it incumbent on the right honourable gentleman rather to state a precedent against the receiving the present petition, than to call for precedents in support of the practice; not but, as there were many bad precedents on the journals, possibly one might be found in favour of the right honourable gentleman's argument. There could not, however, be a worse precedent made, than that of refusing to receive the present petition, which .was, in fact, not what the right honourable gentleman had termed it, a petition conveying a general charge, but a petition from private electors of the borough of Queenborough, complaining that their rights, as electors, were injured, and the independence of the borough, for a representative of which they were legally entitled to vote, destroyed in consequence of the corrupt influence of the board of ordnance over the majority of the electors of that borough.
Mr. Fox declared that he knew nothing of the petition before it was brought into the House, but he must and would contend, that it was in truth and substance such a petition as
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