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one word ever uttered by any one of them, from which the Nabob or Begums could learn that they were supposed to be concerned in the rebellion : so that none of those who were said to be the principal actors in the scene ever heard of the parts they were acting from the actual authors and managers of the business. Not one word was uttered of a charge made, much less of proof given. Nothing was heard but “Give me the money !” — irons, – new irons, – new imprisonment, — and at last the castle of Chunar.
And here I beg leave to pause, and to leave upon your minds the impression, first, of the wrong that was done, the violence, and the robbery, - and, secondly, of the pretences, both civil and criminal, by which they have attempted to justify their proceedIngS.
Y LORDS,-Your Lordships will recollect that we closed the last day of your proceeding in this trial at a most interesting part of our charge, or rather of our observations upon that charge. We closed at that awful moment when we found the first women of Oude pillaged of all their landed and of all their moneyed property, in short, of all they possessed. We closed by reciting to you the false pretence on which this pillage was defended, namely, that it was the work of the Nabob. Now we had before proved to you, from evidence adduced by the prisoner himself, that this Nabob was a mere tool in his hands; and therefore, if this pretence be true, it aggravates his guilt: for surely the forcing a son to violate the property of his mother must everywhere be considered a crime most portentous and enormous. At this point we closed ; and after the detail which has been given you already of these horrible and iniquitous proceedings, some apology may perhaps be necessary for entering again into the refutation of this iniquitous pretence. My honorable fellow Manager who preceded me in this business did, in his remarks upon the inference drawn by the prisoner's counsel from the seizure of the Begums' treasures by the Nabob, as evidence of their guilt, as he ought to do, - he treated it with proper contempt. I consider it, indeed, to be as little an evidence of their guilt as he does, and as little a defence of that seizure as he does. But I consider it in another and in a new light, namely, as a heavy aggravation of the prisoner's crimes, and as a matter that will let you into the whole spirit of his government; and I warn your Lordships against being imposed on by evasions, of which if it were possible for you to be the dupes, you would be unfit to be judges of the smallest matters in the world, civil or criminal. The first observation which I shall beg leave to make to your Lordships is this, that the whole of the proceedings, from beginning to end, has been a mystery of iniquity, and that in no part of them have the orders of the Company been regarded, but, on the contrary, the whole has been carried on in a secret and clandestine manner. It is necessary that your Lordships should be acquainted with the manner in which the correspondence of the Company’s servants ought to be carried on and their proceedings regulated ; your Lordships, therefore, will please to hear read the orders given concerning correspondence of every kind with the country powers. You will remember the period when these orders were issued, namely, the period at which the act passed for the better direction of the servants of the Company. By this act Mr. Hastings was appointed to be Governor-General, and the Court of Directors was required by that act to prepare orders and instructions, which Mr. Hastings was required by the same act to comply with. You will see what these instructions and orders were, and in what manner he has complied with them.
Evtract of General Instructions to the Governor-General and Council, 29th of March, 1774.
“We direct that you assemble in Council twice every week, and that all the members be duly summoned ; that the correspondence with the princes or country powers in India be carried on by the Governor-General only, but that all letters sent by him be first approved in Council, and that he lay before the Council, at their next meeting, all letters received by him in the course of such correspondence, for their information. We likewise direct that a copy of such parts of the country correspondence be communicated to our Board of Trade (to be constituted as hereinafter mentioned) as may any ways relate to the business of their department.”
You will observe, my Lords, two important circumstances in these instructions: first, that, after the board had regularly met, the Persian correspondence, kept by the Governor only, was to be communicated to the Council; and, secondly, that he should write no answer to any part of the business until he had previously consulted the Council upon it. Here is the law of the land, - an order given in pursuance of an act of Parliament. Your Lordships will consider how Mr. Hastings comported himself with regard to those orders: for we charge it as a substantive crime, independent of the criminal presumptions arising from it, that he violated an act of Parliament which imposed direct instructions upon him as to the manner in which he was to conduct all matters of business with the native powers. My Lords, we contend strongly that all the positive rules and injunctions of the law, though they are merely positive, and do not contain anything but mere matters of regulation, shall be strictly observed. The reason is this, and a serious reason it is : official tyranny and oppression, corruption, peculation, and bribery are crimes so secret in their nature that we can hardly ever get to the proof of them without the assistance of rules, orders, and regulations of a positive nature, intended to prevent the perpetration of these crimes, and to detect the offender in case the crimes should be actually perpetrated. You ought, therefore, to presume, that, whoever such rules or laws are broken, these crimes are intended to be committed; for you have no means of security against the commission of secret crimes but by enforcing positive laws, the breach of which must be always plain, open, and direct. Such, for instance, is the spirit of the laws, that, although you cannot directly prove bribery or smuggling in a hundred cases where they have been committed, you can prove whether the proper documents, proper cockets, proper entries in regular offices have been observed and performed, or not. By these means you lock the door against bribery, you lock the door against corruption, against smuggling and contraband trade. But how 2 By falling upon and attacking the offence 7 No, by falling upon and attacking the breach of the regulation. You prove that the man broke the regulation, and, as he could have no other motive or interest in break ing it, you presume that he broke it fraudulently, and you punish the man not for the crime the regu