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Meules, 1682), and this prohibition is nearly of the sameWarren Hastings was summoned to the bar, and there kneeling, the Lord Chancellor, Thurlow, intimated the charge against him, and assured him that, as a British subject, he would receive full justice from the highest British court. Hastings replied, in a clear and firm voice, that he had the highest confidence in the justice and integrity of that august court. The clerks of the court then commenced reading the charges against him, and the answers to them, and this reading occupied the whole of that day and the following one; and on the third, Burke rose to deliver his opening speech. This occupied the whole of four days, beginning on the 15th, and terminating on the 19th of February. The effect of that speech, notwithstanding its enormous length, was such as had scarcely ever been witnessed in a court of justice before. As he detailed the horrors practised by Hastings on the princes and people of India, both the orator and his audience were convulsed with terror and agitation. Ladies fainted away in the galleries; Mrs. Sheridan, amongst others, had to be carried out insensible: the faces of the strongest men, as well as of the more sensitive women, were flushed with emotion, or bathed in tears. In his peroration Burke far exceeded even himself. He appeared raised, enlarged into something ethereal by his subject, and his voice seemed to shake the very walls and roof of that ancient court. Finally, he exclaimed:"I impeach Warren Hastings, Esquire, of high crimes and misdemeanours. I impeach him in the name of all the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled, whose parliamentary trust he has betrayed. I impeach him in the name of the people of India, whose laws, rights, and liberties he has subverted, whose properties he has destroyed, whose country he has laid waste and desolate. I impeach him in the name, and by virtue of those eternal laws of justice which he has violated. I impeach him in the name of human nature itself, which he has cruelly outraged, injured, and oppressed, in both sexes, in every age, rank, situation, and condition of life. And I conjure this high and sacred court to let not these proceedings be heard in vain." Such was the effect of this wonderful torrent of eloquence that Hastings himself said, "For half an hour I looked up at the orator in a reverie of wonder; and during that space I actually felt myself the most culpable man on earth; but I recurred to my own bosom, and there found a consciousness that consoled me under all I heard and all I suffered."
General Lake had no sooner seen Delhi clear of the enemy than he marched to Agra, which he reached on the 4th of October, and carried on the 17th. But Scindiah had availed himself of his absence, and made a sudden rush on Delhi, with seventeen well-disciplined battalions of infantry and between four thousand and five thousand cavalry. The Mahratta troops had been well trained by the French, who hoped, by their means, to crush the power of the British in India, and had shown throughout this war wonderfully increased efficiency, yet General Lake did not hesitate, with his small force, to go in quest of them. He started on the 27th of October, and after marching in heavy rains and through dreadful roadsthe country having been purposely inundated by Scindiah's officers cutting down the banks of reservoirshe came upon the Mahrattas on the 31st, near the village of Laswaree, their left flanked by that village, their right by a stream, and their front protected by seventy-two pieces of cannon. A furious battle took place, in the course of which Lake's troops were repeatedly repulsed, but returned to the attack undauntedly, and the successive charges by the bayonet, and the gallant conduct of the cavalry, at length, in the face of terrible discharges of grape-shot and canister, drove the Mahrattas from all their positions. The enemy had fought desperately, and step by step only had given way, but in the end the rout was completecannon, baggage, and almost everything, being left in the hands of the British (November 1st, 1803). This division of Scindiah's army was thus annihilated, and all the territory watered by the Jumna left in the hands of the British.
Sr. Riverin sur la Traite et la Ferme du Castor, 1696;It is, then, proved that the law which imprisons subjects in their own country is useless and unjust. The punishment, therefore, of suicide is equally so; and consequently, although it is a fault punishable by God, for He alone can punish after death, it is not a crime in the eyes of men, for the punishment they inflict, instead of falling on the criminal himself, falls on his family. If anyone objects, that such a punishment can nevertheless draw a man back from his determination to kill himself, I reply, that he who calmly renounces the advantages of life, who hates his existence here below to such an extent as to prefer to it an eternity of misery, is not likely to be moved by the less efficacious and more remote consideration of his children or his relations.
But fresh light continued to break on the all-pervading corruption. The Commissioners of Naval Inquiry presented a fresh report, abounding with proofs of the villainies that had been going on in that department. The Military Commissioners had a like frightful exposure to make of frauds and peculations which had been going on wholesale, especially in the West Indies. The same result followed the investigations of the committee that inquired into the appointment of cadets to the East India Service. There was abundance of proofs of the sale of such places, and even Lord Castlereagh was implicated. It was found that as President of the Board of Controlthe Minister, in fact, for Indian Affairshe had presented a writership to his friend, Lord Clancarty, which Clancarty had bartered with a Mr. Reding for a seat in Parliament, and which Reding immediately sold for three thousand pounds. Lord Archibald Hamilton immediately moved that Lord Castlereagh had been guilty of an abuse of his authority as President of the Board of Control. Castlereagh replied that, when he presented his friend, Lord Clancarty, with the writership, he had no notion that Reding was a regular broker in parliamentary seats, though he did not deny that Reding had told him that he meant to make over the place to a Member of Parliament who had a nephew whom he wished to send to India, and that this Member of Parliament would vote accordingly. The virtuous Wilberforce seemed to hold this easy-going morality, for he voted for Lord Castlereagh, and, in spite of the denunciations of Sir Francis Burdett, Mr. W. Smith, and others, Lord Archibald Hamilton's motion was rejected by two hundred and sixteen against a hundred and sixty-sevenand Lord Castlereagh walked away scathless. There was immediately another charge brought against him, in company with the Honourable Henry Wellesley, the brother of General Wellesley, and late Secretary of the Treasury, for corrupt practices in the election of members of Parliament; but the ministerial majority outvoted Mr. Madox, the mover. About the same time Mr. Curwen brought in a Bill to prevent such practices, and to obtain purity of Parliament by extinguishing bribery, and this was suffered to pass when all vitality had been taken out of it. On the 15th of June Sir Francis Burdett also made a motion for extensive parliamentary Reform; but the greater part of the members of Parliament had already left town, and the motion was rejected by seventy-four against fifteen. On the 21st the Session was closed with a speech which took a hopeful view of the war in Spain, and also of that which Austria had again commenced. We may now return to the details of these great contests on the Continent.Hastings next determined to experiment on the Nabob of Oude. This Nabob, Asaph-ul-Dowlah, was an infamously dissipated prince, spending his own money in licentious pleasures, and extorting what he could from the Begums, his mother and grandmother. The old ladies lived at the palace of Fyzabad, or the "Beautiful Residence," situated in a charming district, amid hills and streams, about eighty miles from Lucknow. The Nabob's father had left them large sums of money and extensive estates, so that they kept a handsome court, and yet had the reputation of having accumulated about three million pounds sterling. The Nabob had compelled them, by coercive means, to let him have, at different times, about six hundred thousand pounds, and he thirsted exceedingly for more. Hastings determined to anticipate him. He sent for the Nabob of Oude while he was still in the fortress of Chunar, and there reminding him of his debts to the British Government, which were considerable, coolly proposed to him the robbery of his mother and grandmother. The proposal was so barefaced that, when Hastings came to make it to the Nabob, he felt that he really required some pretended reason for thus arbitrarily laying hands on the property of these innocent women, and therefore unblushingly asserted that they had been concerned in stirring up the insurrection at Benaresa matter, besides that it was so notoriously the result of Hastings' own daring arrest of Cheyte Sing, the Begums had neither motive for meddling in nor time for doing it. Till now they had regarded the British as their only protectors. They were living quietly at Fyzabad, one hundred and fifteen miles from Benares, when the insurrection broke out from very obvious causes. This infamous bargain being concluded at Chunar, Hastings relying on his agent at Lucknow, Mr. Middleton, compelling the Nabob to carry it out, retreated to Benares, and thence to Calcutta. The Nabob returned to Lucknow to enforce the diabolical scheme; but he found his mother and grandmother determined to resist the iniquitous order, and so shameful was it that even the needy and debauched Nabob felt compunctions in proceeding with it. He left it to Middleton to execute it, but Middleton, in his turn, recoiled from the odious business. Not so Hastings; cold and resolute, he wrote to Middleton, that if he could not rely upon his firmness he would free him from his charge, and himself proceed to Lucknow and enforce his own orders. To induce Middleton to abandon his scruples of conscience and honour, the ever-ready friend of Hastings, the Chief Justice of Bengal, Sir Elijah Impey, it appears, wrote to Middleton, and inculcated the necessity of obedience. Middleton and the Nabob, therefore, seized on the estates of the Begums, and suddenly surrounded Fyzabad and the palace with troops, and made themselves masters of both. But the old ladies had not been so inattentive to the approaches of the storm as to neglect the hiding of their treasures; they could not be found. Thus cruelly disappointed of the expected hoard, and the Begums remaining firm in their refusal to produce any part of it, Middleton seized on their two chief ministers, the eunuchs, Jewar Ali Khan and Behar Ali Khan. They were now thrown into prison, put in irons, and orders were given to starve and torture them till they revealed the secret of the concealment of the treasure of their mistresses. At the same time, the two ladies were placed in rigorous confinement themselves. This system was continued till they had extorted upwards of a million sterling from the Begums, and found that they might kill both them and their aged ministers, but could get no more. When the Begums and the two old men were liberated, they were told by the Residentnot now Middleton, but Bristowthat they owed this favour to the Governor-General, who had determined to have them "restored to their dignity and honour." There was another name connected with these events, and with almost equal disadvantage, that of Sir Elijah Impey, the Chief Justice. Impey, who had no jurisdiction in Oude, was found up there in the midst of these transactions, volunteering his assistance in getting up charges against the Begums. These charges were supported by a host of venal witnesses, and affidavits of their evidence were made out, and sent down to Calcutta, to justify the dark doings of Hastings.