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34 WARREN HASTINGS.

safe to drive to despair a man of such resources and of such deter-
mination as Hastings. Nuncomar, with all his acuteness, did not
understand the nature of the institutions under which he lived.
He saw that he had with him the majority of the body which made
treaties, gave places, raised taxes. The separation between poli-
tical and judicial functions was a thing of which he had no con-
ception. It had probably never occurred to him that there was in
Bengal an authority perfectly independent of the Council, an au-
thority which could protect one whom the Council wished to
destroy, and send to the gibbet one whom the Council wished to
protect. Yet such was the fact. The Supreme Court was, within
the sphere of its own duties, altogether independent of the Govern-
ment. Hastings, with his usual sagacity, had seen how much
advantage he might derive from possessing himself of this strong-
hold; and he had acted accordingly. The Judges, especially the
Chief Justice, were hostile to the majority of the Council. The
time had now come for putting this formidable machinery into
action.

On a sudden, Calcutta was astounded by the news that Nun-
comar had been taken up on a charge of felony, committed, and
thrown into the common gaol. The crime imputed to him was
that six years before he had forged a bond. The ostensible pro-
secutor was a native. But it was then, and still is, the opinion of
everybody, idiots and biographers excepted, that Hastings was
the real mover in the business.

The rage of the majority rose to the highest point. They pro-
tested against the proceedings of the Supreme Court, and sent
several urgent messages to the Judges, demanding that N uncomar
should be admitted to bail. The Judges returned haughty and
resolute answers. All that the Council could do was to heap
honours and emoluments on the family of Nuncomar; and this
they did. In the mean time the assizes commenced; a true bill
was found; and Nuncomar was brought before Sir Elijah Impey
and ajury composed of Englishmen. A great quantity of con-
tradictory swearing, and the necessity of having every word of
the evidence interpreted, protracted the trial to a most unusual
length. At last a verdict of guilty was returned, and the Chief
Justice pronounced sentence of death on the prisoner.

That lmpey ought to have respited Nuncomar we hold to be per-
fectly clear. Whether the whole proceeding was not illegal, is a ques-

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