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WARREN HASTINGS. 35

tion. But it is certain that, whatever may have been, according to
technical rules of construction, the effect of the statute under which
the trial took place, it was most unjust to hang a Hindoo for forgery.
The law which made forgery capital in England was passed without
the smallest reference to the state of society in India. It was un-
known to the natives of India. It had never been put in execution
among them, certainly not for want of delinquents. It was in the
highest degree shocking to all their notions. They were not ac-
customed to the distinction which many circumstances, peculiar to
our own state of society, have led us to make between forgery and
other kinds of cheating. The counterfeiting of a seal was, in their
estimation, a common act of swindling; nor had it ever crossed
their minds that it was to be punished as severely as gang-robbery
or assassination. A just judge would, beyond all doubt, have re-
served the case for the consideration of the sovereign. But Impey
would not hear of mercy or delay.

The excitement among all classes was great. Francis and
Francis’s few English adherents described the Governor-General
and the Chief Justice as the worst of murderers. Clavering, it
was said, swore that, even at the foot of the gallows, Nuncomar
should be rescued. The bulk of the European society, though
strongly attached to the Governor-General, could not but feel
compassion for a man who, with all his crimes, had so long filled
so large a space in their sight, who had been great and powerful
before the British empire in India began to exist, and to whom, in
the old times, governors and members of council, then mere com-
mercial factors, had paid court for protection. The feeling of the
Hindoos was infinitely stronger. They were, indeed, not a people
to strike one blow for their countryman. But his sentence filled
them with sorrow and dismay. Tried even by their low standard
of morality, he was a bad man. But, bad as he was, he was the
head of their race and religion, a Brahmin of the Brahmins. He
had inherited the purest and highest caste. He had practised
with the greatest punctuality all those ceremonies to which the
superstitious Bengalees ascribe far more importance than to the
correct discharge of the social duties. They felt, therefore, as a
devout Catholic in the dark ages would have felt, at seeing a
prelate of the highest dignity sent to the gallows by a secular
tribunal. According to their old national laws, a Brahmin could
not be put to death for any crime whatever. And the crime for

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