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passions excited, will, as against himself, be more just than the
sworn dispensers of justice. To take an analogous case from the
history of our own island: suppose that Lord Stafford, when in
the Tower on suspicion of being concerned in the Popish plot,
had been apprised that Titus Oates had done something which
might, by a questionable construction, be brought under the head
of felony. Should we severely blame Lord Stafford, in the supposed
case, for causing a prosecution to be instituted, for furnishing
funds, for using all his influence to intercept the mercy of the
Crown? We think not. If a judge, indeed, from favour to the
Catholic lords, were to strain the law in order to hang Oates, such
a judge would richly deserve impeachment. But it does not appear
to us that the Catholic lord, by bringing the case before the judge
for decision, would materially overstep the limits of a just self-
While, therefore, we have not the least doubt that this me-
morable execution is to be attributed to Hastings, we doubt
whether it can with justice be reckoned among his crimes. That
his conduct was dictated by a profound policy is evident. He was
in a minority in Council. It was possible that he might long be
in a minority. He knew the native character well. He knew in
what abundance accusations are certain to flow in against the most
innocent inhabitant of India who is under the frown of power.
There was not in the whole black population of Bengal a place-
holder, a place-hunter, a government tenant, who did not think
that he might better himself by sending up a deposition against
the Governor-General. Under these circumstances, the perse-
cuted statesman resolved to teach the whole crew of accusers and
witnesses that, though in a minority at the council-board, he was
still to be feared. The lesson which he gave them was indeed a
lesson not to be forgotten. The head of the combination which
had been formed against him, the richest, the most powerful, the
most artful of the Hindoos, distinguished by the favour of those
who then held the government, fenced round by the superstitious
reverence of millions, was hanged in broad day before many thou-
sands of people. Every thing that could make the warning im-
pressive, dignity in the sutferer, solemnity in the proceeding, was
found in this case. The helpless rage and vain struggles of the
Council made the triumph more signal. From that moment the
conviction of every native was that it was safer to take the part

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