Page images
PDF
EPUB

been just so to do, it was not I but the Court, which must have afforded protection to the criminal because the accuser of Mr. Hastings; it was not I but the Court that must have quashed that indictment: it was not I but the Court which retained the prosecution; had Sir Robert Chambers been over-ruled, it was not I but the Court that could have over-ruled him ; it was not I but the whole Court that rejected the appeal,-if there was an appeal-that refused the respite and carried the sentence into execution. All signed the calendar ; I executed no act of authority as a magistrate, but sitting in open Court assisted by all the judges ; even those acts which are peculiarly objected to me, as mine individually, though I was the proper channel of the Court to pronounce them, are not my individual acts ; as Chief Justice I presided in the Court--was the mouth of the Court ; all questions put, or observations made by me, were with the judges sitting on my right hand and on my left, those questions and those observations were not mine, but the questions and observations of the Court. I did not presume to make observations in my summing up to the jury, without having first communicated with the judges and taken their unanimoas opinion on every article."

And then referring to his own personal character, said :

“ It is hardly conceivable that any man whose constant habits of life have been known to be such as mine have been, and there are not wanting members in this house who know both how, and with whom the earlier part of my life, down to the time I quitted this country, had been spentthat I, a man, I will assume to say, who left this country with a character, at least unimpeachable, who maintained that character till May 1775, should in the course of the last month, have been so totally lost to every principle of justice, every duty of office, every sense of shame, every feeling of humanity, to have been so deeply immersed and hardened in iniquity, as to be able deliberately to plan and steadily to perpetrate murder, with all the circumstances with which it is here charged and aggravated.-Nemo repente fuis turpissimus."

“I now finally submit," were his last words, “ whether under all the circumstances, with which I have fatigued the house, it be consistent with its candour, wisdom and justice, to put me alone at the bar of the House of Lords, to answer criminally for the judicial acts of an unanimous court.”

The speech made a deep impression on the House. Pitt said he scarcely doubted that under all the circumstances of the case, he should have acted as Impey had done. The accusers were staggered and lost heart. Francis appears to have been astounded by the intimation that a copy of Nuncomar’s petition, which he himself had consigned to the hangnan as a libel on the court, was still in existence. When the committee met after the first hearing of the accused, Francis moved that Sir Elijah Impey should be required to produce a copy of the petition. To this the house objected; the motion was then amended; and it was carried, “ that the

speaker should ask Sir Elijah Impey if he had any objection to produce the paper in question. Impey consented to do so; but many days afterwards, when Francis rose to offer an explanation, he could do no more than acknowledge the fact; and accuse Hastings of having betrayed his colleagues, in publishing what had passed in the Secret Department.

This was on the 27th February. On the 28th of April, the evidence having been taken, Elliot began his reply-resumed it on the 7th, and completed it on the 9th of May. It was towards the end of this speech that he read the famous account of the execution of Nuncomar, attributed to Sheriff Macrabie. Sir Richard Sutton, Mr. Pulteney, the Solicitor and Attorney General, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, spoke in favor of Sir Elijah Impey ; Fox, Burke, and Colonel Fullerton supported the impeachment. When the house divided, the motion was lost ;-fifty-five members voting for, and seventy-three against it.

The Patna cause stood next on the list ; but as it was then before the Privy Council, the motion for its hearing was negatived; and after some discussion in which Pitt took part, the further consideration of the charges was deferred to that day three months. And so ended the impeachment of Sir Elijah Impey !

He survived his acquittal for nearly a quarter of a century ; but took little part in public affairs. Mr. Impey says, that it was intimated to his father by Government, “through a proper channel, that he might even yet return to Calcutta as Chief Justice, and with that seat in the Supreme Council, which he had so earnestly and vainly solicited while in India.' But he wisely determined not again to rush into the burning fiery furnace, which had so nearly destroyed him. Chambers was appointed in his stead.

He, however, turned his thoughts towards Parliament, and in 1780 convassed the borough of Stafford. Here the Sheridan interest opposed him. The Nuncomar charge was not forgotten. His opponents paraded the streets with an effigy of a black man hanging from a gallows. Impey was defeated ; but soon afterwards was returned for New Romney.

He was a regular attendant at the house-an useful member of Committee-but he seldom spoke. He felt that it was “ too late a week” for him to enter, with distinction, upon a

"*

Impey had applied for the seat in Council, on the death of Monson- the death of Clavering, and again on the retirement of Barwell.

6

[ocr errors]

new theatre of action, Ilis presence seems to have been galling to Fox, Sheridan, and others; and on one occasion he brought down upon his head a shower of vituperation from his own assailants. He replied with dignity, but with spirit; and the attempt to intimidate him does not seem to have been repeated.

We next find Sir Elijah Impey in the character of a country gentleman. In the spring of 1794, he removed from a residence, which he had occupied, on the skirts of Salisbury Plain, to Newick Park, in the county of Sussex; and there, says Mr. Impey, “ became a busy and rather enthusiastic horti• culturist and farmer. I hardly ever saw him on the morning • of a working day at Newick, without a garden spade in his "hand; and he took his full share in most of the gardener's

active operations. He enjoyed excellent health and excellent

spirits. . Time passed pleasantly away. He read, and he • studied chemistry; fitted up a laboratory and experimentalis

ed; received his friends; wrote verses; superintended the • education of his younger children, and corresponded with his

elder ones ; and was beloved and respected by all the members of his household."

At the close of 1801, Sir Elijah Impey, with his wife and two of his children set out for Paris, where he had invested a part of his fortune, and was in a fair way to lose it. Here Impey fell in with the cidevant Madame Grand, now Madame de Talleyrand; and here took place that remarkable meeting of Mr. and Mrs. Fox-Sir Elijah and Lady Impey-M. and Madame de Talleyrand—Sir Philip Francis and M. Grand, which, in a former article, we ventured to pronounce apocryphal. Mr. Impey, however, vouches for the truth of the story

and he was there. We contradict it, on the authority of M. Grand, who declares that he never saw his wife after she left India, and especially denies the truth of the assertion, that he met her at Talleyrand's. The matter is of no importance—though a somewhat curious point of enquiry ; for assuredly a more extraordinary meeting never took place before or since.

Having settled his business-or rather having had it settled for him, for he lost his money, and was nearly losing his liberty-Impey returned to England. In the course of 1804, the family was again reunited at Newick. 6. The event," writes Mr. Ímpey, “ of my dear father's arrival and reception there • lives still fresh and joyous in my memory, as the old family

6

[ocr errors]

coach-and-four, which had met us at East Grinstead, drove

through the Newick turnpike, and, rolling over the beautiful * rural green, passed the scattered hamlet : in its approach to - the Church, we were greeted from the steeple by a merry

peal of bells; handkerchiefs waved from every cottage win• dow, and we were accompanied up Fount Hill, and through " the Park lodge by a band of honest peasants, who ran at each • side of the coach, shouting a hearty welcome to the good old • man, who had so often encouraged their labours and assisted • at their pastimes.”

Impey was, at this time, seventy-two-but his trials were not over. He had not been long settled at Newick when he received from India, the heart-breaking tidings of the death of his beloved son Hastings. He never wholly recovered from the shock; though outwardly, after a time, he recovered his wonted spirits. Up to the year of his death he appears to have been healthy, cheerful and active; and in the enjoyment of constant social intercourse with his old friends, including the oldest-Hastings. He fell sick at last, in September 1809; but made light of his ailments, and secmed, above all things desirous, not to distress or alarm his family. But the truth could not long be disguised. He rapidly grew worse ; and though he retained his memory and all his intellectual faculties, and indulged in the old Latin quotations to which he was ever prone, it was obvious that death was approaching. On the 1st of October, he breathed his last, “surrounded by an afflicted family, in charity with all men and in communion with the holy Protestant Church of Christ.” “ The last and most affecting trait of his character," writes Mr. Impey," whilst sense and sensibility yet remained, was displayed in the tenderness with which he treated, in his very last moments, a female servant, who assisted in removing him from the sofa to his bed. He had leaned upon her bosom, so as to produce a slight ejaculation of pain. • Did I hurt you, my dear ?' were his last distinguishable words.” In the family vault at Hammersmith, where a monument is erected to his memory, repose the ashes of the first Chief Justice of Bengal. His reputation has survived the calumnies of party; and our sons will yet do him the justice which our fathers have denied.

ART. VI.-A Pamphlet on the Salt Trade of India, by D. C.

Aylwin of Calcutta. London, Printed by Madden and Malcolm. Leadenhall Street, 1846.

The appearance of this pamphlet, which would have been more properly termed " a pamphlet on the Salt trade of Bengal," has induced us to lay before our readers the following account of the source from which the Government of India derives a clear annual revenue of more than £2,000,000 sterling, and upon which it depends for at least one-eighth of the means necessary, but hardly sufficient, to preserve the security and maintain the institutions of the country. We intend however on the present occasion to confine ourselves to a consideration of this branch of the public resources in the Bengal Presidency, including the North West provinces, because it is to the modification of the system on which the salt duty on this side of India is realized, that the efforts of Mr. Aylwin and his patrons, the Chamber of Commerce of the White Salt trade, are mainly directed. The tax levied on the manufacture of salt in the Bombay and Madras presidencies is light in amount, and too indirectly connected with the trade between England and India to attract the attention, or rouse the indignation, of the Cheshire philanthropists. It is true that Mr. Aylwin's speech at the Blackburn meeting, in which he uttered his most hyperbolical and fabulous description of the atrocities practised at Madras in the collection of the salt revenue, was listened to in decent horror, and possibly received with profound credence; but we do not find that these alleged atrocities were made the foundation of any of the proposals brought forward by the mixed body of misinformed gentlemen, who afterwards waited upon the President of the Board of Control to petition him to abolish “ the monopoly.” We must therefore beg the forgiveness of our readers for dismissing this part of the subject with a brief remark that at Bombay the revenue is raised by an excise duty of twelve annas a maund on the manufacture of salt, and at Madras, by a similar duty of one rupee. The gross revenue at the former presidency in 1843-44 was Rs. 18,60,563, and at the latter Rs. 43,21,604.

We must commence by protesting against the use of the term “monopoly,” which, in reference to the system under which the revenue from salt is now realized in Bengal, is wholly without meaning. This odious word, which since the reign of Queen Elizabeth, has conveyed to English ears a sense more hateful even than the reality, has tended, more than any prac

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »