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It might perhaps be fufficient, if my addrefs to you this day


were confined to fome short remarks on those offences, of which the prisoners named in the calendar are accused; but such is the particularity of my own fituation, that I cannot help feeling an inclination to take a wider range. Six years have elapsed, fince the seat, which I have now the honour to fill, became vacant; and, in that interval, fo many important events have happened in India, and fo many interesting debates have been held in the parliament of Britain, on the powers and objects of this judicature, that I may naturally be expected to touch at least, though not to enlarge, on thofe events, all of which I have attentively confidered, and on the refult of those debates, at most of which I was prefent. Such expectations, if fuch have been formed, I fhould be very loth to disappoint; and, as I shall express my fentiments without reserve, you will hear them, I am confident, with perfect candour.

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None of you, I hope, will suspect me of political zeal for any set of ministers in England, with which vice my mind has never been infected; nor of political attachments here, which in my ftation it will ever behove me to disclaim, if, in the character of a magistrate appointed to preserve the publick tranquillity, I congratulate you, who are assembled to inquire into all violations of it, on the happy profpect of a general peace in every part of the world, with which our country is connected. The certain fruits of this pacification will be the revival and extenfion of commerce in all the dependencies of Britain, the improvement of agriculture and manufactures, the encouragement of industry and civil virtues, by which her revenues will be restored, and her navy ftrengthened, her fubjects enriched and herself exalted: but it is to India, that he looks for the most splendid as well as most substantial of those advantages; nor can she be disappointed, as long as the fupreme executive and judicial powers shall concur in promoting the publick good, without danger of collision or diminution of each other's dignity; without impediment, on the one fide, to the operations of government, or, on the other, to the due administration of justice.

The institution, gentlemen, of this court appears to have been misapprehended: it was not, I firmly believe, intended as a cenfure on any individuals, who exift, or have exifted. Legislative provifions have not the individual for their object, but the fpecies; and are not made for the convenience of the day, but for the regulation of ages. Whatever were the reafons for its first establishment, of which I may not be fo perfectly apprized, I will venture to affure you, that it has been continued for one obvious reafon; that an extenfive dominion, without a complete and independent judicature, would be a phenomenon, of which the hiftory of the world affords no example. Juftice must be administered with effect, or fociety cannot long fubfift. It is a


truth coeval with human nature, and not peculiar to any age or country, that power in the hands of men will sometimes be abused, and ought always, if poffible, to be restrained; but the reftrictions of general laws imply no particular blame. How many precautions have from time to time been used to render judges and jurors impartial, and to place them above dependence! Yet none of us conceive ourselves difgraced by fuch precautions. The object then of the court, thus continued with ample powers, though wifely circumfcribed in its jurisdiction, is plainly this: that, in every age, the British subjects refident in India be protected, yet governed, by British laws; and that the natives of these important provinces be indulged in their own prejudices, civil and religious, and suffered to enjoy their own customs unmolested; and why thofe great ends may not now be attained, confiftently with the regular collection of the revenues and the supremacy of the executive government, I confefs myself unable to discover.

Another thing has been, if not greatly mifconceived, at least very imperfectly understood; and no wonder, fince it requires fome profeffional habits to comprehend it fully: I mean the true character and office of judges appointed to administer thofe laws. The use of law, as a science, is to prevent mere difcretionary power under the colour of equity; and it is the duty of a judge to pronounce his decifions, not fimply according to his own opinion of justice and right, but according to prescribed rules. It must be hoped, that his own reafon generally approves those rules ; but it is the judgement of the law, not his own, which he delivers. Were judges to decide by their bare opinions of right and wrong, opinions always unknown, often capricious, fometimes improperly biaffed, to what an arbitrary tribunal would men be fubject! In how dreadful a state of slavery would they live! Let us be fatisfied, gentlemen, with law, which all, who please, may understand, and not call for equity in its


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popular fenfe, which differs in different men, and must at best be dark and uncertain.

The end of criminal law, a most important branch of the great juridical system, is to prevent crimes by punishment, so that the pain of it, as a fine writer expreffes himself, may be inflicted on a few, but the dread of it extended to all. In the administration of penal justice, a severe burden is removed from our minds by the affiftance of juries; and it is my ardent wish, that the court had the fame relief in civil, especially commercial, causes; for the decifion of which there cannot be a nobler tribunal than a jury of experienced men affifted by the learning of a judge. These are my sentiments; and I express them, not because they may be popular, but because I fincerely entertain them; for I afpire to no popularity, and seek no praise, but that which may be given to a strict and conscientious discharge of duty, without predilection or prejudice of any kind, and with a fixed refolution to pronounce on all occasions what I conceive to be the law, than which no individual must suppose himself wiser.

The mention of my duty, gentlemen, leads me naturally to the particular fubject of my charge, from which I have not, I hope, unreasonably deviated: but you are too well apprized of your duty to need very particular instructions; and happily no higher offences (except one larceny) appear in the calendar than fome criminal frauds and a few affaults: one of them, indeed, is ftated as very atrocious; and, if you confider that the frequency of small crimes becomes a serious evil in fociety, you will not think the more trivial complaints unworthy of your attention. Redrefs of wrongs must be given, or it will be taken; and the law wifely forbids the flighteft attack upon the perfon of a fubject, left far worse mischief fhould enfue from


the fudden ebullition of rage, or the flower, but more dangerous, operation of revenge.

Your powers, however, are not limited to this calendar, or even to the bills which may be preferred; for, whatever elfe fhall come to your knowledge, it will be your part to prefent, and ours to hear attentively: thus, by a cordial concurrence in preferving the publick peace, and bringing fuch as violate it to punishment, we shall contribute, in our respective stations, to the fecurity of this great fettlement, and to the profperity of these provinces, in which the dearest interests of our common parent and country, Great Britain, are now effentially involved.

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