S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
But, my Lords, they will show you, they say, that Genghis Khân, Kouli Khân, and Tamerlane destroyed ten thousand times more people in battle than this man did . Have they run mad? Have they lost their senses in their guilt? Did they ever expect that we meant to compare this man to Tamerlane, Genghis Khân, or Kouli Khân?to compare a fraudulent bullock-contractor (for we could show that his first elementary malversations were in carrying on fraudulent bullock-contracts, which contracts were taken from him with shame and disgrace, and restored with greater shame and disgrace), to compare him with the conquerors of the world? We never said he was a tiger and a lion: no, we have said he was a weasel and a rat. We have said that he has desolated countries by the same means that plagues of his description have produced similar desolations. We have said that he, a fraudulent bullock-contractor, exalted to great and unmerited powers, can do move mischief than even all the tigers and lions in the world. We know that a swarm of locusts, although individually despicable, can render a country more desolate than Genghis Khân or Tamerlane. When God Almighty chose to humble the pride and presumption of Pharaoh, and to bring him to shame, He did not effect his purpose with tigers and lions; but He sent lice, mice, frogs, and everything loathsome and contemptible, to pollute and destroy the country.
My Lords, we are now come to another devoted province: we march from desolation to desolation; because we follow the footsteps of Warren Hastings, Esquire, Governor-General of Bengal. You will here find the range of his atrocities widely extended; but before I enter into a detail of them, I have one reflection to make, which I beseech your Lordships to bear in mind throughout the whole of this deliberation. It is this: you ought never to conclude that a man must necessarily be innoxious because he is in other respects insignificant. You will see that a man bred in obscure, vulgar, and ignoble occupations, and trained in sordid, base, and mercenary habits, is not incapable of doing extensive mischief because he is so little and because his vices are of a mean nature. My Lords, we have shown to you already, and we shall demonstrate to you more clearly in future, that such minds placed in authority can do more mischief to a country, can treat all ranks and distinctions with more pride, insolence, and arrogance, than those who have been born under canopies of state and swaddled in purple: you will see that they can waste a country more effectually than the proudest and most mighty conquerors, who, by the greatness of their military talents, have first subdued and afterwards plundered nations.
The Sergeants made proclamation. Hastings advanced to the bar, and bent his knee. The culprit was indeed not unworthy of that great presence. He had ruled an extensive and populous country, and made laws and treaties, had sent forth armies, had set up and pulled down princes. And in his high place he had so borne himself that all had feared him, that most had loved him, and that hatred itself could deny him no title to glory, except virtue. He looked like a great man, and not like a bad man. A person small and emaciated, yet deriving dignity from a carriage which, while it indicated deference to the court, indicated also habitual self-possession and self-respect, a high and intellectual forehead, a brow pensive, but not gloomy, a mouth of inflexible decision, a face pale and worn, but serene, on which was written, as legibly as under the picture in the council-chamber at Calcutta, Mens æqua in arduis: such was the aspect with which the great proconsul presented himself to his judges.
Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay: Warren Hastings, Oct. 1841.