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qualify revenue officers for voting at elec- he came in for his share of obloquy for tions; and on the 15th of April, Mr. the part which he now acted. Attempts BURKE brought in his great plan of re- have been made to palliate and even to form in the civil expenditure, by which, defend the conduct of these great men on according to his statement, an actual this occasion; but no dispassionate mind saving was to be effected of seventy-two has ever been yet able to reconcile it with thousand pounds a year, with a certain the pure principle of political integrity. prospect of increase.
"If the pertinacity of lord North, while in Some members objected to the bill, that power, to carry on the American war, it fell short of the original outline; but the arose, as was said, from the influence of author of it entered into the grounds of high authority, he was not a man worthy the alterations, stating, that they had been of the public confidence, and, therefore, a made in compliance with the opinions of junction with him was a reproach to the others, or from a fuller consideration of party who had uniformly opposed him : the particular cases ; at the same time and if
, on the other hand, the line he purpledging himself
, that he would be ready sued was on his part as voluntary and at all times to obey the call for prosecuting iniquitous, as Mr. Fox and his friends a more complete and extensive system of maintained it to be, then it is impossible Reform.
to justify the alliance which they made This bill was followed by another for with the man, who, according to their acthe regulation of the framer's own office, count was deserving of the block. but the lateness of the season, would not The truth is, and no sophistry can repel allow time for the completion of all the its force, that the project of a coalition plans of regulation and retrenchment sprung from the single motive of ambition, which he had projected, and these with and the desire of place. Separately the the other designs of the new ministry, two parties were unable to attain the obwere entirely frustrated by the demise of ject, which each had in view, and there the marquis of Rockingham, on the 1st fore, in defiance of all public principle, of July, 1782. This unfortunate event they had recourse to this measure of an discovered the feeble texture of the ad- union, in full confidence, that they should ministration, of which that amiable noble be able, without difficulty, to command man was the head; for lord Shelburne, a majority in the house. They did so, afterwards marquis of Lansdowne, being but their triumph was of short duration, appointed premier, without consulting the and they found that the good sense of the Rockingham division of the cabinet, the people is not to be imposed upon, even principals of that party immediately, re by the most splendid talents, when those signed their offices. These were, lord talents are palpably employed in reconciJohn Cavendish, chancellor of the ex- ling gross contradictions. The views of chequer, who was succeeded by Mr. Pitt; the coalesced ministers were seen through, Mr. Fox, secretary of state, whose place and though a temporary ascendancy in was filled up by lord Sidney; and Mr, the house of commons was obtained by BURKE, who gave way to his old friend them, sufficient to give them assurance, colonel Barré.
the hollowness of the foundation was After the conclusion of the general peace
soon discovered. The celebrated bill, of 1783, a political maneuvre was played, brought in and
carried through the lower which, though it had the effect of restoring house by Mr. Fox, for the better goverMr. Burke and his colleagues, for a short ment of British India, was thrown out by time, to the reins of power, brought upon the peers, and in December of the same them a torrent of abuse, and the double year, a new administration was formed charge of duplicity and inconsistency. under Mr. Pitt, who was then no more This was the famous coalition between than twenty-four years of age. The mathem and lord North, the very statesman jority of the house of commons, however, whose measures his new associates had continued on the side of the dismissed for so many years reprobated with exces. ministers, who, on that account, made sive violence and repeated threats of im- themselves sure of displacing their adpeachment. Mr. BURKE, indeed, had not versaries, that from day to day, they pemarked his hostility to that nobleman with remptorily called upon the young chanthe same virulence as Mr. Fox, but, still cellor of the exchequer to resign a seat, VOL. 1.
which, as they said, he presumptuously in this instance; on the contrary, the
tings, governor-general of Bengal. The In relation to this portion of his life, we primary motive which gave rise to this cannot avoid extracting a curious anec- extraordinary prosecution, has never been dote told by Dr. Priestley, who was at yet clearly developed, but that it origina that time on terms of particular intimacy ted with Mr. Burke is certain, and that with Mr. Burge. “It was early in the he entered upon the subject in a hostile year 1783,” says the doctor, “when I spirit cannot possibly be doubted. Ho lived at Birmingham, that Mr. Burke, brought forward in parliament, charges accompanied by his son, called and spent against Mr. Hastings, a considerable time a great part of the afternoon with me. previous to the return of that gentleman After much general conversation, he took from India; and immediately, on his arrime aside to a small terrace in the garden val in 1785, the pledge which had been in which the house stood, to tell me that made to bring him before the highest trilord Shelburne, who was then prime mi- bunal of the country, was redeemed by nister, finding his influence diminished, his accuser, and ultimately carried into and of course his situation uncertain, had effect by the house of commons. In the made proposals to join lord North. 'Ha- meantime, the governor and his friends ving had a better opportunity of knowing were not inactive in repelling the accusathe principles and character of his lord- tions that were from day to day volumiship than Mr. BURKE, I seemed (as he nously heaped up by the prosecutor: but, must have thought,) a little incredulous unfortunately for Mr. Hastings, the pubon the subject. But before I could make lic mind had been already prejudiced by any reply, he said, “I see you do not be- statements, which few men even in the lieve me, but you may depend upon it
, senate, much less therefore in the nation he has made overtures to him, and in at large, were qualified by information to writing:' and without any reply, I believe, comprehend and appreciate. This was a on my part, (for I did not give much credit serious disadvantage to the accused party, to the information) we returned to the rest who saw that under such circumstances, of the company. However, it was not the most justifiable and even praisewormuch more than a month, or six weeks, thy acts, were liable to be perverted into after this, before he himself did the very crímes, by the subtile power of rhetoric, thing, that whether right or wrong, expe appealing to the passions, and operating dient or inexpedient, (for there were vari- upon the credulity of ignorance. Such ous opinions on the subject,)'he at that was the case in this instance, for at that time mentioned, as a thing so atrocious, period, when it might have been expected as hardly to be credible.”
that the people of this country were toleHowever inconsistent the conduct of rably well informed on the subject of InMr. BURKE may have been, there is no dian history and politics, nothing in fact reason for calling in question his veracity was less understood. The nation had but just emerged out of a disgraceful war, Yet it is painful to reflect upon the and the loss of the American colonies harsh manner in which he behaved tomade the public very readily believe what wards the eminent person, against whom was boldly asserted, that an iniquitous all these exertions were directed, and system of oppression and rapacity, had whose ruin was evidently sought. On been carried on in Hindostan, which not one occasion during the trial, perceiving only stained the national character, but that Mr. Hastings had neglected the would have the effect of putting an end usual obeisance to the court at his entry, to our dominion in the East for ever. Mr. BURKE commanded him to kneel, in
To remove this impression was almost a tone of voice, and with a sternness of impossible, for the nature of the tenure aspect, that made the whole assembly on which our Oriental possessions were turn from him with disgust. Even some held, could not all at once be made intel- of his own party felt ashamed for him, ligible to minds habituated to European and. Fox whispered privately to one of laws, customs, and manners. Mr. Has- his friends, in that critical moment, that tings had the whole weight of British he would rather have been Hastings than India to sustain during the recent war, BURKE. As the trial proceeded, the oraand while the attention of ministers was torical attractions, which threw at the directed to the single object of subjugating beginning a splendour around it, began the refractory states of America, the go- to lose their effect: and many who had vernor-general of Bengal was compelled voted for the prosecution, now regretted to find resources there, for the security of their having done so, when they saw how the important charge with which he was little the evidence agreed with the charges. intrusted. He was in reality abandoned A year had scarcely expired, when the to his fate by the government at home, conduct of Mr. BURRE came under the but by virtue of his local knowledge, consideration of the house of commons, personal interest, and indefatigable exer- and he was censured in a resolution, for tions, he was enabled not only to pre- going beyond the powers delegated to serve our Indian territories, but actually him, by charging Mr. Hastings with the to strengthen them by further acquisi- murder of Nundcomar, though nothing tions; in consequence of which, all the of that kind was to be found among the attempts of the French to dispossess us articles of accusation. on the eastern, as they did on the west- Even when the trial drew towards a ern, continent were completely frustrated. close, and every one anticipated what Mr. Burke and his friends, however, would be the result
, the asperity of Mr. chose to overlook all this splendid seré Brake, instead of yielding, increased to vice, and having some cause to be dis- 8 degree that confirmed many in the pleased with the conduct of Mr. Has opinion which they had long formed, that tings towards themselves, thoy were de- the prosecution originated in private and termined to immolate him at the shrine not in public motives. of party, by an impeachment for pecula- After the council for Mr. Hastings had tion, tyranny, and other high crimés and gone through with the defence of their inisdemeanors. Even a condensed nar client, during which they were often inrative of the proceedings that took place terrupted by questions and objections, in the house of commons on this subject, Mr. Burre entered upon his reply, in the would far exceed the limits of the present course of which, he alternately soared to memoir; and of the trial itself, which be- the height of sublimity, and again sunk gan on the 12th of February, 1753, and into the very depth of vulgar abuse._Of terminated on the 23d of April, 1795, the latter he gave a proof in saying“That nothing like an abstract could possibly the insignificance of the prisoner ought be given without running into details of not to induce their lordships to suppose an inordinate length.
him incapable of mischief; for though his During every stage of the business, Mr. origin was low, mean, and vulgar; though Burke, who of course was the leading he was trained in the most base and sormanager, evinced an Herculean strength did habits, yet when invested with a power of mind, and an industry that must have to which his mind was not equal, he was nad a serious effect upon his bodily health capable of more complete, more extensive and constitution.
devastation, than any of the greatest conquerors and tyrants who have oppressed call upon you. When the devouring mankind." It is surprising that a man so fames shall have destroyed this perish well informed as Burke, should have able globe, and it sinks into the abyss of thought such scurrility necessary to his Nature, from whence it was commanded cause; but it is more surprising that he into existence by the Great Author of it; should venture to speak thus of Mr. Has, then, my lords, when all nature, kings tings, who was at least as well born and and judges themselves, must answer for educated as himself, being a branch of an their actions, there will be found what ancient stock, and brought up at West- supersedes creation itself, namely, ETERminster school. Even had his origin been NAL JUSTICE! It was the attribute of as low as his accuser represented it, the the great GOD OF NATURE before worlds circumstance of his birth ought not to have were; it will reside with him when they been mentioned to his disparagement, and perish; and the earthly portion of it comthat too in the presence of many persons, mitted to your care, is now solemnly deamong both the peers and the managers, posited in your hands by the commons who had no more right to boast of their of England. I have done." lineage than Mr. Hastings. In the same We must now turn to another probad taste Mr. BURKE compared the ac- minent period in the political life of Mr. cused to the keeper of a pigstye, and in Burke, but it is one which all his admianother part of his speech to the Devil. rers and biographers hitherto have been “Mr. Hastings,” he said, "was worse desirous of throwing into shade, as though than Satan, for the evil spirit showed the only the talents and virtues .of a great kingdoms of the world to the Great Au- man were to be noticed, and his failings thor of our sacred religion, in order that were to be buried in oblivion. This would he might enjoy them; but he, (turning to be to pervert the end of history, which is the prisoner at the bar) gave the provin- moral improvement, and no dependence ces of Hindostan into the possession of could be placed on the delineation of any men appointed by himself
, for the pur- character, if the bright side of it alone pose of destroying them.”
were to be exhibited to public view. Such Many other things in the same strain a course may be adopted properly enough, disgraced the speech and the orator, but in regard to private persons, but the actions in the conclusion BURKE rose to an ele- of statesmen are the materials of history; gance of language and dignity of spirit, and, therefore, must be faithfully repreworthy of his genius.
sented, to guard posterity from delusion. “My lords," said he, “ the commons At the latter end of the year 1788, the wait the issue of this cause with trem- suspension of the royal functions renderbling solicitude. Twenty-two years have ed a meeting of parliament indispensable, they been employed in it, seven of which to provide for the exigency of the case. have passed in this trial. They behold Mr. Fox, the leader of the opposition, and the dearest interests of their country deeply the confidential friend of the prince of involved in it; they feel that the very ex. Wales, happened to be then in Italy, but istence of this constitution depends upon a messenger being despatched to apprize it. Your Jordships' justice stands pre- bim of the necessity of his presence, be eminent in the world, but it stands amidst hastened home without delay, and ima vast heap of ruins, which surround it in mediately began an active opposition 10 every corner of Europe. If you slacken the minister. Mr. BURKE was equally justice, and thereby weaken the bonds of zealous and enterprising on this occasion, society, the well-tempered authority of þut the conduct of the two leaders of the this court, which I trust in God will con- hostile ranks was so impetuous, that Mr. tinue to the end of time, must receive a Pitt had soon an opportunity of throwing fatal wound, that no balm can cure, that them into confusion, and of establishing ho time can restore.
an imperishable credit for himself, upon « My lords, it is not the criminality of the very ground which they took to acthe prisoner, it is not the claims of the complish his overthrow. Mr. Fox claimcommons, to demand judgment to be ed for the heir-apparent the indefeisible passed upon him, it is not the honour and right of assuming the exercise of the regal dignity of this court, and the welfare of authority, whenever there should be a millions of the human race, that alone suspension of moral power in the sove.
reign to discharge the functions of his ventured to pronounce the malady hopeoffice, This was strange doctrine to less. This judgment was opposed by come from a Whig, and, if admitted, would Dr. Willis, whose whole practice having subvert at once the principles laid down been directed to mental diseases, gave at the Revolution, and those which set- superior weight to his opinion. Mr. tled the house of Brunswick on the throne. Burke, however strenuously contended Yet preposterous as it was, Mr. Burke that Willis was no better than an empiric, defended it with bis wonted energy, and and that Dr. Warren was an oracle, upon assailed the minister in virulent language, whose decision the fullest reliance ought for presuming to say, in opposition to it, to be placed. One important benefit that that the prince of Wales had no more resulted from these contentions, was, the right to take upon himself the regency, delay which they necessarily occasioned. without a previous call from parliament, In the mean time the state of the royal than the humblest individual in the coun- patient began to amend, and while his try. Had Mr. BURRE been satisfied with condition was represented as hopeless, attacking the officers of the crown, some by. the eager politicians, who were allowance might have been made for his ticipating the attainment of power, under intemperance; but when he ventured to the benignant rays of the rising sun, the speak of the afflicted monarch in the sudden intelligence burst upon them, that coarsest terms of disrespect, the members no regency would take place, for that the on both sides of the house of commons, king was sufficiently recovered to diswho were accustomed to hear him with charge his public duties. Thus terminadelight, felt a thrill of horror, and involun- ted the expectations, but not the labours, tarily uttered an expression of abhorrence of Mr. Burke ; for a new and wonderful This, however, had not the salutary effect scene was now opening upon the great of restraining the passions of the orator theatre of the world, to call his genius within the bounds moderation. On into a wider sphere of action, and a nobler the contrary, he went on from day to day, display of his powers, than any in which as long as the question of the regency he had hitherto been engaged. At the lasted, in the same imprudent manner, time when the British nation, and its denever mentioning the calamitous situation pendencies, exhibited the most glowing of the king, but with an air that carried spirit of loyalty towards their sovereign, the appearance of triumph, rather than a spectacle of quite an opposite descripof commiseration. At one time he spoke tion was going on in France. The seeds of the malady as a judgment, and said of a Revolution had long been sown there, that "The Almighty had hurled the king and now the sanguinary harvest began in from his throne;" with an allusion not the degradation of the mildest monarch very delicately expressed to the case of that ever sat on a throne; whose only Nebuchadnezzar. This conduct gave fault lay in yielding too flexibly to the ever universal offence, and while it lowered the varying and turbulent passions of a capriorator in the public opinion, did injury to cious people. Mr. BŪRKE, from his acthe party with whom he acted, and to quaintance with the French character in the cause which he so imprudently ad- general, and his observations on the misvocated. At length Mr. Fox took the chievous tendency of metaphysical prin. alarm, and would have retraced his steps, ciples, when applied to the science of by qualifying the language that had been government, could not avoid seeing the used, and reducing the high claims which consequences of this fermentation on its had been set up by himself and his friends. first appearance. While, therefore, pumBut it was too late, for the minister finding bers in England and elsewhere were lookhis strength, and probably irritated at the ing with surprise to the mutations which coarse manner in which he had been the professors of the new philosophy treated, was determined to bring the ques- were, with surprising dexterity, bringing tion of right to an issue. The opposition about from day to day, at Paris, the pena then endeavoured to make it out that the trating mind of our illustrious statesman case of the king was irremediable, and to was engaged in examining the secret support this conclusion, they adduced springs and practical influence of these the authority of Dr. Warren, who was marvellous changes.
Instead of being the only one of the court physicians, that dazzled by these false lights, and misled