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have extended the fame of this country from the rising to the setting Sun. We have those who, by various civil merits and various civil talents, have been exalted to a situation which they well deserve, and in which they will justify the favour of their sovereign, and the good opinion of their fellow-subjects, and make them rejoice to see those virtuous characters that were the other day upon a level with them now exalted above them in rank, but feeling with them in sympathy what they felt in common with them before. We have persons exalted from the practice of the law, from the place in which they administered high though subordinate justice, to a seat here, to enlighten with their knowledge, and to strengthen with their votes those principles which have distinguished the courts in which they have presided. My Lords, you have here, also, the lights of our religion,you have the Bishops of England. My Lords, you have that true image of the primitive Church, in its ancient form, in its ancient ordinances, purified from the superstitions and the vices which a long succession of ages will bring upon the best institutions. You have the representatives of that religion which says that their God is love, that the very vital spirit of their institution is charity; a religion which so much hates oppression, that, when the God whom we adore appeared in human form, He did not appear in a form of greatness and majesty, but in sympathy with the lowest of the people, and thereby made it a firm and ruling principle that their welfare was the object of all government, since the Person who was the Master of Nature chose to appear Himself in a subordinate situation. These are the considerations which influence them, which animate them, and will animate them, against all oppression; knowing that He who is called first among them, and first among us all, both of the flock that is fed and of those who feed it, made Himself “the servant of all.” My Lords, these are the securities which we have in all the constituent parts of the body of this House. We know them, we reckon, we rest upon them, and commit safely the interests of India and of humanity into your hands. Therefore it is with confidence, that, ordered by the Commons, I impeach Warren Hastings, Esquire, of high crimes and misdemeanours. I impeach him in the name of the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament assembled, whose parliamentary trust he has betrayed. I impeach him in the name of all the Commons of Great Britain, whose national character he has dishonoured. I impeach him in the name of the people of India, whose
laws, rights, and liberties he has subverted, whose properties he has destroyed, whose country he has laid waste and desolate. I impeach him in the name and by virtue of those eternal laws of justice which he has violated. I impeach him in the name of human nature itself, which he has cruelly outraged, injured, and oppressed, in both sexes, in every age, rank, situation, and condition of life.
JUSTICE AND REVENGE.8
WE know from history and the records of this House, that a Lord Bacon has been before you. Who is there that, upon hearing this name, does not instantly recognize every thing of genius the most profound, every thing of literature the most extensive, every thing of discovery the most penetrating, every thing of observation on human life the most distinguishing and refined ? All these must be instantly recognized, for they are all inseparably associated with the name of Lord Verulam. Yet, when this prodigy was brought before your Lordships by the Commons of Great Britain for having permitted his menial servant to receive presents, what was his demeanour? I)id he require his counsel not “to let down the dignity of his defence?” No. That Lord Bacon whose least distinction was, that he was a peer of England, a Lord High Chancellor, and the son of a Lord Keeper, behaved like a man who knew himself, like a man who was conscious of merits of the highest kind, but who was at the same time conscious of having fallen into guilt. The House of Commons did not spare him. They brought him to your bar. They found spots in that Sun. And what, I again ask, was his behaviour? That of contrition, that of humility, that of repentance, that which belongs to the greatest men lapsed and fallen through human infirmity into error. He did not hurl defiance at the accusations of his country; he bowed himself before it. Yet, with all his penitence, he could not escape the pursuit of the House of Commons, and the inflexible justice of this Court. Your Lordships
3 Burke's “Speech in General Reply” occupied nine days in the delivery, beginning May 23, and ending June 16, 1794, more than six years after the opening speech. The passage here given is from the first day of the speech in reply. To my sense it is one of the noblest strains of eloquence in the language; though of course not equal to the sublime conclusion of the whole speech, which comes next in these selections from Burke.
fined him forty thousand pounds, notwithstanding all his merits, notwithstanding his humility, notwithstanding his contrition, notwithstanding the decorum of his behaviour, so well suited to a man under the prosecution of the Commons of England before the Peers of England. You fined him a sum fully equal to one hundred thousand pounds of the present day; you imprisoned him during the King's pleasure; and you disqualified him for ever from having a seat in this House and any office in this kingdom. This is the way in which the Commons behaved formerly, and in which your Lordships acted formerly, when no culprit at this bar dared to hurl a recriminatory accusation against his prosecutors, or dared to censure the language in which they expressed their indignation at his crimes. The Commons of Great Britain, following this example and fortified by it, abhor all compromise with guilt either in act or in language. They will not disclaim any one word that they have spoken, because, my Lords, they have said nothing abusive or illiberal. We have indeed used, and will again use, such expressions as are proper to portray guilt. After describing the magnitude of the crime, we describe the magnitude of the criminal. We have declared him to be not only a public robber himself, but the head of a system of robbery, the captain-general of the gang, the chief under whom a whole predatory band was arrayed, disciplined, and paid. In developing such a mass of criminality, and in describing a criminal of such magnitude as we have now brought before you, we could not use lenient epithets without compromising with crime. We therefore shall not relax in our pursuit nor in our language. No, my Lords, no l we shall not fail to feel indignation, wherever our moral nature has taught us to feel it ; nor shall we hesitate to speak the language which is dictated by that indignation. Whenever men are oppressed where they ought to be protected, we call it tyranny, and we call the actor a tyrant. Whenever goods are taken by violence from the possessor, we call it a robbery, and the person who takes it we call a robber. Money clandestinely taken from the proprietor we call theft, and the person who takes it we call a thief. When a false paper is made out to obtain money, we call the act a forgery. The steward who takes bribes from his master's tenants, and then, pretending the money to be his own, lends it to that master and takes bonds for it to himself, we consider guilty of a breach of trust; and the person who commits such crimes we call a cheat, a swindler, and a forger of bonds. All these offences, without the least softening, under all these names, we charge upon this man. We have so charged in our record; we have so charged in our speeches; and we are sorry that our language does not fur
nish terms of sufficient force and compass to mark the multitude, the magnitude, and the atrocity of his crimes. If it should still be asked why we show sufficient acrimony to excite a suspicion of being in any manner influenced by malice or a desire of revenge, to this, my Lords, we answer, “Because we would be thought to know our duty, and would have all the world know how resolutely we are determined to perform it.” The Commons of Great Britain are not disposed to quarrel with the Divine wisdom and goodness, which has moulded up revenge into the frame and constitution of man. He that has made us what we are, has made us at once resentful and reasonable. Instinct tells a man that he ought to revenge an injury; reason tells him that he ought not to be a judge in his own cause. From that moment revenge passes from the private to the public hand; but in being transferred it is far from being extinguished. My Lords, it is transferred as a sacred trust, to be exercised for the injured, in measure and proportion, by persons who, feeling as he feels, are in a temper to reason better than he can reason. Revenge is taken out of the hands of the original injured proprietor, lest it should be carried beyond the bounds of moderation and justice. But, my Lords, it is in its transfer exposed to a danger of an opposite description. The delegate of vengeance may not feel the wrong sufficiently; he may be cold and languid in the performance of his sacred duty. It is for these reasons that good men are taught to tremble even at the first emotions of anger and resentment for their own particular wrongs; but they are likewise taught, if they are well taught, to give the loosest possible rein to their resentment and indignation, whenever their parents, their friends, their country, or their brethren of the common family of mankind are injured. Those who have not such feelings, under such circumstances, are base and degenerate. These, my Lords, are the sentiments of the Commons of Great Britain. Lord Bacon has very well said that “revenge is a kind of wild justice.” It is so ; and without this wild, austere stock there would be no justice in the world. But when, by the skilful hand of morality and wise jurisprudence, a foreign scion, but of the very same species, is grafted upon it, its harsh quality becomes changed; it submits to culture, and, laying aside its savage nature, it bears fruits and flowers, sweet to the world, and not ungrateful even to IIeaven itself, to which it elevates its exalted head. The fruit of this wild stock is revenge regulated, but not extinguished,—revenge transferred from the suffering party to the communion and sympathy of mankind. . This is the revenge by which we are actuated, and which we should be sorry if the false, idle, girlish, novel-like morality of the world should extinguish in the breast of us who have a great public duty to perform. This sympathetic revenge, which is condemned by clamorous imbecility, is so far from being a vice, that it is the greatest of all possible virtues,— a virtue which the uncorrupted judgment of mankind has in all ages exalted to the rank of heroism. To give up all the repose and pleasures of life, to pass sleepless nights and laborious days, and, what is ten times more irksome to an ingenuous mind, to offer one’s self to calumny and all its herd of hissing tongues and poisoned fangs, in order to free the world from fraudulent prevaricators, from cruel oppressors, from robbers and tyrants, has, I say, the test of heroic virtue, and well deserves such a distinction. The Commons, despairing to attain the heights of this virtue, never lose sight of it for a moment. For seventeen years they have, almost without intermission, pursued, by every sort of inquiry, by legislative and by judicial remedy, the cure of this Indian malady, worse ten thousand times than the leprosy which our forefathers brought from the East. Could they have done this, if they had not been actuated by some strong, some vehement, some perennial passion, which, burning like vestal fire, chaste and eternal, never suffers generous sympathy to grow cold in maintaining the rights of the injured, or in denouncing the crimes of the oppressor? My Lords, the Managers for the Commons have been actuated by this passion: they feel its influence at this moment; and, so far from softening either their measures or their tone, they do here, in the presence of their Creator, of this House, and of the world, make this solemn declaration, and nuncupate this deliberate vow: That they will ever glow with the most determined and inextinguishable animosity against tyranny, oppression, and peculation in all, but more particularly as practised by this man in India; that they never will relent, but will pursue and prosecute him and it, till they see corrupt pride prostrate under the feet of justice.
APPEAL FOR JUDGMENT UPON HASTINGS.
MY LORDS, in the progress of this impeachment, you have heard our charges; you have heard the prisoner's plea of merits; you have heard our observations on them. In the progress of this impeachment, you have seen the condition in which Mr. Hastings received Benares: you have seen the condition in