« PreviousContinue »
which Mr. Hastings received the country of the Rohillas; you have seen the condition in which he received the country of Oude ; you have seen the condition in which he received the provinces of Bengal; you have seen the condition of the country when the native government was succeeded by that of Mr. Hastings; you have seen the happiness and prosperity of all its inhabitants, from those of the highest to those of the lowest rank. My Lords, you have seen the very reverse of all this under the government of Mr. Hastings,—the country itself, all its beauty and glory, ending in a jungle for wild beasts. You have seen flourishing families reduced to implore that pity which the poorest man and the meanest situation might very well call for. You have seen whole nations in the mass reduced to a condition of the same distress. These things in his government at home. Abroad, scorn, contempt, and derision cast upon and covering the British name, war stirred up, and dishonourable treaties of peace made, by the total prostitution of British faith. Now take, my Lords, together, all the multiplied delinquencies which we have proved, from the highest degree of tyranny to the lowest degree of sharping and cheating, and then judge, my Lords, whether the House of Commons could rest for one moment, without bringing these matters, which have baffled all legislation at various times, before you, to try at last what judgment will do. Judgment is what gives force, effect, and vigour to laws: laws without judgment are contemptible and ridiculous; we had better have no laws than laws not enforced by judgments and suitable penalties upon delinquents. Revert, my Lords, to all the sentences which have heretofore been passed by this High Court; look at the sentence passed upon Lord Bacon, look at the sentence passed upon Lord Macclesfield ; and then compare the sentences which your ancestors have given with the delinquencies which were then before them, and you have the measure to be taken in your sentence upon the delinquent now before you. Your sentence, I say, will be measured according to that rule which ought to direct the judgment of all courts in like cases, lessening it for a lesser offence, and aggravating it for a greater, until the measure of justice is completely full. My Lords, I have done; the part of the Commons is concluded. With a trembling solicitude we consign this product of our long, long labours to your charge. Take it!—take it! It is a sacred trust. Never before was a cause of such magnitude submitted to any human tribunal. My Lords, at this awful close, in the name of the Commons, and surrounded by them, I attest the retiring, I attest the advancing generations, between which, as a link in the great chain
of eternal order, we stand. We call this nation, we call the world to witness, that the Commons have shrunk from no labour, that we have been guilty of no prevarication, that we have made no compromise with crime, that we have not feared any odium whatsoever, in the long warfare which we have carried on with the crimes, with the vices, with the exorbitant wealth, with the enormous and overpowering influence of Eastern corruption. This war we have waged for twenty-two years, and the conflict has been fought at your Lordships' bar for the last seven years. My Lords, twenty-two years is a great space in the scale of the life of man; it is no inconsiderable space in the history of a great nation. A business which has so long occupied the councils and the tribunals of Great Britain cannot possibly be huddled over in the course of vulgar, trite, and transitory events. Nothing but some of those great revolutions that break the traditionary chain of human memory, and alter the very face of Nature itself, can possibly obscure it. My Lords, we are all elevated to a degree of importance by it; the meanest of us will, by means of it, more or less become the concern of posterity,+ if we are yet to hope for such a thing, in the present state of the world, as a recording, retrospective, civilized posterity: but this is in the hands of the great Disposer of events; it is not ours to settle how it shall be. My Lords, your House yet stands,--it stands as a great edifice ; but let me say that it stands in the midst of ruins,—in the midst of the ruins that have been made by the greatest moral earthquake that ever convulsed and shattered this globe of ours. My Lords, it has pleased Providence to place us in such a state, that we appear every moment to be upon the verge of some great mutations. There is one thing, and one thing only, which desies all mutation,-that which existed before the world, and will survive the fabric of the world itself: I mean justice,— that justice which, emanating from the Divinity, has a place in the breast of every one of us, given us for our guide with regard to ourselves and with regard to others, and which will stand, after this globe is burned to ashes, our advocate or accuser before the great Judge, when He comes to call upon us for the tenour of a well-spent life. My Lords, the Commons will share in every fate with your Lordships; there is nothing sinister which can happen to you, in which we shall not be involved. And if it should so happen that we shall be subjected to some of those frightful changes which we have seen ; if it should happen that your Lordships, stripped of all the decorous distinctions of human society, should, by hands at once base and cruel, be led to those scaffolds and machines of murder upon which great kings and
glorious queens have shed their blood, amidst the prelates, amidst the nobles, amidst the magistrates who supported their thrones, may you in those moments, feel that consolation which I am persuaded they felt in the critical moments of their dreadful agony | My Lords, there is a consolation,-and a great consolation it is!—which often happens to oppressed virtue and fallen dignity. It often happens that the very oppressors and persecutors themselves are forced to bear testimony in its favour. I do not like to go for instances a great way back into antiquity. I know very well that length of time operates so as to give an air of the fabulous to remote events, which lessens the interest and weakens the application of examples. I wish to come nearer the present time. Your Lordships know and have heard (for which of us has not known and heard?) of the Parliament of Paris. The Parliament of Paris had an origin very, very similar to that of the great Court before which I stand; ... the Parliament of Paris continued to have a great resemblance to it in its constitution, even to its fall. The Parliament of Paris, my Lords, WAS ; it is gone! It has passed away; it has vanished like a dream! It fell, pierced by the sword of the Comte de Mirabeau. And yet I will say that that man, at the time of his inflicting the death-wound of that Parliament, produced at once the shortest and the grandest funeral oration that ever was or could be made upon the departure of a great court of magistracy. Though he had himself smarted under its lash, as every one knows who knows his history, (and he was elevated to dreadful notoriety in history,) yet, when he pronounced the death-sentence upon that Parliament, and inflicted the mortal wound, he declared that his motives for doing it were merely political, and that their hands were as pure as those of justice itself, which they administered. A great and glorious exit, my Lords, of a great and glorious body! And never was an eulogy pronounced upon a body more deserved. They were persons, in nobility of rank, in amplitude of fortune, in weight of authority, in depth of learning, inferior to few of those that hear me. My Lords, it was but the other day that they submitted their necks to the axe ; but their honour was unwounded. Their enemies, the persons who sentenced them to death, were lawyers full of subtlety, they were enemies full of malice ; yet, lawyers full of subtlety, and enemies full of malice, as they were, they did not dare to reproach them with having supported the wealthy, the great, and powerful, and of having oppressed the weak and feeble, in any of their judgments, or of having perverted justice, in any one instance whatever, through favour, through interest, or cabal.
* ---. My Lords, if you must fall, may you so fall ! Put if you stand,—and stand I trust you will, together with the fortune of this ancient monarchy, together with the ancient laws and liberties of this great and illustrious kingdom, - may you stand as unimpeached in honour as in power! May you stand, not as a substitute for virtue, but as an ornament of virtue, as a security for virtue! May you stand long, and long stand the terror of tyrants! May you stand the refuge of afflicted nations! May you stand a sacred temple, for the perpetual residence of
an inviolable justice!— Conclusion of Speech in reply.
THE vigorous and laborious class of life has lately got, from the bon ton of the humanity of this day, the name of the labouring poor. We have heard of many plans for the relief of “the labouring poor.” This puling jargon is not as innocent as it is foolish. In meddling with great affairs, weakness is never innoxious. Hitherto the name of poor (in the sense in which it is used to excite compassion) has not been used for those who can, but for those who cannot, labour, for the sick and infirm, for orphan infancy, for languishing and decrepit age : but when we affect to pity, as poor, those who must labour or the world cannot exist, we are trifling with the condition of mankind. It is the common doom of man that he must eat his bread by the sweat of his brow, that is, by the sweat of his body, or the sweat of his mind. If this toil was inflicted as a curse, it is, - as might be expected from the curses of the Father of blessings, it is tempered with many alleviations, many comforts. Every attempt to fly from it, and to refuse the very terms of our exist- ence, becomes much more truly a curse, and heavier pains and penalties fall upon those who would elude the tasks which are put upon them by the great Master Workman of the world, who, in His dealings with His creatures, sympathizes with their weakness, and, speaking of a creation wrought by mere will out of nothing, speaks of six days of labour and one of rest. I do not call a healthy young man, cheerful in his mind and vigorous in his arms, I cannot call such a man poor; I cannot pity my kind as a kind, merely because they are men. This affected pity only tends to dissatisfy them with their condition, and to teach them to seek resources where no resources are to be found, in something else than their own industry, and frugality, and sobriety. Whatever may be the intention (which, because I do not know, I cannot dispute) of those who would discontent mankind by this strange pity, they act towards us, in the consequences, as if they were our worst enemies.
DANIEL WEBSTER, the great Statesman of America, was born in the town of Salisbury, New Hampshire, on the 18th of January, 1782. The part of Salisbury in which he first saw the light has since been set off as a separate town, with the name of Franklin. His father, Ebenezer Webster, served largely, both as a soldier and an officer, in the Revolutionary war, and distinguished himself in the battle of Bennington. He was also in the service at White Plains, and at West Point when Arnold attempted to surrender that post. He was twice married, and each marriage gave him five children, Daniel being the youngest but one of the ten. Ezekiel, the brother whom he loved most deeply, was the next before him; born on the 11th of April, 1780. . During his childhood, Daniel was sickly and delicate, giving no promise of the robust and vigorous frame which he had in his manhood. In his Autobiography, written for a private friend in 1829, though extending only to 1817, he says he does not remember when or by whom he was taught to read ; and that he cannot recollect a time when he could not read the Bible. His father had no literary education, save what he picked up for himself in the course of a straitened and toilsome life; but he had a mind strong and healthy by . insomuch that he became a sort of intellectual leader in the neighbourhood. And he seemed to have no higher aim in life than to educate his children to the utmost of his limited ability. The only means within his reach were the small town schools, which were kept by indifferent teachers, in several neighbourhoods of the town, each a small part of the year. To these schools Daniel was sent with the other children. When the school was nearby, it was easy to attend; but sometimes he had to go, in Winter, two and a half or three miles, still living at home; at other times, when the school was further off, his father boarded him out in a neighbouring family, that he might still attend; and something of special pains were used for him in this behalf, because “the slenderness and frailty” of his constitution were not thought likely ever to admit of his pursuing any robust occupation. Nothing but reading and writing was taught in these schools; and writing was so irksome to him, that the masters used to tell him they feared, after all, his fingers were destined for the plough-tail. In his early boyhood, Webster was fond of poetry, and could repeat, from memory, the greater part of Watts's Psalms and Hymns, at the age of twelve. In his Autobiography, we have the following: “I remember that my father brought home from some of the lower towns Pope's Essay on Man, published in a sort of pamphlet. I took it, and very soon could repeat it, from beginning to cnd. We had so few books, that to read them once or twice was nothing. We thought they were all to be got by heart.” He also tells us that, till his fourteenth or fifteenth year, he read what he could get to read, went to school when he could ; and, when not at school, was a farmer's youngest boy, not good for much, for want of health and strength, but was expected to do something. Up to that time, he had no hope of any education beyond what the village school could afford. But in May, 1796, his father placed him in Phillips Academy at Exeter. I quote again from