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avoided an opportunity of gaining fuller information, if he wanted fuller information, upon that subject. To crown the whole, he hears them narrated, in our charges; he hears Mr. Middleton's explanation upon them, he hears them (and says) deliberately
I won't say they are mine, but they are just, honourable, humane, and politic.” This crowns the whole ; this shows the monstrous falsity upon which the whole of his Defence is founded. I have proved the falsity of the assertion ; that he knew, not only the outline, but the detail ; that, knowing it, he approved it; that he defended it as just, politic and honourable. And am I now to be told, when I have brought such proof before your Lordships, that when he gives an agent authority to awe, to force, to compel, to kill—when he inflames and pronounces dreadful responsibility—when he has communications of it, he says,
“I am happy to hear of it, and shall return with delighted mind to Calcutta ” :when he afterwards makes a charge against his agent that he was not cruel enough—when he finally calls all the measures just, humane and politic—am I then to be told that he is not responsible, because I cannot prove that he ordered the number of lashes or the weights of the irons ? Shall I be told he was not the cause this noble tree was felled, because he ordered them to lay an axe to the root but did not bid them tear the bark–because he ordered them to tear out the heart but did not order a drop of blood to be shed ? My Lords, he is as much responsible as if he had himself exercised these orders; as much as if he had executed that threat ; as much as if he had stooped to the gaoler's office and fastened the irons on the swollen feet of the ministers; as much as if he had torn the bread from the children's mouths; as much as if he had searched the zenana and examined the doolahs. I say I have brought home these crimes and laid them full upon Warren Hastings at your bar—that he is answerable for them to law, to equity, to his country and to his God.
I think so far I shall have vindicated the Council, for they were wholly imposed upon; and it is this circumstance of deliberation and conciousness of his guilt-it is this that inflames the minds of those who watch his transactions. They
root out all pity almost for persons who can act under such an influence. We have an impression of such tyrants as Caligula and Nero, that, having been bred up to tyranny and oppression, having had no equals to control them, no moment for reflection, we conceive that if it could have been possible to seize the guilty profligates for a moment you might bring conviction to their hearts and repentance to their mind. But when you see a cool, reasoning, deliberate tyrant-one who was not born and bred to an arrogant, fell despotism ; who has been nursed in a mercantile line; who has been used to look round among his fellow-subjects, to transact with his equals, to account for his conduct to his masters, and, by that wise system of the Company, to detail all his transactions; who never could fly one moment from himself, but must be obliged every night to sit down and hold up a glass to his own soul—could never be blind to his deformity, and who must have brought his conscience not only to connive but to approve of it—this distinguishes it from the worst cruelties, the worst enormities, we read of-of those who, born to tyranny, who, finding no superior, no adviser, have gone to the rash presumption that there were none above to control them hereafter. This is a circumstance that aggravates the whole of the guilt of the unfortunate gentleman we are now arraigning at your bar.
Here the Counsel choose we should read a minute of Sir John Macpherson. Why they should I am at a loss to determine; only that I see something I regret in this minute, and something that I should not have expected from the good sense of Sir John Macpherson, because he seems to have been convinced by this bold, bombastical, quibble, which I should have thought he would have laughed at to Mr. Hastings' face. He answers, “ The majesty of justice ought certainly to be met with solicitation, and should not descend to provoke or invite it.” That is very true, he is convinced, when he hears this character of justice. Was it in tenderness to Sir John Macpherson they wished us to read this? What does it prove? It proves nothing but that he had something of an oriental style ; that he had not learned his ideas of the sublime and beautiful in writing from the immortal leader of the present prosecution. Upon the strength of this the inquiry is stifled and crushed : and this Mr. Hastings denies to be stifling the
inquiry. This he says was not checking an inquiry-not dreading the result of an investigation. What Sir John Macpherson's opinion of this majesty of justice was is little to me. I will ask your Lordships-do your Lordships approve this representation? Do you feel that this is the true image of justice ? Is this the character of British justice ? Are these her features ? Is this her countenance ? Is this her gait or her mien ? No: I think even now I hear you calling upon me to turn from this vile libel—this base caricaturethis Indian pagod [?]—this vile (idol?] hewn from some rockblasted in some unhallowed grove-formed by the hand of guilty and knavish tyranny to dupe the heart of ignoranceto turn from this deformed idol to the true majesty of justice here. Here, indeed, I see a different form, enthroned by the sovereign hand of Freedom, and adorned by the hand of [Mercy ?]-awful without severity—commanding without pride—vigilant and active without restlessness and suspicionsearching and inquisitive without meanness and debasementnot arrogantly scorning to stoop when listening to the voice of afflicted innocence—and in its loveliest attitude when bending to uplift its suppliant at its feet.
My Lords, I have closed the evidence. I have no further comments. When I have done with the evidence I have done with everything that is near my heart. It is by the majesty -by the form-of that justice that I do conjure and implore your Lordships to give your minds to this great business. That is the only exhortation I have to make. It is not to exhort you to decide with perfect clear conscience
with confident proof in your bosom—without suffering the influence of any power upon earth to weigh with you—without suffering any party or political feeling. It would be presumption to warn you against that-I know it cannot be the case. But what I exhort you to is, that when you lay your hands upon your breasts, you not only cover that pure, sublime and clear, conscience, but that you do cover a mind convinced by a diligent application to the evidence brought before you. It is to that I quote the example of the Commons, to exhort your Lordships to weigh and look into facts—not so much to words, which may be denied or quibbled away—but to look to the plain facts-to weigh and consider the testimony in your own minds. We know the result must be inevitable. Let the truth
appear, and our cause is gained. It is to this I conjure your Lordships, for your own honour—for the honour of the nationfor the honour of human nature now entrusted to your carethat I, for the Commons of England speaking through us, claim this duty at your hands. They exhort you to it by everything that calls sublimely upon the heart of man-by the majesty of that justice which this bold man has libelledby the wide fame of your own renowned tribunal—by the sacred pledge by which you swear in the solemn hour of decision ; knowing that that decision will bring you the greatest reward that ever blessed the heart of man—the consciousness of having done the greatest act of mercy for the world that the earth has ever yet received from any hand but Heaven.
My Lords, I have done.
Reply to Lord Mornington, 1794 PREFATORY NOTE.—This speech, in which Sheridan attacked the
Whigs who had joined Pitt, is the only one, says his biographer,
that he is known to have revised. In referring to the details which Lord Mornington had entered into of the various atrocities committed in France, Sheridan says:
But what was the sum of all that he had told the House ? that great and enormous enormities had been committed, at which the heart shuddered, and which not merely wounded every feeling of humanity, but disgusted and sickened the soul. All this was most true ; but what did all this prove? What but that eternal and unalterable truth which had always presented itself to his mind, in whatever way he had viewed the subject, namely that a long-established despotism so far degraded and debased human nature, as to render its subjects, on the first recovery of their rights, unfit for the exercise of them. But never had he, or would he, meet but with reprobation that mode of argument which went, in fact, to establish, as an inference from this truth, that those who had been long slaves ought therefore to remain so for ever! No; the lesson ought to be, he would again repeat, a tenfold horror of that despotic form of government, which had so profaned and changed the nation of civilized men, and a still more jealous apprehension of any system tending to withhold the rights and
liberties of our fellow-creatures. Such a form of government might be considered as twice cursed; while it existed it was solely responsible for the miseries and calamities of its subjects; and should a day of retribution come, and the tyranny be destroyed, it was equally to be charged with all the enormities which the folly or frenzy of those who overturned it should commit.
But the madness of the French people was not confined to their proceedings within their own country; we, and all the Powers of Europe, had to dread it. True ; but was not this also to be accounted for? Wild and unsettled as their state of mind was, necessarily, upon the events which had thrown such power so suddenly into their hands, the surrounding States had goaded them into a still more savage state of madness, fury, and desperation. We had unsettled their reason, and then reviled their insanity; we drove them to the extremities that produced the evils we arraigned; we baited them like wild beasts, until at length we made them so. The conspiracy of Pilnitz, and the brutal threats of the Royal abettors of that plot against the rights of nations and of men, had in truth, to answer for all the additional misery, horrors, and iniquity, which had since disgraced and incensed humanity. Such has been your conduct towards France, that you have created the passions which you persecute; you mark a nation to be cut off from the world ; you covenant for their extermination ; you swear to hunt them in their inmost recesses; you load them with every species of execration; and you now come forth with whining declamations on the horror of their turning upon you with the fury which you inspired.
The noble Lord need not remind us that there is no great danger of our Chancellor of the Exchequer making any such experiment. I can more easily fancy another sort of speech for our prudent Minister. I can more easily conceive him modestly comparing himself and his own measures with the character and conduct of his rival, and saying—"Do I demand of you, wealthy citizens, to lend your hoards to government without interest ? On the contrary, when I shall come to propose a loan, there is not a man of you to whom I shall not hold out at least a job in every part of the subscription, and an usurious profit upon every pound you devote to the