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through which to convey it, must soon have suggested itself to check the intention. Some middle course, however, it was thought, might be adopted, which, without going the full length of retracting, might tend at least to unsettle the impression left upon the public, and, in some degree, retrieve that loss of station, which a disclaimer, coming in such an authentic shape, had entailed. To ask Mr. Fox to discredit his own statement was impossible. An application was, therefore, made to a young member of the party, who was then fast rising into the eminence which he has since so nobly sustained, and whose answer to the proposal is said to have betrayed some of that unaccommodating highmindedness, which, in more than one collision with Royalty, has proved him but an unfit adjunct to a Court. The reply to his refusal was, “ Then, I must get Sheridan to say something ;"and hence, it seems, was the origin of those few dexterously unmeaning compliments, with which the latter, when the motion of Alderman Newenham was withdrawn, endeavoured, without in the least degree weakening the declaration of Mr. Fox, to restore that equilibrium of temper and self-esteem, which such a sacrifice of gallantry to expediency had naturally disturbed. In alluding to the offer of the Prince, through Mr. Fox, to answer any
questions upon the subject of his reported marriage, which it might be thought proper to put to him in the House, Mr. Sheridan said," That no such idea had been pursued, and no such enquiry had been adopted, was a point which did credit to the decorum, the feelings, and the dignity of Parliament. But whilst His Royal Highness's feelings had no doubt been considered on this occasion, he must take the liberty of saying, however some might think it a subordinate consideration, that there was another person entitled, in every delicate and honourable mind, to the same attention ; one, whom he would not otherwise venture to describe or allude to, but by saying it was a name, which malice or ignorance alone could attempt to injure, and whose character and conduct claimed and were 'entitled to the truest respect.”
The motion of Mr. Burke on the 10th of May, 1787, " That Warren Hastings, Esq., be impeached,” having been carried without a division, Mr. Sheridan was appointed one of the Managers, “ to make good the Articles” of the Impeachment, and, on the 3d of June in the following year, brought forward the same Charge in Westminster Hall which he had already enforced with such wonderful talent in the House of Commons.
To be called upon for a second great effort of eloquence, on a subject of which all the facts and the bearings remained the same, was, it must be acknowledged, no ordinary trial to even the most fertile genius ; and Mr. Fox, it is said, hopeless of any second flight ever rising to the grand elevation of the first, advised that the former Speech should be, with very little change, repeated. But such a plan, however welcome it might be to the indolence of his friend, would have looked too like an acknowledgment of exhaustion on the subject, to be submitted to by one so justly confident in the resources both of his reason and fancy. Accordingly, he had the glory of again opening, in the very same field, a new and abundant spring of eloquence, which, during four days, diffused its enchantment among an assembly of the most illustrious persons of the land, and of which Mr. Burke pronounced at its conclusion, that “ of all the various species of oratory, of every kind of eloquence that had been heard, either in ancient or modern times ; whatever the acuteness of the bar, the dignity of the senate, or the morality of the pulpit, could furnish, had not been equal to what that House had that day heard in Westminster Hall. No holy religionist, no man of any description as a literary character, could have come up,
in the one instance, to the pure sentiments of morality, or in the other, to the variety of knowledge, force of imagination, propriety and vivacity of allusion, beauty and elegance of diction, and strength of expression, to which they had that day listened. From poetry up to eloquence there was not a species of composition of which a complete and perfect specimen might not have been culled, from one part or the other of the speech to which he alluded, and which, he was persuaded, had left too strong an impression on the minds of that House to be easily obliterated.”
As some atonement to the world for the loss of the Speech in the House of Commons, this second master-piece of eloquence on the same subject has been preserved to us in a Report, from the short-hand notes of Mr. Gurney, which was for some time in the possession of the late Duke of Norfolk, but was afterwards restored to Mr. Sheridan, and is now in my hands.
In order to enable the reader fully to understand the extracts from this Report which I am about to give, it will be necessary to detail briefly the history of the transaction, on which the charge brought forward in the Speech was founded.
Among the native Princes who, on the transfer of the sceptre of Tamerlane
to the East India Company, became tributaries or rather slaves to that Honourable body, none seems to have been treated with more capricious cruelty than Cheyte Sing, the Rajah of Benares. In defiance of a solemn treaty, entered into between him and the government of Mr. Hastings, by which it was stipulated that, besides his fixed tribute, no further demands, of any kind, should be made upon him, new exactions were every year enforced ;—while the humble remonstrances of the Rajah against such gross injustice were not only treated with slight, but punished by arbitrary and enormous fines. Even the proffer of a bribe succeeded only in being accepted* --the exactions which it
• This was the transaction that formed one of the principal grounds of the Seventh Charge brought forward in the House of Commons by Mr. Sheridan. The suspicious circumstances attending this present are thus summed up by Mr. Mill: “At first, perfect concealment of the transactionwas intended to avert being continued as rigorously as before. At length, in the year 1781, Mr. Hastings, who invariably, among the objects of his government, placed the interests of Leadenhall-Street first on the list, and those of justice and humanity longo intervallo after,-finding the treasury of the Company in a very exhausted state, resolved to sacrifice this unlucky Rajah to their replenishment; and having as a preliminary step, imposed upon him a mulct of 500,0001., set out immediately for his capital, Benares, to compel the payment of it. Here, after rejecting with insult the suppliant advances of the Prince, he put him under arrest, and imprisoned him in his own palace. This violation of the rights and the roof of their sovereign drove the people of the whole province into a sudden burst of rebellion, of which Mr. Hastings himself was near being the victim. The usual triumph, however, of might over right ensued ; the Rajah's castle was plundered of all its treasures, and his mother, who had taken refuge in the fort, and only surrendered it on the express stipulation that she and the other princesses should pass out safe from the dishonour of search, was, in violation of this condition, and at the base suggestion of Mr. Hastings him. self,* rudely examined and despoiled of all her effects. The Governor-General, however, in this one instance, incurred the full odium of iniquity without reaping any of its reward. The treasures found in the castle of the Rajah were inconsiderable, and the soldiers, who had shown themselves so docile in receiving the lessons of plunder, were found inflexibly obstinate in refusing to admit their instructor to a share. Disappointed, therefore, in the primary object of his expedition, the Governor-General looked round for some richer harvest of rapine, and the Begums of Oude presented themselves as the most convenient victims. These Princesses, the mother and grandmother of the reigning Nabob of Oude, had been left by the late sovereign in possession of certain government-estates, or jaghires, as well as of all the treasure that was in his hands at the time of his death, and which the orientalized imaginations of the English exaggerated to an enormous sum. The present Nabob had evidently looked with an eye of cupidity on this wealth, and had been guilty of some acts of extortion towards his female relatives, in consequence of which the English government had interfered between them,--and had even guaranteed to the mother of the Nabob the safe possession of her property, without any further encroachment whatever. Guarantees and treaties, however, were but cobwebs in the way of Mr. Hastings; and on his failure at Benares, he lost no time in concluding an agreement with the Nabob, by which (in consideration of certain measures of relief to his dominions) this Prince was bound to plunder his mother and grandmother of all their property, and place it at the disposal of the Governor-General. In order to give a colour of justice to this proceeding, it was* pretended that these Princesses had taken advantage of the late insurrection at Benares, to excite a similar spirit of revolt in Oude against the reigning Nabob and the English government. As Law is but too often, in such cases, the ready accomplice of Tyranny, the services of the Chief Justice, Sir Elijah Impey, were called in to sustain the accusations; and the wretched mockery was exhibited of a Judge travelling about in search of evidencet, for the express purpose of proving a charge, upon
such measures, however, taken as may, if afterwards necessary, appear to imply a design of future disclosure ;-when concealment becomes difficult and hazardous, then disclosure made.”—History of British India.
* In his letter to the Commanding Officer at Bidgegur. The following are the terms in which he conveys the hint : I apprehend that she will contrive to defraud the captors of a considerable part of the booty, by being suffered to retire without examination. But this is your consideration, and not mine. I should be very sorry that your officers and soldiers lost any part of the reward to which they are so well entitled ; but I cannot make any objection, as you must be the best judge of the expediency of the promised indulgence to the Rangee."
• “It was the practice of Mr. Hastings (says Burke, in his fine Speech on Mr. Pitt's India Bill, March 22, 1786) to examine the country, and wherever be found money to affix guilt. A more dreadful fault could not be alleged against a native than that he was rich."
+ This journey of the Chief Justice in search of evidence is thus happily described by Sheridan in the Speech:-“When, on the 28th of November,