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which judgment had been pronounced and punishment decreed already.
The Nabob himself, though sufficiently ready to make the wealth of those venerable ladies occasionally minister to his wants, yet shrunk back, with natural reluctance, from the summary task now imposed upon him; and it was not till after repeated and peremptory remonstrances from Mr. Hastings, that he could be induced to put himself at the head of a body of English troops, and take possession, by unresisted force, of the town and palace of these Princesses. As the treasure, however, was still secure in the apartments of the women,--that circle, within which even the spirit of English rapine did not venture,--an expedient was adopted to get over this inconvenient delicacy. Two aged eunuchs of high rank and distinction, the confidential agents of the Begums, were thrown into prison, and subjected to a course of starvation and torture, by which it was hoped that the feelings of their mistresses might be worked upon, and a more speedy surrender of their treasure wrung from them. The plan succeeded :-upwards of 500,000l. was procured to recruit the finances of the Company; and thus, according to the usual course of British power in India, rapacity but levied its contributions in one quarter, to enable war to pursue its desolating career in another.
To crown all, one of the chief articles of the treaty, by which the Nabob was reluctantly induced to concur in these atrocious measures, was, as soon as the object had been he was busied at Lucknow on that honourable business, and when, three days after, he was found at Chunar, at the distance of 200 miles, still searching for affidavits, and, like Hamlet's ghost, exclaiming, 'Swear,' his progress on that occasion was so whimsically rapid, compared with the gravity of bis employ, that an observer would be tempted to quote again from the same scene, Ha! Old Truepenny, canst thou mole so fast i’ the ground?' Here, however, the comparison ceased; for, when Sir Elijah made his visit tó Lucknow to whet the almost blunted purpose of the Nabob, his language was wholly different from that of the poet--for it would bave been totally against his purpose to have said,
• Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive
gained, infringed by Mr. Hastings, who, in a letter to his colleagues in the government, honestly confesses that the concession of that article was only a fraudulent artifice of diplomacy, and never intended to be carried into effect.
Such is an outline of the case, which, with all its aggravating details, Mr. Sheridan had to state in these two memorable Speeches ; and it was certainly most fortunate for the display of his peculiar powers, that this should be the Charge confided to his management. For, not only was it the strongest, and susceptible of the highest charge of colouring, but it had also the advantage of grouping together all the principal delinquents of the trial, and affording a gradation of hue, from the showy and prominent enormities of the GovernorGeneral and Sir Elijah Impey in the front of the picture, to the subordinate and half-tint iniquity of the Middletons and Bristows in the back-ground.
Mr. Burke, it appears, had at first reserved this grand part in the drama of the Impeachment for himself; but, finding that Sheridan had also fixed his mind upon it, he, without hesitation, resigned it into his hands ; thus proving the sincerity of his zeal in the cause*, by sacrificing even the vanity of talent to its success.
The following letters from him, relative to the Impeachment, will be read with interest. The first is addressed to Mrs. Sheridan, and was written, I think, early in the proceedings ; the second is to Sheridan himself :
“ I am sure you will have the goodness to excuse the liberty I take with you, when you consider the interest which I have and which the Public have (the said Public being, at
• Of the lengths to which this zeal could sometimes carry his fancy and language, rather, perhaps, than his actual feelings, the following anecdote is a remarkable proof. On one of the days of the trial, Lord —, who was then a boy, having been introduced by a relative into the Manager's bos, Burke said to him, “I am glad to see you here—I shall be still gladder to see you there—(pointing to the Peers' seats) I hope you will be in at the death-I should like to blood you."
least, half an inch a taller person than I am) in the use of Mr. Sheridan's abilities. I know that his mind is seldom unemployed; but then, like all such great and vigorous minds, it takes an eagle flight by itself, and we can hardly bring it to rustle along the ground, with us birds of meaner wing, in coveys. I only beg that you will prevail on Mr. Sheridan to be with us this day, at half after three, in the Committee. Mr. Wombell, the Paymaster of Oude, is to be examined there to-day. Oude is Mr. Sheridan's particular province ; and I do most seriously ask that he would favour us with his assistance. What will come of the examination I know not; but, without him, I do not expect a great deal from it ; with him, I fancy we may get out something material. Once more let me intreat your interest with Mr. Sheridan and your forgiveness for being troublesome to you, and do me the justice to believe me, with the most sincere respect,
“Madam, your most obedient
" and faithful humble Servant, “ Thursday, 9 o'clock.
“ EDM, BURKE."
“ MY DEAR SIR, “ You have only to wish to be excused to succeed in your wishes ;-for, indeed, he must be a great enemy to himself who can consent, on account of a momentary ill-humour, to keep himself at a distance from you.
“ Well, all will turn out right,--and half of you, or a quarter, is worth five other men. I think that this cause, which was originally yours, will be recognised by you, and that you will again possess yourself of it. The owner's mark is on it, and all our docking and cropping cannot hinder its being known and cherished by its original master. My most humble respects to Mrs. Sheridan. I am happy to find that she takes in good part the liberty I presumed to take with her. Grey has done much and will do every thing. It is a pity that he is not always toned to the full extent of his talents.
" Most truly yours, “ Monday.
" Edm. BURKE.
“ I feel a little sickish at the approaching day. I have read much—too much, perhaps,-and, in truth, am but poorly prepared. Many things, too, have broken in upon me."*
Though a Report, however accurate, must always do injustice to that effective kind of oratory which is intended rather to be heard than read, and, though frequently, the passages that most roused and interested the hearer, are those that seem afterwards the tritest and least animated to the readert yet, with all this disadvantage, the celebrated oration in question so well sustains its reputation in the perusal, that it would be injustice, having an authentic Report in my possession, not to produce some specimens of its style and spirit.
In the course of his exordium, after dwelling upon great importance of the inquiry in which they were engaged, and disclaiming for himself and his brother-managers any feeling of personal malice against the defendant, or any motive but that of retrieving the honour of the British name in India, and bringing down punishment upon those whose inhumanity and injustice had disgraced it,-he thus proceeds to conciliate the Court by a warm tribute to the purity of English justice :
“ However, when I have said this, I trust Your Lordships will not believe that, because something is necessary to retrieve the British character, we call for an example to be made, without due and solid proof of the guilt of the person whom we pursue :-no, my Lords, we know well that it is the glory of this Constitution, that not the general fame or character of any mannot the weight or power of any prosecutor-no plea of moral or political expediency-not even the secret consciousness of guilt, which may live in the bosom of the Judg justify any British Court in passing any sentence, to touch a hair of the head, or an atom in any respect, of the property, of the fame, of the liberty of the poorest or meanest subject that breathes the air of this just and free land. We know, my Lords, that there
For this letter, as well as some other valuable communications, I am indebted to the kindness of Mr. Burgess, -The Solicitor and friend of Sheridan during the last twenty years of his life.
† The converse assertion is almost equally true. Mr. Fox used to ask of a printed speech, “Does it read well?" and, if answered in the affirma. tive, said, “Then it was a bad speech."
can be no legal guilt without legal proof, and that the rule which defines the evidence is as much the law of the land as that which creates the crime. It is upon that ground we mean to stand.”
Among those ready equivocations and disavowals, to which Mr. Hastings had recourse upon every emergency, and in which practice seems to have rendered him as shameless as expert, the step which he took with regard to his own defence during the trial was not the least remarkable for promptness and audacity. He had, at the commencement of the prosecution, delivered at the bar of the House of Commons, as his own, a written refutation of the charges then pending against him in that House, declaring at the same time, that “if truth could tend to convict him, he was content to be, himself, the channel to convey it.” Afterwards, however, on finding that he had committed himself rather imprudently in this defence, he came forward to disclaim it at the bar of the House of Lords, and brought his friend Major Scott to prove that it had been drawn up by Messrs. Shore, Middleton, &c. &c.—that he himself had not even seen it, and therefore ought not to be held accountable for its contents. In adverting to this extraordinary evasion, Mr. Sheridan thus shrewdly and playfully exposes all the persons concerned in it :
" Major Scott comes to your bar-describes the shortness of time-re. presents Mr. Hustings as it were contracting for a character-putting his memory into commission-making departments for his conscience. A number of friends meet together, and he, knowing (no doubt) that the accusation of the Commons had been drawn up by a Committee, thought it ne. cessary, as a point of punctilio, to answer it by a Committee also. One fur. nishes the raw material of fact, the second spins the argument, and the third twines up the conclusion ; while Mr. Hastings, with a master's eye, is cheering and looking over this loom. He says to one, * You have got my good faith in your hands-you, my veracity to manage. Mr. Shore, I hope you will make me a good financier—Mr. Middleton, you have my humanity in commission'-When it is done, he brings it to the House of Com. mons, and says, 'I was equal to the task. I knew the difficulties, but I scorn them: here is the truth, and if the truth will convict me, I am content myself to be the channel of it.' His friends hold up their heads, and say, 'What noble magnanimity! This must be the effect of conscious and