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fluence of manners; and, on the whole, there was an amenity in the condition of France which rendered the French an amiable, an enlightened, a gallant and accomplished race. Over this gallant race you see imposed an Oriental despotism. Their present court (Buonaparte's court) has gotten the idiom of the East as well as her constitution; a fantastic and barbaric expression ; an unreality which leaves in the shade the modesty of truth, and states nothing as it is, and every thing as it is not. The attitude is affected, the taste is corrupted, and the intellect perverted. Do you wish to confirm this military tyranny in the heart of Europe ? A tyranny founded on the triumph of the army over the principles of civil government, tending to universalize throughout Europe the domination of the sword, and to reduce to paper and parchment Magna Charta and all our civil constitutions. An experiment such as no country ever made, and no good country would ever permit—to relax the moral and religious influences; to set heaven and earth adrift from one another, and make God Almighty a tolerated alien in his creation ; an insurrectionary hope to every bad man in the community; and a frightful lesson of profit and power, vested in those who have pandered their allegiance from king to emperor, and now found their pretensions to domination on the merit of breaking their oaths and deposing their sovereign. Should you do any thing so monstrous as to leave your allies in order to confirm such a system ; should you forget your name, forget your ancestors, and the inheritance they have left you of morality and renown; should you astonish Europe by quitting your allies to render immortal such a composition, would not the nations exclaim, “You have very providently watched over our interests, and very generously have you contributed to our service, and do you falter now? In vain have you stopped in your own person the flying fortunes of Europe ; in vain have you taken the eagle of Napoleon, and snatched invincibility from this standard ;
when confederated Europe is ready to march, you take the lead in the desertion, and preach the penitence of Buonaparte and the poverty of England.”
As to her poverty, you must not consider the money you spend in her defence, but the fortune you would lose if you were not defended ; and further, you must recollect you will pay less to an inmediate war than to a peace with a war establishment, and a war to follow it. Recollect further, that whatever be your resources, they must outlast those of all your enemies ; and further, that your empire cannot be saved by a calculation. Besides, your wealth is only a part of your situation. The name you have established, the deeds you have achieved, and the part you have sustained, preclude you from a second place among nations ; and when you cease to be the first, you are nothing.
Richard Brinsley Sheridan. 1751-1816.
361. FROM HIS SPEECH AGAINST WARREN HASTINGS IN THE
HOUSE OF COMMONS, Feb. 7, 1787.
I recollect to have heard it advanced by some of those admirers of Mr. Hastings, who were not so implicit as to give unqualified applause to his crimes, that they found an apology for the atrocity of them, in the greatness of his mind. To estimate the solidity of such a defence, it would be sufficient merely to consider in what consisted this prepossessing distinction, this captivating characteristic of greatness of mind. Is it not solely to be traced in great actions directed to great ends? In them, and them alone, we are to search for true estimable magnanimity. To them only can we justly affix the splendid title and honours of real greatness. There is indeed another species of greatness, which displays itself in boldly conceiving a bad measure, and undauntedly pursuing it to its accomplishment. But had Mr. Hastings the merit of exhibiting either of these descriptions of greatness ;—even of the latter? I see nothing great-nothing magnanimous-nothing open-nothing direct in his measures, or in his mind;-on the contrary, he has too often pursued the worst objects by the worst means. His course was an eternal deviation from rectitude. He either tyrannised or deceived ; and was by turns a Dionysius and a Scapin. As well might the writhing obliquity of the serpent be compared to the swift directness of the arrow, as the duplicity of Mr. Hastings's ambition to the simple steadiness of genuine magnanimity. In his mind all was shuffling, ambiguous, dark, insidious, and little : nothing simple, nothing unmixed : all affected plainness, and actual dissimulation ; a heterogeneous mass of contradictory qualities; with nothing great but his crimes; and even those contrasted by the littleness of his motives, which at once denoted both his baseness and his meanness, and marked him for a traitor and a trickster. Nay, in his style and writing, there was the same mixture of vicious contrarieties ;—the most grovelling ideas were conveyed in the most inflated language ; giving mock consequence to low cavils and uttering quibbles in heroics ; so that his compositions disgusted the mind's taste, as much as his actions excited the soul's abhorrence. Indeed this mixture of character seemed by some unaccountable, but inherent quality, to be appropriated, though in inferior degrees, to everything that concerned his employers. I remember to have heard an honourable and learned gentleman (Mr. Dundas) remark that there was something in the first frame and constitution of the company, which extended the sordid principles of their origin over all their successive operations ; connecting with their civil policy, and even with their
boldest achievements, the meanness of a pedlar, and the profligacy of pirates. Alike in the political and the military line could be observed auctioneering ambussadors and trading generals ;—and thus we saw a revolution brought about by affidavits ; an army employed in executing an arrest; a town besieged on a note of hand; a prince dethroned for the balance of an account. Thus it was they exhibited a government, which united the mock majesty of a bloody sceptre, and the little traffic of a merchant's counting-house, wielding a truncheon with one hand, and picking a pocket with the other.
362. FROM HIS SPEECH AGAINST WARREN HASTINGS IN
WESTMINSTER Hall, June 3, 1788. The counsel, in recommending attention to the public in preference to the private letters, had remarked, in particular, that one letter should not be taken as evidence, because it was manifestly and abstractedly private, as it contained in one part the anxieties of Mr. Middleton for the illness of his son. This was a singular argument indeed ;
and the circumstance, in my mind, merited strict observation, though not in the view in which it was placed by the counsel. It went to show that some at least of those concerned in these transactions, felt the force of those ties, which their efforts were directed to tear asunder ;-that those who could ridicule the respective attachment of a mother and a son ;, who would prohibit the reverence of the son to the mother who had given him life ;-who could deny to maternal debility the protection which filial tenderness should afford; ; — were yet sensible of the straining of those chords by which they were connected. There was something connected with this transaction so wretchedly horrible, and so vilely loathsome, as to excite the most contemptible disgust. If it were not a part of my duty, it would be superfluous to speak of the sacredness of the ties which those aliens to feeling,—those apostates to humanity had thus divided. In such an assembly as that which I have the honour of addressing, there is not an eye but must dart reproof at this conduct; -not a heart but must anticipate its condemnation. FILIAL PIETY! It is the primal bond of society—it is that instinctive principle, which, panting for its proper good, soothes, unbidden, each sense and sensibility of man !-it now quivers on every lip!it now beams from every eye!—it is an emanation of that gratitude, which softening under the sense of recollected good, is eager to own the vast countless debt it ne'er, alas! can pay, for so many long years of unceasing solicitudes, honourable self-denials, life-preserving cares !—it is that part of our practice, where duty drops its awe! where reverence refines into love!-it asks no aid of memory!-it needs not the deductions of reason !-pre-existing, paramount over all, whether law, or human rule, few arguments can increase and none can diminish it !—it is the sacrament of our nature !-- not only the duty, but the indulgence of man-it is his first great privilege -it is amongst his last most endearing delights !--it causes the bosom to glow with reverberated love !—it requites the visitations of nature, and returns the blessings that have been received !—it fires emotion into vital principle—it renders habituated instinct into a master-passion-sways all the sweetest energies of man-hangs over each vicissitude of all that must pass away--aids the melancholy virtues in their last sad tasks of life, to cheer the languors of decrepitude and age-explores the thought-elucidates the aching eye! --and breathes sweet consolation even in the awful moment of dissolution !
Oh Faith! Oh Justice! I conjure you by your sacred names to depart for a moment from this place, though it be your peculiar residence; nor hear your names profaned by such a sacrilegious combination, as that which I am now compelled to repeat !—where all the fair forms of nature and art, truth and peace, policy and honour, shrunk back aghast from the deleterious shade !—where all existences, nefarious and vile, had sway ; -where, amidst the black agents on one side, and Middleton with Impey on the other, the toughest head, the most unfeeling heart ! the great figure of the piece, characteristic in his place, stood aloof and independent from the puny profligacy in his train !—but far from idle and inactive, turning a malignant eye on all mischief that awaited him !—the multiplied apparatus of temporising expedients, and intimidating instruments! now cringing on his prey, and fawning on his vengeance !--now quickening the limping pace of craft, and forcing every stand that retiring nature can make in the heart! violating the attachments and the decorums of life! sacrificing every emotion of tenderness and honour ! and flagitiously levelling all the distinctions of national characteristics! with a long catalogue of crimes and aggravations, beyond the reach of thought, for human malignity to perpetrate, or human vengeance to punish !
John Philpot Curran. 1750-1817. 363. FROM HIS SPEECH ON THE TRIAL OF ARCHIBALD HAMILTON
Rowan This paper, gentlemen, insists upon the necessity of emancipating the Catholics of Ireland, and that is charged as part of the libel. If they had waited another year, if they had kept this prosecution
impending for another year, how much would remain for a jury to decide upon, I should be at a loss to discover. It seems as if the progress of public information was eating away the ground of the prosecution. Since the commencement of the prosecution, this part of the libel has unluckily received the sanction of the legislature. In that interval our Catholic brethren have obtained that admission, which it seems it was a libel to propose ; in what way to account for this I am really at a loss. Have any alarms been occasioned by the emancipation of our Catholic brethren ? has the bigoted malignity of any individuals been crushed ? or has the stability of the government, or that of the country been weakened; or is one million of subjects stronger than four millions? Do you think that the benefit they received should be poisoned by the sting of vengeance? If you think so, you
must to them, “you have demanded emancipation, and you have got it; but we abhor your persons, we are outraged at your success, and we will stigmatize by a criminal prosecution the adviser of that relief which you have obtained from the voice of your country.” I ask you, do you think, as honest men, anxious for the public tranquillity, conscious that there are wounds not yet completely cicatrized, that you ought to speak this language at this time, to men who are too much disposed to think that in this very emancipation they have been saved from their own parliament by the humanity of their sovereign? Or do you wish to prepare them for the revocation of these improvident concessions? Do you think it wise or humane at this moment to insult them, by sticking up in a pillory the man who dared to stand forth as their advocate ? I put it to your oaths ; do you think, that a blessing of that kind, that a victory obtained by justice over bigotry and oppression, should have a stigma cast upon it by an ignominious sentence upon men bold and honest enough to propose that measure ? to propose the redeeming of religion from the abuses of the church, the reclaiming of three millions of men from bondage, and giving liberty to all who had a right to demand it ; giving, I say, in the so much censured words of this paper, giving UNIVERSAL EMANCIPATION !” I speak in the spirit of the British law, which makes liberty commensurate with and inseparable from British soil; which proclaims even to the stranger and sojourner, the moment he sets his foot upon British earth, that the ground on which he treads is holy, and consecrated by the genius of UNIVERSAL EMANCIPATION. No matter in what language his doom may have been pronounced; no matter what complexion incompatible with freedom, an Indian or an African sun may have burnt upon him; no matter in what disastrous battle his liberty may have been cloven down; no matter with what solemnities he may have been devoted upon the altar of slavery ; the first moment he touches the sacred soil of Britain, the