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share in wronging or oppressing any description of men, or any one man in any description. Nol the charges against me are all of one kind, that I have pushed the principles of general justice and benevolence too far; further than a cautious policy would warrant; and further than the opinions of many would go along with me. In every accident which may happen through life, in pain, in sorrow, in depression, and distress - I will call to mind this accusation, and be comforted.
Gentlemen, I submit the whole to your judgment. Mr. Mayor, I thank you for the trouble you have taken on this occasion: in your state of health, it is particularly obliging. If this company should think it advisable for me to withdraw, I shall respectfully retire; if you think otherwise, I shall go directly to the Council-house and to the Change, and, without a moment's delay, begin my canvass.
3. Speech at Bristol, on declining the Poll, September 9, 1780.
my rule through life, to observe a proportion between my efforts and my objects. I have never been remarkable for a bold, active, and sanguine pursuit of advantages that are personal to myself.
I have not canvassed the whole of this city in form. But I have taken such a view of it as satisfies my own mind, that your choice will not ultimately fall upon me. Your city, gentleinen, is in a state of miserable distraction; and I am resolved to withdraw whatever share my pretensions may have had in its unhappy divisions. I have not been in haste; I have tried all prudent means; I have waited for the effect of all contingencies. If I were fond of a contest, by the partiality of my numerous friends, (whom you know to be among the most weighty and respectable people of the city), I have the means of a sharp one in my hands. But I thought it far better with my strength unspent, and my reputation unimpaired, to do, early and from foresight, that which I might be obliged to do from necessity at last.
I am not in the least surprised, nor in the least angry at this view of things. I have read the book of life for a long time, and I have read other books a little. Nothing has happened to me, but what has happened to men much better
than me, and in times and in nations full as good as the age and country that we live in. To say that I am
no way concerned, would be neither decent nor true. The representation of Bristol was an object on many accounts dear to me; and I certainly should very far prefer it to any other in the kingdom. My habits are made to it; and it is in general more unpleasant to be rejected after long trial, than not to be chosen at all.
But, gentlemen, I will see nothing except your former kindness, and I will give way to no other sentiments than those of gratitude. From the bottom of my heart I thank you for what you have done for me. You have given me a long term, which is now expired. I have performed the conditions, and enjoyed all the profits, to the full; and I now surrender your estate into your hands, without being in a single tile or a single stone impaired or wasted by my use. I have served the public for fifteen years. I have served you in particular for six. What is passed is well stored. It is safe, and out of the power of fortune. What is to come, is in wiser hands than ours; and he, in whose hands it is, best knows whether it is best for you and me that I should be in parliament, or even in the world.
Gentlemen, the melancholy event of yesterday reads to us an awful lesson against being too much troubled about any of the objects of ordinary ambition. The worthy gentleman, who has been snatched from us at the monent of the election, and in the middle of the contest, whilst his desires were as warm, and his hopes as eager as ours, has feelingly told us, what shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue.
It has been usual for a candidate who declines, to take his leave by a letter to the sheriffs; but I received your trust in the face of day, and in the face of day I accept your dismission.
I am not at all ashamed to look upon you; nor can my presence discompose the order of business here. I humbly and respectfully take my leave of the sheriffs, the candidates, and the electors; wishing heartily that the choice may be for the best, at a time which calls, if ever time did call, for service that is not nominal. It is no plaything you are about. I tremble when I consider the trust I have presumed to ask. I confided perhaps too much in my intentions. They were really fair and upright; and I am bold to say, that I ask no ill thing for you, when on parting from this place I pray that whomever you choose to succeed me, he may resemble me exactly in all things, except in my abilities to serve, and my fortune to please you.
I am not,
FROM SPEECHES AT THE TRIAL OF WARREN
1. Peroration of the Opening Speech, delivered in Westminster
Hall, 19th February, 1788. In the name of the Commons of England, I charge all this villany upon Warren Hastings, in this last moment of my application to you.
My Lords, what is it that we want here to a great act of national justice? Do we want a cause, my Lords? You have the cause of oppressed princes, of undone women of the first rank, of desolated provinces, and of wasted kingdoms.
Do you want a criminal, my Lords? When was there so much iniquity ever laid to the charge of any one? No, my Lords, you must not look to punish any other such delinquent from India. Warren Hastings has not left substance enough in India to nourish such another delinquent.
My Lords, is it a prosecutor you want? You have before you the Commons of Great Britain as prosecutors; and I believe, my Lords, that the sun, in his beneficent progress round the world, does not behold a more glorious sight than that of men, separated from a remote people by the material bounds and barriers of nature, united by the bond of a social and moral community; all the Commons of England resenting, as their own, the indignities and cruelties that are offered to all the people of India.
Do you want a tribunal? My Lords, no example of antiquity, nothing in the modern world, nothing in the range of human imagination, can supply us with a tribunal like this. My Lords, here we see virtually in the mind's eye that sacred majesty of the crown, under whose authority you sit and whose power you exercise. We see in that invisible authority what we all feel in reality and life, the beneficent powers and protecting justice of his Majesty. We have here the heir apparent of the crown, such as the fond wishes of the people of England wish an heir apparent of the crown to be. We have here all the branches of the royal family in a situation between majesty and subjection, between the sovereign and the subject, offering a pledge in that situation for the support of the rights of the crown and the liberties of the people, both which extremities they touch. My Lords, we have great. hereditary peerage here; those who have their own honour, the honour of their ancestors and of their posterity
to guard; and who will justify, as they have always justified, that provision in the constitution by which justice is made an hereditary office. My Lords, we have here a new nobility, who have risen and exalted themselves by various merits, by great military services, which have extended the fame of this country from the rising to the setting sun; we have those who, by various civil merits and various civil talents, been exalted to a situation which they well deserve, and in which they will justify the favour of their sovereign and the good opinion of their fellow-subjects, and make them rejoice to see those virtuous characters, that were the other day upon a level with them, now exalted above them in rank, but feeling with them in sympathy what they felt in common with them before. We have persons exalted from the practice of the law, from the place in which they administered high, though subordinate justice, to a seat here, to enlighten with their knowledge, and to strengthen with their votes, those principles which have distinguished the courts in which they have presided.
My Lords, you have here also the lights of our religion; you have the bishops of England. You have the representatives of that religion which says, that their God is love, that the very vital spirit of their institution is charity; a religion which so much hates oppression, that, when the God whom we adore appeared in human form, he did not appear in a form of greatness and majesty, but in sympathy with the lowest of the people, and thereby made it a firm and ruling principle, that their welfare was the object of all government, since the person who was the Master of Nature chose to appear himself in a subordinate situation. These are the considerations which influence them, which animate them, and will animate them, against all oppression; knowing that He, who is called first among them, and first among us all, both of the flock that is fed and of those who feed it, made himself »the servant of all.«
My Lords, these are the securities which we have in all the constituent parts of the body of this house. We know them, we reckon, we rest upon them, and commit safely the interests of India and of humanity into your hands. Therefore, it is with confidence that, ordered by the Commons,
I impeach Warren Hastings, Esquire, of high crimes and misdemeanours.
I impeach him in the name of the Commons of Great Britain in parliament assembled, whose parliamentary trust he has betrayed
I impeach him in the name of all the Commons of Great Britain, whose national character he has dishonoured.
I impeach him in the name of the people of India, whose laws, rights, and liberties, he has subverted, whose properties he has destroyed, whose country he has laid waste and desolate.
I impeach him in the name and by virtue of those eternal laws of justice which he has violated.
I impeach him in the name of human nature itself, which he has cruelly outraged, injured, and oppressed, in both sexes, in every age, rank, situation, and condition of life.
2. Peroration of the Concluding Speech, delivered in
Westminster Hall, 16th June, 1794. My Lords, I have done! The part of the Commons is concluded! With a trembling hand, we consign the product of these 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 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 prevarications; 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, the vices, the exorbitant wealth, the enormous and overpowering influence, of Eastern corruption.
À business which has so long occupied the councils and tribunals of Great Britain, can not possibly be hurried 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, become more or less the concern of posterity.
My Lords, your House yet stands; it stands, a great edifice; but, let me say, it stands in the midst of ruins - in the midst of 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