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THE BEGUM SPEECH.

(This was the popular title given to the speech to support the impeachment of Warren Hastings, Esq., on the second charge with regard to his conduct toward the Begum princesses of Oude. This speech occupied nearly three days. It would be impossible of course, to give the whole of it, but some of the most remarkable passages have been selected.)

In the course of his exordium, after insisting upon the great importance of the inquiry, and disclaiming on behalf of himself and his brother-managers any feeling of personal malice against the defendant, or any motive but that of vindicating the honor of the British name in India, and punishing those whose inhumanity and injustice had disgraced it, Sheridan proceeded 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 man-not the weight or power of any prosecutor—no plea of moral or political expiediency-not even the secret consciousness of guilt, which may live in the bosom of the judge, can 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 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.”

Sheridan thus described the feelings of the people of the East with respect to the unapproachable sanctity of their Zenanas :

“It is too much, I am afraid, the case, that persons used to European manners do not take . up these sort of considerations at first with the seriousness that is necessary. For your lordships cannot even learn the right nature of those people's feelings and prejudices from any history of other Mahometan countries, not even from that of the Turks, for they are a mean and degraded race in comparison with many of these great families, who, inheriting from their Persian ancestors, preserve a purer style of prejudice and a loftier superstition.

Women are not as in Turkey, they neither go to the mosque nor to the bath—it is not the thin veil alone that hides them—but in the inmost recesses of their zenana they are kept from public view by those reverenced and protected walls, which, as Mr. Hastings and Sir Elijah Impey admit, are held sacred even by the ruffian hand of war, or by the more uncourteous hand of law. But in this situation, they are not confined from a mean and selfish policy of man—not from a coarse and sensual jeal- . ousy-enshrined rather than immured, their habitation and retreat is a sanctuary, not a prison---their jealousy is their own-a jealousy of their own honor, that leads them to regard liberty as a degradation, and the aze of even admiring eyes as inexpiable pollution to the purity of their fame and the sanctity of their honor.

"Such being the general opinion (or prejudices let them be called) of this country, your lordships will find that whatever treasures were given or lodged in a zenana of this description must, upon the evidence of the thing itself, be placed beyond the reach of resumption. To dispute with the counseli about the original right to those treasures, to talk of a title to them by the Mahometan law! their title to them is the title of a saint to the relics upon an altar, placed their by Piety, guarded by holy supersitition, and to be snatched from thence only by sacrilege."

With regard to the pretended rebellion, which was conjured up by Mr. Hastings to justify the robbery of his relations by the Nabob, he said:

“The fact is, that through all his defencesthrough all his various false suggestionsthrough all these various rebellions and disaffections, Mr. Hastings never once lets go this plea of unextinguishable right in the Nabob. He constantly represents the seizing of the treasure as a resumption oi a right which he could not part with; as if there were literally something in the Koran that made it criminal in a true Mussulman to keep his engagements with his relations, and impious in a son to abstain from plundering a mother. I do gravely assure your lordships that there is no such doctrine in the Koran, and no such principle makes a part in the civil or municipal jurisprudence of that country. Even after these princesses had been endeavoring to dethrone the Nabob and to extirpate the English, the only plea the Nabob ever makes, is his right under the Mahometan law; and the truth is, he appears never to have heard any other reason, and I pledge myself to make it appear to your lordships, however extraordinary it may be that not only had the Nabob never heard of the rebellion till the moment of seizing the palace, but, still further, that he never heard of it at all; that this extraordinary rebellion, which was as notorious as the rebellion of 1745 in London, was carefully concealed from those two parties—the Begums who plotted it, and the Nabob who was to be the victim of it.

“The existence of this rebellion was not the secret, but the notoriety of it was the secret; it was a rebellion which had for its object the destruction of no human creature but those who planned it; it was a rebellion which, according to Mr. Middleton's expression, no man, either horse or foot, ever marched to quell. The Chief Justice was the only man who took the field against it, the force against which it was raised, instantly withdrew to give it elbow-room; and even then it was a rebellion which perversely showed itself in acts of hospitality to the Nabob whom it was to dethrone, and to the English whom it was to extirpate; it was a rebellion plotted by two feeble old women, headed by two eunuchs, and suppressed by an affidavit."

The conduct of Sir Elijah Impey, reference to whom has been made in the other speech against Warren Hastings, could not be allowed to pass without

On this subject, Sheridan said: “I will not question his feebleness of memory,

dispute in any respect the doctrine he had set up, that which it was likely he should have donc, he took for granted he had done-but conceding this, I must be permitted to suspect that what he should have done, he really had not done and this I conceive to be perfectly

censure.

nor

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