페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

or

rue majesty of Justice here. Here, indeed, I see a different form, enthroned by the sovereign hand of Freedom,-awful without severity—commanding without pride-vigilant and active without restlessness suspicionsearching and inquisitive without meanness or ciebasement-not arrogantly scorning to stoop to the voice of afflicted innocence, and in its loveliest attitude when bending to uplift the suppliant at its feet.

“It is by the majesty, by the form of that Justice, that I do conjure and implore your lordships to give your minds to this great business; that I exhort you to look, not so much to words which may be denied or quibbled away, but to the plain facts,—to weigh and consider the testimony in your own minds: we know the result must be inevitable. Let the truth appear and our cause is gained. It is this, I conjure your lordships, for your own honor, for the honor of the nation, for the honor of human nature, now entrusted to your care,--it is this duty that the Commons of England, speaking through us, claim at your hands.

“They exhort you to it by everything that calls sublimely upon the heart of man, by the majesty of that Justice which this bold man has libelled, by the wide fame of your own tribunal, by the sacred pledge by which you swear in the solemn hour of decision, knowing that that decision will then bring you the high

est reward that ever blessed the heart of man, the consciousness of having done the greatest act of mercy for the world, that the earth has ever yet received from any hand but Heaven. My lords, I have done."

A REPLY TO BURKE.

(The following is un extract from one of Sheridan's answers to Burke, who had asserted that the French Republicans were given over to Deism and Atheism.)

“As an argument to the feelings and passions of men, the honorable member had great advantages in dwelling on this topic; because it was a subject which those who disliked everything that had the air of cant and profession on the one hand, or of indifference on the other, found it awkward to meddle with. Establishments, tests, and matters of that nature, were proper objects of political discussion in that House, but not general charges of Atheism and Deism, as pressed upon their consideration by the honorable gentleman. Thus far, however, he would say, and it was an opinion he had never changed or concealed, that, although no man can command his conviction, he had ever considered a leliberate disposition to make proselytes in infidelity as

unaccountable depravity. Whoever attempted to pluck the belief or the prejudice on this subject, style it which he would, from the bosom of one man, woman, or child, committed a brutal outrage, the motive for which he had never been able to trace or conceive."

an

ON THE FRENCH REVOLUTION.

on

(This is a selection from Sheridan's speech

the army estimates, the speech which caused the breach of friendship between himself and Burke.)

“He differed,” he said, “decidedly, from his right honorable friend in almost every word that he had uttered respecting a French Revolution. He conceived it to be as just a Revolution as ours, proceeding upon as sound a principle and as just a provocation. He vehemently defended the general views and conduct of the National Assembly. He could not even understand what was meant by the charges against them of having overturned the laws, the justice, and the revenues of their country. What were the laws ? the arbitrary mandates of capricious despotism. What their justice? the partial adjudications of venal magistrates. What their revenues ? national bankruptcy. This he thought the fundamental error of his right honorable friend's argument, that he accused the National Assembly of creating the evils, which they had found existing in full deformity at the first hour of their meeting, The public creditor had been defrauded; the manufacturer was without employ; trade was languishing; famine clung upon the poor; despair on all. In this situation, the wisdom and feelings of the nation were appealed to by the government; and was it to be wondered at by Englishmen, that a people, so circumstanced, should search for the cause and source of all their calamities, or that they should find them in the arbitrary constitution of their government, and in the prodigal and corrupt administration of their revenues ? For such an evil, when proved, what remedy could be resorted to, but a radical amendment of the frame and fabric of the constitution itself? This change was not the object and wish of the National Assembly only; it was the claim and cry of all France, uniied as one man for one purpose.

“The cruelties which disgraced the commencement of the French Revolution were ascribed by the orator not to the want of moral principle or of legal restraint, but to a superior abhorrence of that accursed system of despotic government, which had so deformed and corrupted human nature, as to make its subjects capable of such acts; a government that set at naught the property, the liberty, and lives of the subjects; a government that dealt in extortion, dungeons, and tortures, setting an example of depravity to the slaves over which it ruled: when therefore the day of

« 이전계속 »